February 27, 2006
Moving AlongBy Ari Kaufman
I moved again last week. It was my fourth move in the past six months during a transitional time in my life. But I think that this is the right move for me at this moment. Yes, I am with my girlfriend and residing in a cozy neighborhood, but there is more. I think that with each relocation, I am progressing in finding a more tolerant society. I am moving along to a better and richer life, full of diverse choices.
You see, I am a Republican. I am also Jewish and have spent my entire life in the most liberal, secular societies one could imagine. I have lived in Washington, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Diego, and in the past six months, I have added New York, Vermont and Maryland to my list of past residences.
I have seen more anti—Bush stickers than the little blue New York Times bags that dot each long driveway on a daily basis in the elite suburbs outside Washington D.C. My friends and family mockingly introduce me as "Ari the Republican." To them, the 59 million who cast ballots for President Bush in 2004 are Middle American, religious, warmongering, uneducated rednecks. They don't know them nor trust them; they know nary a soul in the military, and they honestly don't want to. (However, they oppose the war because "our kids are getting killed." Thus, our story begins.)
Pickup trucks, Jesus, familial values and Wal—Mart are not welcome in their world of hybrid cars with Martha's Vineyard stickers, Whole Foods Markets, Ivy League offspring and anti—globalization rallies. And you thought Republicans were the party of the elite? Not since the counterculture ended, and most assuredly not in 2006.
However, now I am in South Florida; and even though, overall, this part of this Red State still votes Democratic, I see an improvement in my surroundings. I have actually spotted a few "Support our Troops" magnets, and unlike in L.A. or San Francisco, I doubt someone will rip them off the cars which don them. Suddenly, I have a freedom of expression on my bumper that was previously in doubt.
In academia, as Lawrence Summers now realizes, conservative speech has people full of ire. The collegiate gates are often barricaded so that pro—US, pro—War or Zionist speakers cannot reach students. It is so ridiculously hypocritical that even a liberal Berkeley alum—friend of mine could attest to this when he mused,
Indeed the very same people who support organizations like the ACLU, and who purport to protect free speech and the "civil liberties" of all Americans, at the moment that speech (pro—life, pro—war, pro—death penalty) comes into conflict with their missions, will line up to quell those words.
My Berkeley graduate friend told me of an incident when he worked for Americorps. One day, environmental folks were complaining about the usual: SUVs polluting the air, the need for alternative energy sources and the like. But, in a moment of sheer hypocrisy, when my buddy encouraged everyone to "take action" and walk the 3/4 mile to work instead of drive, no one volunteered. Apparently, their motivation to save the earth was not strong enough to overcome the lure of an air—conditioned van, avoiding a 15 minute walk on a humid day in Georgia.
Deciphering the life of a coastal elitist is a fascinating and frustrating venture. When David and Debbie Democrat awake in their million dollar home in Potomac, Great Neck, Newton or Marin County, how exactly is their life or safety being jeopardized by our soldiers' efforts in the Middle East, as they sip lattes at the Starbucks on K Street in DC, work in their law office on Boston's North End, or the non—profit venture in San Francisco? We understand that they do not know these young men and women personally, and that their personal economy is working well.
But somehow, their lives have turned to gloom and despair because of — insert your favorite anti—Bush canard — the awful state of our nation.
How is that, exactly? To be blunt, these are the same people that drool over every Patrick Fitzgerald indictment, each Michael Moore film, or weekly CNN Bush Approval Poll ending with a wry smile of "we got them now." I have witnessed this exercise in absurdity more than once.
Their days are monolithic. They wake up to the New York Times and Katie Couric, watch MSNBC during their 9—5 workday, have dinner while watching Chris Matthews give the latest Tom Delay updates on Hardball, followed up by Larry King, and they then put themselves to sleep by watching HBO's Bill Maher mercilessly bash our country and our President. Where is the space for objectivity and outside opinions, especially for their impressionable, private school educated children? Their intellectual elitism would never tolerate such defiance and open—mindedness.
They need to move along and try out new perspectives and new information sources.
A funny thing happened on their way to the next Hillary Clinton fundraiser: Their children found the secret code to unlock the block they installed to prevent viewing of the "biased" Fox News Channel. Now suddenly, Bill O'Reilly and Shepard Smith are opening their eyes to the beauty of our country, while exposing our adversaries within the terror networks, publicizing Cindy Sheehan's disingenuousness and the PC—dominated radical groups who appease these enemies, defame our soldiers and balkanize "minorities" by engulfing them in condescension via handout programs most of them do not seek.
While our college faculties may be dominated by liberal academics and moveon.org rallies, somehow, with all the odds and information stacked against them, the College Republicans club oftentimes outnumbers their Democratic counterparts. Even at UC Berkeley, the third largest club as of 2001 was still the Young Republicans. Harvard undergraduate students reportedly gave outgoing president Larry Summers a standing ovation and support him strongly, despite the revolt of the Arts and Sciences faculty.
When fear of public blackballing and faculty grade retaliation is overcome, college students have shown that political diversity is possible. And, thankfully, more and more students send their examples of blatant professorial biases to sites like Students for Academic Freedom.
Progress against the domineering forces at universities that revel in lionizing Palestinian terrorists, condemning military recruiters and revising our historical triumphs is now a high priority for a large percentage of college students and young adults who were raised in blue state locales where conservatism was often blackballed and dismissed as nonsense.
They say it's more "fun" to be liberal when you are young, and I would be hard—pressed to disagree. What 18 year—old wouldn't invite opportunities to exhibit wanton behavior without having to take responsibility for it? They also say that, as we move along on our journey to adulthood, we find conservatism's appeal growing. We learn and observe more.
My next geographical move will likely be to another place more welcoming to conservatism. It is time for me — and many others — to move along.