Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

March to the Same Drummer

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Throughout my life, I’ve frequently avoided getting involved in social groups, mostly out of insecurity.  I think my fear was that if I became a member of a “clique,” that I would lose my individuality.  Maybe I felt that I was too susceptible to peer pressure.  If  kids wore Adidas, I wanted Adidas.  If kids wore Reeboks, I suddenly wanted Reeboks.   If friends smoked pot, I smoked pot.  But deep down, I never found myself comfortable being part of a group.  During college, I didn’t join a fraternity.  It was easier to hang out with “outsiders,” or just be by myself.

Despite my fear of groups, I’ve always been impressed by those who choose to be a member of one, but are confident enough to still express their individual opinions — even if these ideas are different than everyone else in that group. 

Even if one doesn’t agree with Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman’s decision to back the war in Iraq, I have to give him credit for going against the grain of the Democratic Party.  Of course, last night he was punished for his betrayal.  His party voted in inexperienced businessman Ned Lamont.  I don’t know much about Lamont, but Lieberman had a decent voting record on most domestic issues, even if he was hawkish in international affairs.  It looks like Iraq may be the new lithmus test for the Democratic Party.

Frankly, it reminds me a bit of  “The Lord of the Flies,” where a group member is not allowed to think differently than the rest of the group — without being ostracized.

As the fighting continues in Lebanon, this group-speak is in evidence everywhere.  The minute any type of spokesperson is on TV, I know exactly what they are going to say.  American Jews support Israel pretty much all the time, while Arabs and leftist Europeans cannot find one nice thing to say about Israel, damning the nation as being a Western oppressor while romanticizing the savage brutality of a group like Hezbollah.

I was not surprised to see “We are all Hizbullah now,” on one of the banners at the Stop the War coalition’s London march.

That’s why I’m impressed with those who are brave enough to speak their mind — even if I disagree with what they say.

In Sunday’s Sydney Morning Herald, Andrew Benjamin, a professor at the University of Technology in Sydney, wrote an interesting op-ed piece titled “Israel does not act or speak for every Jew.”  In it, the Jewish professor criticizes other Jews for identifying Judaism too closely with the secular state of Israel. 

“I WRITE as a Jew and as a synagogue member. I write as one whose academic work continues to move through questions of Jewish identity and the legacy of the Holocaust. Yet, I write with a growing sense of shame. The source of the feeling is simple: Israel claims that it continues to act in my name.”

I don’t personally believe this, but I give this guy credit for following the beat of his own drummer.  Not every Jew has to think the same as me.

Unfortunately, I can’t help but wonder how Professor Benjamin will be treated in his temple next Saturday.  I have a feeling he’s not going to be asked to carry the Torah any day soon.  I’m hoping the temple members will be tolerant to those with differing opinions.

Although most of my politics tend to be “progressive,” I think that the left is as intolerant as the right.   I wouldn’t be surprised if half my readership would disappear if I said gays shouldn’t get married.  (they should!  they should!  whew…)

Joschka Fischer is an icon to many in Europe.  A leader of Germany’s environmentally-minded Green Party, he was Germany’s foreign minister from 1998-2005.   He became a hero to the anti-war movement when he snubbed United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld at the February 2003 international security conference in Munich.

Recently, Fischer wrote an editorial about the war in Lebanon titled “Now is the Time to Think Big.”  In the piece, Fischer blames radical Islam for the current conflict:

The current war in Lebanon is not a war by the Arab world against Israel; rather, it is a war orchestrated by the region’s radical forces – Hamas and Islamic Jihad among the Palestinians and Hizbullah in Lebanon, together with Syria and Iran – that fundamentally rejects any settlement with Israel.

Conflict was sought for three reasons: first to ease pressure on Hamas from within the Palestinian community to recognise Israel; second to undermine democratisation in Lebanon, which was marginalising Syria; and thirdly to lift attention from the emerging dispute over the Iranian nuclear programme and demonstrate to the west the “tools” at its disposal in the case of conflict.

His ideas are not especially controversial, but they were upsetting to many in the European left, who see Israel as a colonial power.  In one swoop, this iconic Green Party leader was insulted on progressive and green party blogs.  He was called fat, lazy, and a sellout only interested in getting speaking engagements in the United States. 

Again, I’m not as much interested in the politics as I am in the intolerance of groups for anything but the “accepted” point of view.   Who would ever want to voice their opinion in an environment like that?

