I don’t blog about politics to persuade anyone to my point of view. In fact, I’m pretty cagey about what my point of view is. Aren’t I? You probably think you know my point of view on a lot of things, but specifically, how much do you really know? You know I vote Republican, and that’s about it. You don’t know where I stand exactly, or why, on any particular issue, because I purposely haven’t told you–for two reasons: 1) When you start discussing politics seriously in otherwise-casual settings, people bring all their psychological baggage and get all huffy about stuff that isn’t really personal, and there just isn’t time or space to observe both the social niceties and make your point abundantly clear, let alone useful. 2) I don’t get paid enough to write that thoughtfully.
All of my political blogging–or should I say, remotely-politically-related blogging–is confined to a) smart-aleck comments that are not intended to be taken very seriously, even though the issue itself may be serious, and b) disproportionately-outraged comments about issues that no normal person would take seriously. It’s hard to offend people that way. Occasionally, back when I had more than twelve readers–back when I had, say, 20+ readers–someone would get offended, but usually it was a misunderstanding, or the person was just some random wacko surfing the web who didn’t get the joke. Whatever. I’m not in business to offend. I am in business to mock. It’s nothing to brag about. It’s just my way.
My last blog was about how rich liberals aren’t so great because they only vote left to assuage their guilt over being rich. Now, I’m not at all impressed by rich liberals, but obviously that theory is purely speculative. But so is the assertion that rich conservatives only vote the way they do because they’re selfish and don’t care about anyone else. People have different reasons for voting whichever way, and some people are idealists and some are selfish and some are both. The notion that conservatives can’t be idealists is based on the assumption that keeping your own money to spend on yourself is not an ideal. (Hahahaha, did you catch what I did there? I made a non-serious comment, otherwise known as a joke.) No, conservatives have ideals; they’re just different ideals than liberals have. But whatever. I don’t know what percentage of people vote from ideals and what percentage vote from selfishness or other narcissistic reasons because I don’t have the resources to scientifically deduce people’s motivations for voting the way they do. (Not to mention the fact that deducing people’s motives usually requires supernatural abilities.) The blog post of yesterday was mocking the idea that liberals are generally idealists and conservatives are generally selfish, because that idea is nonsense and I don’t care who knows that I think that.
I used to be liberal, so I think I have a pretty good grasp on some reasons that people might vote that way. And no, I did not vote Democratic back in the day to assuage my guilt. I was too young to really understand how guilty I was, for one, and for another, I was very idealistic. I understand liberal ideals because I had them. I don’t look back and think, “Dude, I was naive/stupid/narcissistic back then.” It’s just that people change, you know? So I’m a conservative now, but I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be a liberal, or what it was like to be the only liberal in a sea of conservatives. Did you know that some conservatives are really Neanderthals? Well, I know that. I haven’t forgotten! (Especially not since I read more conservative magazines and listen to more conservative talk shows now than I did back then. It kind of keeps me abreast of the whole Neanderthal movement.) Let me try to keep your interest with some semi-relevant anecdotes.
During the 1992 campaign, I was in college and one of my professors (one of my religion professors, actually, if it matters to you) walked into class and said that he’d just had an encounter at a 7-Eleven or some other such place with a redneck (not the professor’s word, but the written word can’t adequately evoke the stereotypical-ignorant-redneck accent that the professor used instead of calling him a “redneck”), who saw the Clinton/Gore button on my professor’s lapel and asked if my professor was also the owner of the car with the Clinton/Gore bumper sticker, which he had just seen out in the parking lot. My professor said he was. The redneck, I think, asked him what his name was or otherwise inquired as to his heritage, and my professor (who was of Greek extraction, though he’d been born and raised in the southern U.S.) answered him, and the redneck replied, “Well, I knew whoever owned that car had to be a n—– or a foreigner.” (Note: neither my professor nor the redneck spoke in hyphens.) And my professor, upon relating this tale to us, said, “And so I was reminded, once again, why I am voting the way I am.”
