Love and politics.
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.