It makes me glad that I didn’t join a fraternity.

 

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48 Comments

  1. Good Post. BTW, I am an alumnus of a fraternity and though we shared a lot of similar interests and views we had plenty of differences.

    You weren’t isolated or ostracized for these. Not that it matters, but I thought that I’d share it anyhow.

  2. This is why I’m registered as an Independent in the U.S. I think political parties are more interested in their own survival and the opposition than they are in discussing and analyzing the issues and serving the public.

    On a smaller scale, nearly all the expat women in Belgium aren’t permitted to work (visa restrictions), and there’s a whole subculture of uber volunteerism and clubs that have developed to compensate. Not my thing, but I suffer for that choice. While I do some volunteer work (teaching writing, helping in the classroom), I don’t belong to any of the organizations. It’s not easy to be the only mom who refuses to join the PTA or who thinks scouting is bogged down in bureaucracy or who hates to bake cookies or engage in endless fundraisers or be in a wives’ club. Go ahead and laugh, but I do get left out of a lot of social circles because of this. I suspect they think I’m lazy or high-minded or something.

  3. You asked, “Who would ever want to voice their opinion in an environment like that?”

    I think you just did. Thank you!

    I suppose we should not be surprised by the growing herd mentality as the Wal-marting of this country continues and folks remain addicted to the hypnotic eye in their house (TV) that drones the message, “Be like us” incessantly…

  4. Neil,
    Oh dear, I think I am becoming a groupie. This post is excellent. I have this feeling … um … like … I want everyone – I mean, everyone – to read it.

    Mostly what you say and how you write it, reinforces how I am feeling lately and raises strong emotions inside me about *all* of these issues.

    Especially and even the part about not joining a fraternity.

    Neil, again, thank you.

  5. I think you and I would get along well, Neil. I know very few people that can really accept what someone believes even if they don’t agree. Sure, they will try to tell you they accept it but really, they are just judging and keeping their real feelings to themselves. In fact, I think that’s worse because not only are they judging but they’re lying on top of it.
    Good post.

  6. neil

    great post… i think you actually convey what a lot of us would like to say, but don’t know how to say it….

    i never was part of the group, but in college i wanted to be, so i joined a sorority – and i was still on the outside…

    some of us are just born to be on the outside, thinking for ourselves, living our own just lives

  7. Best thing written I’ve seen in awhile. Great job, Neil. You brought up some awesome points. I wish more people could share what they really think instead of just going with the flow. I don’t go with the flow, but I definitely keep my thoughts to myself.

  8. Non-Highlighted Heather

    August 9, 2006 at 6:24 am

    Too bad that sign wasn’t big enough to include the rest of the statement, “We are all Hizbullah now, we keep innocent civilians from leaving a dangerous area and trap women and children in a building equipped with a rocket launcher knowing that they’ll be blown to bits, all for propaganda purposes.”

    Give me a #$&@!* break.

  9. Non-Highlighted Heather

    August 9, 2006 at 6:27 am

    Oh, and as far as the actual topic is concerned. Quality writing Neil, and just another reason to respect you. And I like to quote Woody Allen quoting Groucho Marx, “I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.”

  10. I think the issue with Leiberman, the issue for many voters anyway, was not that he was hawkish on Iraq, but that he was hawkish on Iraq while refusing to hold the administration accountable for the glaring, deadly errors that have taken place in that war. After all, Hillary Clinton isn’t having re-election problems and she has certainly been hawkish on Iraq. The difference is she has criticized the president for his mistakes. Leiberman basically said that criticism of the president in a time of war is detrimental to the cause. Talk about encouraging groupthink!

  11. Great post, Neil. I will say, as others have done, that I was in a sorority (later I deactivated, for what that’s worth; I probably didn’t like the “group” thing).

    I also don’t have much to say on the political issue at hand, because I lived in Europe for thirteen years, and understood the French point of view on certain issues (NOT their supposed anti-Semitism, let us be clear).

    However, I hear your main point loud and clear, and I think it applies to all facets of life. Kudos for saying it out loud.

