Pat Brothwell can’t believe it’s this whole Duck Dynasty debacle that’s finally gotten him discussing politics in a public forum.
I think anyone who knows me would be surprised to learn I have political views. I don’t discuss them much. Really, I hate talking about politics, mostly because it always seems to come up at bars and I’m a staunch believer that when you’re drinking you should only discuss shallow things, like other people, and which Will Ferrell movie is best. Politics, religion, or anything else that could lead to raised voices and hurt feelings is off limits. But I don’t like to talk about politics sober either because the discussions are largely infuriating and pointless with fingers being pointed at whatever views are not represented by the speaker.
Frankly I’m not sure why I titled this article “When Did Bipartisan Become a Dirty Word?” because I’m not sure a lot of people are even aware that it should exist. We’re a bipartisan country: we have two main political parties that are supposed to check and balance each other and in the end form some sort of compromise. What I see happening though is people find one party they like and stick with it so vehemently that they don’t think logically when it comes to politics.
I bring this up because today in one of my classes we had a discussion about the controversy surrounding Duck Dynasty. I don’t watch the show myself and have been too busy with grading and trying to get everything ready for my holiday travels to really keep up with what was going on, but it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter what was on the table because the argument quickly devolved into accusations against the Democrats “liberal agendas” or Republican “bible thumping” that ultimately no resolution or compromise was reached.
I’m a registered independent, mainly because of issues like this. There’s things I like and I don’t like about both parties (for the sake of this article we’re rendering all the third parties moot … sorry guys). In general, I lean more liberally than conservative, especially in regards to social issues, but that being said, coming from a family with a long military tradition has made me pro-military in almost all situations and I honestly am very conflicted on how I feel about topics like welfare, healthcare and unions, which are Democratic strongholds.
I hate that we’ve each become so solid and rigid with our beliefs and ideologies that saying Democrat or a Republican immediately paints a picture of what you’re supposed to think and feel. As I said before, I typically identify more liberally. That doesn’t mean I support everything 100%. People then expect you to think a certain way or support certain movements. To a degree these are fair assumptions. I believe that religion in no way should dictate anything in government, abortion should be a choice for women in this country and it boggles my mind why “gay rights” is even in issue in 2013. However, despite not being the timeliest example, the whole “Occupy” movement that was a flash in the pan two years ago made me want to stab myself in the face. I remember vocalizing this to some friends and them being surprised. “You’re liberal,” they said. “This is going against everything you support.” It’s not though. There’s a novelty we’re forgetting about called thinking for yourself. Just because you’re liberal in most facets doesn’t mean you need to be liberal in all.
It works the other way too.
I remember watching an episode of “Girls” this past spring where one of the characters struggled about dating someone because they were a Republican. That’s a television show, but I’ve heard this expressed in real life too. Sure, it’s trendy and it’s maybe a little bit rebellious to be liberal when we’re young, but that doesn’t mean that all Republicans are old-fashioned, ignorant old men who hate minorities and gays and only want to invade other countries for big oil money. That in itself is an ignorant and generalizing way of thinking.
Which comes to my biggest problem. You should be able to dislike things the rest of your political cronies support. Be a staunch Republican who believes in gun control. Be a Democrat that believes in the right to arm yourself. We don’t hear enough about conservative democrats or liberal republicans (and where is the Green Party in all this), or about voting for people you think will be good congress people or Presidents rather than who your party dicatates. I may not have agreed with all his ideologies, and had he had a different running mate I probably would’ve voted for him, but I really like John McCain. I think he seems like a genuinely good guy, I believe guys with military backgrounds are more equipped to make tough choices, he’s shown a willingness to disagree with his party and you have to respect anyone who went through what he did in Vietnam and come out with their wits intact. I never told anyone this though, because I didn’t want the assumptions about the rest of my belief system that would have undoubtedly accompanied it.
I realize that what I’m talking about—people who cross political lines willingly and freely—does exist. I just wish it was more prominent and I wish people could concede that sometimes the party they like makes dumb choices and admitting that doesn’t make them a traitor. Just because you’re a Republican doesn’t mean you have to support bigotry when it happens and just because you’re liberal doesn’t mean that people can’t express viewpoints that you disagree with. None of this makes you hypocritical—just a smart and independent thinker.
People of both ends of the political spectrum are constantly bemoaning the “state of our country.” Without looking at all political decisions from an objective angle, this is a complaint without merit. I think we’d be better off if more people did compromise their parties beliefs and voted for what they thought was right and wrong rather than what their “political ideology” dictates.
Should I start campaigning for Brothwell 2016 now, or was I right in keeping mum on the political front? Either way, thanks, Phil Roberston. He may have screwed up royally this week, but I never thought it’d be a camo-clad duck-call kingpin who’d finally drag me out of the political conversation cave I’d been hibernating in.