As a liberal in a conservative state, I normally refrain from discussing politics at work. In fact, until very recently, my political views had never been mentioned to anyone I work with. There comes a time, however, when enough is enough. For me, that time came when it seemed I couldn’t even go a full week without hearing at least one of my coworkers spewing liberal-bashing diatribes, making homophobic statements, or promoting the idea that we should harken back to the days of old; or as they’d tell it: Back to the glory days of ‘Murica, before those damn liberals ripped up the constitution and planted their seeds of communism.
And so it begins…
And so it happened one day while a conservative coworker was boisterously voicing his opinion (which had obviously been fed to him by Fox News) of Obama’s nefarious plan to take away everyone’s guns. He made the statement conservatives always make when it comes to gun legislation: that stricter gun control laws would simply stop “good guys” from getting guns, and wouldn’t prevent any gun crime(s). Because as we well know, criminals aren’t too keen on obeying gun laws. To which, I interjected that “doing something was far more likely to have an impact than doing nothing“. It was at that moment, in the silence of their disbelief, that I realized I had opened Pandora’s box…
I really didn’t want to get into a heated debate about the efficacy of gun control policies, but it was evident that he sincerely believed Obama was going to 1) usurp complete control of the government and 2) enact gun control policies which would confiscate all weapons from American citizens. To you and me of course, this sounds absurd. To my coworker, however, it was not only entirely within the realm of possibility, it was a certainty. Obviously bewildered by my statement, he asked, “Are you a Democrat?” And from there, the conversation quickly spiraled down the drain.
Damn Freeloading Liberal!
I was, in quick succession, asked whether I supported things like: abortion, welfare, “the gays”, universal healthcare, and easier immigration policies. Each time I answered, I was met with a new level of shock and dismay. When I was finally sure that his jaw could drop no lower, he stopped and called me a “damn freeloading liberal”. I took it on the chin, and pointed out that I have a job, pay taxes, and don’t qualify for any sort of assistance programs. He then backpedaled and said that what he meant was that Democrats are in favor of things like welfare and food-stamps. Considering most Americans are just one missed paycheck away from disaster, I don’t understand how anybody could NOT be in favor of social safety net programs!
My coworker, however, vehemently disagrees. He believes that there is rampant misuse and/or abuse of the system (welfare queen myth), and that “if he has to be drug tested to earn it for them, they should be drug tested to be eligible to receive it”. It amazes me how everyone’s political retorts are almost always identical to everyone else’s who share the same ideology.
I do not discount the notion that there is abuse of assistance programs… There will always be those who wish to get something for nothing, and who have no aspirations of improving their situation. What I take issue with is the notion that these people (the abusers) make up the majority of benefit recipients. In response to his regurgitated mantra about drug testing benefit recipients, I pointed out that in most cases, these policies aren’t cost effective. Regardless, he insisted that cost be damned, not a single drug user should be given assistance.
The lone voice of dissent
While so far you’ve only read about a brief interaction with a single coworker, you can rest assured that a large majority hold the same ideals as he. One such person made the statement “we should line them [liberals] up and get rid of them”. I scoffed that it’s nice to know some of my coworkers would rather line us [liberals] up and shoot us, than look at us. He said that he never said a word about shooting us, and to his credit, that’s true. However, when I asked for clarification of what “get rid of them” meant, no clear answer was given.
It’s interesting to me that many of my coworkers apparently consider me a different person now that they know my political views. Nevermind the fact that my personality, demeanor, and work ethic haven’t changed. There are a select few who clearly don’t care (or at least don’t show it publicly) about the fact that I’m a Liberal, and fewer still who are actually borderline liberals themselves. However, with the hostility towards liberals in our work environment, they’re closeted; afraid to make their liberalism known except to like-minded individuals.