Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Another De-friending on Facebook

Sunday evening, a Facebook "friend" de-friended (I use "de-friend" instead of "un-friend") me after I had posted a comment. I actually don't know this person personally, so it wasn't that big of a deal. In fact, he had friend requested me after liking some comments I made on a mutual friend's wall some time ago. I don't make friend requests of people I don't know personally, but I will accept friend requests from people I don't know if I like their views or feel we have something in common (I generally accept all friend requests by people who belong to the Community of Christ because chances are likely that we know people in common and / or we'll likely meet at a church event eventually).

This person had posted a picture of Elizabeth Warren, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts, once held by Senator Ted Kennedy until he passed away in 2009. The replacement, Scott Brown won in a special election in January 2010 with teabagger support, shocking the Democrats. However, I wasn't shocked. Politics aside, Brown is a likable guy with a compelling personal narrative (read his autobiography) and he's not an ideologue. In fact, as Senator, he has been rather moderate and some of his votes have disappointed his Republican supporters, including the teabaggers who were hoping for another brainless ideologue who votes hardcore rightwing. His opponent was Martha Coakley, who ran like she expected a coronation. Brown engaged in what is called "retail politics" (going out to meet the voters and shaking hands, kissing babies, eating some crappy food to show that he's one of the people, and most impressive of all...adding many tens of thousands of miles on his older model pick-up truck). Coakley was seen as an out-of-touch liberal while Brown came off as a man of the people.

When he won, I wrote a post on my blog that the Republican Party has finally found a potential presidential candidate who would appeal to liberals and independents. He is certainly the most likable Republican politician EVER. I hope that Republican Party politics won't ruin him, the way it has obviously ruined the moderate Mitt Romney (who has backtracked on so many of his previous views and policy achievements that no one can trust him anymore, liberal or conservative). Scott Brown has all the qualities that make for a successful Presidential candidate. His biography / personal narrative is the stuff of American legend (a true Horatio Alger story of a man who rose from humble roots to the highest office in the land).

In order to win back the seat that the Kennedy family has held since John F. Kennedy won in 1952, Democrats have recruited a star candidate, Elizabeth Warren who is well known for her battles against Wall Street on behalf of consumer rights and the Middle Class. She is a great candidate...but in my personal opinion, I don't think Senator Brown has done anything terrible that warrants ending his political career after two years in the Senate. If I lived in Massachusetts, I would be voting for Scott Brown. Yes, I am a liberal and I am a Democrat...but I'm also not an ideologue and most importantly, I support individuals that I like, rather than the party. However, because the Republican Party has so few politicians that I like, it's easy for me to support Democratic candidates (unless they happen to be scumbags like my former Congressman David Wu). I would like to see Brown continue in the Senate and see if he might run for the Republican nomination for president in 2016 or 2020. If he loses this Senate race, what will he do next? Run for Governor, perhaps?

I think a lot of the Democratic excitement behind Elizabeth Warren is that electing her to the Senate now will put her in the running for the presidential contest in 2016, which will become even more important if Hillary Clinton decides not to run. The 2008 campaign left a lot of Democratic women disappointed that their dream of seeing a woman president has been deferred again. In 2016, we could possibly see candidacies of Hillary Clinton, Kathleen Sebelius, Elizabeth Warren, Christine Gregoire, and perhaps even Janet Napolitano. No one has Hillary's star power, though. Warren would be the best bet if Hillary doesn't run, but only if she's running after having proven herself able to win an election to political office. Personally, my dream first female presidential candidates are too old (Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer), so I will be supporting Governor Martin O'Malley of Maryland, who will have 16 years of executive experience if he decides to run.

Anyhow, I had commented on the Facebook "friend's" wall that I wish Elizabeth Warren could be our Senator in Oregon, but while I like her background, I don't see any reason why Scott Brown should be voted out of office. It did not take long after posting that comment when I got a personal message from the guy saying, "Sorry, but I'm going to have to un-friend you." I was stunned. He had posted so many photos with a political message that I shared on my wall and I often made comments on his posts that he "liked". Despite all this, because he disagreed with my opinion regarding Senator Brown, he has to "de-friend" me? Wow. Now who's being the unreasonable ideologue! How is he any better than the ideologues on the right that he criticizes? In my experience, ideologues (regardless of political views) are all the same: the conformity to one's viewpoint is more important to them than the other person's personality or overall compatibility.

This is so opposite to me. Because I am of mixed-race heritage and have been in more conservative environments (military dependent, U.S. Navy, BYU, and Boy Scouts), I had to learn to base my friendships on commonalities rather than exclude people for differences. This resulted in my ability to be friends with conservatives and Republicans. In fact, I would say that many of my closest friendships have been with people far more conservative than me. I see this as a good, because knowing myself, I could easily become a radical liberal who goes around de-friending people who don't agree with me. I know that friendships with people who hold different views actually keeps my ego in check. People who only want friendships with people who share their political or religious views tend to be egotistical or have fragile belief systems that need validation from others.

