I suspect I speak for many when I say I’m tired of people who don’t know me making assumptions about me because of my party affiliation and occupation.
I am a Republican, therefore I must be a racist homophobe who hates immigrants, poor people, the sick and the elderly. I must also be a war monger who favors polluters over the environment and corporations over workers.
Instead, people who know me know that I long for a colorblind America in which two people who love each other can marry regardless of gender. I also think America needs to raise immigration quotas to meet employer demand while clearing a path to citizenship for people here illegally.
Some of my other views are more nuanced than labelers would have you believe.
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I do think the way out of poverty is a leg up, not a lifetime handout. I believe this because a summer of Head Start gave me a leg up before I started first grade. I say this because a scholarship for poor kids with promise allowed me to attend college.
I am 54, almost 55, so obviously I do not hate older people. But I do worry that Social Security, absent meaningful reform, will one day run out of money, bringing an end to what was supposed to be a safety net but has become the chief source of retirement income for many Americans.
I grew up in Stokes County, home to Hanging Rock State Park and the Dan River, so I appreciate the environment and the need to protect it. But I think the Environmental Protection Agency ought to follow the law, which says it must weigh the human cost of rules it proposes. Put another way, I think the loss of human jobs isn’t worth the life of an endangered mussel.
It is absurd to think that anyone in his right mind likes war. But I do think America should use its military strength, when necessary, to promote personal, religious and economic freedom around the globe.
I most recently got labeled last weekend. I wrote a column saying Johnston County’s Republican Party, in power for nearly two decades now, was failing the leadership test, both on the school board and county board of commissioners. One online comment said essentially this: A California company owns the Smithfield Herald, so naturally, the newsaper promotes a liberal agenda.
First, nothing could be further from the truth. People say they see a liberal bias in the news, but I can honestly say that no one from California has ever told me what to write or canned something I had written. More to the point, the online commenter clearly did not read the column; he just applied the “liberal journalist” label to a newspaper piece that, based on other comments, he did not agree with.
That wasn’t fair to me obviously. But more than that, I think our democracy deserves better than labels, especially those applied with the jerk of a knee.