It occurs to me in retrospect that what he’d just said must have been awfully offensive to at least someone in the room. I mean, there were a lot of Republicans at my college; there had to be at least one or two in my religion class. I, however, was not a Republican, so it was no skin off my nose–at the time. Now I think that professor–who was really nice and a very good teacher–should not have said something like that in such a setting, although I can certainly understand his frustration and annoyance over his recent experience, which was obviously not new or an aberration. I would want to talk about it, too, but I might not do it in front of my students or any group of people who were presumably decent and open-minded but might not be planning to vote the same way I was in the upcoming election–because people on the other side might not particularly appreciate being lumped in with racist suckheads, or the implication that their party represents racist suckheads. I mean, that may well be what you think, but there’s a time and place for saying so, you know? Among like-minded friends, perhaps. Maybe not so much in public, where you’re in a position of authority.
When my husband and I were planning to move to Oregon, a friend of ours (who was from Oregon) told us that in the Midwest people were backwards and conservative, but in Oregon they were backwards and liberal. I didn’t really understand what that meant. First of all, I still don’t know what people in the Midwest are, so don’t get on my case about that. But moreover, I didn’t understand how one could be both liberal and backwards. By this time I was already a Republican, so I understood you could be liberal and wrong, sure, but backwards–that’s a whole other thing. Liberals are supposed to be all enlightened and evolved and genteel and crap–i.e. unlike conservatives, many of whom are only conservative because they’re either dumb as posts or have led such insular lives that they can’t conceive a world beyond their own experience, which explains why they are so bigoted and irrational. Well, it only took a few months living in Lane County, Oregon, to understand exactly what our friend had meant. Some people are backwards–either dumb as posts or have lived such insular lives that they can’t conceive a world beyond their own experience, which explains why they are so bigoted and irrational–and they can be left-flavored or right-flavored, it really doesn’t matter, because when you’re backwards, politics becomes irrelevant in the face of all that CUCKOO! CUCKOO! CUCKOO!
So I have a lot of liberal friends–just as when I was liberal myself and had a lot of conservative friends–and it’s interesting to me how free some of my liberal friends feel to just go off about how hard-hearted and stupid conservatives are and then be all like, “Well, of course I don’t mean you, you’re different and reasonable and thoughtful,” when I have given them no reason to believe that I am different from the people they despise, in terms of values and opinions; all they know is that I have half a brain and haven’t killed any puppies (lately), so they assume I must be more “moderate” than these folks in question, who are obvious puppy-killers. In my observation, any self-described conservative who is reasonable and not evil is by definition a “moderate,” which is a fine word but it describes temperament more than ideology.
I am basically the same now, temperamentally, as I was when I was a full-fledged lefty, which I guess explains why my conservative friends used to go off about how idiotic and immoral liberals were and then be all like, “Well, of course I don’t mean you, you’re different and reasonable and thoughtful.” At the time, I thought…well, maybe I thought they were ignorant and didn’t know enough liberals, that everything they knew about liberals must come from the stereotypes perpetuated by Rush Limbaugh and, I dunno, Reader’s Digest. I still think that people on both the left and the right don’t understand what a centrist is; they’re on their end of the political spectrum and can’t see beyond a certain point, and everything beyond that point is “extreme [other side]”–the crazy people. Anyone obviously not crazy must necessarily fall closer to their end of the spectrum, or otherwise they wouldn’t be able to see them.
Just so we’re clear, I’m not a centrist. But I guess I don’t mind being called “moderate” anymore. I’m getting too old to be a revolutionary, anyway.
It used to irritate me when people would lump me in with suckhead kooks or imply that my party represented suckhead kooks (racist or otherwise)–or, I should say, it used to consistently irritate me, and now it only irritates me occasionally, like when I’m already in a bad mood. I get over it really quickly now because being offended takes too much energy, which I’d rather spend making smart-ass remarks and stuffing my face with Cheetos. If I ever start discussing politics seriously, you’ll know it because I’ll feel obligated to say stuff like, “I’m being serious now.” Like when I was asking those questions about co-ed wrestling, and I felt like I had to keep assuring you that I wasn’t trying to be a smart-ass, remember? Because smart-ass is my default position. Without a disclaimer, you can rest assured that you don’t have to take me seriously; this is just me being my smart-aleck self. Isn’t that good to know?