  12. Not to mention, your penchant for wearing women’s undies would have led to much teasing about the frat house….

    Excellent post. My boyfriend and I were talking about the war last night. It’s becoming so hard to keep up with the news about it because, as you said, you know exactly what is going to be said whenever anyone stands up to speak. It’s so incessant and unchanging and simply exhausting. Certainly there is some better way to go about this…

  13. Gotta agree with miss eight-oh-five there. And besides, Lieberman can hold the opinion he likes, but if he doesn’t back it up sufficiently to satisfy his constituents, he gets the boot. I wonder how you feel about his Independent run, which to me signifies more about his own political desires than respecting voters. He may end up handing his seat to the Republicans in an act of selfishness. (and I know that’s kind of off-point…)

    Personally, I’ve always played on the fringes, so I understand your caution around group mentality and the harm it does…

  14. I don’t think Lieberman has been betrayed at all. People are allowed to change, and in the last few years, the reality is that his votes have conveyed that he is far more in alignment with Republicans than Democrats on enough issues that yesterday Dems are psyched he lost and Republicans are crabby and disappointed. There is plenty of room for dissent within Democrat ranks, from my opinion anyway, and its not just about Iraq. Lieberman has accumulated the most ridiculously pro-corporate voting record beyond that of any other democrat by far, not to mention having voted for cloture on the bankruptcy bill, voted against nationalizing health care, is against gay marriage, a staunch defender of the Patriot Act, refused to provide any real criticism of the President after Katrina, and has no problem apparently with billions of our tax dollars going to Iraq instead of to our country’s ailing education and health care systems.

  15. I have to give him credit for going against the grain of the Democratic Party.

    No, no, no, no! A thousand times NO!

    This isn’t “going against the grain”or some noble rebellion. Lieberman’s behaviour was a naked betrayal of all his friends and constituents so he could fulfill personal ambitions by toadying up to the entrenched power (ie. Bush and the neocons).

    Remember that kid in high school you were friends with until he realized he could move up the social hierarchy by dumping you? Remember how you hated them? That’s Joe Lieberman.

    In 2000 and 2004, George Bush and the GOP ruled American government. They controlled every lever of power – executive, legislative, and judicial. Lieberman went against his own party to cozy up to the people in power for his own personal ambition. He was selling out his own party on FOX News at every opportunity.

    It was an act of craven, pathetic toadying for personal gain. He got what he deserved. You’d think Lieberman would have the decency to respect the voters of CT decision.

    I thought you didn’t like political blogs?

  16. I think that the left is as intolerant as the right

    I think that was the case 50 years ago, but is no longer true. The left is turning increasingly totalitarian, while the only defenders of freedom are on the right.

    Excellent blog, btw, I am linking to it.

  17. I’ve never been a joiner. There are a lot of expectations in groups or clubs and I am bound to disappoint.

  18. E — Unless there was a woman’s underwear-wearing fraternity — Alpha Delta Hanes

    Miss Eight-oh-five, Deezee, Alexandra, Dave — good points about Lieberman. Thanks for feeling comfortable enough to disagree with me! As you note, it is up to the voters. But emotionally, it felt as if he was drummed out because of one issue, Iraq. On the other side of the political spectrum, I’m sure there are plenty of Republicans who think Bush’s views on stem cell research are crazy, but are afraid of coming out and saying so.

  19. I’m going to jump on the bandwagon and agree with those who said it was up to the voters to make those kind of decisions. If you know your constituents feelings on various issues, you should not be surprised that they select someone else when you go against what they want. And now saying that he will run as an independent? It comes off as rather petty.

    Also, I caught a PSA on TV recently. In it the actors said, “Tolerance is good but isn’t acceptance better?” or something along those lines.

  20. Dagny and others — I just want to make sure about this. Even though you are disagreeing with me, you still like me, right?

  21. I’m fairly outspoken on a lot of things but I tend to stay quiet now when it comes to discussions on Iraq. I used to voice my opposition against it, how stupid I thought it was, thinking that by arguing with people about it would somehow change some decision made by some top brass to deploy a couple of my closest friends.

    But now they’re already there, so what the hell, time to move on. And of course when I say that I get a bunch of people dismissing me saying what do I know, I’m not a mother or the wife of a soldier or a marine.

    So there, I just don’t say it.

  22. I think Bush’s views on stem cell research are crazy, but I’m not a politician.

    Sometime people change their mind on an issue and become fundamentally at odds with their group: it’s not betrayal to change one’s view. There is no blood oath involved in joining either party… or spanking for that matter.

