The other day I was talking to a friend of mine, a friend who is more conservative than me in some ways and more liberal than me in others. “I’m a Republican” she said without any irony and the fact that I thought she should have had a bit of irony in her educated voice, made me pause.
Ahem, My name is Kaylia and I have unflattering impressions of Republicans.
Now, to be fair, I have a few unflattering impressions of Democrats as well, but I have Vastly More unflattering impressions of Republicans.
I think some of them are warranted. I know some of them are not.
I think a lot of my dismay at the Republican party is because of the close friendship it has courted with the Religious Right…. A subset of people I have very little in common with and who, frankly, frighten me a bit.
But besides that, what does it mean to be a Republican? For that matter… besides the reputation for being all liberal minded and “progressive”, what does it mean to be a Democrat?
My current knowledge has thus far been gleamed from casual conversations, flame wars on the internet, watching The West Wing, and sporadic, yet highly enjoyed, viewings of The Daily Show:
Republicans are for small government… keeping the federal government out of the way of the average people. Democrats are for bigger more involved government, a government that tries to balance the needs of the few with the needs of the many. (Again, this is what I think I “know” don’t yell at me yet.)
Enough with pseudo knowledge, let's talk about stereotypes:
Republicans are more concerned with the wealthy than the poor. They are closely tied in with the Religious Right and let it dictate policy such as wanting prayer in schools, pro-life, anti gay marriage, and tax cuts to the wealthy.
Democrats are the intellectual liberal party that want social programs like Welfare, MediCare, etc. They are more progressive in that they want laws to change and evolve along with society…. This means allowing abortions, marriages for gays, equality, etc. They tend to not be as religious or not religious at all.
Ok. So. That is what I know, what I think I know at least, and some of my general impressions.
But… here is my educated female pro gay marriage, pro choice, and anti tax cuts for the rich, friend of mine who has declared herself a Republican.
So, I tell myself, either she is a Republican in name only…. (like a lot of people who claim a label be it Christian, skeptic, vegetarian, etc but who don’t actually practice the teachings) or some of my assumptions are flat out wrong.
I am willing to examine my “knowledge” and impressions. I want to be skeptical about what I think…. Why do I think it? Could I be wrong? Would I change my mind if faced with different/new evidence? Of course the first step is being willing… okay. Now comes the second step:
Getting accurate information.