I have been thinking about the question I posed in the Palin, Republican post a few days ago. I was a little unfair, I think, to Republicans when I discounted their values as valid reasons for affiliation with the party. I thought about my reasons for being a Democrat and, although I am an avid follower of politics, news and current events - national and international - I found that my party choice was based largely on values. I chose to align myself with the party that best expresses my own personal convictions.
I am against the death penalty. I am for allowing gay marriage. I am pro-choice. I support sex education and am against abstience only education. I like the idea of sex education in Africa and the distribution of condoms to help stem the AIDS epidemic there. I am against the use of aggressive, invasive military force, force that is used preemptively and without provocation. I support national healthcare and don't mind if it 'sounds like socialism' - as questionable ally Michael Moore pointed out, libraries and fire departments are public resources and I have no problem with that. I don't mind paying taxes and consider the role of the government, among many other things, to be that of a caregiver to the less fortunate and the less capable. The list of things I support and oppose could go on and on until it becomes more and more fanciful and fantastic. The Democratic Party does not fulfill all of these needs. Barack Obama does not even support all of these things. But I am still happy to be a Democrat because the party best represents my interests.
Specifically because party affiliation is such a personal matter, I am shocked when people do not agree with me. I suppose that this is what makes America great, but I feel like my issues are aimed at general inclusion, where the conservative perspective is aimed at exclusion. Although they seem innocent differences of opinion at face value, they rapidly become deeper and starker. They also grow darker every election cycle.
And yet we manage to get along. I think that, despite the wide (and widening) gulf between the left and right, there is a common thread, a thing we all share: materialism. We all love stuff. We love TV and movies and fashion and music and food and beer. As one Onion article closely following the September 11th attacks put it, A Shattered Nation Longs to Care About Stupid Bullshit Again.