Bill In the Middle 

I'm just a cockeyed moderate

Those who read Boise Weekly from stem to stern will have noticed last month (March 14) an unhappy letter addressed to me in the Mail section. It was a response to an earlier column (BW, Opinion, "The Flutter-ish 11," Feb. 15, 2012) in which I referred to a recent study that has put more muscle on the bones of a reality that most liberals have known all along--that the terms "conservative," "racist" and "stupid" are interchangeable more often than not. The letter's author, being an admitted conservative, was peeved I took advantage of the study to illustrate yet another reason why conservatives are wrong about almost everything.

I won't bore you with the details of his arguments. Generally, his approach was that I am one mean sum'bitch when it comes to conservatives in that I am always saying nasty things about them. On that point, he is entirely right. I absolutely do say nasty things about conservatives. And I can quickly explain why: Because I believe conservatives to be nasty. That's why.

On most of the critique, I take a pass. Just more blah blah blah from a blah blah blah. However, a couple of his comments tickled my "I should write about that" spot, and today, what with our legislators having slipped back to Fracking Junction, and Mitt Romney auto-destructing without any help from either me or President Barack Obama, I thought now would be a good time to turn those comments into a column. One was a suggestion I go out and get myself some conservative pals "whose political views are not in complete lockstep with [my] own." The other was a reference to my "radical agenda" and my "extreme views."

As to his advice that I start hanging around people who could fill me in on what conservatives really stand for, I must decline. I've already had more than my share of conservative friends. I am a native Idahoan, after all, and even when I work at it, avoiding conservatives in Idaho is like trying not to step on ants. I'm also confident I know what they stand for. In fact, knowing what conservatives stand for is pretty much what made me a liberal.

Furthermore, I can't help but to have noticed that the older a conservative gets, the more boring he or she is. In fact, right here and right now, I'd like to propose a theory: As we age, liberals get progressively more bored, while conservatives get progressively more boring. I must leave that hypothesis up to younger researchers to either prove or disprove. But for this bored old liberal, it is plenty enough reason to avoid associating with any more conservatives than I already have.

Now then, on to my "radical agenda" and "extreme views." Since my critic chose to leave out of his letter any examples of which issues I am radical about or extreme over, I myself went searching through 16 years of written opinions for any agenda or views that might qualify me for foam-at-the-mouth berserker status. And what evidence of my own raving fanaticism did I find?

• On several occasions, I have objected to the cronyism, corruption and arrogance in the majority party of the state Legislature. (Oh dear me, I'm starting to feel like Saul Alinsky already.)

• I have supported, as strongly as I am able, our institutions of public and higher education, as well as the educators who make them function. (My goodness, where do I come up with such ideas!)

• I have repeatedly pointed out the inferior quality of the GOP's presidential candidates. (Maybe I should be locked up. Me and George Will and Peggy Noonan and about every Republican analyst with more sense than God gave Sarah Palin.)

• I have promoted the notion that women can choose what's best for themselves, without any interference from Republicans, in regards to health, contraception and morality. (See! This is what you get when a man grows up without ever being an altar boy with a priest to show him how to ... uh, whatever it is priests show altar boys.)

• I have repeatedly, and on a variety of subjects, put my faith in the accumulation of evidence gathered by serious scientists and curious minds over decades and centuries, rather than bow to those who through superstition and greed profit from their followers' ignorance. (May I burn in Hell!)

• I have supported organized labor (Don't let me be around children!) and I have warned of the dangers in allowing mega-rich oligarchs and corporations to control our lives (Why don't I go live in Cuba?). I have expressed admiration for President Obama (Commie!), support for gay rights (Homo Commie!), and concern over the continuing degradation of our planet's condition (Tree-hugging homo Commie!). Ooooh, what a radical I turned out to be.

Sarcasm aside, this is the primary reason I've chosen to respond to this dumbass letter at all. The notion that I am a radical extremist is a tinny echo of what one hears in perpetuum from the collective conservative blabbery, that there is in America a left equal in rabidness, rapacity and ridiculousness to the rabid, rapacious and ridiculous right. It is bullshit that only conservatives could believe.

The truth is, the Democratic Party as a whole has shifted so meekly to the tantrums of the tea baggers, I am sad to say it as now a hair right of center. I myself am now, and have always been, a hair left of center, a moderate, and that's not apt to change. What offends conservatives, including the author of the letter, isn't so much my agenda or my views as it is what I think of them. And that's not apt to change, either.

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