Thursday, January 12, 2017

Let's Be Friends

I had a friend of mine tell me recently that he didn't think he could ever be friends with a leftist. When I pressed him he clarified that he meant someone from the hard left of the political divide in this country, which I took to mean someone who would vote for Bernie Sanders or someone who is an avowed Socialist. But, however you define hard left, the question remains, why exactly does someone's views on politics preclude the possibility of friendship? Is this a new thing or has it always been so in America?

First of all, I need to admit that there probably exist people with whom it would be impossible to forge a friendship. For example, I can't ever imagine being buddies with a pedophile. I don't think I'm ever going to be caught dead getting chummy with someone who tortures dogs. Rapists probably aren't getting Christmas cards from the Dunnevant's, etc. But, we're talking politics here. How can someone's political views make it impossible to be friends?

In fairness, most of my friends are generally more conservative than liberal. To a certain extent, human beings feel more comfortable with those to whom we have the most in common, and there's certainly nothing wrong with that. But I have plenty of liberal friends. Heck, both of my kids are more liberal than I am, and I love both of them to the moon and back. So what's the deal with all of the hostility? Here's my theory.

My objection to the hard left is that I believe their ideas about government to be wrong on the merits. I believe that overly empowered government is dangerous to the health and wealth of mankind. That's  my view of the historical record. So, why would I want to be a friend to someone who I believe supports such an unhappy outcome? Here's why...because, I am convinced that THEY don't believe that empowered government is a bad thing! I don't assume bad motives in those with whom I disagree. I believe that most people from the left side of the divide honestly believe that their vision of government would be a great benefit to the country. They look at the arc of history differently than I do. While I believe they are mistaken about their views, I don't think they are malicious, deliberately trying to enslave the country and turn us into a gulag. We just simply look at the world's problems and have come to different conclusions about how to remedy them.

Are there exceptions to this? Certainly. I believe that the far right and the far left contain people with truly dangerous ideas and attitudes. But generally speaking, most everyone else starts off with genuinely different ideas about things. But, all of us developed those ideas from a place of good will, honestly trying to grapple with finding ways to better mankind.

Some of you will read this and think, "Poor Doug, he is sooo naive!" Maybe. But I'm thinking that if all of us would try giving each other the assumption of good will, we would all get along better. Our parties would be more fun too because it takes all kinds to make a world. And, how awesome would it be if Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama walked through my door together and I got the chance to have a beer with them both. I bet the two of them would hit it off alraight. If they could do it, why not the rest of us?