There I sat, among a party of six, enjoying fine Italian cuisine. Our West Los Angeles neighborhood is more than a bastion of liberalism; it’s home to several trendy trattorias and ritzy ristorantes, and well-heeled patrons who keep them afloat. As I enjoyed my ravioli and spinachi al limone, politics somehow came up at our table, concerning basic differences between Democrats and Republicans.
It was just prior to desert that one of the women in our party stated, “The way I see it, Republicans are pro-business. And Democrats are pro-people.”
I sensed this was the night I was to ‘come out’ to my liberal friends, show my true political colors. So I chimed in, “You know, I think the Democrats are actually more pro-government, and it’s the Republicans who are pro-people.”
To which she replied, as if she’d been waiting for the chance, “But the government is the people.”
‘Damn the torpedos,’ I thought, as I continued, “Well, I got news for you. All those bureaucrats who run our federal government … over in Washington … I don’t think they represent the people of this country any more than the executives who run the Fortune 500. Maybe even less so.”
She looked rather stunned and, yes, quizzical. And since I now commanded the attention of everyone at our table, whether I wanted it or not, I continued. “Think about it. There are thousands of bureaucrats who run all the different agencies and departments that comprise, well, a really big part of our government. They put out tons of rules and regulations telling us citizen-peons what to do all the time, how to run our businesses, spend our money and live our lives. But these government bureaucrats aren’t elected. Hell, we don’t even know who they are. Who do they answer to? Maybe to some other bureaucrat, but not to you or me, I can guarantee you that. And we’re paying their salaries with our taxes. They don’t answer to the citizens of this country any more that the CEO of some publicly held corporation. At least that CEO has a board of directors and about a hundred thousand shareholders to answer to.”
“Well,” she said, still stunned, “I really don’t know about that. But the bottom line for me is that … I just … don’t like Republicans.”
“Wait, you mean you don’t like Republican politics?” I asked. “Or you don’t like them as people?”
“Both,” she said with a smile, eliciting laughter and approval from nearly everyone else at our table. And there were lots of nods as she continued, “They’re just despicable, the way they hate women, and minorities, and gays, and the environment, and abortion. They’re greedy and stupid, and bigots.”
“Wow!” was pretty much all I could say – my turn to be stunned.
Soon I began to gather my wits, and managed a few more words. “So, I’m trying to get my head around what you just said, because … I mean, I can understand your not liking someone’s politics, opinions being what they are. But you just made a really negative judgment on the character of millions of people, literally. People of different backgrounds, different ages, genders, ethnicities. These are people you’ve never met and will never know as individuals. But, you – all you guys – seem to think all these millions of people, who you don’t know, are truly ‘despicable’ because they call themselves Republicans, or vote Republican, or both. The attitude you just expressed strikes me as the very essence of bigotry. And since I never thought of you guys as bigoted people, this is kind of a revelation for me.”
And I’ll tell you what – if you ever want to upset a table full of liberals, just call them a bunch of bigots and watch the ‘S’ hit the fan.