Tuesday, April 30, 2013

To My "Staunch Republican" Friend: a Letter

[This is a letter I wrote to a friend, after she sent me a (gentle) reprimand for challenging a friend of hers on Facebook.  She informed me that she was a "Staunch Republican", and said that she didn't like politics, but that she didn't want me to insult her friends.  I care about her, and I put considerable effort into composing this response.]

Firstly, let me say what I would have said before, if your friend's comments had not intervened: I am very happy for you and your daughter, that she was able to witness such a historic event (I don't believe we've ever even had five presidents ALIVE at the same time before, let alone all collected in one place), and I also congratulate you on her brilliant blossoming! You must be so very proud... as I am of my son.

Regarding the rest, I am not sure you DO entirely appreciate my heart and sentiments. I am sure that you can understand what it is to be passionately committed-- and I am certainly aware that you have a heart and brain! I too, was raised Republican-- though I didn't learn what that meant, till I was an adult. It was quite a shock for me to discover that the party of my parents (or rather, my father's party; my mom became quite liberal after she got away from him) was diametrically opposed to practically everything I believed in! Since then, I have voted with my heart and mind-- and increasingly, as the years have passed, I have found it necessary to investigate the sources of statements that are presented to me as truth.

Increasingly, the wealthy and powerful in this country, particularly the corporations, have been able to manipulate the media, to purchase our lawmakers, deceive the people, and to literally mold the country to suit themselves. Their intentions have nothing to do with honor, and everything to do with profit, and control-- whatever they may say. Surely you must be aware that Fox News, for example, does not have a sterling reputation for truthfulness? That's money and power talking!

I understand that you have worked for many years in a highly conservative, largely male environment-- and since you were also raised Republican, there has probably never been much incentive for you to question your core beliefs. Such things do deeply influence us.

I am also sure that there is much to admire in your law-enforcement friends. There used to be much to admire in the Republican party, as well. It is NOT what it was. The Republican party that your father, and my father, were raised with, was much more aligned with the beliefs of mainstream Americans; at one time, to be Conservative really did mean, to be conservative. Cautious. Thrifty. Traditional.

But it doesn't mean that anymore. When you tell me that you are a "Staunch Republican", you are telling me that you ally yourself with the party of Big Oil, of global warming denial, the party that is STILL fighting tooth and nail to deny women the right to control their health, and their bodies, and their right to not be raped. You have allied yourself with the party that thinks gay and lesbian couples aren't as human and worthy as the rest of us... the party that STILL hopes to deny me my first chance ever to have health-care... the party that just deep-sixed the President's gun regulation agenda. The party that wants to teach creationism, take away the last safety-nets for the poor, the unemployed, the elderly, and the disabled, to persecute undocumented immigrants... and make sure my vote doesn't count. (oh, and if you question the accuracy of any of the above, let me know-- I'll be happy to look up the sources and send them to you).

Can you see why I might find your allegiance difficult to accept? I don't know what your personal beliefs are... but when you support the Republican party, you support all these things. From my point of view, you might as well have said, "I'm rooting for Darth Vader and the Evil Empire-- but it's just politics. Let's get beyond that, shall we?

I don't want to fight with you, or with anyone. The other night, when I sent that message to you, a surge of adrenaline went through me that kept me awake all night. It's SCARY for me, to tell people where I stand, and what I believe... possibly because it wasn't safe for me to do that, growing up. But more and more, I am finding that I MUST speak. I CANNOT stand by, and watch what is happening, and say nothing. I also hate talking about politics. But if I keep my mouth shut, when someone makes a racist or sexist or hate-filled remark, how will anything ever change?  

Your friend's remark was so incredibly unfair, too. He reminded me of the bully in elementary school (I don't know if you experienced this, but I certainly did) who repeatedly punches you with your own arm, all the while chanting, "Stop hitting yourself! Why are you hitting yourself?". Obama isn't ineffectual. He's been very effectively blocked in almost every action he's attempted-- by the most consistent, concerted Republican effort this country has ever seen. Surely you and your friend are aware of that?

So where are we now? I'm not sure. Certainly I will always love and care about you, always wish you well. But your politics are so repellent to me that I must admit, it makes me very uncomfortable. I know you to be a kind and honorable and loving person, a devoted parent... so how can you support such appalling causes? I have a couple other friends and relatives who fall into this category... and I find, frankly, that it makes me want to avoid them.

I don't want to avoid you. But I do have one request: when you hear things on the news, or from your friends, could you PLEASE question the source?! Since you've been an investigator, you already know how to do that. It's not hard to find out the truth about things... if you look for information from sources that are actually reputable. Fox News is not; neither is CNN, nor the Heritage Foundation, or a slew of other propaganda machines... most of them right-wing, and funded by right-wing oil money. (I'm not saying there aren't foul, lying, mercenary Democrats; there most certainly are... and I LOATHE them. But they're working for the same people as the Republican ones.) For myself, when I really question something, I frequently look it up on Snopes.com. They have no axe to grind... I highly recommend them.

I know you didn't want to hear all this from me... and frankly, I didn't want to have to say it. But if the alternative is for me to be silent, or to lie... well, I just can't do that. Not anymore.


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