Carol Platt Liebau: Love and politics.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Love and politics.

Just under one year ago, this Anne Kornblut NYT piece addressed the phenomenon of loves and friendships fraying over politics. The noteworthy thing about it was that, in the end, Kornblut could only come up with Democrats rejecting friends and family over political matters: for whatever reason, Republicans and conservatives seem to have a much easier time maintaining relationships with their ideological opposites. (Yes: it's because we secretly know you guys are so right.) This is all anecdotal, of course -- is it even possible to quantify this sort of thing? -- and it should be taken as such.


Still, when you see a Salon reader corresponding with Cary Tennis about his inability, on political grounds, to love his own parents, you must wonder whether this set is indeed truly insane. "How can I love my parents," asks "A Bad Son," "when they are supporters of the most corrupt, willfully ignorant, deceitful, lying administration in our nation's history?" How indeed? My father phone-banked for Jimmy Carter, and we've not spoken since. The milquetoast Tennis makes a stab at the right answer: "[F]amily love is an unbreakable connection. It isn't an idea. Love is not approval or agreement. It's a bond." Precisely -- but who needs clarification of this these days excepting, well, angry Democrats? Less stupefying, but still pathetic, is James Kirchick's tale of woe on being romantically ostracized as a homosexual conservative.


The root of the trouble here is the belief that politics are an expression of fundamental values. They often are, of course, but not always, and not in the same way for each person. My stance on the recent levee bonds in Sacramento expressed precisely nothing about me except, perhaps, that I'm against drowning, and that I am not terribly informed on local infrastructure issues. Similarly, being for the Iraq war does not make you a monster -- and being against it does not make you a fool. The qualities of monstrousness or foolishness come in the circumstances and details. Furthermore, people are holistic beings, irreducible to discrete parts indicative of the whole. When I married, I promised to spend the rest of my life with my wife -- not an aggregate of opinions on SCHIP and arts funding. Why do we find so many stories of leftists failing to grasp this, and so few anecdotes of conservatives rejecting love and friendship on the same grounds? There's something there, I think, that's intrinsic both to the type of person who adheres to each ideology, and to the ideologies themselves. The irony lies in who is tolerant -- and who is not.

8 Comments:

Blogger One Salient Oversight said...

Overall I think you'll find that divorce rates are higher in conservative states than in progressive ones.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Joshua Trevino said...

Irrelevant. The (only somewhat) useful metric here is the divorce rate amongst conservatives versus leftists.

5:10 PM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

First you write,

This is all anecdotal, of course -- is it even possible to quantify this sort of thing? -- and it should be taken as such.

then you write,

Why do we find so many stories of leftists failing to grasp this, and so few anecdotes of conservatives rejecting love and friendship on the same grounds?

I counted a total of TWO stories of leftists doing this, and you equate "two" to "so many".

There's an old story (partly true) about Australian aborigines having a counting system that goes "1, 2, 3, many". It would appear that yours is even simpler: "1, many".

7:50 PM  
Blogger Joshua Trevino said...

If you only counted two, you need to learn to count.

11:41 AM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

Very well, please list the examples you present, and we can count them together.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Joshua Trevino said...

The kids on the interwebs have a useful expression, thus: RTFA.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

Uh, look, if you say there's more than two, and I see only two cited, and you won't spell it out, then I suppose that you and I have no basis to reason together. Rats.

10:01 PM  
Blogger Joshua Trevino said...

The colored words! They take you places! Hail, intertubes!

11:22 AM  

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