Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: Republicans

Is the Blogosphere More Democratic or Republican?

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.

Republican/Conservative: 

Respect for Authority (tradition, family, values)
Personal Responsibility (the free market, small government)

Liberal/Democrat:

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.

But…

…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?

Republican Religiosity

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Note:  Sophia suggested that I take this post down since it wasn’t in the spirit of the Holidays, especially since it is the post right after the big Holiday concert.   I did take it down, and then I remembered, from past experience, that everyone will just see it on Bloglines and Google Reader anyway, and I’ll just look like a wimp.  So, I put it back up.   Proud of me?

Unlike the Queen of Spain, who enjoys a little religious controversy now and then (see her current post), I’m a lover more than a fighter.  My point here isn’t to attack any religion, especially all you nice religious Christians and Jews who just sang your hearts out for everyone to hear, but to acknowledge that everyone’s religion is sort of weird if you really sit down and think about it.   That’s why it is called “faith.”  So, I’m not sure what Mitt Romney’s Mormon religion has to do with anything.   If I’m not going to vote for him, it’s because he’s a lousy candidate, not a Mormon.

OK, here’s the mediocre post.  It was difficult coming up with a topic after the concert, because everything I came up with seemed anti-climactic.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said he considers his rival Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith a religion, not a cult, but questioned whether Mormons believe “Jesus and the devil are brothers.”

Huckabee raised the question on his own in an interview to appear in The New York Times magazine on Sunday, and ignited a new flap in the up-for-grabs race to be the Republican Party’s nominee in the November 2008 presidential election.

Clearly, Mike Huckabee, needing to jumpstart his campaign, is insinuating that Romney is not fit to be President because of Romney’s religious background. He’s just not one of us!

Am I Republican? No.

Will I vote for Mitt Romney? No.

Do I agree with Mike Huckabee? Absolutely.

The President of the United States is the most important position in the Free World. We want a rational leader, one is is not swayed by “odd” beliefs or cultish stories masquerading as the truth. Do we want a religious “Mormon” running our country, his finger on the “button.” Of course not! Just take a “tour” of the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City on the way to Park City, like I did, and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Our country requires someone logical, someone we can trust, like a Christian or Jew, a person of religion who believes in FACT — proven historical events like immaculate conception, individuals getting resurrected, angels, and entire seas magically splitting open to let thousands of people walk through to safety.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Why a Pillow is No Substitute for a Woman

Modern Politics

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While I was over at Sophia’s place today, she played me all the political messages that were on her answering machine relating to Election Day.  California always has hundreds of confusing initiatives on the ballot, and frankly I’m not sure how most people even understand what they are all about. 

Sophia is a registered Republican and got several messages from her party, including one "directly" from Governor Schwarzenegger himself.  I received messages from the Democratic Party since I’m still registered here in Redondo Beach.

All of the messages contained no clear reason to vote one way or another other than party identification.

As we sat down to catch up on a week’s worth of "All My Children" episodes, Sophia had a sudden urge for watermelon.  We took a walk to the supermarket.  As we left the supermarket with our overpriced watermelon, we were stopped by a scraggly-looking guy who asked us if we wanted to sign a petition against redistricting.  You show me a petition – I think it must be for a good cause.  I agreed to sign it.

Sophia wasn’t as easy a customer.  She asked the Scraggly Petition Guy all sorts of questions.  Even after the guy gave some semi-reasonable answers, Sophia didn’t buy it.  She said she didn’t believe in the petition, so she couldn’t honestly sign it. 

"No problem," said the guy.

He pulled out another petition and handed it to her.

"Then maybe you’ll sign this.  It’s for the opposite side."

Sophia and I glanced at each other.

"What’s going on?" I asked the petition guy.  "You’re petitioning for opposite points of views at the same time?  I’ve never seen this before."

"I’m not petitioning for anything," he answered.  "I get paid a buck a signature by both sides.   He-he-he.  Sweet deal.  You’re sure you don’t wanna sign?"

I Married a Republican!

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Sometimes, I wish I were more political.   I love the passion of some of my readers like JJ and Tatyana, who if they met in real life, might have a fist-fight over George Bush — is he good or evil?

