Pale Blue Dot

David K. Smith, 20 January 2018

Perhaps surprisingly, this admittedly anti-social human has some friends. They run the gamut from far left to far right. Despite being a member of the former, I do not reject those friends who belong to the latter. Good friends share more important things than political ideologies. Better to say I base my acceptance of people is based much more on morality: even right-wingers can be moral.

While I abhor labels, the best way to describe me is as a liberal. While most liberals tend to be Democrat, I've never identified myself as belonging to any political party, since I don't consider any party as perfect or ideal. But it's become much harder to define me because a growing trend in society is to become increasingly polarized in all things—to the point of absurd extremes.

Imagine an endless series of waves where the peaks and troughs grow ever higher and lower. Nearly every aspect of society is exhibiting this increasing extremism, from fashion to sports to technology: the biggest this; the smallest that, the most powerful other thing. Such extreme polarization has resulted in, among many other things, "red" and "blue" states. You're either for something, or against it. There's no middle ground, no shades of grey.

I live in a "blue" state, but that's only because the most densely-populated areas are liberal—as is the case nearly everywhere in the country. But I live in a rural area, which is seriously "red"; during the election, a neighbor of mine plastered "Make America Great Again" signs all along the driveway, as well as on all of the mailboxes (save, thankfully, for mine, because there would have otherwise been a lawsuit). I frequent pubs and restaurants in the area with parking lots filled with pickup trucks and motorcycles bearing "lock her up" bumper stickers. Conversations at such establishments are dominated by three topics: sports, hunting, and admiration for our President.

I freely admit that I strongly oppose "red" positions. Consequently, I'm best described as "blue." But because I assert there are no absolutes, and no position is "perfect," I'd say I'm more likely "pale blue." I am, therefore, a pale blue dot in a sea of red (with apologies to Carl Sagan).

But it serves no purpose for me to rail against the "reds," if for no other reason than I'd lose a lot of friends. There's no converting reds to blue; one might as well attempt to change the weather. They've drunk the Kool-Aid since their birth; they are their parents' children. There are exceptions: I was born into a dyed-in-the-wool red family; my parents were literally NRA card-carrying ultra-conservatives so far out on the right wing that you'd need a telescope to see them. But I accept that I'm probably a rare anomaly—the "exception that proves the rule," whatever the frack that means.

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