Thursday, September 20, 2007

Left or Right Brained?

It’s been a difficult couple of weeks here, with a visitor repeatedly asking questions that seem to come from the right wing talking points. I don’t have the heart to tell him what I really think of him for doing so, nor the desire to really try to engage in changing his mind when a.) There is little chance of doing so and b.) There are more important things to tend to. I’ve taken to being kinder to the folks that slurp the Fox news as if it’s vitamins and try to just cut off conversation, but it doesn’t always work out that way.

I’m reminded of a yearly pool party here at the house where it’s mostly long time friends with some conservative and some not so. We have roots that go back to simpler times. A particular couple, really close at the time but at the far right of the spectrum in both faith and politics, had come to a draw with me the year previous, with us deciding not to discuss politics as we realized that there was no common ground there, but much in the way of families and our kids that grew up together. Girl Scouts, soccer and barbeques were a part of our experience together. A shared fence burned by one of their boys is the best story, but not here. Anyway, this year the husband came at me with “Why are you a Democrat?”

I replied that I thought we weren’t going to talk about this stuff anymore but it didn’t go far, he asked again, with more emphasis on the last word, as if it were something not to touch. I let it slide, again trying to brush it off as not worth discussing with families, friends, and others around. It was a party, dang it, and I could tell from his tone he wanted to convert me. But no, again he came back asking the same question again, just as his wife arrived with a fresh margarita, and I had had enough.

“I’m a Democrat because I think the policies of the Democratic Party better align with my faith in Jesus Christ!” was what I came up with, regretfully louder than needed. The silence was complete and all the more pronounced for the extreme gasp from his wife, a dear friend of my wife’s. Yeah, I knew I was hitting her with both barrels but ... hey, I'm just a guy after all or at least that sounds like a decent excuse. (convicted again).

The Mormon couple nearby looked at each other with raised eyebrows. The husband and I talked a bit more but got nowhere. The relationship between our wives has not been the same since. Sad.

As reported in the Los Angeles Times, there was an interesting study done recently by NYU and UCLA that determined conservatives are more stuck in their ways than liberals. I’m not trained in these things but it sounds about right to me. I can’t imagine anyone watching Bill O’Reilly and not seeing through the crap he spews unless they’ve arrived thinking he’s going to say good stuff and want it reinforced. The concept of “staying the course” is proven proper for those on the right while those on the left might be considering alternatives.

So O.K., if that’s what it says about the righties, what does it really say about the left? Is our preparedness and desire for alternative possibilities that same desire that leads us to doubt more, to try to figure out what makes things (Oh, like God, for instance) tick? Is that part of our behavior that which drives us against corporate same-ness, against the grain when we see it wrong, giving us the internal drive to determine an opinion based upon events we’ve seen rather than what we’ve read or heard from the common cesspool of media?

I’ll admit it might have been more fruitful to walk the corporate path, but I don’t think it was ever even a possibility for me.

What I come up with is the realization that there isn’t common ground in politics because the minute I move one step towards the right, they hold their ground and only work to draw me closer. There is no give in them, only take. I abhor that.

Not surprisingly, and I’m smiling a bit at this, now that the Dems seem to be heading for even more control in 2008, I find myself dissatisfied with their mainstream candidates. Hillary, Barack and John all have healthcare plans that will keep the insurers in the game and I think that a sellout. What is in the single-payer plans of Europe that we can’t pull off here?

But perhaps I need to stop, consider that a game plan of 5-10 years may be in order and that perhaps, just maybe if the Dems can stay in control for that long AND clean up campaign financing, perhaps the insurers can be driven from the feeding trough of the American medical consortium and that trillion dollars we are over-spending on healthcare can be put to better use.

Dreams. They are a wonderful thing.

And yes, I do watch O’Reilly about once a month. Any more than that and I get overly incensed. Perhaps we should all watch him more often.