Political Opinion by Richard Bleil
Today there was an article about a series of tweets written by a liberal living in a conservative state. He explained early on that he fits the image of a modern-day Republican, that is, he is an older white male, works with his hands, and living in a very conservative state. This is, of course generalization and as with pretty much all generalizations is a gross oversimplification and subject to a multitude of exceptions and might even be offensive to some, but the point that he was making is that, in his world, everybody just assumed he was a staunch Republican and supporter of the president.
He described a world immersed in Republican culture. I felt this strongly, because for many years, I lived in deeply “red” states. In fact, it was only a few months ago that I finally left a state that, I am told, is the only state that went more red in the most recent election. What he described was a reflection of my own experiences.
Before we get into that, though, let me take a moment to describe a little bit about me and my politics. See, I consider myself to be a Republican, but a “centrist” Republican. I do not feel obligated to vote along Republican lines as I think for myself, and vote on the character of those running for office and their stand on issues. In the states where I have been living, to be as independent a voter as I am labels me as a flaming socialist liberal Democrat.
See, I am a humanist. I believe that it’s not right to limit the rights of women, which also makes me in favor of supporting Planned Parenthood, not only because it’s a way of supporting the right of choice, but also because of the plethora of additional services that they provide. The conservative in me says that we should have a controlled border, but the liberal says not closed. It should not be a crime to want to immigrate to the US, and try to enter fleeing an unstable country, but immigrants should be required to apply for legal status with, frankly, a vast majority do. I believe that we need to maintain a strong military, but not at the expense of the citizens. I believe in fair taxation, but fair to everybody, not generous to a very few.
The point to the article, however, was to suggest how threatened he felt in his own community. This bothers me immensely and sums up why I have been unable to vote Republican for many years. This man not only expressed an environment where Republican propaganda (such as Fox “news”) permeated every public place that had televisions and radio, but worse than that, he expressed fear for expressing any opinion contrary to Republican stands. He even went to far as to express fear for losing his job if he said anything contrary to any Republican initiative or stand.
Now, if you are a Republican and still reading this, let me say “thank you” before continuing. I should point out that this could just as easily occur in, and may even be true, in strongly Democratic regions of the county. This is a fundamental flaw in our political system, not just in one party. I’m expressing this post in terms of the Republican party for two reasons; first, in the current political climate, it appears to be particularly prevalent in the Republican party. Second, personally, I’m very disappointed in the Republican party. Their extremism in lack of social concern, voter suppression, and economic inequality means that the current incarnation of the party does not reflect my own opinions or beliefs. This can swing, and I truly hope that some day it does, and the Republican party re-align themselves with a more central stance that I can again support.
The very real problem is more widespread than either party individually, in my humble opinion. I honestly believe that I lost my job with the police department because of my centrist viewpoint. Although I never spoke out against conservatives, the strongly (exceptionally strongly) conservative command staff knew that I was more liberal than many of them, and I suspect that this is why they felt uncomfortable with me, whether or not this discomfort was intentional. The very real dangers of having a differing opinion in a deeply political state (conservative or liberal) are real, and they should never be so.
This is supposed to be the UNITED States of America. We are supposed to have freedom of choice, and democratically elected officials. In my opinion, this means that we should be free to express our opinions, and disagree without feeling at risk physically, or financially. But that’s not the way it is today.
I favor immigration because I believe there is strength in diversity. I believe in celebrating different opinions because I believe the best solution is found after considering all sides of the issue. Making people feel uncomfortable for their beliefs, opinions and stances on issues is not only unAmerican, it’s immoral as well. Be open to differences. It’ll reduce stress, make you a better person, and help you to see more clearly.