I wanted to take a few moments to introduce myself. I live just outside of Pittsburgh, in a single-family home along with my wife and two children, both girls. My daughters’ names are Katie, she’s nine years old, and Chrissy, who’s twelve (though Chrissy, now a tweenager, is starting to prefer Christine, or just Chris, because she says that “Chrissy” makes it sound like she’s still a toddler.)
Our house is simple, a bungalow with three bedrooms and one-and-a-half bathrooms--and a mortgage that can make things a little tight for us now and then. There’s an eat-in kitchen, a nice living room (and, yes, I splurged on a wide screen HDTV that hangs on the wall over the fireplace). Built in the ‘20s, the place needs a bit of work now and then, but nothing I can’t handle, though I imagine in a couple of years I’ll need to spring for a new roof.
Do you hate me? At all?
I work in Human Resources for a company that makes corrugated cardboard boxes. We have about ninety employees and we pay a decent wage and have been able to avoid unionizing. A family-owned company, we’ve managed to instill that family feeling across the board, and our owner, the grandson of the founder, feels that if you just treat people fairly, you don’t need to deal with what he calls “that union stuff.” I mostly agree with him. I know unions are good for worker safety and things like that, but mostly I think they aren’t needed as much these days, and just kind of get in the way of things. My wife doesn’t work, but she knows she can if she wants to, especially now that the kids are a little older.
Do you hate me? Even a little bit?
As a family we’re somewhat religious. My wife was raised Presbyterian; I was raised in a Charismatic church, which I left as a teenager (over my parents’ very strong objections). I find the Presbyterian church comfortable, and the four of us go most Sundays. The church tends to the conservative, with conventional sermons on morality and ethics. The sermons aren’t usually about really sensitive issues like, say abortion, but it’s generally accepted that the church is against it, even though, well, like everything, there probably should be some exceptions. And with gay marriage, well, we’re not sure. It somehow feels wrong, but then I’m sure God loves them, too. It’s a good church with a good pastor. We like it.
Do you hate me? Perhaps silently?
We’re a Republican family, and both my wife and I have voted Republican for as long as I can remember (including both times for George W. Bush). Though we both think the Republican Party should do more to reach out to poor people and minorities like it did way back when, we’re also strong believers in people picking themselves up by their own bootstraps and not counting on government to support them all the time. Plus, I do feel the bite of those taxes every other week when I get my paycheck, and it hurts. Taxes should be lower. I’m also not happy with being forced to buy insurance if I don’t want it or think I need it, and I don’t like the fact that people don’t seem to respect the Constitution much anymore, like how they want to take away guns from honest, law-following people.
I’m also not real sure if I like the idea that people who have come here illegally should get to stay. I know there’s no simple answer, but it just doesn’t feel right to me.
How about now? Am I a Rethuglican to you? Or a Teahadist? Or a Teabagger? Am I someone you feel pity for? Someone you wish didn’t exist?
Actually, I don’t think about politics all that much, and when I think about myself and my wife and my family, it’s not “We’re Republicans,” or “We’re Conservatives.” Mostly I think about how we’re a family, and about how I want my girls to get good grades so they can get ahead, and how I want them to respect others and God. I think about doing a good job and loving my wife and kids, and I think about my friends and whether Tom and Jack will ever agree on who makes the best barbecued ribs. Oh, and I think about the Steelers and the Penguins, but not so much about the Pirates. I’m a husband and a father and a sports fan and a hard worker and a good friend. And sometimes, when someone wants to talk about politics, or when an election comes around, I’m a Republican.
I’m really not that different from you, am I?
So why do you hate me?
[Note to my readers: the above "biography" is fictional, and is not my personal story. I chose this mode to personalize my point for each of us. To paraphrase Suze Orman: People First, then Politics, then Things....]