I’m writing because I just can’t deal with my father anymore. He’s a 65-year-old super right-wing conservative who has basically turned into a total asshole intent on ruining our relationship and our planet with his politics. I’m more or less a liberal democrat with very progressive values and I know that people like my dad are going to destroy us all. I don’t have any good times with him anymore. All we do is argue. When I try to spend time with him without talking politics or discussing any current events, there’s still an underlying tension that makes it really uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I love him no matter what, but how do I explain to him that his politics are turning him into a monster, destroying the environment, and pushing away the people who care about him?
Thanks for your help,
Son of A Right-Winger
Dear Son of A Right-Winger,
Go back and read the opening sentences of your letter. Read them again. Then read the rest of your letter. Then read it again. Try to find a single instance where you referred to your dad as a human being, a person, or a man. There isn’t one. You’ve reduced your father — the person who created you — to a set of beliefs and political views and how it relates to you. And you don’t consider your dad a person of his own standing — he’s just “your dad.” You’ve also reduced yourself to a set of opposing views, and reduced your relationship with him to a fight between the two. The humanity has been reduced to nothingness and all that’s left in its place is an argument that can never really be won. And even if one side did win, it probably wouldn’t satisfy the deeper desire to be in a state of inflamed passionate conflict.
The world isn’t being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist — the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world. The world is being hurt and damaged by one group of people believing they’re truly better people than the others who think differently. The world officially ends when we let our beliefs conquer love. We must not let this happen.
It goes on like that. I don’t agree with all of it, but it makes some good points. The essay was sent to me by a friend, and I saw it again on Hot Air, linked by Mary Katharine Ham, whose take on it was, I thought, wonderful:
Many of you will likely disagree with Andrew WK and my lauding of his philosophy, but I loathe the idea of a world where my every relationship and every decision is governed by adherence to my political ideology. I want to be friends with people of all stripes and see whatever movie and eat whatever pasta I feel like without running each of them through a political rubric. Not everything that is not of my political sensibility must deeply offend my sensibilities. One of the reasons I’m conservative is because if you increase without end the number of areas in which the federal government meddles from afar, the more politics infects every corner of our lives. And, frankly, that’s a drab life.
I agree. This happens, unfortunately, on both sides. We criticize people on the left for believing conservatives EEEEVIL (instead of just wrong), then some of us turn around and insist that people on the left who disagree with us are themselves evil. I find it annoying.
As Mary Katharine notes, this is an unpopular position with many hardcore conservatives. No righty blogger ever went broke by being too harsh to the left. If I measured my worth by the number of virtual slaps on the back I got from my commenters, I guess I could do a lot better at gaining kudos by screaming my head off about the intrinsic evil of leftists every day.
But in the end, that’s not really the kind of person I want to be. And even though many of the policies the left engages in have terrible results — and even though some of the people on the left are, objectively, evil — most people in the country who hold lefty viewpoints just have a different point of view. It’s wrong, of course. But that doesn’t make them evil.
I say: leave the self-righteous name-calling to the left. They’re great at it; it’s about the only thing they do really well. We conservatives should be the people who are right, and are gracious about it.
P.S. With any luck, some Real Conservative can use this post as a way to scream about my naivete, and thereby gain himself or herself some more virtual slaps on the back. To them, I say: go nuts. But honestly? I’d rather be me than be you.