Thursday, June 20, 2013

Can I Be Purple?

[martinwimmer/istockphoto.com]
A post I wrote a while back – a post which included some choice words for Newt Gingrich – came up in conversation recently while I was out having a beer with an old friend. ‘I guess you’re a pretty staunch Democrat then,’ he said. ‘you really ripped into the guy.’

‘It has nothing to do with political affiliation,’ I told him. ‘I simply don’t like the guy.’

Some time before this another friend of mine took a picture of himself in front of a Welcome To Texas sign; I told him it was a nice shot except for George W. Bush’s name at the bottom. My friend called me a stupid bleeding heart liberal with a mental disease of some imagined sort.

Well-thought-out response, except for the fact that I am a registered Republican.


So why then would I maintain that Gee-Dub was arrogant and stupid? And why do I believe we should invest in new energies instead of forfeiting the beauty of our land for a few months’ worth of oil we wouldn’t be able to avail ourselves of for fifteen years if we went at it tomorrow? Why do I think allowing Wall Street to dictate government policy is just another symptom of the growing financial cancer in our country’s economic well-being? These aren’t the kinds of things a good little Republican should be thinking, or at least admitting to anyone outside our little secret society meetings. Meanwhile my stances on prayer in school and abortion make me a Bible-thumping fanatic trying to ram religion down the public’s throat and an evil right-winger bent on destroying a woman’s right to health care and oh you know what I bet he hates homosexuals too.

I’m a Yankees fan. So how in the world can I say I don’t like Alex Rodriguez? It’s just not logical. I’m saddened and sickened by the actions in Okinawa, Japan of two of our servicemen. Surely that must mean I would like to see the entire military dismantled and imprisoned. I should applaud every effort of my son’s soccer team no matter how dismal or unsportsmanlike while keeping up a healthy invective directed at the other side regardless of their play. It only makes common sense to show consistent wholesale support for my people, right? I mean, what kind of message would I be sending if I actually let slip that I thought the other coach had some pretty good ideas? My son’s coach is a stand-up guy, so what if he’s pocketing a little bit of league funds, it’s not his fault he’s addicted to painkillers and besides I heard the other coach might have cheated on his wife.

A negative comment about old Gee-Dubya leads straight to ‘Well Obama this and Obama that and don’t forget about what old Willy Clinton did!’ I can’t say that Sarah Palin is a twit (she is by the way) without some garbled response involving or Joe McGinniss or Nancy Pelosi – a dim bulb in her own right though this has nothing to do with Sarah Palin’s Idiocy Quotient.

I didn’t say so to my friend that night, not even after a few beers, but what he said represents a fundamental problem in American political discourse. And I don’t mean among our politicians. I mean among us. An opinion on one individual or issue or event places a person in a certain camp where he or she is then presumed to have a politically unilateral stance on every other issue. It happens all the time. It happens with people's shoes. And we are all placed in neat little cubby holes with names and labels, and we can thus kid ourselves into believing we understand each other without the bother of having to think.

I look forward to the day when political conversation is a product of independent thought rather than blind red-blue fervor. A day when arguments about politicians and policy is a matter of who is better rather than who is worse. So when I rip into Rick Rubio someday the response won’t be ‘Oh, you’re a democrat’ (which brings nothing to the conversation except a false premise), but rather something along the lines of ‘I agree/disagree and here’s why.’

NOTE: I use the soccer coach idea strictly as an example. My son’s actual soccer coach is a great guy and I have no knowledge or suspicions of him being an embezzler, an addict or a philanderer.   – kk

AND: While George W. Bush has given us a multitude of unforgettable quotes, my favorite is the answer he gave to a so-called journalist who asked him what he thought about the Janet Jackson / Justin Timberlake / wardrobe malfunction fiasco during the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show. ‘I don’t know, I didn’t see it,’ he said. ‘We’re busy around the White House, we go to bed early and wake up early.’ I paraphrase, but that was the basic idea. And for one brief moment I liked the guy.  -- kk