I’m so fucking sick of everyone just assuming that getting along with conservatives is something that you have to do, in order to be a good political citizen. That the correct way to function around right-wing racist homophobic nutjobs is to be polite, to discuss your differences calmly and rationally, and at the end of the discussion, hug it out. To always leave on a good note, to always end with some variation of “well, let’s just agree to disagree, then. How ‘bout them Red Sox?”
Some of us cannot afford to be so polite.
Its not a sign that I’m closed-minded or do not play well with others because I don’t have any close conservative friends. Its not a sign that I am a leftist looney radical who is a slave to MSNBC and who is “just as bad” as those wing-nut Fox News viewers. I don’t have any close conservative friends because those people want to see the borders closed to non-white immigrants, and I am the daughter of non-white immigrants. Because those people believe in “traditional man-woman marriage” and I’m a queer woman. Because those people want America to be a Christian nation, and I’m not a Christian. Because those people defiantly and enthusiastically defend the institution of whiteness in all aspects of our society, and I am a person of color.
I don’t choose to stay away from conservatives, I have to stay away from conservatives.
I can’t engage with them on these issues, I can’t have a civil debate with them at a cocktail party, because the personal is inherently political for me. Because they have chosen to make me the subject of their politics — because they rely on demonizing me and people like me in order to define themselves.
Commentators who like to write about the “unbridgeable” red-blue divide also like to point out the “irony” that in the essentials, conservative America and liberal America are the same. That if we could just get over all this rhetorical nonsense, we could once again be the strong, united country we used to be. That the media is the true culprit behind the division, not actual philosophical differences. That if we just tear down the pundit-spun window dressing, we’ll find that we have more in common than we think.
And that may be true, for white people.
Because there isn’t much of a difference between liberal white people and conservative white people. Both get the same advantages in society that white people have always benefited from. For them, the question of what to do with the immigrants, the people of color, the achievement gap, the unemployment gap, the prison over-crowding problem — is an intellectual exercise. Its something they like to engage in as a hobby, its entertainment. They like to watch cable news pundits while eating dinner, not to gain information, but to pass the time. At the end of the day, other things matter more. Paying the bills. Running their businesses. Impressing the boss. Helping the kids with homework. They don’t have to think about systematic inequality or oppression unless they want to.
And the rest of us?
Well, we don’t have a choice. We’re “blue”. We’re Democrats. We have to be, no matter how diverse our political opinions really are. No matter how socially conservative some of us may be, no matter how anti-capitalist some of us are — the vast majority of us end up voting for the Democrat on the ballot, because we have no other choice.
And let me tell you, it is telling that the commentators who always, always spin the same tired-old-tale about how we’re “really not that different” have never even stopped to think about how people of color fit into this equation. Have never stopped to ask why one side seems to have all the melanin, and the other side is so lily-white. We matter so little to them that they fail to account for us (who will soon be a majority in America!) while they’re busy theorizing about the essential nature of Americans. We only matter to them as a problem to be argued over — we’re not political agents, forging our own American identities, bringing our experiences and our viewpoints to the national table.
So no, I’m not going to be shamed into getting along with the Texan redneck whose father was in the Ku Klux Klan. I’m not going to worry too hard about thinking good thoughts about evangelical Christians who support preachers who spout antigay nonsense overseas. I’m not going to pay lip service to “the good Republicans” out there, those mythical moderate beings who “aren’t as bad” as the Rush Limbaughs and the Michael Savages.
I don’t have the damn freedom to even give them an inch.
Remember that, the next time you write some bullshit about how we should “all just get along”, no matter our political beliefs.