Note: From the comments I have already received on this post, I can tell that this post doesn’t really work — at least the way it was intended. Now I know why people avoid writing boring political posts. What I was trying for — and didn’t succeed — was to broaden the terms of liberal and conservative into ways that don’t necessarily follow political lines. So, just because you like Sarah Palin does not automatically make you “conservative” in the way you act in the world on a daily basis. It just makes you Conservative politically if you have her beliefs on abortion, etc.
Is the Blogosphere more Democratic or Republican? Liberal or Conservative? These are the type of questions I ask myself when I wake up on a Tuesday morning.
I am looking for something more than the party politics of Liberal/Democratic and Conservative/Republican. I want to think about the core ideologies behind the labels. I am going to be overly-simplistic here. Feel free to call me an idiot for trying to make sense out of this topic.
Respect for Authority (tradition, family, values)
Personal Responsibility (the free market, small government)
Freedom (openness, rights of underdogs, lack of tradition, free speech)
Social Responsibility (social programs, public schools, striving for equality, big government)
Who do I consider a liberal? My mother.
On Sunday, my mother and I took a walk to the local Catholic Church, which has a flea market each week. It is a pretty lame flea market. It is mostly locals selling their crap. We never buy anything, but it is fun to look at the old toys, albums from the 1970′s, touristy dishes bought on vacation at Niagara Falls, etc. It reminds me of the joy of reading blogs, getting a chaotic slice of each person’s life and history. What did this woman do at Niagara Falls? Why did she buy this plate? Was it a gift? Was the trip an unpleasant one so she is now selling it to overcome the lifelong trauma?
As we were walking to the flea market, we passed a yeshiva for young religious Jewish boys. We were surprised that they had school on Sunday. It must have been lunchtime because they were outside in the playground, running around and acting like energetic boys. If they weren’t wearing yarmulkes, you would have no idea they were Jewish. The games and rough-housing was the same as in every other school.
My mother noticed that one boy was sitting by himself in the corner.
“How sad. I feel bad for him. No one is playing with him.”
I found her statement odd, because she was reading so much into the scenario.
“How do you know this?” I asked. “He could be eating his lunch, or tired. Or maybe he broke his foot last week so he needs to sit.”
“No, he clearly wants to play. And the others are not nice. They should ask him to play. But you know who really is at fault here. The teacher.”
A young rabbi was standing by the gate, watching all his students.
“He should get the others to play with him.” said my mother.
My mother is a liberal who clearly believes in the government (the teacher) getting involved. She is registered as an Independent. She even flirted with voting for McCain because she is worried about Obama’s inexperience. But in ACTION – and her daily THOUGHT process, she is “LIBERAL.”
Sophia is a registered Republican. Every once in a while, people email me asking, “How could you MARRY a Republican?” The truth is she is very LIBERAL in the way she acts towards others. She is not anti-minority or anti-gay or anti-abortion. She is conservative in her view of personal responsibility, but I have noticed that that has even changed through the years. After dealing with our crappy and expensive health insurance, I think she is much more in favor of some sort of socialized health plan.
If a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged, a liberal is a conservative who has Pacificare for their medical insurance.
Diane of Of the Princess and the Pea recently had an experience where her young daughter and her friend revealed their political leanings when they met a homeless man. One girl wanted to help him with a social program. The other was cynical, thinking he would abuse the system, and not get helped at all.
LIBERAL and CONSERVATIVE.
In July, right before the BlogHer conference in San Francisco, I read this popular post by Schnozzfest. In the post she addressed all the shy introverts who were attending the conference, trying to motivate them to overcome their wall-flowerness. Rather than getting angry at the popular girls “ignoring them,” she suggests that they should get some balls and be more friendly. It was a very well-written post, but I was in a bad mood that day, so I wrote a semi-obnoxious comment:
This was a powerful and well-thought out post. As someone who fights his own insecurities, I’m going to copy this onto my laptop, because – like you say — this is about more than BlogHer.
…I find myself feeling a little uncomfortable with the thesis. I come from a long tradition of bleeding heart liberals, and your message sounds very much like that of a “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” conservative. In any social environment there are going to be hierarchies and social groups. Of course, it is up to the insecure to fight their “high school” fears and speak up. But I would like to hear from the “cool kids” in this imaginary high school. What is their responsibility to others? Do you just talk amongst yourselves, or do you reach out to a newbie? I strongly agree that people should stop acting like victims. This is an excellent message to send to those who are shy and insecure: stand up for yourself! This is something I work on all the time. I just hope that everyone who comments on this post saying, “I wish I said this” will ALSO take the time to reach out, since we are supposedly a “community of bloggers.” While it is the individual’s responsibility to put herself “out there,” there is nothing wrong with going to the wallflower hiding behind the plant and saying hello, especially when we’ve all been in that position before.
Do you see how much I am like my mother? If you go to Schnozzfest’s site, you can see her reasoned response.
Can we really think about political labels such as liberal and conservative out of the political arena? Would it add anything to the typical over-heated political discussions we usually have if we acknowledged that some Democrats act more conservatively and some Republicans are more liberal in the way they deal with others? Some might think Lieberman was a traitor to his party to speak at the DNC, and others as the ultimate “liberal” in his blowing off the authority of the Party and following his beliefs, no matter how unpopular.
In some ways, the blogosphere is Democratic/Liberal — not only in politics — but in form. Anyone can start a blog. There is freedom of speech. There is lack of censorship. The “little guy” is given a chance to speak out against the powerful. There is respect for all races, religions, and beliefs. There are a great many grassroot communities online where members care about each other and help each other learn and grow.
Of course, most of the blogosphere grew up during the Bush administration, so it isn’t surprising that there is also strong Republican/Conservative bent to this imaginary world – especially in the way it operates. There is a whole lot of focus on making money, concern for own niche about others, old boy and girl networks, marketing, corporate sponsorship, links, authority, the free market, etc. The white faces, corporate sponsorship, private parties, and swag of the RNC reminded me of… BlogHer.
So, if you had to describe the leanings of the blogosphere, would you say it leans more left or right — to community first or a system of haves and have nots? Or is everyone a little bit “liberal” and “conservative,” leaving behind the politics of the terms, in the way we live our lives both online and in the real world?