Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Reflections On Political Parties

One thing I see in many blogs I run across is either outright or subtle putdowns of Republicans. I do it, too. But I think I also put down Democrats, who have somehow become known as "Liberals."

I want to make one thing clear:

I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. I don't like either party--I think they are both full of shhh.

This hasn't always been the case. So, what I've found since recognizing that I can't really support either party, except voting for one merely to keep the other out of office, is people tend to assume I or everyone around them--unless they are in certain types of environments--are Liberals. With me, it's probably the school I attend, maybe the profession I'm entering (lawyers tend to be Democrats, it seems) and definitely my race. But another thing I've found is, although Democrats try to appear more enlightened and as all-around better people than Republicans, they're really no different than Republicans.

And that's why I think it's funny when Democrats get all up in arms about their party candidates not supporting an issue or a group of people that they believe these candidates should. My take on Democrats is they pick and choose the people they care about, just as Republicans do, and something's wrong with everyone else, everyone who is different and not like them. I point this out quite often in my blog--white gays care about gay issues, white women care about women's issues, blacks care about black issues, black gays might care about black and gay issues, immigrants and American-born children of immigrants care about immigration...and Republicans care about rich white Christian men. The fact that there are so many split-up groups trying to support Democrats is the reason Democrats lose sometimes, though, such as in 2004. The Democratic interests are not unified, and some of those interest groups don't even like others of those interest groups. You can sum Republicans up just about as easily as I just did. Find a group of Republicans, and they will pretty much agree on the issues that are central to their party. Not so for Democrats.

That also makes it hard to find Democratic leaders who will please everyone who calls him or herself a Democrat simply because of the few interest groups they care about (naturally, there's some overlap and even some who care about pretty much all the "Liberal" interest groups, even if they don't belong to most of them). I think we're seeing that this year with gay issues, and we've seen it for a long time with black issues.

Here's why I'm writing this as a personal reflection:

I've mentioned before here on this blog that I grew up in a well-off, white, Christian, Republican countryside suburb in the South. I didn't really realize at the time that everybody, except for some of the blacks, was Republican. It took looking at my high school on Facebook and seeing how all those people I used to know labeled themselves as Republicans to understand that's the kind of place from which I came. Growing up, I vaguely thought of myself as a Liberal, but I didn't really know anything about that because I hadn't traditionally been that into politics until the last Presidential campaign. After my first year of law school, I had to ask myself whether or not I ever really was a Liberal, because I had no choice but to conclude that I am really more like a Republican. After all, I hate abortion, criminals (no matter what their life sob story might be), legalizing drugs, welfare, and I'm for the death penalty, guns and immigration control.

I'm admitting my Republican side for several reasons. There's this assumption that blacks and that gays are supposed to be--and are--Liberals. Republicans hate us, right? I think Democrats hate us, too, just not all of them. Well, not all Republicans, either. There are black Republicans and gay Republicans, and then there are non-black and non-gay Republicans who support black issues and gay rights. Before law school, I wouldn't have believed that. But not all people who are, say, white Republicans hate blacks, for example--some of them truly are just naive about the fact that not everyone in this country is equal, be it because of where they grew up or simply because they actually view and treat everyone as if they're equal. Honestly, there are Democrats who are just as naive...or worse, they walk around claiming to be for this or that group's rights and harbor a lot of the same prejudices about those people as they like to pin on Republicans.

Stepping back from political parties has allowed me to see everyone, regardless of political party, for who they are. Granted, I still pre-judge Republicans negatively and think more positively of people who claim to be Liberals. I just now have a negative perception of Liberals, as well, after observing the fact that many of them talk the talk but don't walk the walk. Liberals can be just as racist, just as sexist, just as homophobic. And what makes me almost dislike many of them more than Republicans is the fact that so many Liberals hide behind the fact that they're a Liberal, i.e. "I'm not prejudiced; I voted for Kerry." Or "I support affirmative action" or "I support gay marriage." Yeah, but you never speak to the blacks in your environment, or you don't even know any gays, just what you see about them on TV.

I often say that we're all ignorant in America. I don't mean intellectually, even though I certainly believe that's true, as well. I mean we're all prejudiced. What people don't understand is that the ignorances cut across political parties. You can hear someone is a Republican and immediately be turned off because you assume they have XYZ beliefs about certain issues and certain people. But what I want you to know is that while I hate abortion, support the death penalty and think immigration needs to be controlled, I am passionately in support of affirmative action, am probably more upset about the fact that when people talk about immigration control they're never really talking about white immigrants--who, by the way, tend to be from nations that are doing just fine and, yet, they come here and take jobs/resources (rich-ass Nicole Kidman and the like) without a peep from anybody while poorer immigrants who could really use those jobs/resources are sometimes kept out simply because they are darker than Whitey would like--than anything else, I believe in separation of church and state/freedom of religion, and I would absolutely never vote for a Republican. In other words, I think most of us have a pretty mixed belief system.

Even before law school, though, I found it hilarious that blacks are expected to be Democrats, considering that most blacks are actually kind of conservative, just like I am but not in the same ways. The obsession with church (which I've never understood) and the "hatred" of gays (which is much disputed by blacks, even gay ones), not to mention that many blacks are for immigration control...and they, too, aren't particularly thinking about white immigrants in thinking about who the targets of such control should be.

I entered law school thinking about a career in politics. I laugh at that now, for several reasons--mainly because I now envision Jasmyne Cannick and Keith Boykin trying to find ways to "out" me if I became a politician, especially a Republican one, and because I have no party to run for now. Actually, being a politician wasn't my interest so much as working on political campaigns or political commentary were, so we weren't going to have another political "hypocrite" on our hands. Either way, I would have supported gay rights. The assumption I've seen is that anyone in the closet in politics will not support gay rights, and I don't think that's necessary. Many heterosexuals today support gay rights, and I find that I can be seen with gays or speak openly with heterosexuals about my participating in gay organizations or taking a GLBT course and they are not jumping up and down to accuse me of being a lesbian.

I told my friend the psychologist that I entered law school interested in politics, and that seemed to result in his encouraging that path for me. I think he feels as if I can really make a difference. But, just like with lawyers, that doesn't generally seem to be what politicians do, but, rather, what they do in theory. At least with a law degree, I have the tools to go through many doors if I want to, and I will be less questioned about my qualifications to do XYZ on the road to making a difference. But, for me, the doors of politician or big-time lawyer are not the ones that lead to that road...and this I learn approximately $100,000 later...$250,000 later, if you count undergrad school.