As you’ve probably guessed from the
title of this column, I am a Republican. In the eyes of many
University students, this makes me the enemy.

Bonnie Kellman

Well, to be honest, I’m not actually a Republican anymore.
Two years of living in East Quad and working at The Daily finally
rubbed off on me, and now I’m nothing more than a good,
moderate Independent. (Nobody can object to an Independent.) But
nevertheless, I was a conservative for the first 18 years of my
life.

Somehow, I have the sneaking suspicion that my early Republican
loyalties are more a result of my upbringing than my actual
ideology. They probably have something to do with the red, white
and blue stuffed elephant lying on my brother’s bed, the
picture of George and Laura hanging on our refrigerator or any one
of the small American flags hidden in strategic locations
throughout our house. But whatever the reason, I became a
Republican.

Ironically, I’ve always lived in liberal communities. I
grew up near San Francisco and then moved to Ann Arbor, where I was
surprised to find even more liberals than in the Bay Area.
I’ll never forget the way the workers in East Quad’s
Halfway Inn changed the name of American cheese to “Racist,
War-monger cheese” in retaliation for the Freedom Fries
incident in the White House last year. Somehow, I had managed to
find an area even more liberal than California.

I wanted to save myself unnecessary grief, so I kept my
political views quiet. Not secret, but beneath the surface, only to
be brought into the light when directly asked. As a Republican
moving silently among liberals, I’ve witnessed firsthand what
both sides of the political spectrum think of each other. And
it’s not pretty.

According to most Republicans, liberals are evil. Conservatives
think they will destroy the country with their dangerous, radical
ideas. First, Democrats will corrupt America’s youth by
slowly disintegrating their morals. Then, they will abolish
personal property and establish communism.

But Democrats, I discovered, are no better. Despite priding
themselves on open-mindedness and acceptance, liberals are just as
intolerant (if not more) of the rival political party. They think
Republicans are all money-hungry capitalist warlords who will
happily tread on the little people in their efforts to make a
dollar. A fellow student put it best: Republicans kill kittens.

Obviously, we need a difference of opinion for democracy to
function. We need to fight and argue, or the public will become
meek and complacent. And to be honest, sometimes a little political
scapegoating can be fun. Former President Clinton’s affairs
and President Bush’s bad grammar provide great entertainment,
come Saturday night.

The problem is that the relationship between Democrats and
Republicans is so hostile that the parties are more concerned with
destroying each other than achieving social goals. They’re so
focused on working against one another, they fail to see how they
could work together. At times, their relationship seems even more
contentious than relations between races or sexes. Perhaps this is
because political parties are the only groups left that are
socially acceptable to hate. But whatever the reason, their mutual
abhorrence is nothing less than ridiculous. Often, members of the
minority group aren’t given a fair hearing. They are
automatically ridiculed and dismissed as wrong simply because of
their political label. This undermines the most basic values of
democracy.

In reality, Democrats and Republicans aren’t nearly as
different as they would like to believe. Not only are the two
parties close to the center of the political spectrum, but
underneath it all, they both want the same thing: for the United
States to be the best country possible. They just go about
achieving it in different ways, according to their differing
ideologies. And really, both parties are necessary for our country
to function. Democrats challenge the status quo and move the
country forward; Republicans rein the liberals in, making sure they
don’t go too far, too quickly. Democrats dream while
Republicans keep the country grounded in reality. Both are
important; both are necessary.

Kellman can be reached at
“mailto:bonkell@umich.edu”>bonkell@umich.edu.

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