Republicans are People Too
2004-10-27 - 8:00 a.m.
Lola, being perhaps the longest-running reader of this diary, knows that it takes me a long time to talk about personal events, so she will understand why it will take me a while to comment on her visit.
She should also know, as should any reader of my diary, that I like porn. As I said in my last full-length entry, I get a lot of it from Bravo. For example, last night I was treated to the only thing better than half-naked men--half-naked men in make-up and punk/goth "clothing," and that word is in quotation marks for a reason. The next episode will feature Rob saying the words that I certainly have been thinking ever since I first heard him speak: "I don't know how the other guys didn't know I was gay." It will also hopefully feature Hunter having a little self-realization, because--and I'm sorry about this, but it's true--lips like those are wasted on women.
Manhunt, however, is not my favorite porn featured on Bravo. That honor goes to The West Wing.
In case you were wondering, the pornographic elements of The West Wing do not include butt-shots of Bradley Whitford, thank the goddess. Nor do they include the gorgeous outfits that drape themselves so elegantly on the frame of the phenomenally talented Allison Janney . . . okay, that's not ALL they include. No, The West Wing is my porn because it is about something that I have always fantasized about and will probably never see: a liberal Democrat in The White House, doing his best to try to make this country a better place for the working class, for racial and sexual minorities, and for women. His wife is an ardent, unapologetic feminist with an MD. His staff is made up of dedicated, passionate individuals who are willing to put everything they have on the line to protect a nuclear test ban treaty, or to enact environmental law, or just to keep some poor schmuck from getting humiliated on national television. They make compromises--often horrible, soul-stealing, sleep-depriving compromises--but anyone who tells you that you don't have to do that sort of thing when governing a nation of more than 250 million people is a crack fiend and should not be running for president, especially when the party that usually nominates him has the sense to know that a Mussolini is preferable to a Hitler and a Kerry, while not a great choice by any means, in infinitely preferable to a Bush. There are millions upon millions of people in this country who espouse the ideals of the Republican Party, and they vote to. Telling them to sit down and shut up, while certainly satisfying, is still a form of fascism.
Speaking of Republicans, my favorite character on The West Wing is Ainsley Hayes. For those who don't watch the show, Ainsley popped up out of nowhere a few seasons ago and was initially presumed to be sexy blonde Republican without the brains to tie her shoes. While certainly Republican, she has enough brains to pound anyone of Bartlett's liberal posse into the floor when the mood strikes her, and while able to enjoy her sexiness, knows when to get down to business. I like her a lot, because she calls me and all my fellow liberals out on our bullshit assumption that "Republican" is synonymous either with "imbecile" or "bigot" or "consumed by toxic greed." Ainsley wants to make America a better place, but has her own conception of what it will take to do that. I totally disagree with her, but I'd never call her a moron or a bitch, which plenty of liberals on the show have done, because she refuses to belittle liberals for being anything other than smug and superior. And we are smug and superior. It is our most fatal flaw, and thanks to Republicans ever for reminding us of that.
I like watching Ainsley because she reminds me of a lot of the people I went to high school who managed to be both Republicans and good people. Granted, there were a lot of Republicans who were grotesquely selfish, or who couldn't tie their shoes without a map and a spotter, but that had more to do with their attitudes as people than with their political affiliation. They were brought up to believe certain things about what a free market could do for people, and whether small government was better than big government, and to what extent government and religion can work together. I disagreed with them on almost everything, but at no point did I think that they felt this way because, in their heart of hearts, they didn't care about anything but themselves. They just had different ideas about what would be best for our nation.
The best part was that a lot of them were willing to listen, not just to the highly opposed views espoused by me and most of my friends, but to what people had to say about poverty, and genetic engineering, and gender equality. When I came out, I managed to get even some of the most die-hard conservatives to listen, to try to see things from my point of view, to understand that the love that I felt was closer to the love that they felt than they had thought.
Having said that, its hard for me to talk to the Republicans I know around election years. I remember the election of 2000, when I found out a friend of mine had voted for Bush. Now, a number of friends of mine voted for Bush, but a number of those people were pro-life, and I feel like if a person genuinely believes abortion is murder, then voting for the pro-life candidate is okay. These people need to understand that abortion isn't murder in order to vote otherwise. One friend, however, was thoroughly pro-choice, but still voted for Bush. I was angry, and I was hurt, not because he was willing to turn his back on millions of American women who fought to have control over their own bodies, but because he was voting for a candidate who was ready to do anythign to prevent me from acquiring the right to marry, the right to adopt, protection from discrimination, in short, American citizenship. Getting a tax break was more important to him than me becoming something more than a second class citizen. That hurt a lot. What hurt more is that, when I wanted to confront him, a lot of my friends told me not to, that who he voted for was his business and I had no right to tell him what to think.
They were right. I had no right to tell him what to think. But I had every right to do everything in my power to make sure he understood the ramifications of his decision.
That is what we of the left have a week left to do. We need to force people to understand what four more years of Bush will do. There are a lot of die hard Republicans we won't convince, but there are a lot of fence-sitters and moderates who are unsure about the future with Bush in office. We have to make them understand what Bush will do, what voting for him means to a poor person, or to a woman who wants to have freedom to govern her own body, or men and women who want to marry the people they love. That's what you do for anyone thinking about voting for Bush.
For those who say not to vote for Kerry, I will say first of all that I sympathize. I don't like him either, and I know as well as you do that he won't pull us out of Iraq anywhere near fast enough. But I am going to vote for him for one reason: I think that Bush is capable of taking us into Iran and/or Syria. Kerry may not end the war we're in, but he will do nothing to expand it. I think Bush will.
Regardless, we need to remember that anyone who votes cares about the fate of America. Our disagreement does not make any of us evil or stupid. It makes us short-sighted, or misinformed, or mistaken, or different, and sometimes it even makes someone just plain wrong. It doesn't mean that we should not be listened to, which is something that the current administration will never do. Sadly, I think it's also something that a lot of other candidates whose opinions I agree with will never do. Certainly, a lot of lefties have demonstrated their complete incapacity to listen to any opinion different from their own since I've gotten here, and their total lack of respect for anyone different reminded me a lot of some of the nastier conservatives I met in Texas. I think Kerry will listen, and that's where change starts.
Nothing like a good rant to start out the day. Now I'll try to get some work done. For those who need to procrastinate further, head over to http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0410/15/cf.01.html to read all about Jon Stewart being a real American hero. Thanks to GreatSirG for the link; I'd link to his site, but the current entry . . .seriously, ew.0 comments so far The End - 2005-02-11
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