I just noted a comment on an older post of mine accusing me, somewhat ungrammatically, of being a Republican and therefore an idiot. I find this sort of thing hilarious, because I’m not a Republican. In fact, I find myself wondering what definition of Republican people like that have in mind that they consider me to be one.

Is it party affiliation? I’m registered Democratic.

Is it who I plan to vote for in the election? Not John McCain, that’s for damn sure.

Is it which party I support financially? I don’t give a dime to the Republicans.

Is it supporting the campaign in Iraq? I think Bush has thoroughly botched it.

Is it being a religious nut? I’m a secularist.

My guess is that to people like this commenter, “Republican” simply means “Doesn’t agree with the left on everything.” If so, well, I’m guilty of that, but I prefer a different term to describe that — sane.

2 Responses to “Republican? Moi?”
  1. beety eyes says:

    Non conservatives usually don’t join bandwagon causes. The volunteers at women’s shelters don’t volunteer because they are leftists -the volunteer because they are moved by the cause. They don’t define themselves as “leftists” and then go do something. A critique of the right is that they have causes bundled under what it means to be rightwing. Just sitdown and watch Bill O’reilly for a spell and you will know what I mean. “Oh you don’t believe such ‘n such” -he may say, “then you are a socialist”. You see in the right’s view -if you don’t swallow everything that they are selling then you must be with the others.

    And this is my critique of what you just said in your last sentence. The right wing view that there are exactly two sides to everything -it’s a false dichotomy. There is not one ubiquitous mass of leftist ideas -that any sane person can point to. They vary in many respects and are quite different -almost always. One should either agree with ideas or not based on their merit -not because it epitomizes some rationale.

    I think that is what you meant to say -anyways.

  2. Kyle Haight says:

    This comes back to the question of what it means to be a ‘leftist’ or a ‘rightist’. People support specific causes for reasons. Why is the volunteer at the woman’s shelter moved by that cause? What values do they hold that make them respond strongly to the plight of abused women, but not to some other cultural phenomenon? And do those values lead to being moved by common sets of specific causes? I’m pretty sure, for example, that people who are moved by ‘green’ causes are far more likely to also be moved by the cause of nationalized health care than people who are not moved by ‘green’ causes. There’s a correlation here, and it isn’t a coincidence. It isn’t that people start out by defining themselves as leftists and then pick causes. People hold values, which lead them to act in certain ways and support certain kinds of causes, and it is on the basis of those actions that they are classified as leftists.

    I should be clear that I do not consider the ‘right’ and the ‘left’ to be mutually exhaustive categories — there are people and viewpoints that don’t fit cleanly under either category. But there definitely is a distinctive and self-aware group of people with reasonably identifiable beliefs that can be classified as ‘the left’. They even talk about themselves in such terms. (Recently they seem to be calling themselves “progressives”, which I view as a total misnomer because their political views are fundamentally regressive, but I don’t want to be too digressive.) Classifying very broad cultural and political movements doesn’t usually mean identifying a single unifying idea that can be expressed in a single sentence; such movements are integrated by sets of mutually reinforcing ideas, only some of which may be held by any individual member of the movement.

    The “bundling” of causes under a broader umbrella is perfectly legitimate. Environmentalism does this sort of thing, tying together global warming, alternative energy, opposition to oil exploration and drilling, anti-pollution regulation, forest preservation, recycling and a host of other specific causes under a higher level concept. Ideas should be accepted based on their merit, yes — but they must also be integrated together, related to other ideas and assembled into an appropriate conceptual hierarchy. That’s part of what it means to take ideas seriously.

    And for the record I would sooner have bamboo shoots stuck underneath my fingernails than sit down and watch Bill O’Reilly. Everything I’ve heard about the man leads me to think he’s an ignorant, nativist populist blowhard. Hey, yet another reason I’m not a Republican!

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