If you can't beat 'em, join 'em
Before I even heard the word or learned its meaning, I was a liberal.
I remember nearly two decades ago having debates about Dr. Jack Kevorkian and a person's right to die with fellow high school students.
A couple years later, a few Navy buddies and I would spend our after-dinner conversations sharing our thoughts about the facets of military life, the 2000 election, same-sex marriage, the impact of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and the build-up to the war in Iraq over a couple of beers and always in a civil manner.
After moving back home to Michigan and writing opinion pieces about same-sex marriage, gun rights and opposing the war in Iraq, civility was thrown out the window as anonymous letters, tumultuous phone calls and threats to cancel subscriptions became the norm.
The word liberal was hurled at me like some scarlet letter, as if I should somehow be insulted or ashamed.
There are ways to respectfully disagree with someone's opinion.
I know it doesn't seem very plausible when recent lessons have proven the one who yells the loudest, insults the most and claims victory is the winner, no matter what.
It has become natural for some folks to quickly point the finger at others.
That's Politics 101.
We witness it every single day. It appears to be part of indoctrination classes at the Capitol in Lansing. For those representing their fellow Democrat and Republican citizens in Washington, one can see by voting records that it is required caucus reading.
Sadly, as the dawn continues to break on the new administration in Washington, I don't see Politics 101 going away.
In fact, Politics 202 and Cutthroat Political Theory were introduced by executive order in 2014 and courses for Political Bullying and Political Manure 101 began on Inauguration Day.
Every piece of legislation introduced these days seems to be drenched in partisanship. Everything's a game of risk. Threats of voter backlash are used to take constituents' voice out of Lansing and Washington – for a vote, a campaign contribution or a cabinet position.
The problem is, no one is absolved from guilt in this ghastly charade. Both sides of the political spectrum do it while claiming to be victims.
A little more than a decade ago, Washington Republicans labeled anyone who questioned the rationale to go to war with Iraq as unpatriotic. The talking point: If you didn't support the war, you didn't support the troops or care about freedom.
Ten years ago, Washington Democrats lambasted Republicans when the Affordable Care Act was introduced. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's message: How dare anyone not care about the elderly or the sick who will die if the legislation isn't passed?
Fast forward to 2017. Washington remains broken and Lansing is headed down the same pothole-filled road. Pun intended.
There are issues liberals and conservatives will never agree on, while every year Arbor Day resolutions are unanimously supported. (That's when elected officials pat themselves on the back and talk about bipartisanship.)
However, it's certainly not as pathetic as those folks who don't have the slightest clue about compromise.
I really must be a liberal. What the heck, thinking civility and compromise can be a part of politics?
Forget that. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
Sign me up for Political Manure 101.