Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Loneliest Liberal: New sobriquet acomin’

By James Knudsen

From the sidebar:
The Loneliest Liberal. Despite voting for Barack Obama twice, being a registered Democrat, actor, educator, yada yada yada—there are things that put him on the fringe. He’s a US Marine (current Commandant General Amos sent out a memo: Can’t say “former”) and a gun-owner. He likes to watch NASCAR but hates the hillbilly patriotism. “So what’s a fella to do?”
For several weeks I’ve been unhappy with my sobriquet. When I became dissatisfied exactly, I’m not sure, but gradually I’ve become convinced that “The Loneliest Liberal” doesn’t work anymore. And it’s not just my handle, my picture is out of date, and the sidebar doesn’t seem accurate any longer as well.
    I can’t remember the last time I watched NASCAR or went to the gun range, and I’ll never have cause to vote for Barack Obama again. Other changes have occurred to pull me further toward the cosmopolitan, liberal archetype that seems to have become the base of the Democratic Party.
    There was a time when I was blue collar. It’s true, I worked in two separate auto repair shops between 1989 and 1993. I think that’s when I did that, it’s difficult to remember so far back. Employment in the auto parts trade filled some of my time before I finally settled down to the task of obtaining my four-year degree. Graduate school marked the end of my forays into the world of skilled labor, aside from building sets for Cal State Fullerton. True, the tools and techniques are very similar to those found on a construction site, but something tells me it’s a very different work environment. Now I am in the ivy-covered walls of academia, and while I haven’t considered it, I wonder if I could put myself back into the world I used to know.
    In some ways it seems I’m experiencing an identity crisis similar to the Democratic Party. We’ve both changed. Many of the things we held dear no longer seem important. I know my mind can grapple with the intricacies of a Fiat X1/9, but after you’ve heaved the transaxle into place two or three times, the thrill of accomplishment is long past. And truth be told, I just wasn’t a good fit in the automotive repair business. Or the automotive parts industry, or car rental, or sales – it well could be I never should have been there. But does that mean I couldn’t track down some of the people I used to work with and have lunch, and not have it seem uncomfortable or worse? I’m fairly sure lunch wouldn’t be a problem.
    I don’t know about the Democratic Party having lunch with that crowd. Given the numbers of the 2016 election, maybe it doesn’t matter long term. Maybe. It could also be that getting back those voters, who will probably never be the base of the Democratic Party again, isn’t so much a matter of directly addressing their concerns, as it is being able to have lunch with them and not shame them for ordering their steak well-done.

Copyright © 2017 by James Knudsen

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