Monday, November 03, 2008

I'm Only Doing This Once

Dear Conservatives,

I'm writing you to tell you something very important.

In the past, I have been called many things by you. A homosexual, or a 'queer lover' for supporting gay rights. I LIEberal, insinuating I am a liar because I'm a liberal. A DEMONcRAT, insinuating I'm a demon and a rat because I vote democrat. Among other things. My beliefs are based on a lifetime of experiences - my own life - and firmly held moral convictions about right and wrong and the value and sanctity of human life and dignity. You have slandered me because of my lack of firm belief in a specific Christian God, been called a coward and a pussy because I have argued for finding peaceful alternative solutions to problems other than fighting, and been made fun of for supporting the ACLU, an organization which ironically exists only to defend our First Amendment rights to call each other names (and have rational discourse.)

You know what? That's all OK. I've been discussing video games and politics on the Internet since I was dialing into Prodigy in 1990. That's a long time: longer than some of you calling me these things have been alive. I have a thick skin and frankly I believe that a plurality of opinions makes for good discourse and ultimately good compromise, which is the basis of American democracy in the first place. If we can't troll each other at least a little bit, what's the point?

But I will say this: you guys way overstepped the line with questioning our patriotism for opposing the Iraq war. You called us traitors to America for daring to oppose Bush and question whether the war was justified and whether we were being mislead by the administration into the way. That's right, you called us traitors. I realize that not all of you did this, and I realize that there was a certain fervency sweeping the nation at the time. But the whole 'if you're not with us, you're against us' thing hurt. Because the reason we questioned the war and questioned Bush was our patriotism and love of our country, and our support for our troops. We don't want America associated (any more than it already is) with unnecessarily meddling in foreign affairs, and we certainly don't want to see our friends who enlisted in good faith sent to fight wars for the wrong reasons.

We'll never see eye to eye on this, and believe me there's part of me that looks at the polls right now and thinks, well, it's pretty much going to be Obama. I'm not celebrating early, but I'm what you might call cautiously optimistic. And there's a part of me that is enjoying watching conservatives self-destruct and bicker and fight amongst themselves, and wildly accuse Obama of this and that (the latest bit about his not actually being born in the United States is pure Rove). The hand-wringing over how he's going to turn the US into something resembling Soviet Russia is pretty funny, the accusations of him being a radical Islamic sleeper agent are hilarious, and the racism that's being exposed among Republicans (not all of you, but the fringe is certainly coming out of the woodwork) is frankly a little freaky.

But there's another part of me that thinks this: turnabout is going to be fair play. But you know what? It isn't. And here's why. It's not going to be wrong to criticize Obama's tax plans. They should be questioned and inspected and not simply rubber-stamped. It won't be wrong to speak out against the President, against the Democratic majority in Congress, against the government in general. Because as Americans this is our right. This is (one of the reasons) why my ancestors left oppressive environments in Eastern Europe and the Ottoman Empire, this is why your ancestors came over, and when you talk about American soldiers protecting our freedoms, that is the freedom they are fighting to protect.

I'm not going to call you a traitor for questioning the President. I'm not going to question your patriotism for challenging him, for making him own up and be honest, and if you don't like his answers I won't call you names for voicing your discontent. That, my friends, is your right and it is a right I would fight and die for you to keep.

So call me names if you'd like, LIEberal or DEMONcRAT or coward or traitor. Knock yourselves out. And I'd fully expect, if we win on the 4th, for there to be a bit of celebrating on our side - we've had eight years of your guy, and frankly he's kind of run things into the ground. But you will not hear from me any name-calling or insinuations that you are anti-American because you are exercising your American rights should you question us, should we actually manage to win.

As I said, I'm only doing this once, and that's the closest I'll come to gloating.

2 comments:

grey_zealot said...

Jason,

I'm not a Conservative, am only an Independent who self-ID's as Republican. Can't speak for Conservative Republicans.

But, I agree with you on the display of venom that "my side" has engaged in over the last 8 years. (And it's been troublesome/embarassing to see and hear stuff that was leaking out of recent McCain rallies, the anti-Obama racism and fear-mongering.)

No matter who wins, hopefully there's a more civil future in store.

Jason said...

I don't want to give the impression that it's only conservatives who do this. Hell, I've been guilty of uncivil dialogue myself in the past.

But yeah - debate. Discussion. Conversation. And ultimately, compromise. The ability to peacefully compromise is what makes America great and a model of democracy.

It's time.