Friday, April 15, 2016


I was asked, a few mornings back, how I was. I sighed. Then I said, "I don't like conservatives." Almost immediately I felt the need to qualify my statement, mostly because as a liberal in thought and practice, it felt like I was going against my beliefs to not like anyone. Fiscal conservatives, for example, seem quite pleasant and well-meaning. And I can understand how someone might become socially conservative, but it seems like such a difficult position to maintain. Endless combinations in endless permutations and all that. What I should have said, instead of "I don't like conservatives" was "I don't fathom conservatives."
Even that fiscal thing, with its low taxes and limited government spending: I am constantly finding ways to vote for more government programs and increasing the money we spend on that safety net that never seems quite big enough to save us all. That sound you hear is my heart bleeding. I tend to keep making excuses for those in need and try to imagine a world in which we might all truly get along. A common goal and a common good.
Which is why I get confused by the religious freedom acts of Mississippi and the bathroom politics of North Carolina. It seems like a campaign to protect the few, not the many. Diversity in belief is one of those things that was anticipated in the writings of our rich, white founding fathers. Kudos to them for making room for a separation between church and state. All men, using the failed inclusive word of our forefathers which is even more of a loaded term, are created equal. For so many it seems that right after that creation we set about determining for ourselves just how equal they will be over time. The idea that "anybody" can grow up to President of the United States is a lovely dream, but constrained by so much angry history that it remains a fairy tale in a country that would restrict the use of bathrooms in the twenty-first century in much the same way that they were back in the creepy old twentieth. Writing legislation that circumvents other federal legislation doesn't seem a lot like freedom to me. It seems a lot like cheating to me.
But what do you expect from a bleeding heart liberal like myself? Do I really want some drug addled transgender immigrant assaulting my son in a public bathroom after they just cashed their food stamps to buy a yacht? Wouldn't that make me feel like exercising that most holy of constitutionally protected rights and shoot them in the face before they were carted off to a prison where they were gassed or electrocuted or shot again? That isn't what freedom feels like to me.
The reason I said that thing about not liking conservatives came from reading an article about the liberal double standard. It ruffled my feathers, but I kept reading because I wanted to see where it was that I was missing something. Was Bruce Springsteen operating out of enlightened self interest when he cancelled his show in Greensboro? What about all those businesses and fans who suffered needlessly because he was making his stand?
It was good to have my process checked. I felt like I needed to think more on things when I finished. I didn't feel swayed by the arguments, but I was grateful for the point of view. One that seemed to be rooted more in anger and fear than freedom, but another point of view in this vast and endlessly swirling melting pot of ideas. I liked that part.

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