“Obama’s Black and Romney’s white. That’s all I need to know!”
That’s something I heard the other day from a guy in his early 20s. He was ignorant, uneducated, and an unpleasant attitude. When I questioned him about what he said he questioned my “Southern-ness”. Am I less Southern for carrying a more-educated opinion? Am I less Southern for dealing with the facts instead of bigotry? Of course not. I even suggested that a “real” Southern man is a “refined gentleman” – not an ignorant redneck.
So what does it mean to be a Southern Man and where is this obligation to vote Republican at any cost coming from? The answer to that is more complicated than one might think. There are a lot of ideas floating around and depending on who you ask – you will get different, very different, responses.
I hadn’t thought about my own ideas of what it means to be a Southern Man until recently. I was born, raised, and educated in the South, but my ideas and principals may very greatly from someone else with the same history.
I admit – being Southern does come with a certain amount of cultural phenomena. For example, the stereotypes about going out of our way to open doors for women, making eye contact and smiling to strangers on the street, our love affair with sweet tea and traditional southern cooking, and a certain amount of “countriness” certainly exists. Those are things I love about the South though.
What I hate is this illogical feeling of obligation many Southerns feel to the Republican party.
What bothers is the Southern man’s apparent obligation toward an established “conservative” status-quo. What bothers me more is that most people have no idea what being conservative really is. Is being conservative advocating war, hating gays, outlawing abortion, being religious, or something else? It seems most of us have no gauge for ourselves, but rather take our cues from the “party leaders” that tell us what we should be doing.
Take my father-in-law for instance. He is without doubt a good man; however, he is among the worst when it comes to developing his political opinions based on Rush Limbaugh telling him so. Why do Southern men feel so obliged to follow party leaders even when their viewpoints are so obviously coated in hatred, prejudice, and ignorance? Where is their ability and desire to think critically?
For example, when George Bush passed the patriot act which grossly violated our privacy most Republicans supported it whole-heartily even though it was a gross expansion of Government powers. Isn’t this the opposite of the limited Government ideals conservatives claim to support? The lack of consistency is what I have a problem with, especially when lack of consistency becomes lies.
Generally, if you oppose the war “southerners” will argue with you. If you admit America should take any responsibility for having enemies, people say you are blaming America. If you support gay rights, aren’t religious, and think the life of an American is no more important than any other human life you are a liberal and a radical. Sure this phenomena exists outside the South, but here I think it’s magnified.
I have mentioned before that Party politics in the south are crooked and inconsistent with a true conservative message. Instead the “party” convinces us that we should align ourselves with a certain socially accepted moral code, a demand to keep the rich richer, to give the Government more power for our “protection”, and to use a book of peace to promote hatred and bigotry.
The worst thing is that if you are in the Republican party you are asked to do what’s right for the Party instead of what’s right for the people. Good men are ignored, great ideas are swept under the rug, and a few good ole’ boys who have all the power want to keep everything the same so as long as it continues to benefit them. We are to be good little slaves and stay in line. Everyone else is fired up and too busy hating liberals to realize they are being screwed by their own “team”.
Real conservatism, in my opinion, isn’t about following the party at any cost. It’s about engaging in thoughtful discussions, having an open mind, and educating yourself. It’s about maintaining and promoting the power of the people. It’s about demanding the Government be a steward of the people, not the other way around. It’s about upholding principals of personal and social responsibility and demanding the same from others. It’s about upholding natural rights, property rights, and liberty. That’s where the conservative movement should be going and those are the leaders we should be following.