How far should I go to try to convince someone of who I really am, when all they want to see of me is what they assume me to be? I addressed this previously in my entry Lose the Labels and Look for Yourself, but I still find myself in the same situation. I went on to try to clarify further in Oh, How Could You?, but still, here I am. I am still painted as the enemy. I am still somehow viewed as miniature Rush Limbaugh clone because I dared ASK if this person had actually listened to any of Limbaugh's broadcasts or read any of his books himself, or if his opinions had been formed based only on what had been presented about Limbaugh by third-party sources. I just ASKED. It didn't matter. Somehow that meant that I must agree with everything Limbaugh has ever said or believed (which is most definitely NOT true). I further exacerbated the situation by daring to suggest that Rush Limbaugh is NOT entirely wrong about everything. But I made a point of TRYING to clarify that NO ONE is entirely wrong on everything. He's got some things right. Believing this makes me inherently evil, apparently.
It doesn't matter that I also believe that Hillary Clinton has some things right. Barack Obama has some things right. Al Gore has some things right. George Bush (actually, both of 'em) has some things right. Jimmy Carter has some things right. Ronald Reagan had some things right. Ann Coulter has some things right. Al Franken has some things right. You get my point. At least, I hope you get my point. Apparently, some people don't.
I'm a firm believer in looking at EVERY side. I'm a firm believer in free speech. Just because I am willing to hear it doesn't mean I agree with it. And just because I agree with any part of it does not mean that I agree with all of it. Here's a bit of news: I've never known, heard, seen or even imagined ANY person on this earth with whom I agreed with everything. Here's something else: I don't believe that ANYONE has.
I was inspired to become a journalist by reading the works of Hunter S. Thompson. He so inspired me, in fact, that I had his personal logo tattooed on my ankle more than 15 years ago. That doesn't mean that I agreed with his positions on everything. Not even close.
Even peering through the rose-colored glasses of (relatively brief) history, I recognize that Ronald Reagan held many positions that I view as downright repugnant. I also recognize that many of his policies and beliefs were absolutely right and necessary for the particular period of history in which he came to power. He was absolutely the person NEEDED for the job at the time - for his policies as well as his public persona. I hold the same kind of belief now for a very different kind of candidate - Barack Obama. I believe that in this moment in time, he is absolutely NEEDED for the job. Does it mean that I agree with him on everything? Certainly not. But I do agree with him on some things.
I've been a political junkie my whole life, but I've never been a party-liner. I campaigned for Reagan in 1980. I was in second grade at the time. Through my precocious eyes then, and still now, I see that he did some good and important and VITAL things during his presidency. I didn't support the first Bush in office, and I think it must have been a period of relative political indifference for me, because I actually recall very little of it at all - except for my grandfather teaching my baby cousin to say, "Read my lips - no new taxes," on cue at family gatherings. I came of voting age in time to help put Bill Clinton into office (in fact, I recall being so enthralled by him in 1992 that I once said, "Hell, I'd have an affair with him too." I was 19 - he might have gone for it.) I backed him for his re-election as well, even though during the intervening period I was not only a member of College Republicans AND the ultra-conservative Young Americans for Freedom, I was even elected vice-president of YAF (although, I wasn't actually at the meeting at which I was elected, and I wasn't even aware I was in the running for the position). But still, in 1996, I was backing Clinton again. I backed George Bush in 2000 and again in 2004. I won't try to justify it, but I still believe it was the right thing at the time - and the alternatives were most definitely the WRONG things. And in this campaign, I am supporting Barack Obama. (You might note that during the entirety of my time as a legal voter, I have always ended up picking the winner - hoping that trend continues.) I think he's person we need right now. You might not agree with me, but you don't have to. I can respect differing opinions.
That's the end of my rant for tonight. Peace and love to all.