This should get me plenty of hate mail.
I am a liberal. As such, I believe in progress and equality. I yearn for societal evolution and a government that works for the people it serves. I stand on the side of all that is good and fair and rail against the oppression levied on the American people by the oligarchal one percent.
Those are all ideologies that any liberal can get behind. Those are the kinds of things that if taken as a whole and implemented would create a utopia the likes of which people on the left dream about. The mere thought of such perfection makes us believe that we are on the side of righteousness. After all…we are more intelligent and far more tolerant than our opposition.
And yet we can’t seem to stop losing elections.
Yes, there is gerrymandering and voter suppression and lies and deceit and billions of dollars working against us. Those things are real and horrible and wrong. They are also only half of the story. Our enemies are easy to see — hate, fear, bigotry and greed. The driving forces of the modern day conservative and the Republican party they love so dearly.
The Republican base, particularly die-hard Trump supporters, are the worst our country has to offer. They are the lowest common denominator; fruit hanging so close to the ground it can be easily snagged up and eaten by the GOP elite. Those people represent a huge piece of the American voting puzzle. They do not, however, represent every single person who voted for Donald Trump.
That brings us to the subject of this article. How could it possibly be that with our superior intellects and wholesome ideologies that any independent could possibly be persuaded by our inferiors to vote against the best interests of themselves and their country? That’s not so hard to understand if you step outside the box and think about that statement. People in the middle of our battle against evil may find the right to be as ridiculous as we do…and yet many may feel the same way about us.
The issue here isn’t that we’re arrogant, intolerant know-it-alls who refuse to bend on anything or see anyone else’s point of view as valid, the issue is we look like arrogant, intolerant know-it-alls who refuse to bend on anything or see anyone else’s point of view as valid. That may seem harsh, but our political world is the epitome of the word…so maybe harsh is exactly what we need.
Before I go into examples, please remember that I am not nor will I ever defend the radical right-wing views of the people we fight with day in and day out. What I’m talking about here are typical American independents who only follow politics when they feel they are directly affected. It’s almost impossible for us to consider that there are people who aren’t completely polarized, but they not only exist, they decide elections.
The first and most important thing far too many liberals show intolerance towards is Christianity. We tend to take our contempt for Christian extremism out on anyone who follows the religion at all. We ridicule people who send “thoughts and prayers” after a tragedy and call God things like “Sky Daddy.” We forget that faith isn’t always something used as a front for hate and intolerance. In doing so, we alienate people who hold many of our same beliefs and have since Sunday school.
On the other hand, we show absolute tolerance for a religion that is currently the most dangerous on the planet. Yes, I completely understand why President Obama and the State Department refrained from saying “radical Islam,” but does that really mean we have to pretend there is no danger at all? We’re at war with terrorism, not Islam, but those terrorist are who they are because they follow a twisted version of that religion.
So…we admonish Christians because the right-wingers use a twisted version of that religion to justify hate, all the while defending all Muslims and denying that they are an inherent danger to our society. What if, and sure this may sound crazy, but what if we showed the same tolerance for the peace-loving versions of all religions and admitted that while right-wing extremists are the worst of their kind, they don’t represent their entire religion?
Sounds like a familiar argument doesn’t it?
It’s tough to consider that not everyone thinks the way we do because we are so good and so right and so smart. Another great example is the transgender bathroom issue. Because we are for equality and because we have things so absent in right-wingers — such as empathy and compassion — we fall on the side of basic human rights and no argument will stand in our way.
The problem with that isn’t that we’re wrong, it’s that we’re being intolerant and closed-minded. Yes, I said it. I have personally seen conversations where liberals have said, “you know, not everyone understands the transgender issue or what they’re going through.” Every single time it happens, those liberals are called bigots, Trumpsters and hatemongers for not standing up for their transgender brothers and sisters.
That’s the very definition of extremism. Let’s look at the subject from the point of view of someone who isn’t in the discussion for political reasons but to simply talk about their own feelings. Is it fair to take something that is so far from typical that it affects less than one percent of our population and take anyone who says they don’t agree or don’t understand and group them into the cult of hate and intolerance?
I have a personal experience I can go by. I have a cousin who is a transgender man. He’s a wonderful guy who leads a full and happy life. His identity is accepted by our entire family, including his parents who are both protestant ministers. Does that mean I understand? No. For most people, that’s impossible. I couldn’t possibly understand what it feels like to be trapped in a body and feel like it’s the wrong gender for me. As a person who lives in liberal circles and considers himself tolerant and accepting, that translates to “good for you for being yourself. I absolutely accept you for who you are with no questions asked.”
For the typical, non-political American independent, that may not be so easy. They may be searching for answers to something they simply do not understand. When we as liberals take those questions and doubts as hate or intolerance, we pounce. We call them names. We accuse them of being uneducated and closed-minded.
All the while it’s our own fear of inequality pushing us to push those people towards the right rather than embracing them and telling them, “you know what, I understand. You may never fully ‘get’ the reasons why. All you need to ‘get’ is that a transgender person is just a person.” Sometimes a message is as simple as that. Not everyone needs to be able to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes to feel like they can accept them.
There are a dozen issues just like these. Abortion is a woman’s right. That is absolute and legal, but some people disagree. I’m not talking about the religious zealots who think an embryo is a person before it even has a heartbeat or that a non-viable fetus that has never experienced a brain wave can feel pain. I’m talking about people who just can’t wrap their heads around it.
Those people are entitled to their opinion and if we call them zygote-loving pro-life whackjobs we do nothing but push them to the right where they learn all about how little baby warren was born happy and healthy at just 9 weeks of gestation. Yes, it’s ridiculous, but when we jump into “so much smarter than you” mode we’re ultimately responsible for people getting their education, or lack thereof, elsewhere.
I guess what I’m saying is that if you live in the world of politics, there are only two sides. That’s simply not true. There were 77K people in a dozen counties in the midwest who felt alienated by the Democratic party and went out and voted for Trump, handing him the presidency. Trump didn’t win those votes…we lost them.
We lost them because we told them they were stupid. We told them that because they were frightened of ISIS that they were unreasonable. We didn’t address the union job they lost to an automated plant in a red state at all. Instead, we pointed at Trump, who said all of the right things, and called him names and told them he was a liar, thinking that would be good enough. We did all of that while the party sat back and took their votes for granted.
77K votes. Yes, we won the popular vote. Yes, we think the electoral college is archaic. That doesn’t change the fact that Donald Trump is sitting in the Oval Office. Those people may be regretting it, but in the end, our own inability to accept people who think even a little bit differently from where we stand didn’t help matters at all.
Maybe it’s time for us to stop believing we’re right and arguing that we’re better and pretending we’ll win elections because of it. No, we shouldn’t try to turn the die-hard, gun-humping, bible thumping Trumpster, but we should be trying to pry those in the middle from their grasp rather than providing them with reasons to share those “tolerant liberal” memes conservatives love so much.
We preach acceptance at every turn. Let’s go ahead and put that philosophy into practice.