  23. EXCELLENT post, Neil. Bravo.

  24. Hi Neil:
    I wish I had something intelligent to add to the political discussion, but I’m intimidated by all your readers’ comments.

    I can say that having been raised Lutheran in a mostly Christian town, a good number of my current pals and their families are Jewish, and I’ve probabaly been to temple more times this year than church. What’s my point? I struggle with whether I generally support Israel because I assume this is what American Jews want. The quote by Andrew Benjamin has made me question this. What do American Jews want? At the end of the day, this is what I want.

    I’d also like to commend you on a comment you made a few days ago about personal blogs bringing people together. I agree. Despite our political differences, I think we all want the same things, to love and be loved, and to matter (cue the super new agy music here!!)

    Finally, Question Girl is correct. It wouldn’t have mattered if you HAD joined a frat. It’s in your nature to feel like an “outsider.” Too bad more people don’t think for themselves.

  25. Neil – I still like you very much. I also want to point out that I don’t think the issue is that Leiberman changed his mind on anything and thus became at odds with his party. Leiberman has been pro-Iraq war from the start. So was everyone else, except Feingold of WI. The difference is that everyone else’s position evolved as the situation in Iraq evolved. As we discovered no WMDs, no post-Saddam planning, etc. Once it became clear just how flimsy the reasoning behind the war was and how poorly planned it was, many people (voters and politicians) changed their minds about it. 60% of the public now think Iraq was a mistake. They want representatives who reflect their views. Leiberman was not ousted for changing his mind; he was ousted for ignoring the evidence and staying the same. I don’t know much about Lamont either, so I can’t say whether or not his being elected would be a positive. I do think it’s a positive that the American public’s opinion is (apparently) dynamic and informed.

  26. I stay quiet on political and religious topics because I’ve found I can learn more by listening. I will claim to be ignorant but mostly because we have never truly received an education on this topic.
    Its wrong to kill each other in the name of any god. I don’t think that is the purpose of religion but somehow, left or right we have turned God into a weapon of mass destruction.

    Good Post Neil.

  27. Viscountess — (as John Tesh plays in the background) I do believe most people want the same thing. I’m hoping that even if I weren’t Jewish, I would still be a supporter of Israel, although maybe I would be a little more critical of their tough guy tactics. But they still are a democracy with a free press and Arabs in the Knesset — and a whole range of political ideologies. There were even protests in Israel against the war. But I certainly wouldn’t be romaticizing a group like Hezbollah, that puts metal pieces in their missiles to kill as many citizens as possible or a despotic regime like Iran. Sometimes there are things that are just evil.   I hate to sound like a right-winger, but sadly — I do think there are some regimes, like Iran, that will only accept peaceful resolutions after a show of strength.

  28. I could never be a politician or be deeply rooted in politics because I just don’t think things are as black and white as people want them to be. I think it’s okay to have an opinion, but I also think it’s okay to be undecided about something. Who says what is right and what is wrong?

    What may be right for you, may not work for somebody else and vice versa.

    I read US New and World Report weekly, so I have a grasp of what’s going on in the world…but it’s not worth the fighting and the outrage when you’re not closely involved with it. That’s the reason I only read one section of my newspaper and that is the section that is about my community.

    I live in my community and I know my community. If I think changes need to be made here, I am closer and they are much easier to changed or at least be involved in the decision making process.

    Everybody just needs to calm the fuck down. Take a chill pill.

    The reality is that for all the bad things going on in the world…there is A LOT of progress too. The world economy is steadily growing and new markets are opening up all the time.

    As horrible and uncaring as this may sound…oh well. If people can’t learn to get along with each other without throwing stones and carrying on like a bunch of whiney babies and killing one another…well, that’s their problem..NOT mine.

  29. This makes my head hurt. It really does.

  30. I think that was the case 50 years ago, but is no longer true. The left is turning increasingly totalitarian, while the only defenders of freedom are on the right.

    Oh give me a fucking break.

    Yes, George Bush authorizing the wiretapping of American citizens was a triumph of freedom and civil rights. Bravo.

    Likewise, the prison at Guantanamo Bay is a shining beacon of due process. I’m sure jailing people without a trial is something the founding fathers were for 100%.

    “You’re either with us or against us” statement from Bush, that’s not a advocating subservience to the state at all (see the definition of “totalitarianism”).

