I couldn’t help but notice the sheer volume of grace displayed in the face of political defeat by my pro-Romney friends. Maybe I just have awesome friends. Because, unfortunately, that grace is far from universal. In fact, there seems to be a whole lot of rage out there, much of it stemming from some pretty big misconceptions about Obama supporters.
Fear not, I’m here to dispel these misconceptions.
1. Makers Versus Takers
It is quite popular among Romney supporters (and Romney himself) to claim that those of us on the other side of the political fence are all on government assistance or, at the very least, not paying taxes. Let me put your mind at ease. Every Obama supporter I know (and I know a lot) works for a living, pays taxes, and does not receive any government assistance (unless you count social security, which everyone over a certain age receives regardless of his or her politics). Obama supporters love job creators. Many of us are job creators. The more jobs the better, we say. In fact, if you were to look at the directional flow of federal tax dollars you would see that it goes from blue states to red states, not vice versa, which means the whole makers versus takers argument is exactly backwards.
2. Moral Relativism
Obama supporters tend to support abortion rights, gay rights, and access to contraception. To many on the other side, this indicates our unequivocal surrender to the forces of immorality. Alas, you couldn’t be more wrong. It’s not immorality or even amorality that’s at the heart of these positions. It’s compassion, that most Christian of all values. We support abortion rights because allowing the government to harvest women’s bodies against their will is ghastly and cruel. We love women. Some of our best friends are women. We support gay rights because we believe that love is a beautiful thing, something to be celebrated not criminalized. We support access to contraception because nearly every woman in America uses it at some point in her life in order to manage her fertility responsibly. We like reproductive responsibility. Those on the other side of this issue seem to believe that there is something immoral about using birth control, which, to us, is a cruel, backwards, and deluded belief. In short, our support of these things stems from a very deep-seated morality, not the absence of morality.
3. Tax and spend
Obama supporters want their taxes to be as low as possible. We’re not masochists. We work hard for our money and we do not like to see it wasted. For example, many of us are stunned at the cost of the Iraq war, which many of us did not support. We would like a balanced budget and we would like to eliminate the national debt. Most of us, however, are unwilling to do so on the backs of the neediest Americans. Do you know why? Because the global financial collapse that led us to this sorry point was not caused by the neediest Americans. It was caused by the wealthiest–primarily bankers. To responsibly deal with our fiscal problems, we need to raise revenues. Yes, we can talk about cutting where necessary (how about the military?). And, yes, we need to consider raising the retirement age so that social security can be solvent. But we simply can not pull ourselves out of debt without raising taxes. Who can most easily afford to pay higher taxes? The rich. So step up, rich people. And maybe next time, think twice about causing a global financial melt down.
4. Hating capitalism
Obama supporters do not hate capitalism. We hate crony capitalism. We hate corrupt capitalism. We love entrepreneurs. We are entrepreneurs. We work within the free market system. And many of us do quite well. We do, however, acknowledge that the economy has shifted such that wealth is accumulating upward, creating a desperately unstable situation of haves and have-nots. A new Golden Age, if you will. We’re not happy about this. And in so far as the chumminess between the financial services sector and our elected leaders has brought about this new Golden Age, we want it changed. We want a fair market, so that capitalism can do what it does best–unleash human potential within a truly meritocratic system.
So there. That’s who we are. Perhaps we’re not as different from you as you thought we were. Perhaps there are things we can learn from each other. We’re all in it together, so the more we can find common ground, the better.