Can’t we all just get along?
When I read posts here I often feel like I am reading a blog version of FOX News. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and if you are here with the single goal of promoting your political agenda, that is your right. I do think, however, that we miss a great opportunity by talking (or shouting) past each other.
When I worked on the Hill, I felt a certain kinship with other staffers. Not just those who were in my party but everyone. One idea that made this possible was that regardless of party affiliation, I felt that everyone working there did so out of the sense that they wanted to make the country better. There was a time when Members of Congress went out and socialized with other Members on both sides of the aisle. That doesn’t happen anymore. One Conservative (that is capital ‘C’ he was in the NY Conservative party) former Congressman and friend of mine, told me that after a debate, he would go out to for a beer with his rival. He also laments the lack of dialogue.
So when I read blanket statements about liberals, it bothers me. Now I get some may me humorous and do like to laugh, even at myself. I worked on the Kerry campaign yet when I read a bumper sticker that said, I voted for Kerry before I voted against him, my only regret was I didn’t have a pen and piece of paper to write the person a note. Even to a Democrat (and liberal), that was clever.
I am no more of a cardboard cut of caricature than anyone else. I am a liberal Democrat because I believe the government exists to do for us collectively what we cannot do individually. We need decent education, defense and infrastructure.
Here are some myths about liberals in general.
Liberals hate the military. No, really we don’t. My father was in the Marines and is a hardcore Democrat. That’s me on the left after I shot a grenade launcher at Quantico (Jane Wayne day, I would be a terrible soldier but that’s another story). During the end of the Clinton administration I worked with a lot of military (was lucky enough to get a more up close and personal experience when I worked at the Aviano Air Force base and Camp Lejeune) and have always respected anyone who gives up their lives (not just when they are killed but also when they leave everything behind for long periods of time) to protect us and our ideology. Re: more important illustrations of Democrats who have served in the military there is a long list. Most of our presidents since World War II served, that includes the following presidents:
- Harry Truman
- John F. Kennedy
- Lyndon Johnson
- Jimmy Carter
Moreover, I just read a post that claimed Hollywood was conservative in WWII because they supported the war effort. Franklin Delano Roosevelt began supplying England with weapons years before we entered the war. If there was opposition to that war, it wasn’t a liberal or conservative movement, we were an isolationist country then. Harry Truman dropped the atom bomb. JFK got us into Vietnam and Johnson kept that war going. I get that the liberal movement probably got the ‘we hate the military’ label during Vietnam but that doesn’t mean it’s true.
We want to take your guns. Really, we don’t. What I would like to see, if anything, is proof that someone knows how to use a weapon before they buy it. Personally, I should not have a gun. Not because I don’t have the right to have one but because I would probably end up shooting my foot, my TV or my cat. No one wants that. On the other hand, if you want a gun or guns and did not just get out of jail for violent crime and/or were not just released from a mental health facility, you should be able to have it. As a DC resident, I was surprised no one fought the DC handgun ban using the Second Amendment earlier.
We hate America: I do not believe in “America; love it or leave it.” I think we have an obligation to try to make it the best America it can be. I have lived overseas and have been to three other continents and nothing makes you appreciate your own country than spending someplace that is totally different. Note the founding fathers said they were creating a ‘more perfect union’ not ‘perfect union.’ That implies there is room for improvement.
We don’t understand or appreciate the Constitution. This one gets prickly for me. It’s easy to gate the ACLU but their whole raison d’être is to protect our freedom of speech. I am sure there will be people who don’t see it that way and that’s fine but I see this as a common ground issue, we all like and want to adhere to the Constitution. Again, we probably have different ideas about what that means but we should be able to understand, we are all on the same side. What I do not understand is how people can think that the police are the greatest force ever and think the government is scary. I like police and want to be safe but I also think we need some protection from unnecessary intrusions and support Miranda. Benjamin Franklin said that ‘those who would give up liberty for security deserve neither.’ He was right.
We hate religion. One thing that bothers me sometimes about the left is that it seems to have forgotten some of the lessons of the civil rights movement, most of which began in churches. It seems to me that the desire to be a part of a religious community is similar to the desire to get involved in politics; it’s all about being part of something bigger than yourself. I am not religious but can appreciate that other people are and that is their right. Moreover, being religious is probably good for you. Studies show that people who attend religious services are healthier and happier than those who do not.
We like killing babies. No one likes this. Mike Huckabee told Jon Stewart last night that he didn’t think even the most pro-choice person likes abortion. He is right.
We want to give preferential treatment to illegal immigrants. We are all immigrants. It’s all just a question of when we got here. One of our great strengths is our diversity. That we have been able to assimilate so many different cultures and we all benefit from that.
Our system depends on a number of things; a well informed electorate, multiple points of view and a vigorous discussion about the issues of the day. Note: that’s discussion not just debate where we talk past each other and no one hears what the other person says. In Fight Club, the narrator and Marla have a conversation where they agree that “when people think you are dying they really listen, not just wait for their time to speak.” It is time that we apply that principle to our political conversations.