Friday, June 22, 2007

I'm Right, You're Wrong: How I Can Love a Conservative

Like every other person with liberal sensibilities, I've always found Republicans frightening. It's the way they insist on focusing on their own personal financial spreadsheet, as though a prescription for the world's problems can somehow be found there. It's their religious zeal about capitalism, and their sniggering contempt for economic losers. It's their ideology, which no matter how they dress it up, says: if everybody acted as responsibly as me, we'd all be rich, rich, rich.

I never imagined I'd be married (or almost, anyway) to a conservative. We met near the end of the 2004 presidential campaign, when I was canvassing for John Kerry in his state of New Hampshire. Now those were strange days: I couldn't help noticing that every time I knocked on a door and a middle-aged white male opened it, he quickly, and with almost palpable embarrassment, managed to dismiss me. No discussion. No need for it. The eyes said it all: "I'm a Republican. Can't you tell just by looking at me? I know you're earnest and all, but please. My type runs things, yours goes around wringing your hands and whining about the oppressed - so be gone! Shoo!" They weren't angry at being interrupted in the middle of their busy, profitable day. Just bemused, because I was naive enough to think I could influence their already-very-sound political judgments. How like a Liberal.

I thought about this later because, the first time I saw David, he looked exactly like these guys. To a T.

That first date, we argued about the New York Times. He considered it a tool of the Liberal Elite Establishment. I thought that was absurd on its face, and idiotic in a more relevant sense, since I don't think he'd ever read it. (Now he does; he loves that business news.)

On a subsequent date we fought about abortion. Him: The Supreme Court can't just invent "rights" that don't exist in the Constitution. Plus, states should decide for themselves. Me: Maybe that's true in most cases, but some rights are too important to be left to the whims of states. Some rights must apply universally. Why should a woman in Vermont have access to abortion services when a woman in Mississippi doesn't? Etc.

Then we fought about taxes, public schools, the degree to which any of us "owes" anything to anyone else, and whether it's nice to call Ted Kennedy fat when many other politicans are much fatter. And there's always that pesky issue of the man he helped put into the White House. (Even he admits that that one hasn't turned out well.)

And the debate has gone on, heatedly and through many politically inspired twists and turns, for almost three years.

Why do I stay? Because for all his blather, he usually has a point, and he's read more political philosophy than I have, and once he gave a homeless woman a cigar because he doesn't smoke cigarettes and she wanted one. And because at least at the beginning, he emailed me poetry, and for all his primitive thinking, he's broad-minded enough not to care if we agree about politics. The truth is, he's not the mean-spirited boob that I figured all Conservatives were. (Oh, he's a little bit of a boob, but I'm working on that.)

This blog is for the politically mixed-married among us. Who's out there with me?

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