    Lack of asking any questions of this administration has got thousands of our troops stranded in the deserts of Iraq with no exit plan. Actually, no plan at all outside of “try not to get killed.” Meanwhile, Iraqis die in suicide bombings on a daily basis. All at a cost of $1.5 billion a week. Brilliant, mission accomplished.

  31. Neil, I hate to break in to the conversation at the point where it’s starting to look like a true political blog … however I wanted to let you know that along with the others, I am glad you posted this, it’s very well-written, balanced and thoughtful. And I agree with Question Girl’s comment that you’ve probably just stated what a lot of bewildered people are thinking but aren’t sure how or where to say it. The intolerance and rhetoric on all sides is tiring and in the end, doesn’t really get us anywhere. Beyond left vs. right, this group vs. that one, the phenomenon that you are describing here is palpable all too often even in the level of personal conversation. Which leaves me with less hope than I want to have about the larger scale manifestion of this in religions, governments and nations.

    In other news, I was strangely disappointed that this wasn’t a post about you reviving the legacy of the toga party. Maybe next time.

  32. Caryn —

    Yes, it is sad when people would rather fight forever over conflicting views rather than compromise with the other side. The next election is just going to be a hateful one.

    Even idealists like musical artist Moby are giving up on “peaceful coexistence” in parts of the world where hate still rules, as the concept of compromise between groups becomes something foreign to our society.

    On Moby’s terrific website:

    “Most of the worlds troubled regions are filled with non-viable countries whose borders were relatively arbitrarily drawn pre and post colonialism.

    The truth is that there never really was an ‘iraq’ or a ‘yugoslavia’ or a ‘sudan’, at least not in the way that there’s a canada or an italy.

    The only solution that will work in iraq is to have 3 states, kurdish, sunni, and shi’ite, just as the only solution to sectarian violence in india in the 20th century was to establish pakistan and bangladesh, and the only solution to sectarian violence in yugoslavia was to allow countries to establish their own independence, largely along cultural and religious lines.

    Countries like iraq and yugoslavia were cobbled together by colonialists and imperialists, and then when colonialism and overt imperialism came to an end these countries were held together by authoritarian rule. the great mistake that the west (and especially the bush administration, a senior official said on friday that up until 2 months before the iraqi war bush didn’t know that there were sunni’s and shi’ites in iraq…) has made was to assume that in the absence of authoritarian rule the populace of these ‘nations’ would make nice and embrace democracy.

    Instead, without authoritarian rule, these nations have gone back to hating and killing each other as they did centuries ago.”

    Maybe that wall that the israelis were building to separate themselves from the palestinians was a smart idea. Force the two sides to be in separate for another generation or two until some of the hate fades… if it ever really does.

    I’m surprised that this country was even able to join together again after our Civil War. Maybe you need one side to be totally smashed — like the South or WW2 Japan to force change…

    And Caryn — would you believe I’ve never been to a Toga party?

  33. You know, people aren’t compared to sheep for no reason; the mob mentality can be a dangerous and stupid thing.

    Personally, I blame the school system, where bland curriculums require students to fit into some sort of cookie-cutter mold by accepting what is taught and never learning how to ask the right questions or challenge the information being presented.

    It is the inquisitive, reflective mind that ultimately develops independence of thought and the character to stand up for their beliefs, but since questions are oft poo-poohed, you’re left with a kid who must conform in order to succeed. And in the good ol’ U. S. of A., everyone wants to succeed, right?

    That’s my take on things, anyway.

  34. Sort of fails to give weight to the idea that you can infiltrate and change a group from within dudn’t it?

    Perhaps all militanticized sides can unite with one voice to ban say, George Orwell books from school and libraries…

  35. My fraternity brothers and I think this post is a little too opinionated, if you must know.

    Otter also wanted me to tell you that he can drink more beer than you can.

  36. Uh, I can thank sorority life for teaching me the fine art of puking in a toga. Lord, but my folks would be proud.

    Neil, you’re smart. That’s hot. Way hotter than a guy in a toga.

  37. Dave,

    Oh give me a fucking break.

    The fact that you are using George W. Bush as an exemple of a RIGHT-WING politician only proves how far off the charts to the left you are yourself.

    By any objective measures, George W. Bush is quite centrist. A big liberal spender who is against abortion.

