I’m always going to have something to say. And what I have to say is always going to be different than most people around me. I was born different. A lot of people think that what I believe must be because I had liberal parents indoctrinating me into their beliefs. This couldn’t be further from the truth. My parents never discussed politics. My Mom hated all discussions of politics. They never even told each other who they voted for, and they definitely did not tell us children. They never told us what to believe politically. Spending her formative years in Washington, D.C. during the civil rights movement, my Mom always told us that someone’s race wasn’t important and we should treat all people equally. Her best friend Gloria was black and she saw first-hand the racial injustices inflicted upon her friend. Not only did my parents pound this belief of racial equality into our heads, they showed us through their actions. My parents are two of the nicest, most decent people I’ve ever known. So, if that’s liberal, than so be it.
I think the first time I realized I was different from most people in Utah was in 1st grade. Someone mentioned the deer hunt and I freaked out. I couldn’t imagine there were people out there who killed innocent animals for sport. For food I could understand (and I still do), but killing something just for the sake of your own entertainment, I don’t. It was also the year Reagan ran against Mondale for President. My 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Danielson, held a fake election in our classroom. I was the only one who voted for Mondale. All I knew is what I gleamed from TV and that was there were millions of Americans out of work and my 6 year old self was aware enough of the world that the old guy on TV with the soft voice had something to do with it.
It wasn’t really until high school that political differences with my peers became more pronounced. It was while I was in high school that Rush Limbaugh’s radio show was also on TV and I remember thinking to myself, “what the hell is wrong with this guy?” He was so far from anything I was used to. I couldn’t imagine demonizing someone just because they don’t agree with you. My like-minded friends and I (which were few) joined the Weber County Young Democrats. It was great to be with people who agreed with me for once. We tried to start a Young Democrats club in high school and it was at this time that I realized that a lot of conservatives in Utah are deathly afraid of liberals. They teach their children to hate them. They really do. In their minds all liberals are bad. Our posters advertising our new club were ripped down and torn to pieces. We had a hard time finding a teacher to be our advisor. I had fellow classmates tell me I was going to hell. I got into political debates in my A.P. classes and was always told that because I was a liberal I was stupid. Really? That’s the only way you can win an argument?
I was so excited once I got to college because I thought maybe I would meet more fair-minded people who didn’t automatically hate you once they found out you voted blue and not red. I saw a flyer on campus advertising the College Young Democrats. I was ecstatic. I went to our first meeting. There were literally 3 people there. Two seniors and me, a little freshman. They wanted to make me an officer right away. After that night, I never went back. I wanted a community, not an uphill battle. So I pledged a sorority, made life-long friends, and we hardly ever discussed politics. It was weird because we all knew where each other’s political leanings lied and we respected that and never ostracized each other for it.
Honestly, voting for the first time when I was 18 was very exciting. This was the year Clinton ran against Dole for a second term. That quarter I had a Political Science class and for extra credit we could do exit polling on election day. I got put in a group with two other men who were married and had children. Of course we talked politics that day and they just patted this little freshman on the head, going through her post-adolescent idealistic phase, and told me that being a liberal was stupid. One man told me that his father was so conservative that if you didn’t vote Republican on election day then you weren’t welcome at the dinner table that night. Being the mouthy broad that I am, I retorted, “It sounds like your father is a controlling asshole.” He agreed, but would not sway in his belief that Dole was going to win that night. The next morning on the shuttle bus I ran into him, he glared at me, and said, “I bet YOU’RE happy.” I think I said, “yeah I am. My guy won.”
Fast forward a few years and I was dating my wonderful husband. He comes from a very politically conservative family whom I love dearly. He is more of an independent. He knows what I believe, but I’ve never pushed my political beliefs on him and forced him to believe what I believe. I respect his right to determine for himself what he thinks is best politically. I respect his autonomy from me. It was Christmas time and we were watching, “A Christmas Story.” As you probably know, the class in the movie is asked to write a theme entitled “What I want for Christmas.” Well, I’m sorry, but it’s blatantly obvious that most of those kids are Jewish, so I jokingly remarked, “what about the Jewish kids. Shouldn’t they get to write what they want for Hanukkah?” Well my father-in-law-to-be freaked out on me and said that I sounded like one of those damn Democrats. I replied, “I am a damn Democrat!” I was shocked. It never occurred to me that being respectful and conscientious of other people’s religious beliefs made you a crazy liberal. Maybe it’s growing up in a multi-religious household that made me aware that everyone’s religious beliefs are personal and just as good as my own. I’ve had a couple of other run-ins about politics with my in-laws, but I decided a long time ago not to engage. They’re never going to change my mind, I’m never going to change theirs, and there’s no use fighting about it and ruining a relationship over something trivial. Although comments have been made behind my back that have hurt my feelings, I choose to ignore them. I love my in-laws and I respect their political beliefs.
This is the thing…I no longer consider myself a Democrat. I do consider myself to be a Utah Democrat because they need all the help they can get. But after the pussy Democrats in Congress didn’t impeach George Bush, Jr. for war crimes and lying our way into an illegal and immoral war, I cannot consider myself a Democrat ever again. I now consider myself to be independently liberal.
Most recently I had a friend on Facebook, who was a good friend back in childhood but we grew apart in high school, seriously ask my why I was a liberal. She was almost attacking me, like how could I call myself a good Mormon and be a liberal? I told her my moral and ethical beliefs warrant that I would support more liberal policies. She didn’t understand this. To her morality is all about the abortion issue, as if all liberals were pro-choice and all conservatives were pro-life and only liberals got abortions or something. Well no, I believe society has a duty to take care of the infirm, the old, the children, and mentally ill – to protect the weakest in our society. She said she believed that too but also felt that people should be self-sufficient. Yeah, able bodied and capable people should be, but that’s not what I’m talking about. The thing that bothered me was that I’ve never confronted one of my conservative friends and forced them to justify their beliefs to me. First of all, I don’t care enough to do that, and second of all, that’s not my right. Like I mentioned, I respect all of my friends and families and our different or alike beliefs. The only time I discuss politics is around people who have similar beliefs to mine. I do this because I’m very passionate and I don’t want to push my beliefs on someone else. Unless you come to my blog willingly and then you’re going to get an eyeful.
I think there’s a misunderstanding that people think that I indoctrinate myself by listening to liberal talk radio all day long (does it exist?), that I watch Keith Olbermann every night (on occasion, I’d say once a month), that I read thedailykos.com or the huffington post (I don’t). The funny thing is I’ve come to believe what I believe all on my own and what I believe is constantly changing and evolving. I’m tired of defend myself for my political beliefs. I think some people in Utah are so used to having everyone agree with them that they’re threatened by the one person who doesn’t.
So that’s me. Like it or leave it. I don’t change for anyone. I try to be a good, understanding, compassionate person, and sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t. I just ask that if our beliefs are different that you respect that. I’m lucky that most of the people I love do.