I have opinions. I like to share them. And like everyone else, I have a right to do so.
I have been accused of using sites like Facebook as a public forum for the discussion of my political beliefs, and I have lost “friends” because of this. This is perfectly fine; I’m not complaining. I probably piss off more people than I enlighten, and those that “like” these things are probably the ones that already agree with me! I know this, and yet I continue to obnoxiously carry on condemning Republicans, knowing very well that half of my friends are Republicans, (and the other half are Canadian). I do not do it to make people mad, or to make them feel stupid. Because the truth is that I respect most Republicans.
I’m trying to snap intelligent, rational humans out of their trance, basically.
I do this for several reasons. You might still find them pretentious and superior, but at least I have them. One is because I don’t think Republicans (in general) realize or understand what/who the Republicans (in charge) really are. That is not to say that Republicans are stupid! I have discussions with Conservatives who are (quite obviously, I might add) smarter than me, and I do it all the time. I love it. They enrich my life! They challenge me and make me question my beliefs, and this is why I love them. In a very fundamental way they make me smarter. Why? Because every time they stump me, I have to go out and research some kind of comeback. I have to make myself smarter just to keep up. So, when I say that Republicans don’t understand the Republican Party, I say that because almost no one I speak to has such extreme views.
The truth is, most Republicans are FAR more liberal than they appear, and most Democrats are FAR more conservative than they appear. Think about it: farmers are the perfect symbol of the traditional Republican party – small community values, salt of the earth, “hard work and determination will win you the American dream,” etc. Not exactly the corporate motto, which is all about avoiding paying taxes on capital gains and declaring legal personhood for companies that exploit farmers.
And Democrats! We talk about redistributing wealth and aiding the needy, and then go sign free trade deals that end up intensifying the gap between rich and poor. How can someone believe in big government, corporate responsibility, and personal liberty all at the same time? You would have to be insane, stupid, or VERY good at rationalizing your insane stupidity. And when it comes right down to it, beneath our “socialist” mood swings, we liberals are never letting go of our precious capitalism. I fucking LOVE Sephora. Trust me, I know that neither side is without its tragic ironies.
And yet, Democratic candidates do not take their party as far left as the Republicans do right. Most Republicans believe, to a certain extent, in the institution of welfare. Entitlements like Social Security are important to traditional conservative demographics like senior voters, and most understand that some groups like single parents need a little extra help getting by. They do believe that we need to find a way to get insurance and/or health care for those who can’t afford it. They do believe in legal equality, and religious tolerance. They believe that a woman (or anyone else) should have control over their own body, and that government has little role in the private matters of the citizens.
So what makes a good, rational person who just happens to believe in small government go from believing in religious tolerance to protesting the construction of a mosque a few blocks from Ground Zero? Hysteria. Hysteria created by their so-called “representatives,” no less. After about 5 minutes of talking over the issue with an average Republican voter, most will concede that there is nothing inherently threatening about mosques or Muslims, it’s just the principle of the thing, grumble, grumble, grumble. (Translation: No longer a very vocal opponent – and maybe never really was in the first place.)
This is because the views of the bumptious conservative personalities ARE NOT true illustrations of what Republicans believe; they have taken themselves to an extreme and systematically convinced half a nation that their opinions are one in the same. And only over the course of something like 20 years! It’s astounding!
Media personalities like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, and Sarah Palin (who is no longer considered a politician, be realistic) do NOT represent the majority of Republican voters. Candidates like Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, and Mitt Romney do NOT represent the majority of Republican voters. (Which is why no one could choose between them and grudgingly settled for Romney after months of kicking and screaming.) And worst of all, stances on important issues, like the decriminalization of the murder of abortion doctors, the building of an electric fence to keep out immigrants, the ultimate constitutional ban on gay marriage to effectively legally bar certain people from the benefit of the law, and so many other examples do NOT represent the majority of Republican voters!!
So, then, if I’m so clever, why are such good, righteous, and intelligent people being led down a garden path? Ok, I’m not on a high horse. I don’t think I’m smarter than everyone else. But there is one thing I don’t have influencing me that many do, and that is religion. I believe Republicans are being exploited by people who are using their religion against them, almost as a weapon.
In many ways, organized religion is a control mechanism. (This is not criticism; a pastor would probably agree with me.) Faith is not. I’ve been over my views of religion and if you bothered reading them, I honestly don’t think we’ll have any problems here. My problem with religion comes when the rights of religious individuals begin to infringe on the rights of those who happen to believe differently, and much of the Republican base is concerned with preserving Christian ideals, specifically. As they like to remind us, this is a “Christian Nation.”
Unfortunately, since many political decisions are rooted in the values people have derived from their faith, it is often hard to separate the two… But VERY easy to blend into a convincing platform that keeps all your traditions and values all safe and cozy…
…At a price. But they never tell you that part. And the price is paid by everyone else in the form of freedom. God says life begins at conception, so women are not allowed to have birth control because Republicans think we’re killing babies (that don’t yet exist); gay people aren’t allowed to get married because homosexuality is an abomination according to the Bible. Suddenly, our laws must comply with Biblical teachings, much like in places that abide by Islamic Law (only with the Quran).
So in a perfect world created by modern day Republicans, the government would be just as large as it is now, only instead of interfering in a negative way, it would ultimately be shielding and protecting traditional Christian values, not traditional Conservative ones. It would serve American Christians, but it would no longer serve America. (Nor would it serve Democratic American Christians or Atheist Republicans or Jewish Republicans, etc., which do actually exist.) I don’t think this is what most Republicans had in mind when they registered with their party.
Which why I believe most Republicans today are being swindled. If they believe in the true wisdom and ultimate sovereignty of the Constitution in affairs of governance, they would keep religion out of politics. But things are not that simple. Candidates and the media are dressing their religious views as political ones and convincing Republicans that they are the same. And when people are having to sacrifice small comforts, and increasingly more often large ones due to a struggling economy, they are more likely to be swayed by extreme viewpoints that tell them what they want to hear. They replace the comfort of wealth and prosperity with the comfort of knowing they are right, they are chosen, they are special. And suddenly, the concern for the rights and freedoms of others just falls away.
Republicans are not bad people. The Republicans you see and hear about are bad people. Big difference. And the alarming trend is the answer to this question: Which kind of Republican has more power?
The thought keeps me awake at night.
Ultimately, and this is the last I have to say about it, it is not only important to openly discuss politics, but it is also necessary. There MUST be some truth to both sides, or else so many people would not choose them; by that logic, there MUST be some consistent truth within them. It is my belief that we can only reach that truth, we can only come to that final understanding, through real debate and real discussion. By listening to my opponents, I am challenged and enlightened; by challenging my opponents, I hope to enlighten them in return. In this way, little by little, we get closer to finding real truths, which lead to real solutions. Whether you are trying to understand the nature of a crisis, who or what is to blame, how to fix it, or why something is important, inquiring into the perspective of all other sides and trying to understand them is the only real way to accomplish it.
So, even if they piss you off, even if they’re posting annoying Facebook statuses, listen to the views of people who disagree with you. Don’t just ignore them and grouse because they happen to be different from yours. Try to understand where they’re coming from and why. You might learn something about them, about the world, or about yourself in the process.
Also, you won’t come off looking like a whiny little bitch.
– THE DUEL CITIZEN