A burly man dons a soiled vest emblazoned with Confederate flag. He foists a banner declaring, “God Hates All Fags”. I am sickened; I am angry, but my
systolic and diastolic readings remain steady. I errantly tune to FOX NEWS; the face of Sean Hannity despoils the screen; I grimace; I grab the remote, but I don’t suffer an intracranial bleed.
Yet, I become apoplectic when a racist remark emerges from the lips of Uncle Bill, Aunt Phyllis, or best friend Bob. Temporal veins throb and engorge when Cousin Roberta states our cultural group has been endowed by the lord with unparalleled skill, learning, and righteousness. Inner rage and anger threaten to erupt when people I love support superstition over science. Time to take a walk and get some Prozac.
In the very near future I shall be attending a family reunion. My wife, who knows my passion for politics, warns me, “You must be respectful; they are family; they are good people.” I know they are good people; they are our family. I get similar warnings when we go out to dinner with friends. My close friends are good people too, or they wouldn’t be my friends.
Truth be told, I know I am limited when it comes keeping my cool, and modulating my voice when political and religious debate erupt among people I care about. The simple fact is that I expect people I know and care about to share my most dearly held values. Sometimes those expectations are not met. My own dad became a Reagan supporter. How could MY dad be so dumb?
It takes little effort to remain calm when it comes to non-value issues. I don’t become crimson when we disagree about sports, or Apple vs. Microsoft. I am fully capable of speaking softly when disagreeing on some political issue like whether the Supreme Court erred in its Citizens United decision, or should the nation revise its tax code.
This year, if you are a dear family member or friend, and you are a Republican, I think we had better avoid politics. I know that you and I have led a life of relative privilege; you are educated; you are not ignorant, hateful or intolerant. I fully trust that you believe in that “do unto to others” thing. I know that greed and avarice are not your motivators. I cannot fathom your believing that the mythology of religion trumps good science. Thus it is terribly frustrating and downright painful that you could be a supporter of party antithetical to all I believe in. You are my friend; you are family. You have to know better.
It is in-your- face-apparent that the 2012 Republican Party tramples on the rights of minorities, devalues women, and treats LGBT people as less than equals. It panders to bigots, haters, gun-nuts, science deniers and the religious zealots. It employs miscreants like Rush and Hannity to garner political momentum by spreading hate and falsehood. It is either a party of greedy puppeteers playing on fear, hate and ignorance, or it is an amalgam of ignorant bigots. Either way, it is a threat to me, our relatives and the ones I love. It is a threat to all of us. It deserves my wrath; it should raise my blood pressure. The thought of these people leading my country is terrifying.
So to my friends and relatives, please don’t expect me to accept any reason for your support of, or voting for, Republicans this year. Please, for the sake of your relative’s and friend’s circulatory health, take off the Romney button in my presence, and let’s stick to discussing the Cubs or how cute Aunt Myrtle’s grandbaby is.