As a politically engaged conservative, it is nearly impossible to go long stretches of time without someone impugning my motives. I am regularly accused of racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia, and a myriad of other bigotries for disagreeing with liberals on which policies are best or who should implement them. I do not write this to engender pity, but because despite this attitude being pervasive throughout American society, I don’t think many on the left understand that it is happening.
For nearly two years we were told that if we did not vote for Hillary, the only explanation was that we were sexist. Not that we disagreed with her policies or political philosophy. Not that we thought a resume of increasing world disorder during her time as secretary of state and an undistinguished Senate career did not qualify her for the presidency. Not that we thought she was disqualified by risking national security through the use of a private email server in order to avoid public scrutiny. Not that we thought her getting paid millions of dollars for speeches reeked of legalized bribery. Not any of the arguments we made against her.
It is perfectly reasonable for liberals to say we were wrong about all of those points, and many did. But many also skipped debating us on the issues, declared our arguments nothing but a smoke screen, and said we only opposed Hillary because we were sexist. Top members of Hillary’s campaign even said women who voted against her were sexist.
This followed eight years of every disagreement with Obama being attributed to racism. Conservatives who opposed Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and John Kerry were called racist for opposing a presidential candidate even further to the left than the white candidates we had also opposed. Once he was in office, it just got worse. We were told the only reason we opposed Obamacare was racism. Never mind that we opposed the same type of government takeover two decades earlier under Bill Clinton. This excuse was used for everything. In 2012, then Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was accused of racism for criticizing Obama for playing too much golf. The reasoning, and I’m not making this up, was that at the time the most famous golfer was Tiger Woods, who is black, and associating Obama with Tiger Woods would remind everyone that Obama is also black.
I’ve often wondered if people at MSNBC really believed there was a large amount of racists in America who would hear a joke about Obama golfing, and then suddenly it would click for them that Obama is black. But that’s a zen question for another time.
The point is, these kinds of bad-faith accusations happen all the time, and with the slightest of pretense. So it is with great interest that I find Democrats doing things that would automatically get Republicans accused of bigotry. For example, on Tuesday every single senate Democrat voted against a woman becoming secretary of education. Now, they will tell you they voted no because they do not believe DeVos is qualified for her position. That is a legitimate argument to make. But it is not one that would be accepted by many people on the left if the roles were reversed and every Republican voted against a woman’s nomination. This is not a guess; it is history.
But despite this continuous, all pervasive atmosphere of character assassination and specious accusations, I do not believe many liberals understand what it is like. So, if you are a liberal reading this, please imagine the following:
Imagine I began this post by seriously accusing every Democrat senator of sexism for voting against DeVos, and said that is the only reason anyone in the country would not want her as secretary of education. All those people who called their Senators to urge them to vote against confirming her? They just couldn’t handle a woman in a position of power. Imagine it was not just me, but hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of people making the same exact claim, including some of the most influential members of the media, Hollywood, the music industry, and other towering heights of American culture.
Imagine you turn on the news, and the self-described unbiased reporter says DeVos is widely regarded as one of the most qualified people to ever be nominated to run the department of education, and wonders aloud if the Democrats’ only real complaint is that she’s a woman. You turn off your TV to go see a move, a drama about a conservative woman who fights back against the liberals who think she’s only qualified to be a secretary and get coffee. After the movie ends, you check Facebook and see that not only have tens of thousands of people liked and shared articles claiming that everyone who opposed DeVos is sexist, but your friends who should know better about you are saying the same thing. You know you are not sexist, but everywhere you go someone is accusing you of sexism.
Now imagine that happens every week, to go on top of all the times the same people call you racist for things such as opposing Ben Carson for secretary of HUD. Imagine that, and you’ll have an idea what it is like as a Republican.
Like I said, the point here is not to start a pity party. My goal is to explain the world through conservative eyes. And, if you are a liberal, the next time you hear Republicans accused of sexism, racism, or any other form of bigotry, think back on this and consider that maybe we simply disagree on the merits. Maybe there is no hidden motive and we are being honest about our beliefs.
Failing that, when you ask why we cannot have civil discussions anymore, think back to the experiences I described and label it Exhibit A.