12 August 2004

The political is personal

I have a couple of long web essays to offer today.

The first is Orcinus' The Political and the Personal. Orcinus, aka David Neiwert, is a journalist who has been following the Patriot movement for several years. You'll notice that he's listed in bold in my blogroll: his site is a perfect example of the kind of analysis that good journalists can't seem to get into print but can do very effectively on the web.

There's one thing about growing up in a place like Idaho: If you can't make friends with conservatives, you won't have many friends.

And as my oldest friends can tell you, the truth is that I used to be fairly conservative myself. I come from a working-class family — my mother's side of the family was in road construction, and my dad's was mostly a farming family, though his father actually was an auto mechanic.

Working-class values, and my belief in blue-collar virtues — like integrity, decency, hard work, honesty, common sense, and fair play — all were quite deeply ingrained. When I was younger, I really believed that conservatism best embodied those values.

I have heard all kinds of anecdotes about interpersonal alienation over Bush and his handling of the "war on terror." Some of these involve family members, others longtime friendships. One can only imagine what scenes will erupt from the coming Thanksgiving and holiday seasons too. For myself, it is not profound, but noticeable: invitations to traditional camping and fishing trips not issued; letters ignored; cold and brusque treatment when we do get together. A decided lack of communication and a clear sense of rejection.

And it's too plain why: I and my fellow “Saddam-loving” liberals are all traitors. They know, because Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter and everyone else out there has told them so. Indeed, these right-wing "transmitters" have been pounding it into their heads for years now, and it's reaching fruition.

I don't really blame my friends for this, though of course I deeply resent their willingness to adopt such beliefs. It is a very hurtful thing, and it may take years to recover, if at all. But I'm trying to be patient, knowing that eventually they will come around.

I've been meaning to plug Orcinus for a while, now. The Political and the Personal was well-circulated in the blogosphere last year. He was up for a Koufax award for it, and he did win the award for another essay, the brilliant, indispensible, and very long Rush, Newspeak, and Fascism. And his blog is all-around terrific.

I was prodded into action by reading rm's new essay Life and Politics -- I Am Doing My Best.

As a fan of small goverment and social freedoms, and without a personal adhearance to a Judeo-Christian faith or many of its accompanying moralities, voting always puts me in a difficult place. I am much less liberal than many of my friends on many issues and much more so on many others. And while I believe that 99% of anyone who thinks they understand economics without being an economist is a complete jackass, I'm certainly more informed, if not more comprehending than most.

Certainly, I know that many of my friends face the constantly annoying choice as to whether to vote on money or social issues. I'm just always surprised when they choose money.
So I vote on stuff like civil liberties, abortion and gay rights, effectiveness on the war on terror and just a general sense of whether a candidate seems to think America is for all Americans or just the ones that agree with them. I know that a lot of people may think this childish, or naive, and I suppose my only defense is to tell you that it is neither of those things... just womanly instead.

I personally find it heartening that rm is obviously not just some politically correct lefty — but she's driven to concern with many of the same political and cultural issues that fascinate the cultural left, and she draws her own conclusions.

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