A Curmudgeon Rerun: "Going to a Party"
"Going to a Party" first appeared on December 4th, 2017. In anticipation of the 2020 presidential election, I thought it merited another airing out. TWC
If you've immigrated to the United States without knowing much about your new home, you might be puzzled about which political party is the best one for you. As an equal-opportunity Curmudgeon, I take it upon myself to provide assistance.
The bad news is this: they are legion. The good news is that most of them are either of negligible impact or complete goofballs. As such, we can dispense with the American Freedom Party, America First Party, American Solidarity Party, American Delta Party, American Populist Party, America's Party, Black Riders Liberation Party, Christian Liberty Party, Citizens Party of the United States, Constitution Party, Freedom Socialist Party, Humane Party, Independent American Party, Justice Party, Legal Marijuana Now Party, Modern Whig Party, National Socialist Movement, New Black Panther Party, Objectivist Party, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Peace and Freedom Party, Prohibition Party, Reform Party of the United States of America, Royalist Party USA, Socialist Action, Socialist Alternative, Socialist Equality Party, Socialist Party USA, Socialist Labor Party of America, Socialist Workers Party, Traditionalist Workers Party, United States Marijuana Party, United States Pacifist Party, United States Pirate Party, Unity Party of America, Veterans Party of America, and the Workers World Party (although the United States Pirate Party is highly tempting).
The Green, Communist, and Libertarian parties are considerably more established, each boasting literally dozens of members. Their well-intentioned idealism pretty much insures they'll never make a dent in the political landscape.
That narrows it down to the two majors. Let's get to know them.
Republicans/conservatives/right-wingers (I'm told there are differences among those terms, but I'm confounded if I can tell them apart, so let's just say they're all the same thing.)
This is the party of traditional values such as ethics and morality. They can assess who is ethical and moral by whether the person is a member their party. This may sound counterintuitive, because it is, but for them, being deemed ethical and moral does not require ethics or morality, only the use of the word "Republican" or "conservative." That, as the saying goes, covers a multitude of sins. Boy, does it ever. Our current president, who cannot correctly name a book of the Bible and doesn't believe he needs to seek God's forgiveness (a basic tenet of Christianity) is considered a "man of God" by those on the right. Because he's a Republican, you see. Joining this party has many advantages. Chief among them, you will instantly inherit a fiercely loyal group of like-minded comrades who will stand by you if you happen to commit an unspeakable crime, as long as you remain a Republican. If you have any plans to embezzle, commit tax fraud, or be secretly homosexual, this is the party for you. They've got your back.
Republicans have many issues that are important to them. But what they treasure above all is winning. Since they're mostly rich and white, they suffer from feelings of inferiority about their problems, which tend to be on the smaller side. So they focus intensely on winning, much the way a rabid football fan might root for his team. Winning takes precedence over everything, including not only ethics and morality, but also evidence, logic, consensus, science, personal beliefs, the Constitution, and even their own wellbeing. A Republican will happily and enthusiastically inflict self-harm if it means winning. Because winning is great. It shows you're better.
Democrats/liberals/left-wingers (I'm told there are differences among those terms, but I'm confounded if I can tell them apart, so let's just say they're all the same thing.)
Democrats believe in tolerance, acceptance, and understanding of all people, regardless of ethnicity, gender identity, religion, or social standing, with the exception of Christians, Republicans, Southerners, or anyone else whose beliefs don't align with their views. Their hearts are bursting with kindness and understanding . . . within reason. They draw the line at people you can't even reason with, such as those with whom they fundamentally disagree. They value truth and transparency, and they detest "alternative facts." Alright, yes, there may be exceptions. If someone has entered this country illegally, you must not say so. To Democrats, "illegal" is not so much a factual term based on an established law, but a personal insult. The same goes for other descriptors, such as "thin," "overweight," "nearsighted," "well-mannered," "educated," "uneducated," "elderly," "brunette,"—in fact, you're considered a closed-minded bigot if you identify anyone as anything; that kind of thing just doesn't fly with liberals. We're all people, and we're all the same—exactly the same. In fact, you can't even tell us apart—except for those easy-to-spot haters who are constantly pointing out our differences by calling people things like "tall" or "European." Bigots. Membership in the Democratic party entitles you to the smug self-satisfaction of knowing you're right on all issues. And unlike those on the right, you're never obligated by loyalty. If your closest lefty ally bristles at any of the tenets, it's an accepted practice to ridicule him publicly and drop him immediately. You also get to compete in a highly popular daily left-wing social media game called Heartbroken to the Point of Inaction. It involves sharing your outrage over injustices with like-minded allies, who then try to top your outrage with their own. The game ends when an overwhelming latte craving renders you unable to post strongly-worded-yet-ineffectual protests for the benefit of those who already agree.
Where they meet
The two major parties have far more in common than you might expect. Both are captained by a highly capable team of wealthy white men who are expert at representing the rest of us. Both sides have sharply honed talents for spotting hypocrisy in each other, while not seeing their own (see accusations of sexual misconduct), which is a pretty impressive trick. Both represent "the real America." Both believe in standing up for what's good and right in their view, and in preventing what is good and right in the other side's view. Because they're each consistently right and the other side is consistently wrong. That is a documented fact. They're both prolific in their complaints of being offended. And each has an entire media network confirming the unbiased factuality of their views—on the right, it's Fox News; on the left, Facebook friends lists—equally reliable sources of responsibly vetted information.
Now, I don't want to influence you, my imaginary information-starved immigrant friend. So I won't identify which side I belong to. I'll only say that it's the good one, the one that's on the proper side of the issues. I'll add that the other party is philosophically wrong, doesn't have your best interests in mind, and is impossible to deal with. What's more, they're villainous, misinformed, stupid, and insane. I'm sure you know who I'm talking about.