I posted at RedState under the name Han_Pritcher. I have not been banned. I simply gave up. After a year as a “liberal contrarian” I have simply lost any sense of purpose to it. I learned a lot about politics, the internet, and myself by posting and participating there for as long as I did. I’d like to share what I’ve learned.
First, we are not magically better than they are. We can get every bit as angry, as stupid, as blind as they do at their worst. I’ve seen diaries at DailyKos which are phenomenally stupid and incredibly angry. You have too. Don’t deny it. Oh sure, the content and themes are different, but I’ve learned that the more politically involved we get, the more partisan and frankly angry we can become. This is a human thing, not a liberal or conservative one.
Second, there are honestly good and decent people there. I participated in debates that were, at times, honest and instructive. Not everybody there is some kind of insaniac who wants to see us destroyed.
Third, most of them are fucking out of their minds with rage right now and they don’t have the first clue about their civic duties. They spent eight years mostly enabling an incredibly shitty president and their biggest (if not only) complaint at the end of it is that he wasn’t conservative enough.
Fourth, they are the rump. They don’t seem to understand that their own anecdotal experiences about how angry people are at our “socialist” President cannot equate to a broader understanding of the electorate. They didn’t get how people could vote for Barack Obama prior to his election and they remain unable to understand how people could continue to support him.
In short, they changed my views on a handful of issues (for which I thank them honestly), but they mostly scared the hell out of me because they are not living in the same world as I am.
I didn’t spend my time at RedState to do some kind of expose or in order to troll them or do them harm. It’s their house and they can run it however they like. I respect the fact that they are politically involved and have a strong belief in their country. Those are honestly good things and we could do a better job of remembering that. However, they mostly see us as scum, traitors who hate the troops and want to see our own country fail. Remarkable, really, when we consider how they’ve lined up behind Rush Limbaugh almost to a man. No, I went to RedState as an open liberal because these people are my countrymen and engagement is necessary to improve our discourse and indeed health as a nation.
I still believe that. However, the best of the Republicans I know voted for Barack Obama, or at least considered it. I don’t call them the “best” because they did something I liked. I esteem them because they took an honest look at the Republican Party and realized that further support would only delay a necessary reckoning. The folks at RedState also want a reckoning within their party. Sadly, they want the reverse.
The folks at RedState are no longer in complete lockstep over supporting Governor Palin for president in 2012. However, they remain pretty much unanimous in thinking that more of her, more of Joe the Plumber, more of anger and derision, more of mockery and much more questioning the very “American-ness” of the left would have won them the presidency. These people do not see us as their countrymen. They do not see us as essentially American. We are leftists so we must be something other than American.
I condemn that! Damn anyone who would call me or my family any less American or loyal than they! My father served in Vietnam, my Uncle in Haiti and in Iraq. My brother had the fortune to do his duty in a uniform on our soil, far away from our recent wars. My family has a history of service, and while I do not presume to speak for every member, most of us are progressives. None of us are zealots.
The sickness at RedState, the sickness I’ve seen elsewhere on the right of late, is truly terrifying. They see things like this diary, these honest attempts at moral relativism and at mutual respect as weakness. Nearly every interaction I had at RedState made it plain that while they honestly do love this country and want people to succeed, they do not see us as fit members of their country. Apparently we spend all of our time scheming to take their guns, destroy honest elections, put down Governor Palin, keep minorities down, abort every baby possible, and all the while destroy the sanctity of marriage. These people have focused on the weirdest outliers on the left and married them to some truly bizarre caricatures of us that they themselves created.
So why do I write this? Is this a big “fuck you” to the folks at RedState? No, it isn’t. As I said, there are some good and decent people there and I want that whole community to prosper. I want them and their families to have good and happy lives. I was always sincerely warm, inasmuch as I was able. I write this diary because we have to learn the right lessons from my experiences over there.
Republicans are only our enemies if we let them be. They are our countrymen. They are not evil, they are mistaken. We have a golden opportunity, RIGHT NOW, to prove that ours are the better ideas. If we do this right we will convince many of them to change some of their views. I know this is possible because they did that to me. I have more respect for the free market than I did before I posted there. I have a better understanding of why many folks so adamantly oppose judicial redefinition of marriage (I agree that it should not be the courts to empower our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters – we have to win the war of ideas and convince people to support it). I learned from them. I hope they learned from me.
These people are our neighbors, our coworkers, and they do surround us. Of course, we also surround them. As fucking crazy as the folks at RedState can be they are still my fellow countrymen. That means a lot to me. My family didn’t serve just to protect progressives. My family served, AND SERVES STILL, to protect all of us. Even the ones who are wrong.
The folks at RedState attach themselves to the craziest of memes from time to time. Teleprompter this, Obama supporter cutting up McCain supporter that…..they cling, ever so bitterly, to a world that never existed. They fell so short while they were in power, but they leap to condemn any slight now that they’re out. They truly disdain some of the simplest joys in my life. They mostly cannot fathom why I’d want to own a smaller car. They really don’t get why I’d rather commute by bicycle. They don’t understand why I, a straight male who is ever so happily engaged to the most amazing woman, would so strongly support gay marriage. They see cities and unions as clusters of, well, evil. They see us as wanting to hobble them, bring them down, destroy their own exceptionalism. I cannot claim to understand this.
These people are not living in reality. What worries me is that we may not be either. Mock them, pity them, do whatever you like, but remember that we are two sides of the same coin and NEITHER side is apt to realize this. They are some angry people and they want our government to fail because if it succeeds then they were simply wrong about everything. I don’t want to hurt them, but in this I want very much to humiliate them, simply by succeeding. If we can turn things around, if we fix things, if we prove them wrong, we will humiliate them without needing to say a single nasty thing.
This is me. I don’t know how to link to my individual posts.