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Never the twain shall meet?

I am a liberal. On the books I’m an Independent, but ideologically I am a liberal. I believe global warming is a reality, and I’m worried about the future of our planet. I believe we are each responsible for the welfare of our fellow man. I don’t think I could ever have gotten an abortion, but I believe women should have the right to choose. I am a Christian, but I believe those of other faiths, and those without faith are all equal in my God’s eyes. Likewise, I believe God does not see skin color, nor should I. I believe a gay person has the right to fall in love and marry and that a person who identifies as the opposite gender has the right to do so; furthermore, I believe it is not my business which restroom he or she uses. I believe we all have the right to say what we wish and to peacefully protest if we feel passionate about an issue. I have no problem with entitlements like Medicaid, TANF, or food stamps if they are truly deserved, and I believe most are truly needed. I don’t like guns and believe assault weapons should only be in the hands of the people who protect us for a living. I have mixed feelings about illegal immigration, but I think it’s our moral duty to give refuge to those who flee violence. I believe in freedom of the press, and that suppressing the media is the first step to dictatorship. Yet I deplore media outlets like Fox News who slant all their programming to the right.

I’m married to a conservative – a registered Republican. He believes taxation has gotten out of control and worries about rising costs and inflation. He believes in the principle of hard work and earning one’s own way – of pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. He believes illegal immigration is out of control and needs to be reined in dramatically. He has a problem with transgender people who participate in sports because they upset the balance of a level playing field. He believes entitlements, unchecked, will eventually bankrupt our country – that they must be tightened up. He does not have an issue with our system of taxation – a loophole is a loophole. He doesn’t agree with socialized medicine because of the damage he thinks it would do to the economy. He believes a law is a law and if you break it and get caught, you got what you deserved. He thinks the Feds should butt out of our lives. He keeps Fox News on while he goes about his day because the other news channels are “way too liberal.”

There are many things upon which we don’t agree – but we obviously get along pretty well; we’ve been married almost 48 years. We have had to learn to compromise to get things done. We respect each other’s right to have the beliefs we have and to voice those beliefs without fear of retaliation. We don’t call each other nasty, demeaning names or cast blame when things don’t work out. We don’t point out the ridiculousness of the other’s opinions, but we reserve the right to have a healthy debate. I actually agree with a few of his conservative viewpoints, and he actually agrees with a few of my liberal ideas. He watches Bill Maher; I watch Tucker Carlson. We both think they’re arrogant and dogmatic, but we listen to what they have to say.

Isn’t this what Democracy is supposed to be all about? The right to believe as you wish and to voice your opinion, but also the responsibility to work for the common good? These days, I wonder. It seems political rancor rules the day, thanks in part to social media with its bogus memes that infuriate the other side. In a relationship, a crisis seems to either destroy the relationship or create an unbreakable bond. Likewise, a nation. September 11 was proof of that. We came together in grief and rage, and nobody worried about who belonged to what party. Must it take a national catastrophe to unify us again? I hope not.

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