I was brought up in a liberal, union-oriented family.  My grandparents had a photo of Eleanor Roosevelt on the wall with the rest of the family photos.  During the summer, I went to Camp Kinder-Ring, a liberal Jewish summer camp in the Catskills.  It was not a religious place.  In fact, it was an anti-religious Jewish-Yiddish socialist-oriented camp.  On Shabbat, we gathered around the flagpole wearing all white and singing Yiddish socialist songs.  Of course the meaning was totally lost on most of the campers, who were mostly from Long Island and cared more about sex and soccer than socialism.  On the other side of the lake was a rival camp that broke away from this camp sixty years ago because while we were “socialist,” they were “communist.”

I went to Columbia College in New York.  There was one Republican in our freshman dorm.  All he ever did was complain that he didn’t get into Yale like his father.  We used to make fun of him relentlessly.

I didn’t really associate with many Republicans in Los Angeles when I first moved here.  Then I met Sophia.   

We may have fought over many things, but I don’t think we ever fought over politics. 

Actually, that’s not true.  There was once.  One election day a few years back, we promised not to vote at all, since we were going to cancel each other out anyway.  Later, we bumped into each other at the polling station.

Of course, I never considered Sophia a “real” Republican.  No real Republicans go skinny-dipping in Spain.  And I’m sure she never thought of me as a “real” Democrat.  Although I voted for Kerry, I wasn’t upset that Bush actually won. 

Here’s something we always talk about — which party is nastier, Democrats or Republicans?  Both of them create outlandish political ads – from Willie Horton to that recent ad accusing John Roberts of strangling women who wanted to have abortions. 

Sophia frequently gets phone calls from the Republican Party, trying to scare her into thinking that “liberals” are taking over the country.  Excuse me, Karl Rove, but where exactly is this happening?  Do Jesse Jackson and Michael Moore really control everything from their “love-pad” on the Upper West Side?

I also get calls from the Democrats.  They always are trying to scare me into thinking my “civil liberties” are disappearing.   Recently, some woman called about some teacher initiative that Schwarzenegger is trying to get passed:

“If this passes, God help us all!  California will become like Mussolini’s Italy.”

These scare tactics drive me crazy.  We Democrats are supposed to be the "smart ones."  So why am I always spoken to like I’m an idiot?  I’m sure there are many valid reasons for this intiative to be rejected, but I certainly didn’t hear any from this caller.   How about teachers will lose jobs?   It will hurt the economy?   But I really doubt the governer is about to bring over some of his goose-stepping family from Austria.   When I was on the phone with this woman, all I could think was that she should get a job writing movie ads for the studios:

“This is the one film you MUST see this year or you will DIE!”

Charlie once linked to a Slate article where writer Richard Rushfield did a little social experiment during the 2004 campaign. 

He visited Republican strongholds such as Bakersfield and Newport Beach sporting a Kerry-Edwards ’04 t-shirt and button, as well as Democrat bastions such as Silverlake and Brentwood in Los Angeles.

The result:  The Republicans were much more tolerant of the Democrats than the other way around.

Of course, it was a heated time during that election, but it got ugly at times.  Remember the whole red state/blue state thing?  Or that website that suggested that half the country break away from the ugly Bush states?  Whatever happened to rational dialogue?  I find conservative talk show hosts like Sean Hannity to be pretty depressing and unpleasant, but I expect more from liberals. 

I’d like to think that liberals haven’t become as nasty as some have said, but recently, one of my friends asked me:

“Did you know that you have a lot of conservatives on your blogroll?” (saying it in a tone usually reserved for child molesters).

I said that I didn’t really notice.  My only real criteria for putting someone on the blogroll is either the person:

  1. Has a sense of humor.

    OR

  2. Is a woman.

So far, no one has made any comments about all the “liberals” on my blogroll.  Is it because we expect liberals to be smart, sexy, and fun blogging pals?   Why can’t a Republican be smart and sexy?  After all,  I did marry one. 

Republicans are not so bad when you get to know them (except the crazy anti-abortion ones).   Through Sophia, I learned to better understand and appreciate “Republican” culture.  They have some valid ideas on economics and international affairs. 

Now, excuse me… I want to go and replay this Pat Boone album I have playing on my iTunes —

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