Orphaned out

Frida Kahlo. Self-Portrait Along the Border Line Between Mexico and the United States (1932).

By Kathy Livschiz

I have always thought of myself as a liberal, I was proud of that label, but these days I’m not into labels anymore. I don’t think my views have changed much over the years, but in the last two years I feel that the world around me is shifting. Due to the fact that the center has disappeared I find myself to be considered more and more centrist. How did this happen?

I still believe in social programs, and I’m pro-choice, and I feel that I am privileged and should do more to help others. I still don’t mind being taxed, and support a more open immigration policy and feel that religion has no place in public institutions. I still think that our country needs checks and laws to curtail the racism and sexism that are part of the bedrock of America. I think global warming exists and has been proven. I just don’t believe in blindly supporting “my side”.

Originally I ran into this issue in the context of Israel. My heart is with Israel, I believe that Israel has a place in the world, but I don’t believe that EVERYTHING that Israel does is correct just because Israel does it. I also think that people and policies are different, and I’m sure that there are soldiers that abuse the power that they have, just like there are in every other country, including America. This has put me at odds with some family members and some people I care about on the right, but that was nothing new, so I just continued thinking my thoughts and saying what I think.

Now I am feeling like I can’t do that anymore. “My side” has dug their heels in just like the “other side”. I have conversations with people who are starting to police their thoughts and wonder if it’s OK to make light of any topic. Intersectionality has ruined the left. It is now so intolerant of anything that Israel does that I feel pushed out. People are debating the misogyny of “your mom” jokes and I still think they are funny. I think Harvey Weinstein and Louis CK and Aziz Ansari are all very different. They are not all on the same level. A rapist, a creepy although probably decent guy and a poor communicator do not equate to the same thing in my book. I believe Oprah would make a terrible president, and I hate the concepts of “microaggressions”, “free speech zones” and “safe spaces”.

Paul Delvaux. Loneliness (1956)

What does that make me? When people ask me these days what I am, I stumble. If I say liberal – that brings forth images of a thought-policing, Israel-hating, humorless brat, but I am not now, nor will I ever be a conservative, even if I do think we should be able to pay for our programs, and let the math do the talking on some of our decisions. To me, conservatives are all about the bottom line and about the status quo. You might suggest the title of libertarian, but honestly, to me, a libertarian is someone who read Ayn Rand in college and never really thought about what privilege means and that not everyone starts in the same place. As one of my acquaintances has said to me, some people get to take the “white bus” to a starting line that’s a bit closer to the finish line.  

I hope against hope that our next president is dead center. I don’t want the polar opposite of Trump in office. I want someone who will be able to listen and have honest conversations about what do to. Someone who will respect science and someone who will cut social programs if they don’t work and add new ones in their place. I want someone who doesn’t talk in hashtags and isn’t afraid to have controversial views. We desperately need a grown up, and I find that this is where we really come up short.

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