Last night, I watched Alexandra Pelosi's documentary "Right America: Feeling Wrong." It provided an interesting window into the worldview of a segment of McCain/Palin supporters. By the time the credits rolled, I was mystified by the gulf that emerged during the course of the run up to the 2008 election. Yet, it dawned on me that perhaps the gulf already existed. It just needed figures like Obama and Palin to bring it closer to the light of day.
To listen to a number of the McCain supporters position their perspectives in religious terms was, frankly, disturbing. The United States was not established to be an evangelical Christianist nation. It was settled by a multiplicity of people, most of whom, in the earliest years, were not Europeans, and the historical record supports that conclusion. Obama is a Christian, and it's silly to suggest otherwise.
To know that some of these folks look at someone like me (and Obama) as not really being an American is insulting. To know that there are people in this country who feel that the fate of Western Civilization hung on the balance of this past election is comical. It is incredible to me that we continue to contest the basic information about our country. As an historian, it boggles my mind that so much evidence provides truth to our American reality, yet there are millions of people who simply will not believe that evidence.
I challenge anyone who suggests that I do not love my country. I adore it. The United States is an amazing experiment, and the fact that as a nation we continue to work toward becoming a more perfect union inspires many around the world. Yet, to do that work, requires Americans to be prepared to acknowledge the problems that exist here, and to work to ameliorate those problems. That is where I truly disagree with perhaps the overwhelming majority of McCain/Palin supporters. The United States is not, and has never been, perfect. To acknowledge that is not unpatriotic, period.
I have friends who do not understand how I can have friends who see the world quite differently from me. I relish the fact that I am open minded enough to have those friendships, and it is a testament to those friends that they are open minded as well. We will disagree, often, but that's okay. It's messy, just like life. It's gray, not black and white, just like life.
People on the left and the right too often see the world through ideological lenses, and neither side wants to remove those lenses to see things as they are. I applaud Pelosi for trying to show another side. We need to know all sides. It is the only way we can begin to understand one another and to stop speaking at one another from our demographic corners.
Or am I simply being naive?