I’m Not An Idiot Liberal.

“If you can’t disagree ardently with your colleagues about some issues of law and yet personally still be friends, get another job, for Pete’s sake,” is how Scalia once described their lifetime appointments. “As annoyed as you might be about his zinging dissent, he’s so utterly charming, so amusing, so sometimes outrageous, you can’t help but say, ‘I’m glad that he’s my friend or he’s my colleague,’ ” Ginsburg said. Sometimes, she said, she had to pinch herself to not laugh in the courtroom when Scalia said something audacious.”-  Irin Carmon,  What made the friendship between Scalia and Ginsburg work

My grandfather was a staunch republican and the best person to ever live (in my opinion). He was a marine in the Korean War and then worked for Army Intelligence in Georgia. Where he jokingly proclaimed he protected the nation’s secrets from the liberals. He only talked openly to the people he liked and I think there were maybe four or five of us.

Once at a picnic, a punk kid was talking about war like it was some Call of Duty game. I could see my grandfather getting uncomfortable. He spoke up (which never happened) and firmly told the kid “Listen, war is Hell.” The kid’s eyes widened and I don’t think he said another thing the rest of the night. It was probably for the best.

He spent thirty plus years partnered with my grandmother, a feminist liberal. They kissed a lot in front of me. And, he loved me, another feminist liberal. We could talk for hours about the role of government. He taught me to how to debate ideas without attacking the person. I was allowed and even encouraged to have a different opinion. In a lot of ways, I think he liked that I had a lot of opinions and ideas that differed from his. We learned from each other.

Naturally, the debates got heated sometimes. Once, I challenged him on universal healthcare and landed a solid point. He looked at me with a frustrated smile. I waited for him to respond but instead he changed the subject. This had never happened before. I felt like a debating ninja. And, It wasn’t that I changed his mind (or his values or his beliefs) but I was able to change his perspective. I learned that was the point of a debate.

I know that there have always been aggressive people on all sides. My grandfather would say that these people were insecure and unsure of their opinion. He would say that if you knew what you were talking about you wouldn’t need to use force. Intellect was always better than brute strength in a politcal debate.

I wonder what he would think today. My grandmother and I talk about who he would support if he were still here. I don’t think he would appreciate the current climate in politics. I don’t think he would respect the way these campaigns are being operated.

John McCain was his main man and I don’t know how he would feel about the disparaging comments made about him. Especially in relation to war. In my grandfather’s opinion one did not get to speak about war unless they had been there. My grandfather loved this country and he served it well.

I don’t know how we arrived at this place. But, I can’t hear you if you’re screaming at me. I won’t listen to you if you call me an idiot for my beliefs. I won’t respect you if you punch me for thinking differently. I think it’s cowardice. I don’t trust that you believe in what you’re saying if you communicate it using verbal or physical violence. I believe that if you are speaking your truth, you must do so with confidence but not violence.

I’m so lucky to have been loved by such an incredible man. A life-long conservative that proudly raised and supported a feminist liberal granddaughter. Man, I miss him.

“Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.”

[Address at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton, Johannesburg, South Africa, 23 November 2004]”
Desmond Tutu

Love.

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