“I can’t even be your friend anymore. You are so stupid and your blog is so idiotic that I de-friended you on Facebook. I don’t want to have to see your trash. I can’t believe you are such an idiot!”
“And….how are your drinks?” I replied.
A friend of hers at the table asked, “Is he a liberal?”
My friend continued, “He’s a stupid (expletive) liberal.”
Caught off guard by this unexpected assault, I smiled and said, “So, I’m guessing you guys like…Rick Perry, maybe?”
“Anyone is better than (the whole table in unison) OBAMA!”
“Well,” I said trying to re-calibrate reality, “My stocks are looking good, my business is growing, unemployment is down, corporate reserves are great…yeah, I feel pretty good about him.”
“What ?” snapped one of her friends. “He’s the worst President in history!”
There is a gray mass that starts to form in my brain when I am confronted with obstinance and I can hear my inner voice making a choice. “Should I go after this or will that turn ugly…or should I lead like Jesus and just turn the other cheek and walk away?”
I was more than willing to have a sensible conversation, listen to their evidence, compare it to mine, eventually settling into beers and a few laughs, but this crowd was enraged by the mere fact that I was a liberal and were not about to offer anything except: “You’re stupid and we can’t talk to you!”
Feeling a bit too defensive at this point, I countered with, “You can disagree with me, but I don’t think stupid is something you can call me…after all, you did vote for Bush TWICE and your credibility is pretty low.”
I feigned a laugh and walked away. I heard someone say, “He can’t even make an argument.”
Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t do this to incite anger, I do this to inspire educated debate where ideas can be argued, even aggressively, and more often than not, where we can “agree to disagree,” but what I encountered was rage.
If I thought this was an isolated incident I wouldn’t be writing about it today but I believe that this is the heated “conversation” being waged in bars, restaurants, barbeques and town halls all over America.
I always make an effort to find a clearer perspective and so the next morning, I opened up my blog and re-read the past month of posts, looking for unfair analysis or extreme bias. I will concede that if I were a Republican/Conservative I certainly wouldn’t conclude that Gary Kroeger loves my politics, but I am pretty confident that I would engage him (as many of my friends do) and it wouldn’t be with fury.
I know this because I do have Republican friends, some of whom are in positions of party authority and we have respectful, even enjoyable relationships.
I am not a Democrat or a liberal without my reasons, just as the Republicans and conservatives I respect are justly so for their reasons, but a lion share of the public is finding their position from an emotional allegiance without using logic.
Information is how we calibrate our compass when navigating the waters of opinion and the overwhelming evidence in my observation is that the Republican party is being steered by extreme elements that cater to a theocratic, imperialist doctrine.
Therein lies the problem. If you look at Republican/Conservative history there is no consistency beyond broad platitudes, and platitudes are not policy.
Lincoln it can be argued was socially progressive. Eisenhower embraced many progressive ideas that are anathema to today’s Republican/Conservatives; social programs, social security, unionization, healthcare reform.
Eisenhower even warned us all, having been the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in WWII, against the growth of the “Military-Industrial Complex.”
Barry Goldwater understood that Christian zealotry could not be allowed to control conservative philosophy. Nixon gave us the EPA and proposed health care reform similar to “Obamacare.” Ronald Reagan (the standard by which every conservative is now measured) supported social security and was quoted to say, “Church and State are, and must remain, separate.”
You’ll find very few touch points by which to compare today’s Republicans to a consistent ideology that connects them throughout history.
“God and the Bible” is a familiar rally cry to crystalize conservatives with their beliefs, and while there is nothing wrong with being a proud Christian and believing in the Bible, what is fundamentally wrong is to believe you are a truer American because of those beliefs.
This is the difference I consistently observe between political affiliations and why I align with liberalism and the Democratic Party. Liberals and Democrats define themselves with terms of inclusion, not exclusion. We don’t say, “I am a Democrat because I am a Christian.” We are more likely to say, “I am a Democrat because I believe all religions, or even lack of faith, belong in a free country.”
We are more likely to say when identifying our adherence to the Constitution that “Liberals believe in the civil rights the Constitution guarantees to all Americans regardless of personal orientation.”
We are more likely to say, “I love America because of the nobility of her promise of Freedom” than we are to say, “America never apologizes.”
This brings me back to the confrontation this post started with.
I’m not stupid because I’m a Liberal or a Democrat. I’m stupid because I can’t do algebra.
I’m not a Liberal or a Democrat without reasonable, thoughtful and researched information and observations made throughout my life that compel me to align with what I believe to be more relevant in the fight for human rights, and peaceful and healthy existence.
Many people might call those Christian values.
If you are a Conservative and a Republican because you believe history reveals a better realization of your values, then fine, you’re not stupid either…you just require less information….