Most of the people I know are liberal. This has to do with living in Seattle and being fairly young. But I have some conservative friends, and I’ve always found them more interesting to talk to about politics because they have a completely different point of view. I’ve always seen political differences as having a different starting point, but the same ultimate goal. For example, if the ultimate goal is strong economic growth, the Democrats believe the starting point is regulations to even the playing fields while the Republicans believe the starting point is deregulation so businesses have the room to grow. Same desire, different tactics.
The Republican Party is trying to attract more female and minority voters. I’ve often commented that the Republican Party would seem more receptive to those voters if it actually WAS receptive to those voters. And when the extreme members of the party say idiotic things, it’s easy to imagine the whole party is full of white men who want women back in the kitchen and immigrants outside of American borders.
I used to feel that way too. I was raised in a liberal family and from everything I read and saw Republicans cared about lining their coffers at the expense of people who were working hard, and Democrats cared about people and believed in helping those out who were down on their luck. Then, I read The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater at the urging of an online friend. It was the first time I’d seen a conservative ideology explained in a way that didn’t included hatred. It was a completely and totally different way of looking at the world than I’d ever been exposed to. Mind blown.
When I see these attacks from left to right and right to left I can’t help but feel that people are missing why the other side believes and advocates for the positions they do. It’s frustrating to me because I think if everyone could just try to understand the other point of view we could actually be able to compromise and get things done. On second thought, that’s silly. Why accomplish something when you can just fling mud instead?
The RNC has paraded out speakers who represent the demographics they are trying to reach: Female, black, Hispanic. I’d question how those speakers feel being the objects of such a blatant dog and pony show, but I was blown away by how impressive they were. Condoleezza Rice was amazing. I disagreed on some of her points, but I’ve always admired and respected her. I loved that she brought up Bush because the Republicans have tried to sweep him away during the last two elections. I thought Susana Martinez delivered an inspiring speech. I’d read quite a bit about her leading up to her election as New Mexico’s Governor and it was a treat to finally see her speak.
In reaction to the minorities and women speaking at the RNC I’ve heard the question repeatedly, “Why would a woman or minority ever vote Republican?”
Anyone asking that question is clearly missing the point. I’ve never agreed with the Democratic Party’s platform 100%. It’s just the one that fell most in line with my beliefs. I’ve since begun to question many of those beliefs, but as far as the two major parties go, that’s where my vote still lies.
However, this is where my frustration lies with both parties. These conventions are an opportunity to explain their fundamental beliefs and how they will help effect change. But they don’t do that. The Republicans will sling mud and throw out catch phrases about smaller government and hard work. The Democrats will catch the mud and sling it back, accusing Republican of fostering an economic system that bleeds dry the working and middle classes. It accomplishes nothing but hiding the fact that both major parties are pretty much the same save for some hot button social issues and leaving everyone with dirty hands.
I loved seeing some very articulate, intelligent Republican women speaking. More women in politics is a good thing. We need more than one point of view, more than one starting point. Strong candidates and thinkers benefit everyone, no matter which side of the aisle they choose. The Log Cabin Republicans, supporters of gay marriage, are good for the Republican Party and good for American politics because they might be able to get people to see the Republican Party in a different way. They might be able to start a real debate about what the Republican Party does and should stand for.
We can shake our heads in disbelief that “they” could join a party that “we” see as being against their best interests. Or, we could consider that we are missing the entire point.