I’m not a liberal and I’m not a conservative.
In high school I was a Young Republican and I cheered for the younger Bush to win the presidency twice in person. In college I was the president of our College Democrats. My political involvement with individual local candidates followed suit.
Then I met Mark, decided to take a different path than pursuing politics as a career, as I had planned for most of my life, and temporarily took leave of most roles other than being a wife and mother. I’m still in that temporary leave. Someday I’ll do more outside of the home again. But, even though I’m not working outside of the home I’m still inherently politically aware. It’s likely genetic.
And, again, sadly, I’m not a liberal anymore.
I left the Republican Party in college because they seemed regressive, angry and hateful. That was back in the early to mid 2000’s. Before then they had seemed socially traditional but more set on pointing out Bill Clinton’s transgressions than in forcing me, as a young woman, to pick between wearing an apron barefoot and being a sexually suspicious “career gal”. And there was little other archetype to choose from in that camp at that time, so I couldn’t be a member.
But…then I got married and inherited a small portion of my parent’s inherited abundance. And I joined Instagram to discuss perfume because I had started to collect it seriously and I eventually met a man in 2016 (not a perfume collector or connoisseur actually) who totally changed my view of things. For the worse.
After really opening up to him outside of Instagram I was attacked. I thought I could trust him because he seemed very sensitive to feminist causes and compassionate and blah, blah, blah. I thought we had a connection. He was “Mr. Blue” and I really enjoyed him at first. (Or who I thought he was.) However, I soon discovered that he was almost no different than the men who forced me out of the Grand Old Party many years before. He just used the right buzzwords, virtue signaled and seemed much more chic and “smart”. Actually, he was even worse come to think of it.
He and his then secret girlfriend, who I eventually met (not his wife who he has kids with), were ruthless and mostly unconcerned with true goodness other than to use it to make money for themselves or gain prestige and they wouldn’t even deny this privately. My existence seemed very naïve to them and they assumed and hoped I was just a helpless “blond bimbo”. My soul was treated like a joke or at least they wanted it to be one. And, I was appalled to note that most (not all, thank God) of the liberal people we associated with defended them blindly. I wasn’t “cool enough” and I didn’t project the right bourgeois, progressive/angsty-chic image. I was a married, white, stay-at-home mom and not a single “working woman” or even a “working”, married mom. (Intriguingly, the majority of the few liberals who seemed to understand or care about my humanity in that particular situation were over the age of 80 or 90.)
And sure enough, on one particular occasion, much to my shock, along came a conservative gentleman who interjected himself into an interaction I was having with the very liberal-chic fellow. While he was not particularly worried about letting me think I had an equal fight in most regards he was concerned about my actual safety. And as embarrassing and shameful as it is to admit these days as a lady, he sort of…rescued me.
We became close (I totally distanced myself from the original, super-chic fellow) and I was left with a huge intellectual and emotional puzzle to sort through. Although, I did began to reassess my overall interactions with everyone and take note that, in general, men who were more truly conservative and/or often sincerely well-bred (as opposed to pretentiously so) seemed more protective, secure, discerning and…well…kind and chivalrous.
It reminded me of how there are often two kinds of racism in the U.S.. There’s the sort where you’re automatically openly suspect if you’re not white but people aren’t usually violent or that violent about it (awful) and the kind where people pretend to be liberal or kind but then viciously attack you behind your back in some demeaning way, at best. The latter has become mixed with the former in some sad cases, but the attitudes seem unchanged.
And then the nonsense on Instagram grew worse. I haven’t even described the half of it and I won’t here either.
At any rate, there were a lot people who often seemed like the character Dwight from “The Office” (US) and they were the interesting exceptions in the mostly liberal, mostly middle to upper-middle class, fragrance community, although perhaps more malignantly so. And everything you posted they had to find some way to top or conquer. If you posted a photo of your house they’d then post a photo of their double-wide trailer (nothing against kind and good people who live in trailers) with an acre of untamed land and their pet squirrel and, as would have befitted Dwight, they then acted like their place was obviously equal or maybe even better. In some cases they would even claim to own a house they never owned or if they got really angry they would try to insinuate that you were lying somehow and had a trailer with a pet squirrel too. And most of the time the fragrance community supported the Dwight in the situation. The Dwights were the official victims and anyone who wasn’t (at times patronizingly) nice to them was wrong.
Of course, more than once behind the “closed doors” of direct messages there was an occasion when people would say things about the Dwight-types like, “They think they’re much better looking than they are in reality.” Ultimately, I realized that you were allowed to say negative things behind people’s backs but not to their faces or publicly. The exception being that if you weren’t enough of an official “victim” it was semi fair for others to be outright rude, passive-aggressively hostile, or even openly hostile.
And when a perfume collector and reviewer died of a drug overdose…and many people either sought to make him some heroic, sainted martyr or their lost best friend I got even more upset. I’m sure he had good friends who cared about him in the fragrance community and he was a gifted man, but…*shaking head* the saccharine response was a bit much. Especially considering that he had filmed himself on the verge of death and seemingly very few people noticed enough to even comment. I wasn’t following him nor was he following me (I likely wasn’t his sort of person as a collector or an online persona) but I did see it all after-the-fact.
Those two experiences combined (my personal life and on Instagram)…along with a couple of years of other observations (more than a few empirically and not anecdotally based) made me think twice about my firm dedication to never become a Republican (or more conservative) as I grew older. The thing is, while perhaps crude, backward and harsh at times, the Grand Old Party felt strangely safer and more honest and still does. Still, I’m not a Democrat and I’m not a Republican.