I remember thinking kindly of Eisenhower, perhaps only because he was the first president I was aware of, and I believed, as a child, that presidents were right and good. Or heck, maybe Ike was right and good.
I assume I started viewing Republicans as absolute other around Nixon's time, but I wasn't always like that. I remember hanging Kennedy-Johnson posters with my best friend Linda Seth. She was Catholic: of course she was going to vote for Kennedy. Or would have if we weren't ten. The point is, I wasn't against Nixon. I was for Kennedy.
By the time W came to steal the election, my stomach hurt every time I heard his voice. I had breakfast the other day with a friend who couldn't stand his face. She covered her own eyes as she said it, just as I cover my ears when I say my bit. The repulsion is real. Perhaps it's just -- "just" -- that we've made him stand for everything that's stupid and violent, dangerous and arrogant in this country.
In this country? I almost changed that to "in the government," but these days, I see all Republicans as Bushites: stupid, violent, dangerous, arrogant. I can't stand that they're pro-life and pro-war. Just how does that work? I can't stand that they're big fat Christians, but killing is somehow okay. The bumper sticker WHO WOULD JESUS BOMB? doesn't even strike them as sarcasm. They stroke their beards and think about it. Hm ... who would Jesus bomb? Let's see, we got them A-rabs, of course, and maybe a buncha Jews ...
I got a mass email today with a really funny joke about a Muslim (of course) terrorist (of course). Our American forefathers, in this hilarious scenario, greet him at the Pearly Gates, although how such an evil person made it to heaven is not explained. These righteous Americans take turns committing violence upon him (yes! in heaven!), while quoting the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and their own historical speeches (although not the bit about religious freedom, of course). When the poor man is finally left alone, weeping, an angel appears. The Muslim cries bitterly that this was not what he was promised. "I told you there would be seventy-two Virginians waiting for you in heaven," quoth the angel. "What did you think I said?"
I burst into flames when I read that, of course. Well, the email was from a woman in a group of friends from a conservative rural area. Does that also mean Christian? Probably. The kind that hate? Yeah. This whole God Is Love thing that Christians like to promote, based on their own holy text, is nonsense to most of them. Or maybe it's more like a selective love. God loves Christians and whites, for sure. I suppose He loves men more than women, brunettes over blondes, swords over ploughshares. I'm pretty sure He just doesn't have quite enough love for gays, though. Or liberals.
I know I have at least one (1) Christian reader here who actually embodies that God Is Love thing. And I know there's at least one (1) Republican, based on that hopeful bumper sticker, who is probably merely conservative, not stupid, violent, dangerous, or arrogant. She (I'm so sure she's a she!) wouldn't refer to her president using a racial slur, even though she may have preferred McCain. So there's hope, right?
Mostly what I want is for me to quit being so sure that all Republicans are idiots. I can't stand it that I'm right there in the black-or-white, either-or world, but I am. I can subscribe to the theory that we're all multi-faceted and that we shouldn't be judged (if at all) by just one facet. What if you judged me only by my near-total inability to find my car in a parking lot? But if you believe in torture, then how we are in the world -- our orientation -- is so very different that I don't know if we could find things to talk about at lunch. If I know that you automatically think black people are less than white people, how can we even chat about books? Don't our politics reflect our core values? I don't know how I can enjoy your (non-religious, non-political) humor while also knowing that you think Palin is a fine example of American womanhood.
Deleting without reading emails from certain "friends" doesn't seem to be the answer. I'm already an ostrich in so many ways. Right now, I'm incapable of calm, political discussion, and I may always be so. I had to take a psychological test when I worked at The Widget Factory. It turned out that in all my reactions, I was never "neutral" or "moderate." I was either "passionate" or "extreme." That doesn't sound like a good dinner companion, does it?