Democratic Underground

Ask Auntie Pinko

June 2, 2005
By Auntie Pinko

Dear Auntie,

I am surrounded. Republicans everywhere. How do I work and interact with these people on a day to day basis?

I mean, before in my life if someone told me "I am a Republican" I would smile and nod my head and ask them something about Reagan or Nixon. Now if someone tells me that they're a Republican, what they are really telling me is that they are an uninformed Kool-Aid drinker, hanging on Rush's every word. I don't want to be prejudiced against them, but I don't see how I can't be.

It's easy for people to shrug off the people in cowpoke towns in the red states as unedumacated, waving their confederate flags - but these people I see every day are intelligent human beings. They are savvy, kind, well mannered, Volvo driving, IGNORANT ASSHOLES! That have been nothing but nice to me.

How can I respect and admire anyone who is pro-Bush or his administration? There is not one thing I can latch onto and say "Well, they are sending this world to hell in a hand basket but at least they..."

Conservatism, although I don't agree with it, can be understood. But this outright lying and evil administration - I don't see how anyone with a half a brain could support them.

How do I not hold these people in such contempt? Please tell me.

Fort Lauderdale

Dear Christian,

For starters, you can remember that politics, while certainly important, is not The Most Important Thing Ever. It is not even the most important thing about an individual human being. You say, "There is not one thing I can latch onto and say 'Well, they are sending this world to hell in a hand basket but at least they...'"

How about this? "(They) have been nothing but nice to me." If that doesn't count for anything, Christian, you are suffering from a serious deficit in your sense of proportion. Please remember that (unless you work in marketing or public information for a living) it is not your job, or even your sacred responsibility, to make everyone see the hideous error of his or her opinions.

Mr. Bush's administration has lied. It is responsible for much evil. There are many people in the administration, and many supporting it, whose actions appear to be based on the most selfish and ignoble of motives - personal profit, self-aggrandizement, the lust for power. The results of their actions have brought great harm to many, while they themselves, and their friends, have prospered.

The justifications advanced for their public policies and actions show little appreciation for values I (and many other Democrats) hold dear: that the merit of a government should be judged, not by how effectively it adds to the abundance of those who already enjoy abundance, but by how effectively it relieves the misery and suffering of those less fortunate; and that it is one of government's most important responsibilities to ensure that future generations will have clean air and water, habitable land, and a sustainable, viable ecosystem.

Even the values I do share with this administration and its supporters - that an ethical government must uphold the principles of political and social self-determination in its dealings with other governments; and that government must assure the domestic safety of all citizens, especially the most helpless - appear to be subject to some strange distorting lens when seen by this administration. The actions they attribute to these values appear hypocritically selective, and are carried out in counterproductive ways that cause more damage from long-term problems than the short-term damage they mitigate.

This administration and its supporters also profess to hold dear some values which I detest - social Darwinism as a basis for community progress, and relying on the profits of business to determine the level of citizens' economic security and success, rather than relying on a broad base of economically secure and successful citizens to support the profits of business. For all these reasons, and more, I oppose this administration and am determined to replace them with public servants who share both my values, and my understanding of the ethical and effective way to implement those values.

But I do not personally know any members of this administration. While I do believe the leadership of this administration bears responsibility for the misery created by its actions, I cannot see into the deepest hearts of any one individual in the administration and condemn them as "evil," however evil the results of their actions might be.

Auntie Pinko lives in a small rural town in a very "red" part of an otherwise "blue" state. My GOP neighbors sport "W" bumper stickers and festoon their vehicles with yellow magnetic ribbons. I don't share many of their political opinions, and I am frustrated and disappointed in their apparent unwillingness or inability to see what is so blatantly obvious to me. This is especially true since I live among them and know what decent, caring people they are. They are good neighbors, the kind who keep an eye on your house when you're away, who bring casseroles and hugs when neighbors are grieving a loss. They chip in willingly, with both time and money, when friends and community institutions are in need.

My GOP neighbors have supported their sons and daughters who are in the military, fighting in the sad, misconceived war in Iraq. They worry deeply for their safety even while they seem utterly unable to connect the lies and ambition of Mr. Bush's administration with the danger threatening their children. (Although some of them are starting to have doubts!) When a local man, a young husband and father, was badly wounded in Iraq, my neighbors of all political opinions instantly established a fund to meet the travel and accommodation expenses for his young wife to go to Texas where he was being treated in a military hospital, and neighbors stepped in to help his family cope.

If I were struck by some disaster - a sudden illness, a fire, loss of a close family member (God forbid!) - I wouldn't have the slightest hesitation in turning to my GOP neighbors for help and support. They'd be there for me, even if they pull the "wrong" handle in the voting booth. Even if their vision of the ideal American government is different from mine in many ways, they would reach out to me if I were in trouble, and do their best to help. How could I feel contempt for such people, even if I vigorously disagree with their political opinions?

Your dedication to the social and economic values Democrats share is a wonderful thing, Christian. Don't lose it; work hard and persistently to help bring about change for the better in America. But if you find yourself getting lost in negative feelings, it's time to step back a bit. Take a break from politics for a while. Life is much bigger than politics, important as they are. People are more important - all people, regardless of whether they agree with you politically.

If you want to live in an America where diversity of opinion is valued, where free speech is cherished, where differing viewpoints are respected - be the change you want to create. And thanks for asking Auntie Pinko!

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