Going home is never easy around election time. My family happens to be a bit conservative, and though I think of myself as just left of center, many people have described me as insanely liberal. I just happen to be a strong proponent of the First Amendment, while some family members tend to lean more heavily on the Second. When I go home, my grandfather will goad me by regaling me with stories he heard on Fox News from Bill O’Reilly. My father will ask me how I can possibly agree with people who inflict “wealth distribution” on the hard working people of America.
I’m now working as a member of the Voter Protection Team with the Obama 2012 Campaign, so you might think that none of that has any effect on me. But I’m of the mind that being raised by a conservative family in a small town is what shaped my liberal political worldview today.
My grandmother on my mother’s side of the family was in the Coast Guard and helped run several businesses in our town. After my parents divorced, we lived with my mother where she kept a full time job, ran a household and fed us with little indication of the enormity of that job or the exhaustion that accompanied it. Among those two and others, in short, I grew up around some kick ass women. A whole binder full of them. So, I guess I can’t understand why women wouldn’t be paid equal salaries as their male counterparts for doing the same jobs. The idea that women wouldn’t be responsible or knowledgeable enough to make their own health care choices never would have occurred to me if conservatives hadn’t told me so.
My grandfather traveled around the world twice over on a ship in the Navy. He loves talking about his time in the service, and while his stories are amazing, even when I was younger I knew that going to war was something I never wanted to do. My grandfather has earned his right to be conservative; he’s been shot at by foreigners. Rich guys who send the poor and disaffected to the front lines of war need a better explanation.
I grew up in a small valley, nestled between wooded mountains. We had four seasons. Our childhood summers were spent fording streams and climbing trees. I’m not an outdoorsman, but I’m partial to Earth. I’d love to see it stick around. I think global warming, and science, are real things, and we better pay attention.
Religious zealots have taken over the right, but my religious upbringing was not at all like the worst you see of religion in politics today. My United Methodist Church was a lovely community of people who cared for each other and for those outside the church. I’m not practicing now, but my Church family helped inform my views on social justice and my place in the world. Our town was not very diverse, but in this church everyone was welcome. And some of the time, our pastor was a woman! Dear Lord!
I grew up in a funeral home where it was odd not to have a dead body around. You’ll have to forgive me if I get a little bit socialist about health care being a universal human right.
Otherwise, there were things that were out of my family’s control. I ended up being gay, which I can assure you was all nature, not nurture. So, I am a big fan of equality being the baseline norm. I am also against fostering an atmosphere where young LGBT kids feel like suicide is their only option. Weird, I know.
You can veer plenty left by growing up in a small, conservative town. So, please, liberal elite, be careful what you stereotype.