When Ezzie called me a liberal on his roundup of the guesters here, I pretended to get all indignant about it.
I obviously don't care what people call me, and I try to let my opinions speak for themselves, even if it means people will think I'm a liberal because of it.
Then last night, catching up on some recorded shows on my DVR, I cought an old episode of Boston Legal, where the main character, after winning a case he would have preferred to lose said something like this:
"Why do we have to be for them or against them, republican or democrat, red state or blue state? Why can’t we decide what’s right and then do that?"
And so I wonder, why all the labels? Why do people insist on piling others (and themselves) into neat little groups? Whether its conservative vs. liberal, democrat vs. republican or even yeshivish vs. modern, why do we insist on defining and labeling ourselves?
It turns friends against each other; once defined, we need to stick to the platforms of our definition. But why should that be?
During the run-up to the 2004 election, I made a small mental list of issues and whose position I agreed with. It was half and half. And so I found myself having to prioritize. I'm sure this isn't a wildly unique situation, but I found it hard. Especially when a particular friend of mine was pressuring me to "vote to re-elect the president" (and I was thinking, I can't find Al Gore on the ballot j/k). And when I argued that I thought Kerry's position on Stem Cell research and energy policy more closely mirrored mine, and that my conscience was telling me that until Bush has a coherent policy on energy and dependence on foreign oil, I couldn't vote for him. But I was getting attacked with party lines on Israel and national security, and I really was made to feel that a vote for Kerry was a vote to let the terrorists kill us all. (Not that it mattered, I could have voted for Donald Duck and Kerry would still have carried NY. I'm not saying who I ultimately voted for. DovBear might take away my keys.)
Then there's the blogosphere. Maybe people are really always convinced that they are right, but so rare is the post or comment that says, "he guys, you've made some strong arguments. I'm inclined to think differently about this issue. Your perspective is one I hadn't considered before, and shall give thought to now." Everyone so tightly clings to their definitions, that they refuse to see the other side.
Sure, those that call themselves "confident" will now label me "wishy-washy," but I do very often (as I'm sure there are others as well) sit in the middle, taking my time to discern the relative merits of several arguments, sometimes coming out on one side, and sometimes the other. (This is not to slef-promote, just to illustrate).
I don't even know what I'm trying to get at anymore. Whatever, don't mind me. I'm just a wishy-washy liberal Yankee-lover.