    Maybe the next thing you will be telling me is that Saddam Hussein was a right-winger as well, along with North Korea’s totalitarian regime, Zimbabewe’s Mugabe regime, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Syria’s oppressive regime. Unfortunately for your theory, those are all SOCIALIST (i.e. leftist) regimes. And they are far more totalitarian than any right-wing (say, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, etc) government ever was.

    And I won’t even mention China….

  38. By any objective measures, George W. Bush is quite centrist. A big liberal spender who is against abortion.

    You lost me, I have no idea what you are talking about any more. How is the weather up there on Mars? Have you lived there long?

    Good luck with everything,
    yer pal,

  39. Letter from Michael Moore written today to Democrats that fits into what I was talking about here:

    Friends,

    Let the resounding defeat of Senator Joe Lieberman send a cold shiver down the spine of every Democrat who supported the invasion of Iraq and who continues to support, in any way, this senseless, immoral, unwinnable war. Make no mistake about it: We, the majority of Americans, want this war ended — and we will actively work to defeat each and every one of you who does not support an immediate end to this war.

    Nearly every Democrat set to run for president in 2008 is responsible for this war. They voted for it or they supported it. That single, stupid decision has cost us 2,592 American lives and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives. Lieberman and Company made a colossal mistake — and we are going to make sure they pay for that mistake. Payback time started last night.

    I realize that there are those like Kerry and Edwards who have now changed their position and are strongly anti-war. Perhaps that switch will be enough for some to support them. For others, like me — while I’m glad they’ve seen the light — their massive error in judgment is, sadly, proof that they are not fit for the job. They sided with Bush, and for that, they may never enter the promised land.

    To Hillary, our first best hope for a woman to become president, I cannot for the life of me figure out why you continue to support Bush and his war. I’m sure someone has advised you that a woman can’t be elected unless she proves she can kick ass just as crazy as any man. I’m here to tell you that you will never make it through the Democratic primaries unless you start now by strongly opposing the war. It is your only hope. You and Joe have been Bush’s biggest Democratic supporters of the war. Last night’s voter revolt took place just a few miles from your home in Chappaqua. Did you hear the noise? Can you read the writing on the wall?

    To every Democratic Senator and Congressman who continues to back Bush’s War, allow me to inform you that your days in elective office are now numbered. Myself and tens of millions of citizens are going to work hard to actively remove you from any position of power.

    If you don’t believe us, give Joe a call.

    Yours,
    Michael Moore
    mmflint@aol.com
    http://www.michaelmoore.com

    P.S. Republicans — sorry to leave you out of this letter. It’s just that our side has a little housecleaning to do. We’ll take care of you this November.

  40. I am completely hooked on your pages. & I agree 150% with you.

  41. & ps I do think Bush being against anything to do with stem cell research is crazy!

  42. when i noticed that lieberman announced he’ll be running as an independent, my first thought was of the year perot sought the presidency as an independent. my guess is that lieberman and lamont will act as spoilers for each other, split the democratic vote and there will be one more republican senator.

  43. Neil, didn’t you notice I included that thing about acceptance being better than tolerance? When I finished my credential program, I had to include a quote that summed up my feelings toward education.

    “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” — Aristotle

    Sometimes for fun I start conversations with people who I know will have opposite opinions of mine. Some of them are even friends. I say it keeps the brain safe from atrophy.

  44. Yes, Dagny — that and crossword puzzles.

  45. Well-said, Neil.

    And o, you are a part of a clique–the blogosphere. And I’m so glad you decided to join!

  46. Neil – I love how you can talk about wearing women’s panties one day and the next day begin a heated political discussion.

    Thanks for posting the Michael Moore letter – another disappointing example of political peer-pressure. I respect Lieberman far more for standing by his convictions than men like Kerry and Edwards who seemed to have succumbed to their desire to belong with the “cool kids” of the Democratic party.

    Extremists in both parties are hurting our country. I often wonder what would happen if those of us centrists, exhausted by partisan politics, actually did something. I can’t say I know where to start, but I do know I’m tired of voting for the lesser of two evils in an election.

  47. Totally agree, particularly about the left being as intolerant as the right about different opinions. My politics, particuarly socially, lean pretty far left (which makes sense, given that I’m living in San Francisco) but I’m always bothered when people — especially here — decide that someone is a certain kind of person because they’re a Republican, or because they support or don’t support something that’s politically correct. I say, the moment “liberal” people stop respecting the right of other people to have different opinions — well, then they’re not so liberal anymore.

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