In the “Unicorn Cafe” in Evanston, Illinois, the VOR chats with an intelligent group of 5 liberals who have a completely inaccurate view of Romney and the majority of his supporters.
I couldn’t resist jumping in on the conversation taking place at the table next to me when one man, a well dressed person likely in his 60’s, made the comment “Republicans don’t care about the middle class and the poor having access to healthcare”.
I politely leaned over with a smile and said, “excuse me, I’m sorry to interrupt but I just overheard your statement, do you mind if I comment on it?” He and his friends were immediately welcoming.
With the door opened, I said “I’m a Republican, and I have many Republican friends. Your last statement couldn’t be further from the truth in regards to our thinking. While there are certainly many extreme exceptions in both parties, the vast majority of Republicans, and Mitt Romney himself, want everyone to have access to healthcare.”
Intrigued, they pummeled me with earnest questions. “Then why don’t you support Obamacare?” On other subjects, “why do you want the rich to be successful at the expense of the poor?” “Why do Republicans want to restrict or forbid women to have access to contraception?”
As our discussion proceeded, I thought to myself “these are all of the extreme myths, or better said ‘lies’, the President and his henchmen tell about us Republicans. We are greedy, we have disdain for the poor, we want what we have and don’t want anyone else to be assisted, we want war with Iran, we want to drill for oil and burn coal with no consideration for the environment, why don’t you support equal pay for women,” and on and on.
The thought sickened me. That fringe groups would say these things about Republicans like me, just as fringe groups of Republicans which say such horrible things about Democrats, doesn’t surprise me. But that the President’s inflammatory, inaccurate, outrageous characterizations of people like me had found a home in the minds of this intelligent, friendly, kind-hearted set of people was deeply troubling for me.
I spoke of this with them. I told them how much it disturbed me that they had this impression of me, my friends who are Republicans, and even of the man who I support for President who regularly donates 20-30% of his income to help those in need. And I told them that I thought they had been deceived by the party and President they so strongly support.
I’m proud to say my engagement with them, while enlightening to me, seemed to be far more enlightening to them. As we talked, they said they never really engage with Republicans and conservatives in any depth, that most of their friends are Democrats and liberals. They could sense my earnestness, my sincere desire to help those in need, my pragmatism about being able to pay for the things we need to do to help those in need, and the tricky balance between a society with a safety net versus a society that encourages and even creates dependency.
I even detected from them a sense of them feeling somewhat betrayed. It was subtle, but it was a “why hadn’t I been told this before”, or more along the lines of “why have people like you (me) been depicted to us as you have, when it seems you are nothing like that depiction?”
The Obama administration is selling lies. They are selling hate. They are selling division. They are not running on their record. They are instead attacking the character of not just Mitt Romney, but of anyone who would support him. We must throw this man out next week. We just must.