An Invitation to Self-described Liberals in America

by

Dear Liberals in America,

I know you think of me as the enemy. I identify as a conservative, which means I’m probably racist, homophobic, sexist, and a nationalist, if not an outright fascist nazi.

I’m not going to try and defend myself against these charges. Instead, I’m going to invite you to do something: Open your mind.

See, we grew up in this country together. Some of my ancestors came to America before the 1800s, some of them came earlier.  Some of my ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War, and some fought in the Civil War, on both sides. And some simply left before the Civil War and settled in the West. Many of my ancestors were mormon pioneers, but some of them settled in Texas, or California, and different places like that.

The point is not to compare how American I am, or to say that you are not, or anything like that: But to say that we have a similar background, much more similar than any other group of people on the planet.

This letter is an attempt at an olive branch, to declare a truce between the two factions fighting in America today. Normally, you declare a truce when you identify a common enemy. Hardly ever do people declare truces in the name of peace alone. This is what I am offering: Let’s declare a truce in the name of peace alone, not because we have to unite to fight a greater evil, but simply because I’m tired of fighting.

What is it that truly matters most to you and I? It is our own interests. You might be interested in protecting the environment, or helping the poor, or simply finding a way to sustain your lifestyle without living contrary to what you know to be right. Does it surprise you to know that I share some of the same goals? We are really not so different. Our goals are actually quite similar. When you think about it, the only disagreement we have is how to get there: You tend to favor solutions that grant more power to centralized governments, I favor approaches that grant more power to individuals. Granted, some of the issues we get behind and argue about seem to contradict this general paradigm, but if you dig deep enough, we’ll both find ways to justify our positions.

And that’s the thing: We both spend our time rationalizing and justifying our positions, rather than truly seeking to understand each other. You can see why this is: If we tried to understand each other, there’s a chance we might actually change our opinions.

For the past while, I’ve been taking the Alt-Right seriously. Now hold on — don’t run away, I certainly don’t agree with everything they stand for, or their tactics and methods. And I’m not going to persuade you to join the Alt-Right movement either. Understand, instead, that the way you view me is very similar to how I view the Alt-Right. Initially, I was turned off by their combative rhetoric, their embrace of the labels that I have been trained since I was a little child to hate. But you know what I found underneath it all? I found a bunch of men who care very deeply about themselves, their communities, and even people of other colors.

See, the Alt-Right doesn’t hate people who aren’t like them. That’s not their message. Their message is that people are better off with people who are like themselves. They are more comfortable, they keep the laws more, and they treat each other fairly. Surely you admit that this is true! Have you not caught yourself being kinder and gentler to people who you believe are more like yourself, and aloof or even antagonistic towards those who are “other”? I know I have. In order to end the Alt-Right, let’s build a culture where we all think of each other as ourselves, not as “other”. Let’s end the divisive speech, and let’s focus on finding similarities and commonalities. The Alt-Right exists because we are so polarized, after all, and they are looking for a way to end it.

It’s human nature. Despite the thousands of years we’ve been here on planet earth, our nature hasn’t really changed. We’re still tribesman, heading out each morning to hunt or to protect our tribe, or even to reproduce. We are the same people who built Rome, and destroyed it. We are the same people who brought in the Dark Ages, and then ushered in the Enlightenment. When you look at history, you’re not really looking at “others” — your looking at yourself.

That’s a scary thought. When I look at history, I see time and again the cycle: First a society bonds together into unbreakable bonds of brotherhood, then they fight and conquer to achieve their goals. Once they’ve achieved their goals, they rise to prosperity. But then, things go bad and next thing you know they’re killing each other over petty things. I can cite numerous instances throughout history. Heck, we can see it happening all over the world.

I don’t want to end up in Civil War again. But I can’t stop it alone.

Here’s a compromise: Let’s write a truce. You get to live your life the way you think is best, and I’ll live my life the way I think is best. Most importantly, we’ll agree to disagree on what we think is best. Aside from some basic rules (don’t murder, don’t steal, etc…) we don’t really need to agree on much to get along, and to feel like we belong together. In your family, you can do whatever you want. If you want to built a capitalist utopia where every member of the family needs to work to eat, feel free to do that. If you want to turn your family into a homeless shelter, you can do that to. But that’s the thing: You have to do it for yourself, you can’t ask me to do it for you.

See, that’s where all the disagreement really stems from. You’re asking me to do things I don’t want to do, and I’m asking you to do things you don’t want to do. So let’s stop doing that.

If only things were so simple! Unfortunately, living in this country together, we do need to agree on things that do limit each other’s behavior. Here are some of my ideas:

1. We can’t allow anyone and their uncle to move in this country. We have a separate history and culture, and they have theirs. The honest truth is they are better off living in their home country. If you truly want to help, then help them where they live, so they can help their neighbors. If you pull them out of their country, you’re really doing a disfavor to those countries. So let’s agree to stop immigration, except in extraordinary circumstances. If we do agree to take on refugees, then let’s make a rule that they cannot stay here, but they have to go back when their country improves again. I know you want to let everyone come here and stay, but search your heart, you know it’s true: Immigration is hurting the world as we take the best and brightest and turn them into Americans.

2. We have to make laws, inclusively, and we have to enforce them equally. Really, we shouldn’t be changing laws with majority votes. We should be carefully writing them with input from the minority, finding a compromise that will be fair and just for all. Don’t you agree to that? Even though the Republicans have the majority in the house and the senate, and control the majority of state legislatures, you can ask your party to pay attention to what they have to say and to compromise when it is best. I hope you’ll return the favor in states you control. I believe that laws shouldn’t be passed too quickly and should actually take years and years to write and debate. Let’s strive for that.

3. For too long, we have turned over our right to run this country the way we see fit to the courts. Can we agree that the courts were never meant to have a say in the law or policy? They try cases. The interpretation of the law, the policies of our country, ultimately, that should be left to the people. It’s time we chose judges that didn’t give one side or the other a preference, but instead referred back to the actual text of the laws and the intention of the people who wrote them. Perhaps they may try and discern the will and intention of the people of the time, but honestly, we should be expressing our will in legislatures across America and congress, by people who are elected by us, not by judges. Do you agree?

4. Let’s talk about how politics should be done. We’ve tried, since the 60’s, to limit money in politics, and I agree, it’s for a noble cause. However, let’s look at what has actually happened: As money has been removed from politics, politicians have been winning reelections more and more often. It’s simple to see why: Sitting politicians have access to resources that money can’t buy, things like power and influence. The reason why money belongs in politics is because sometimes, it’s the only tool we have to dethrone a corrupt politician. Right now, the vast majority of the money in America is in the hands of corporations that favor liberalism. Imagine what Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google could do if they didn’t have any constraints on campaign donations or advertising. Do you want to see well-funded liberals across America, even in the red states? Then you really need to end limits to campaign donations and free speech everywhere.

If we can agree to these things, then I think we might have a chance to build a country where we don’t grow up hating the other side.

What do you think? I’m open to your suggestions, too. Feel free to share them. Let’s find common ground.

Sincerely, A Conservative

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