I'm a libertarian and a Republican, which means I tend to think of myself as part of the political right, and almost daily I read columnists of the Right-wing persuasion at Townhall.com. Yesterday John Hawkins published a column there, "5 Reasons Why Liberals Are So Unpleasant To Be Around," and because I can't resist twitting my friend Jenn who often links me to liberal-leaning screeds, before even reading it, I linked it to her on IM--before realizing the basic gist of the article applied as much to me as an atheist and a libertarian.
So, I'm making a rare Live Journal posting on my "real life" LJ partly as an apology--and partly because in my favorite pastime of Jenn-baiting I probably don't let her know often enough how wonderful she is. (Yes, Jenn, I know you would have preferred Snape/Hermione babyfic or possibly some prime grade Darjeeling tea or Chocolate Chip Peanutbutter cookies.) And also because I have to admit... My lasting friends have mostly been liberals--most of those on my friends list here are. So, first, for those who don't want to click on the above, Hawkins' "5 Reasons Why Liberals Are So Unpleasant:"
1) They're unhappy:
2) Liberals don't care as much about tradition:
3) Liberals see people who disagree as evil:
4) Liberals aren't very religious:
5) Liberalism encourages arrogance:
So, my five reasons why my liberal friends are such a joy to be around: (Click on the link to read more.)
1) They're generous and think of others: When Hawkins pointed to the "misery" of liberals as a reason why they're "selfish," all I could think of is how much one liberal friend of mine gives not just to charity, but to me personally--spontaneously--because she wants to share something she loves. I know that when it comes to giving to charity, she doesn't do it out of this heavy feeling of duty, but among other things she truly believes that if you give, you'll receive back from the universe. Another friend loves to give things to her friends even if they don't equally reciprocate. What stands out to me is not what or how much those friends give but their joy in giving it. They are genuinely compassionate, not just leaving that to their (or others) tax dollar.
2) They don't blindly follow tradition: I'm aware of the Burkean defense of tradition and believe there's some truth to the idea that human beings have developed wisdom about how to live we ignore at our peril as well as that gradual reform is wiser than radical revolution. But face it, in terms of the weight of years we've been "civilized" that human wisdom included chattel slavery and the subordination of woman. Conservatives are big fans of marriage. I'm a big fan of divorce. Truly. Not that I don't have my romantic streak that believes in true love, and that I don't realize divorce can do damage, but the "tradition" embodied as recently in the 19th century of having to obey your husband who is the head of household and controls your property, stay in an abusive relationship till death do you part and there's no such thing as marital rape? No thanks. So I do treasure liberals willingness to look at the world afresh and ask, how can we make things better? Both personally and politically.
3) They keep me honest: Emerson said: "Better be a nettle in the side of your friend than his echo." Yes, my liberal friends are passionate about their beliefs. At times I have felt they can be too quick to demonize people in the Republican Party as corrupt, greedy, or just plain evil. (But it's no different on the other side of the political divide when it came to conservatives and Clinton in the past and Obama now.) I find Santorum frightening. But he's not Hitler. But especially because I tend to read things right of center and neglect liberal viewpoints, despite being sometimes quick at the draw and cranky when confronted by the other side of the argument, I do value those links, Jenn, and the willingness of (at least some) of my liberal friends not afraid of my rants to push back lest I unreflectively accept everything handed to me by the Fox News Chanel. (And Jenn will give me unsolicited sanity checks on more than politics--and I value that too. Truly.) And in contrast to what I often hear about liberals from conservatives I'd call all my liberal friends true patriots who love and are proud of their country--even when they oppose what their government does. And hey, how intolerant can they be of people who disagree if they put up with me?
4) They aren't religiously intolerant: Not all my liberal friends are atheists or agnostics. One is *gasp* a devout Christian currently giving up coffee for Lent and another calls herself a Pagan. Both of them I think are very tolerant and patient when I can't resist twitting their beliefs. And while they're happy to share who they are, they accept who I am too, and never have pressured me to convert to their beliefs. And for that matter, it's good to be reminded that Christian does not equal member of the Religious Right. Even includes a church-going bible-studying currently coffee-less thus jittery Christian. She does take her religion seriously, and I'm sure would take umbrage at Hawkin's contention that as a Christian she's at the very least allowing her "ideology to completely subvert [her] religious beliefs." On the contrary, I'd say she just sees Christianity in a very different light than he does. (Hang on, friend, just five more days and you can have your cuppa of Joe!) And yes, a couple of those liberal friends are atheists--as I am. And yes, it does help keep me sane to know I'm not alone.
5) They take a justifiable pride in their accomplishments: Hawkins accuses liberals of being arrogant. Well, so am I. So are a lot of conservatives I met. At least if you equate "arrogance" with confidence or self-respect or being passionate about your beliefs as Hawkins seems to do. What strikes me about my liberal friends is their competence in anything I've observed them do as well as their work ethic. I'd be happy to have any of them as part of my team in a campaign. Not that any of them would be caught dead working for a Republican.... And, well, my liberal friends are very smart ladies, but what strikes me about them is that they're always learning even after formal schooling. Anyone truly arrogant would think they already have learned all they need to know.
- 5 Reasons Why My Liberal Friends Are A Joy To Be Around