Most of my life, I’ve had the stereotypes hammered into me: conservatives see things in black and white, while liberals see the grays in between. Conservatives believe in good and evil and absolutes, while liberals can weigh between the two and see the nuances, the distinctions, the diverse elements.
But lately, I’m starting to think that those stereotypes are overrated — if not utterly wrong. For on more and more issues, it’s the left that is calling things strictly binary, while the conservatives are more analog.
For example, on the matter of immigration. As the crack young staff of Hatemongers Quarterly noted earlier, conservatives divide immigrants into two categories: legal and illegal. Some conservatives are concerned about all immigrants, but the vast majority welcome the legal ones and deeply resent the illegal ones.
Speaking personally, part of my resentment for illegal aliens is that it denigrates those who are trying to come here legally. Every time we make it easier for people to skip the procedures, break the rules, and violate the law and still obtain residency or citizenship, we are spitting in the faces of those who are trying to do it the right way. It is on their behalf that I get so aggrieved.
But liberals, they don’t see the distinction. An immigrant is an immigrant, whether they are here legally or not. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who worked for years and years to become first a resident of the United States and then a citizen, is no better than an MS-13 gang member who sneaked across the border. Albert Einstein and the alien who came here on a tourist visa and set up home are interchangeable. Madeleine Albright and the 9/11 hijackers who overstayed their visas are one and the same.
Another example (and one that almost always irritates a good chunk of the readership here) is gay marriage. If you don’t wholeheartedly embrace it in any form, however it arrives, you’re a homophobic, hateful bigot.
Right here in New England, we have several perfect examples of just how gray the matter is. In Vermont, the legislature passed a Civil Unions law — and the people revolted and tossed them out wholesale, then replaced them with new lawmakers who repealed it. In Massachusetts, four judges declared gay marriage into law, and then the activists fought — successfully — to kill any and every single attempt to bring the matter before the people. They violated laws, regulations, and every shred of common decency to repeatedly thwart attempts to simply place the matter on the ballot, where the supporters’ repeated assertions that there was widespread public support would be put to the test. And in the end, they succeeded.
But here in New Hampshire, we did it right. The legislature debated and passed a Civil Unions bill, and the governor signed it into law. As of January 1, 2008, gay people can’t get married in New Hampshire, but they can get nearly all the benefits of marriage in a single, state-sanctioned ceremony. And I am glad and proud of that. Not only because it was the right thing to do, but it was done in the right way — with the general assent of the people through our duly elected representatives.
And then there’s abortion. I know, I’ve repeatedly said that I don’t want to argue the issue, but simply discussing the stances should be safe.
Bill Clinton said it perfectly: he wanted abortion to be safe, legal, and rare. (While his words were a perfect summation of my own opinions, his deeds never came close to that.) To liberals, abortion is an absolutely sacrosanct right, and not a single law can be imposed that puts the slightest restriction on that right. Parental notification laws? Nope. Limiting the techniques used? Uh-uh. Restricting the time frame when they can be performed? Forget about it.
A good compromise seemed available when “health of the mother” became a valid reason for an abortion, but that soon became untenable when “health” started getting defined in the most nebulous fashion, where “emotional health” became a valid reason.
I guess it’s a matter of your own personal bias whether something is a “matter of principle” or “stubborn infexibility.”