After the de-friending, the liberal Warren supporter actually posted that he had to end his friendship with me. Here's what he wrote on his wall:

"I had to let a friend go when he told me this and I was really surprised ... Geez, we're losing so many smart women at the state and federal level too, but I guess with Browns GQ Style that was his clincher. Anyway, I very, very, rarely if ever talk about people here but when he said BYU, I guess I could have responded a little more professionally ... but, the President's Re-election is too important !! Not to have friends who are something there not."
His grammar is a bit bizarre, so I don't understand what he's talking about. Particularly with this phrase: "...but when he said BYU, I guess I could have responded a little more professionally..."

I did not mention BYU at all, so I have no idea what he meant by that. I do have on my profile that I attended BYU, which I'm aware that people who don't know me might think that I am a Mormon or a conservative Republican...but that's their ignorance. It baffles me that one could see what I've posted on my Facebook wall on a regular basis and still think I'm some fake liberal...that I might be some secret conservative Republican trying to con people! Uh, really?!?

Also, if he read any of my posts on Facebook, he would know that I am supporting Obama to the point of donating money to his campaign. I am voting for Obama. No one needs to doubt me there. I generally don't vote Republican for major offices. I only have voted Republican in the past when I hated my Democratic member of Congress (that would be Cynthia McKinney from 1996 to 2002). Then he ended with "Not to have friends who are something they are not." (I correct his grammar here). What the hell does that mean, anyway? Something I am not?!? Just because I like Senator Scott Brown, I'm somehow faking that I'm a Democrat?

You know why I like Scott Brown? Because he makes me laugh. I've seen him in several interviews and his victory speech and one thing is clear: his sense of humour is the same as mine. It's a bit on the goofy side and tends to get him in trouble with women. Also, he reminds me of the officers that I served with in the Navy whom I liked and would trust with my life. Most of the officers I knew in the Navy were Republican. But even back then, I knew how to distinguish between the Republicans who valued facts and personal accountability versus the ideologues who pride themselves on being ignorant and view intelligence as a sign of an "elitist."

I posted the de-friending on my wall just to see what kind of reaction I would get. Those who clicked the "like" button or left comments seemed to agree with me. Only one lady seemed to take issue with me for liking Senator Scott Brown, going so far as to try to convince me that I don't know the truth about Brown. Ah well. I don't think she will de-friend me, because she's a fellow church member and we've actually met. Plus, I love her and her husband. They have an amazing love story that I wish I could find for myself. In fact, she's the kind of lady I hope to find in a wife. We'll just have to disagree about Brown. When I like a person, I tend to always like a person, no matter what. I may be disappointed (as I was upon learning that the politician I admired the most since 1990 had decided to divorce his wife and then news revealed that he might have had an inappropriate relationship with a massage therapist during a stay in a Portland hotel in 2006. Yep, that would be former Vice President Al Gore), but my loyalty gene is difficult to turn off or circumvent. I do plan to donate some money to Scott Brown's reelection campaign. He deserves a full term to represent all of Massachusetts, not just the lefty liberal ideological wing.

Interestingly enough, this is probably the 5th liberal who has de-friended me. Similar to the others, they questioned that I was really a liberal Democrat. One person de-friended me because I would not support his campaign for president. He's a liberal who became disappointed in Obama and instead of getting angry all the time, decided to launch a campaign for president. His posts were bizarre. I couldn't tell if he was mentally ill or if he was joking (ideologues tend not to have a sense of humour, though). He seemed like he really believed that he had a chance at the presidency but all he offered were opinions, not solutions. Plus, if you are really running for president on Facebook, why would you "de-friend" anyone?!? I'm sure that both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney's list of friends on Facebook include those who have no intention of voting for them. I'm one of Mitt Romney's Facebook "friends" just so I can see what he (or his political aide assigned the Facebook duty) posts. In fact, this "liking" of Romney caused someone on my list to question my liberal Democratic loyalties and led to my de-friending. Also, there was another guy who de-friended me because he thought I was making a "racist" statement when I said that Republicans in Georgia did not even support Herman Cain to be their Senator, so why would Republicans want Cain for president? If he's not good enough for a lower political office, why do they think people would want him for the highest political office?

What these de-friending episodes teach me is that ideologues of any time don't like someone like me. Actually, I've known this for a long time. Ideologues and I have never gotten along since high school and the Navy. I prefer moderation in all things and it is a good path to follow. The Ancient Greeks wrote about "The Golden Mean" and the Buddha spoke of "The Middle Way." Most of my political battles have been with conservative ideologues, but occasionally, a liberal ideologue will remind me that even among liberals, there are closed-minded people who base friendships on conformity to their ego's point of view rather than allowing friendship the freedom to be who the person naturally is. I would say that one of my best friends Nathan is the most conservative of my friends...yet despite our disagreements on politics and spirituality, I would never dream of ending my friendship with him. He has one of the best personalities I've ever met and he never fails to say the very thing that can get a laugh out of me, even if I'm sad or angry. I wish more people would realize the value in having friends who believe differently. It keeps life interesting.

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