So…I’ve decided to dip my toes back into the political pond. Have been wanting to for months — if not longer — but wasn’t sure where to start. I suppose the best place to start is the beginning:
I was raised a Liberal. By loving, compassionate, well-intentioned, Classical Liberals, with occasional bouts of progressivism balanced out by fleeting moments of conservatism. I knew I was a Liberal — referred to myself as such — but never realized that wasn’t essentially the same as “moderate” or “middle-of-the-road” until about 8 or 9 years ago. I’m going to cut myself a break and chalk it up to naivete. Honestly, I just didn’t know.
Most of the people I knew were like-minded. The news I consumed validated and reinforced my views. The education I received did, as well. Those with significantly differing view points were clearly nutso, uninformed, rightwingers, and either Bible-thumpers, warmongers, capitalist pigs, or all of the above. They were “Others.” And quite clearly, they were wrong. They had to be. Just about everybody I knew thought so. Almost everyone I looked up to and respected said so.
Except that, whenever I was pushed to explain how they were wrong, I struggled. I knew I was intelligent and well-educated. I knew my heart was in the right place. But there was this…inner…discomfort I never could quite escape. I didn’t understand it then, but I suppose I was contending with my own special brand of cognitive dissonance. And I didn’t like it. When a friend poked around the edges of my devotion to the DNC, I bristled. When a boyfriend gently prodded me to think, REALLY think, about my beliefs on abortion, I stayed up all night arguing with him, refusing to concede that maybe, just maybe, he had a valid point.
What I realize now is that it wasn’t really them I was fighting. It was me. My inner voice — the one that yearns for common sense, order, practicality, efficiency and logical consistency — was whispering to me that perhaps the world didn’t work quite the way I’d always thought; perhaps my perceptions were…flawed?
That’s a bitter pill to swallow for a perfectionist like me. Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong, it turned out could. The recognition of this didn’t happen overnight, of course. It was a slow, and sometimes painful, process. There are definitely landmarks along the way to which I can point, however: September 11th (I’ve learned this holds true for many); becoming a parent; discovering a “crazy right wing” political message board where I initially intended to be a drive-by troll, but ended up sitting on the front porch with the rest of the wingnuts, eventually becoming a moderator; reconnecting with my faith; the Terri Schiavo debacle. I could go on, but you get the gist.
There was one book, in particular, that I have to mention, as well: “Bias” by Bernie Goldberg. I read it sometime around 2003 or 2004. And the scales truly began to fall from my eyes. For the first time in my life, I realized that all information comes to us through filters. There is no such thing as a truly objective news source. Which is all well and good, as long as one understands this and recognizes that each morsel we’re fed is flavored by the agenda of the person(s) serving it up. Truthfully, I feel a bit silly that this was something it took me 30 some-odd years to get. For a smart girl, I sure was pretty slow on the uptake.
So, the journey has not been a speedy one. And it has meandered a bit along the way. But I have, indeed, traversed the Great Divide. The advantage I believe I have now is that I can still see the other side. I am aware not only that it exists, but I am familiar with it, and not instinctively and automatically angry towards it. Yes, on its outskirts, it is most certainly loony. (Then again, there’s some looniness in the other direction if one wanders too terribly far.) Most people, I’ve found however, camp out within range of the divide. And if they aren’t firmly entrenched in the “politics as a team sport” mentality, are open to marginally reasoned discourse — especially one-on-one and over a beer.
What does anger me, though — what seriously burns me up — is the rampant hypocrisy. There is a double standard firmly in place. What goes for the left, does not go for the right. Whenever objection is raised to it — when attempts are made to shine the light on it — the cords get yanked and the shades get pulled back down by the Professional Left and its media hit men. And the most insidious thing about it is the fact that so many remain utterly oblivious to it. Frankly, I’ve had enough of that. The shoe’s on the other foot now.