I’m not a liberal.
Not even semi, close, faux or ish. Not at all. Not if you paid me. If you pulled the string in my back I’d say in a robot voice, “Taxation is theft!”
Politics are weird, of course. If you’re wondering what I got on that classic high school government class grid quiz, it was solidly right-libertarian, which is fairly accurate. Small government, big possibilities. Bernie Sanders gives me hives.
I have felt surrounded by liberals all my life: paternal relatives, other teachers who worked with my parents, teachers of my own, Concordia Language Villages, both the universities I’ve gone to…etc. As a matter of fact, despite living in a small town in a state that hasn’t gone to a Democrat candidate since Lyndon Johnson, despite being raised in a conservative home with heavy influence from a staunchly conservative grandfather, despite attending church in said small town in said red state, despite working in another church in a yet smaller town, despite all of that, I have been the lone(ish) conservative in liberal communities far more often than I have been part of a conservative community.
What that tells me is a topic for another time. Point is, I’ve been listening to liberals since I was old enough to know what that meant. (In fact, if you want a goofy anecdote: I learned about socialism and why my dad hated it at the dinner table, age 8, using an analogy about butter on peas. When I got a little older we talked about it in terms of letter grades – teachers’ kid much?)
I’m not sure what I want out of writing this. There are about six people not related to me whom I consider to be my closest friends. Three are solidly left-of-center, one is fairly centrist, and the other two are conservative. I’m happy to leave politics out of a friendship if I and that person bond primarily over other things. For instance, my center-y friend and I don’t bother. And we like each other just fine. One of my conservative friends and I bonded primarily over the fact that we were conservatives among liberals. One of my liberal friends and I talk about politics more than I do with almost any of my other friends. Not even arguing, just talking. I’m a bit proud of us.
What bothers me about the whole thing, the whole conservative vs. liberal thing (besides the fact that it is far too much like a war these days), is that people, I included, ignore it. Maybe I’m looking for conflict. But look – if you’re gonna be my friend, you have to accept that I disagree with you. It might be easier for both of us to ignore that at some times. I get that. We might both have to accept that we’re going to have to rant about each other to other people (“can you believe she actually thinks that?!”). But just pretending like everything is cool seems like a lie. Disagree or agree, big fucking deal as far as I’m concerned. But I need to know that my friends respect me, that we’re on a two-way street here.
(So basically, I’m needy. Situation normal.)
I’m conservative. Capitalist, yes. Libertarian, yes. I like free speech, the right to bear arms, small business, autonomy and choice, and being left alone by the government. I don’t hate women, sick people, gay people, or children with special needs. I hate dishonesty, overreaching authority, and the assumption that more government attempts to fix society’s problems will work – which I think are reasonable. I can expand on all of these topics, but not here.
I feel like asking people to accept my conservative-hood is a bit of a cop-out – if you have to ask, you know the answer already, as I always say. Also, it’s a bit like admitting that it’s something they don’t have to be able to automatically accept. Although, maybe that’s okay. I can’t automatically accept the beliefs of my liberal friends.
Yes, I am aware that there are many greater sorrows in this world than a conservative who feels unloved sometimes. We are all fighting our own battles; this is mine.
I am a conservative, and I ask that you love me.
Much of my feelings on this stem from my time at Concordia Language Villages. While I would never wish to erase all the deep, sweet memories that place has been to me, the fact remains that it has also caused me significant difficulty. And I don’t just mean the demanding job that is counseling (I’d file that under deep, sweet memory, honestly). The number of other conservative folks I have met in my six summers’ worth of time there is smaller than the number of languages I speak, than the number of countries I’ve been to. How can that be right(no pun intended)? And yet it is true.
That conservative and CLV demographics don’t cross is something I find profoundly dumb, but we can unpack it another time. Perhaps I’m a weird conservative in that I’m not afraid of language education. (As a child of public school teachers who also happened to be conservative, I’m aware that education is a liberal-slanted field in general.) The fact remains that those demographics don’t appear to cross very widely, and that has left me sort of lonely and outsider-ish sometimes. But I do that to myself in many situations. The real sting comes in elsewhere.
My camp alter-ego manages to be friends with her coworkers. In many cases, she loves them. But she does that by withdrawing from the conversation when world or home affairs come up, by having almost strictly frivolous conversations. That’s how she manages to convince herself her coworkers like her enough for her to join the cuddle pile or sauna time. By cutting pieces away (that she then expresses during the rest of the year on Facebook). And she justifies it by saying, “This is who Britta is.”
Do I want to be a liar, even only one month out of the year?
Without getting into the details, the political climate on Facebook these days has really begun to make me feel like a lot of my CLV friends aren’t okay with me. With Erika. This has been the case (though not as pronouncedly as now) for years. If I returned to CLV this summer, those friends would likely be very happy to see Britta.
I’m not sure I can handle that discrepancy anymore.
I thought of making two separate Facebooks. But I am not two separate people.
A new favorite song contains the line, “The clouds crack and growl like some big cat on the prowl, crying out, I am, I am, over and over again.”
I AM. I AM. I AM WHO I AM. I WILL BE THAT I WILL BE. Oh God.