In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion reads the paper
It’s time to come out of the closet: My name is Daniel and I’m a conservative.
And having said that, I already feel embarrassed, afraid that friends or neighbors might be reading this. (To those who expected more of me: I’m so sorry. I never meant to hurt you. This is just the way I am.)
Much has been said about how it’s not cool to be a conservative. (Do kids still say, “cool?”) But my shame doesn’t come from media shaming. It doesn’t even come from the fact that the left has way better celebrities. My shame comes from a more troubling place: Conservatives.
I find I can best explain this chapter of my life through an allegory. (Stick with me.) This allegory just happens to be based entirely on non-fiction.
I, like a lot of good conservatives, love baseball. And the home team I root for is the Salt Lake Bees.
Imagine filing into the ballpark on a beautiful summer evening. We all rise for the national anthem. The game starts. The first pitch slams against the catcher’s leather. Strike! We all clap. The slow and deliberate action gives me time to start talking with the fans around me, and I learn that we have a lot in common.
We all like baseball. We all like Salt Lake, hot dogs, fireworks, and the crack of the bat. The guy next to me also loves David Wright. The guy two rows up shares my fondness for David Eckersley’s mustache. “Yes, this is right where I belong,” I think. “These are my people.”
The game goes on and I begin to use the incredible volume and par wit I’ve been blessed with to heckle and cheer–in a good-natured way–just as every good baseball fan should.
“Metcalf! Touch your hat if you can hear me!” (For some reason this always gets a laugh.)
“Batsman, I haven’t seen a swing that poor since the market crash of 1869!” (You have to imagine this in an old-timesy voice. It sometimes gets a laugh.)
“O’Malley, smack that ball like it just sullied your gentleman’s honor!” (Yeah, I don’t really know… They can’t all get laughs.)
Although some people don’t care for the volume, most seem to find my heckling really endearing. The people around me chuckle and clap. On nights where the beer is on sale, they chuckle a lot. The camaraderie grows until, more often than not, others start to tread into the heckling waters. The trouble is they don’t tread softly and their inner demons seem to be unleashed.
“Hey Batter! You suck!” (Okay, not too horrible, but not really putting our best foot forward either.)
“#*@& you!” (Brilliant. Classy.)
And then the racial slurs, sexist vulgarity, and insults to the handicap seem to come out. (Omitted from the quotes above because they always should be in a civilized society.)
Where I once had been thrilled with the fellowship of my group, I now wish I could disappear. I clam up because I neither want to provide any more encouragement to the loud mouths, nor do I want others to think that I’m like the guys around me. It’s not that my love for baseball with it’s history and traditions has diminished, or even that I share any less of that love with those around me than I did a few innings ago; it’s that my fellow fans are now intertwining some of the worst parts of themselves with their support for the team.
And so it is with me and my reluctant conservatism. I still love the team, it’s principles, a lot of the history, and the tradition. But as long as the folks around me are yelling about birth certificates, thoughtlessly chanting socialism in our overwhelming market economy, booing the umpire of science, lamenting the erosion of Constitutional rights when there has never been a better time in our country to be an out-group, or otherwise being loud, noisy, thoughtless, or insensitive, I’ll keep slumping down low in my seat.
(Important caveat: None of this is to say that there aren’t loads of obnoxious people with other political beliefs. There are. The big difference is while I may find their conduct off-putting, I don’t worry that it will reflect poorly upon me.)