My friends have, on the whole, disappointed me this election year. Not because of whom they voted for, but because of how they've reacted to who won.
Many of my friends are what you might call "liberals". And many of them are young--for some, 2004 was only their first or second opportunity to vote in a presidential election. So, while I didn't agree with their assessment of John Kerry, their enthusiam was encouraging.
But, though I should have known better, I wasn't prepared for their reaction to Kerry's loss.
It turns out that many of my friends, despite their other fine qualities, are--I have no better words for it--ignorant and even intolerant when it comes to those with different political views. They don't understand why other people might support different candidates or policy positions, unless those people are uneducated or just plain evil.
So Kerry's loss has come as a bit of a shock to some of my friends. They didn't think the country was that badly off--that full of uneducated, evil, big-corporation-loving, WalMart-shopping, baby-seal-killing, SUV-driving, war-loving, redneck, gun-toting voters. Their reactions to the results haven't been pretty.
I'll never forget something that happened a few years ago, when a group of us headed to the local diner after a dance. When I got out of my car, which was decorated with my NRA membership decal and a Clinton-era "Don't Blame Me, I Voted Republican" bumper sticker, I found a Wesleyan student staring at me in amazement. "You're a Republican?" she asked. "But you seem so nice!"
I'm pretty sure she was at least half-serious. And she's fairly typical of the college students and recent grads I meet here in the northeast.
Which is not to say that I don't meet many folks from the other side of the metaphorical fence--of all ages--who are equally befuddled.
If you're among the befuddled, here's your homework: Steven Waldman's excellent essay, "Perverted, God-Hating Frenchies vs. Inbred, Sex-Obsessed Yokels: Why Can't Liberals and Conservatives Get Along? Because They Fundamentally Misunderstand Each Other".
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