The Republican National Convention is in full swing and I think this is a good time to approach a subject I have tried to avoid, for the most part, on my social media sites: politics.
I suspect that if you have had a cohesive, healthy emotional relationship with your parents, your political leaning have likely been shaped by them. There are of course exceptions, but in my case this certainly rings true. My father was a war hero. He was a member of the 24th Marine Corps Raider Battalion and landed on many a beach in the South Pacific, including Iwo Jima, where he was shot by a Japanese sniper…when Korea rolled around he re-enlisted. This man killed other human beings at close range and in his later years was haunted by the atrocities he had witnessed.
So it’s hard for a young lad like myself not to pay attention when dad tells you he met Ronald Reagan (at the time my dad was an executive with the NBC affiliate in Sacramento and Reagan was governor) and that the guy was a fraud. Here is a war hero calling out a man that made-believe for a living and never experienced the horror of war. Yet this man has become a beacon of the Republican party.
My dad was a liberal…a term of derision these days but he would have kicked your ass in his day had you told him that. Here is a guy that knew what it was to sacrifice for his country and he had little tolerance for the political posers or the racist of his day. Dad was a proud supporter of the civil rights movement and when your father espouses these beliefs, with his credentials…it just makes sense.
I’m a liberal too…and I’m not afraid to say it. I have very strong beliefs that our government exists partially to not only provide economic freedom and growth, but to provide for those less fortunate, to stand up for the little guy, to root for and support the underdog. I also believe in capital punishment and strongly support the second amendment. I’m a former member of the NRA who rejected my membership when they launched their paranoid campaign to defeat President Obama in the last election. I don’t believe in big government but I believe in universal healthcare or socialized medicine if you will. I simply cannot believe in this day and age, that we are one of the last first world countries without it. We provide military, police and fire protection for our populace, but somehow healthcare, by definition a life-and-death proposition, is not worthy of that basic tenet of the function of government.
So I guess I’m not a pure liberal…I share some beliefs with my Republican friends. However, I am disgusted and frankly frightened about some of the rhetoric I hear from the G.O.P. in recent years. It is so far from the norm, and the dialogue so vitriolic that it angers me. I want to react, I want to fight back. But for the most part I don’t. My vote is my sword.
The political discourse in our country has become toxic at the state and national level. In many cases it has digressed into an uninformed, base schoolyard fight. I feel bullied at times by the hateful rhetoric but remain willing to fight to the death if necessary to protect my beliefs and the sanctity of my country…the country my dad fought for. And if you’re a Republican and a Romney supporter, you may feel the same way about some of my beliefs. I am only too aware that my Democratic party has its share of shrill idiots and merchants of hate.
What I find unsettling is that some people in my life who I love, friends that I cherish, are Republicans and by extension, I see them as believers of the Hannity’s and Beck’s and Limbaugh’s. That may or may not be an accurate assessment but the bottom line is I am so disappointed when I find out these people don’t share my cherished beliefs. I want them to see the light. In my mind, I want them to open their minds and be better people. Alas, they are probably hoping the same for me…maybe worse…I don’t know.
What I do know is this…the political discourse needs to change if we are to stay the UNITED States of America. If you don’t pigeon-hole me as an “elite liberal” or simply a derisive “liberal”, I promise to try not to unfairly categorize you and your beliefs. If you agree that we can disagree without personal attacks, I’m all over that. Finally, if you can take the biggest step of all…if you can agree that at some point, compromise is not only necessary, but inevitable for any union, then we can return this country to something better than what I’m afraid we are leaving for our children. If you are a Republican…God bless you and your family. I’m a liberal Democrat…I hope you can reciprocate.