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i have always considered myself relatively neutral in terms of most things, but especially politics. in fact, i prefer to get all my news from either my husband or the daily show. which doesn’t mean i always agree with jon stewart (or sometimes even know what he’s talking about), but i do usually think he’s funny.

at the same time, i am the proud daughter of two very conservative republicans. they are both small business owners and my whole life, they have been the most dedicated, hard-working people i’ve ever seen (a quality that sadly, neither my brother nor i seem to possess in any way). they are pretty solidly middle class: comfortable, but with all of their money tied into their businesses, the house or, for reasons i’ve made clear, my brother and i.

there are few people i respect as much as my parents. they are usually clear-headed and intelligent – in fact, my mother is probably the most well-read person i’ve ever met. of course, there are things that we don’t agree on and often have gotten into numerous long-winded and even heated debates. that said, i’ve always known that they were willing to not only hear what i have to say, but also to listen.

of course, they do watch fox news and make comments about how the “main stream media” is so biased. so, you know, they’re definitely republican. they believe that government should be small and that citizens should give back to their communities as best they can and they live this philosophy, donating both their time and money to many different charities and services.

because i was raised in this environment, i always had this impression that republicans had a bad rap and that really, most of them weren’t too concerned with who married whom (as my parents most definitely are not). i always spoke up when my friends made what i considered to be judgmental comments about republicans as a whole, because i truly believed that most of them were like my parents.

as it turns out, they are not. which has been made clear to me by the tea party in general and specifically, a now ex-facebook friend of mine. and to be perfectly honest, i’m completely disappointed. i know that i’m late to the party and that most people have been talking about just how insane they are for months and possibly even years now, but i just really believed in my naive little heart that no one could possibly ever be so cold-hearted that they would, for example, cheer for the death of another human being (as we’ve all seen in the republican debate).

i’d been friends with this girl on facebook since 2009, when i first joined. she’s the childhood friend of a good friend of mine, and we’ve met a few times, but really don’t know each other well. it turns out, in her own words: “i am a proud conservative, a christian and i support the tea party”. which is fine, except that her posts were just so… offensive.

as i said, i rarely get up in arms about anything political, and can usually see both sides of an issue quite easily. but her posts were so attacking and so black and white: there’s us and them. and i used to read them occasionally and shudder; often, i thought about commenting, but i would just sigh and move on. after all, there wasn’t much point and we didn’t know each other well enough.

finally, i broke. her comment was about this new video game where the goal is to kill zombie versions of tea party members. obviously, she was furious about it. and that’s fine, i don’t really appreciate those sort of violent video games, either, regardless of the group that is the victim. but what she said was absolutely dripping with spite as she spat out comments about liberals and how cruel they were and how she could tell from her liberal friend’s comments that they “wished [her and her family] harm and suffering”.

now, i was very calm and made a point of saying how i found her to be a rational human being, but that it surprised me how angry and offensive i found her comments, and more importantly, the tone. i expressed my belief that the finger-pointing on both sides was a serious problem and was polarizing our country, and leaving most people (including myself) stuck in the middle of some sort of horrible bar brawl gone wrong.

she seriously flipped out. to be honest, i didn’t exactly expect her to just say, oh, of course, you’re right, i was completely in the wrong, but i didn’t expect her to be so personally attacking towards me. she actually called me out, using my full name and “tagging” me in, which made one of my friends say, “wow, it’s like your mother. you are in tro-uh-ble.”

her defense was, in part (i won’t post most of it, as it gives too much away and frankly, it’s too rude):

as i read their [her liberal friends’] many daily posts proclaiming how absolutely brainless and stupid and racist all conservatives are, i can’t help but wonder how they believe they are the tolerant ones. they are only tolerant of those who agree with them.

and to be fair, she might be telling the truth. her friends might post daily about all of those things, in which case, i don’t know why she’s friends with them either. but my whole point had been that this constant back and forth of “you’re intolerant”, “no, you’re intolerant” is the problem. needless to say, she missed the point.

not only did she miss the point, but she really affected how i think of the tea party now. since then, and in future, every time i see them on tv (again, on the daily show), i take them at face value. instead of assuming a misunderstood but well-intentioned kindness, i see that i have to assume that when they say gays are going to hell, they really, actually mean it. and it isn’t just the loud-mouthed politicians, it’s also normal women that i’ve met, are mothers and hairdressers and are really just living their life. and that makes me sad.

of course, i immediately defriended her, instead of bothering to further the conversation, as it really wasn’t going to be fruitful in any way for either of us. and it makes me wonder, is that what our country has come to? instead of being able to have an intelligent, respectful debate, we are left with just the option of defriending (metaphorically speaking, most often)?

needless to say, i am so grateful that my parents are as rational and, more importantly, as kind as they are. i think if more republicans were like them, they wouldn’t get such a bad reputation. but unfortunately, i am realizing that maybe everything i’ve heard about them just might be true to a certain degree.

it makes me more nervous for my country than i ever have been.