Thursday, October 28, 2004

Red/Blue like me

Posted by Craig Westover | 1:46 PM |  

In the Slate online article Political Poseur,” Richard Rushfield confirms an attitude that I can confirm from personal experience. (Thanks to Vox Day for posting his take on the story.)
For four days, I [Rushfield] wandered Republican areas in a Kerry-Edwards shirt and button and loitered in the heart of Democratic country in styles by Bush-Cheney '04. I treated each foray as a run-of-the-mill busy day—visiting malls, stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and parks. I didn't try to provoke the opposition; I simply lived an active consumer's life while dressed in a great big Bush or Kerry T-shirt. I avoided any specifically political place, such as campaign headquarters, and any venue where politics would likely be discussed, such as churches or bookstores. The idea was not to see how people would deal with overt opposition but how the mere existence of a political opponent would be tolerated. And so, campaign logo on my chest, and no small amount of mortal terror in my heart, I sallied forth to see if political freedom would pass the T-shirt test in our two Americas, Red and Blue.
What Rushfield found was that attired in his Kerry/Edwards garb, he encountered only shades of indifference --

. . .head shaking, "crazy idiot" expressions from older, very wealthy, very white folks in Newport Beach; terse nods from the middle- to working-class citizens of Bakersfield, which seem to indicate that people here have much bigger things to worry about than whatever is on my stupid T-shirt.…”

However when venturing in to Kerry country is a different story.

A fashionably dressed woman seated at a sidewalk table makes a disgusted face at the sight of me. On line at Psychobabble coffee house, another woman in a blue velour tracksuit rolls her eyes and grimaces at me with undisguised hatred. Realizing there are no seats but the one next to me, she stares intently into her cup, avoiding my polluting glance, until another table opens and she quickly relocates. Out on the avenue once again, I am gifted with my second "Asshole" of the day, this time muttered by a young man with bright dyed raspberry hair.

When I was writing as a community columnist for the Pioneer Press, I wrote a column entitled In a free society, one must defend right to do the wrong thing,” which unequivocally stated that abortion was morally wrong (personal judgement), but nonetheless, a government ban on abortion was more dangerous that a few women misusing their freedom (political philosophy).

In a free society, choice is not optional. It is demanded. Sometimes people make good choices, sometimes bad. Sometimes moral choices, sometimes immoral ones. The political issue in a free society is not what choice an individual may make, but rather what actions may legislation justly prohibit. Abortion is not one of those actions . . . .In a free society one must often defend the ability of others to do things one finds morally reprehensible.It is far more dangerous to our existence as a free people to expand the powers of government than it is to permit individuals to misuse their freedom to make bad decisions. On moral issues, free people may do what they can to change other people's minds — they have no right to use the power of government to make up their minds for them.
A number of conservatives responded to the column that tried to convince me that believing abortion was wrong, I should naturally want government to step in and prevent it. The nastiest conservative letter I received accused me of really being “pro-abortion,” and my column was a charade.

Then there were the liberals. Remember, my column basically agreed that they should get what they want -- abortion without government interference. But that apparently wasn’t good enough. No, I had to personally condone the act of abortion. I had no right to pass judgment on a woman’s choice because I was a) not a woman, b) no one has a right to pass judgment on the action of another, c) all morality is relative or d) I was simply moralistic and closed minded.

Making reasoned judgments seems to be lost on the liberal mind -- at least as it reflects itself in today’s liberal activism. Like Vox, that’s why I prefer conservatives.