It is no secret that I lean to the left, and that I prefer my propaganda coming from the left, and that many of my friends are also left-leaning. I try to keep my wits about it all, and a humored awareness. I try not to demonize the right and I attempt to acknowledge the failures of the left, which are many. I also acknowledge the many failures of the right. I perhaps idealistically pretend to have created an inner-balance in which I acknowledge the various stances from both sides with which I am in agreement.
But I have never really had any type of inner-balance at all. It is all something I tell myself because it makes me happy to do so.
But every now and then I find myself in conversation with somebody whose affiliations are towards the right, and getting righter by the second, someone who has no real liberal inclinations at all, and then I am stuck. I find that I am overwhelmed with shock and disbelief at their beliefs. I find a self-serving distortion of the facts that, much like paranoia's perpetual inwardness of suspicion, somehow always seems to serve their political agenda and historical perspective, no matter how unlikely or absurd.
Recently I got engaged in an argument on Facebook with a childhood friend. Well, it hardly qualified as an argument: I wrote a poem which evoked the sentiment, "viva le' revolucion" and he responded with a few questions, I responded in semi-essay form here, he responded on Facebook, I replied several times and it appears to be over. Though this was not our first open "discussion" there. For whatever reason he does not seem interested in engaging me publicly. I can't blame him, really. Facebook is all too public and mainly leans to the left along with me. Not exactly the best place to trot out right-winged dogma, even if it does include a skewed knowledge of history that trumps 95% of the participants found there.
He relays that he is tired of the government's failed attempts at "social engineering"... seemingly unaware that The Constitution is the most famous, and some would argue effective, doctrine of social engineering ever committed to paper. Likewise all taxation is a form of social engineering and is a perfect example of wealth re-distribution. That is, in fact, its main socialist objective, to take money from all and produce benefits for all, without their consent. Also, the post office is socialist in structure, as is the public library system, the public school system, social security, and all fire, police and rescue departments.
The assertion of his that drove me the craziest was his blaming of the nation's problems on the poor, and likewise blaming the problems of joblessness and the failed financial systems on the "Occupy" protesters and liberals in general. It is precisely these kind of assertions that I have heard from the right, often vaguely imbued with an undercurrent of racism, that really drives me mad.
I mean angry, not "mad," but really angry.
I won't pretend to have it all figured out but I think I've just heard one too many contentions that fall along these lines: "What do I still owe the blacks? They have equality now. They have only themselves to blame for their problems.", "Democrats are indoctrinating people the same way that the Nazi's did." , "Liberals want to give everything away." , "If poor people don't want to be poor then they should work." , etc., etc., and on and on...
These are not direct quotes from my friend, but they are not far off at all. I have a litany of emails between us from a previous discussion that echo all of these sentiments. It is a difficult position to be in, trying to align a lifetime of friendship with attitudes that you stand in opposition to. Even attempting to point out that the Nazi's were not like the democratic part at all becomes a struggled conversation.
I don't want to live in a welfare state, but I also don't trust government and the corporate world to act with the public's best interests in mind. The government is there presumably to protect its citizens and all too often the biggest threat comes from within. I am enraged at the wastefulness of the government but I choose two decade-long-wars to be a much bigger problem than some of the social initiatives that are being fought for. My friend seems to believe that if everybody were just left alone to find their natural place in life then all would work out according to nature's plan, as it has in the past.... That any intrusion by government into the lives and decisions of hard-working frontiersmen, operating their land and harvesting their crops the way that they see fit, is an abomination, and that any and all laws allowing for it should be abolished and those lawmakers shackled, then drawn-and-quartered.
Well, I disagree.... I know it's not fair to speak for him, to put words into his mouth, so I rescind the last two sentences from the paragraph above. But I stand behind the general sentiment of the statements further above, the ones in quotations. They do accurately reflect sentences of his that I have from previous emails. I would let him speak for himself and publish actual quotations of his here but I haven't asked his permission yet. We'll see if he still wants to talk to me after this....
I have heard my friend laugh several times and remind me that I used to lean to the right when I was younger. It is true, though that truth has its precedents. I was perhaps too young to have figured out how I actually felt about things and was merely echoing my parents politics. Or, I was only being contrary, a way that I have always been. Being surrounded by young people, who almost universally lean to the left during youth, I simply took opposition to that. Even yet, I was probably just joking along, riling people up, testing the limits of people's patience, a lifelong pastime, seemingly.
My friend has perhaps set aside the more complete memory of me in favor of one where I argued for what would be considered right-wing positions now. Again, I have not always embraced the left as being sent from the heavens. I think most of them, just like those on the right, are cowards and hypocrites, intellectually feeble, and driven by greed for power and lust for money. Only a handful among them seem worthy of public office and most of those are disqualified by that very characteristic alone, worthiness.
I have tried throughout my life to see the truth, or usefulness, of any number of policies, whether from the left or the right.
It is called idealism and it is something that I hope I still possess in meager quantities.
Last night I was reading about the "Occupy" movement and I found a link to the Tea Party's website in which they denounce the Occupiers and make clear that they do not share their ambitions, however ill-defined those ambitions might be. Their statement can be read here. I encourage everyone to read it in full, especially when they invoke the preamble to The Constitution in a threatening and exclusionary way at the very end, reminding the nation how truly dangerous they are, or can be.