Dating Across Ideological Lines:

A great many people believe that it is wrong to date anyone whose political views differ significantly from their own. James Kirchick challenges that view in this article (hat tip Amber Taylor, whose post led me to Kirchick's article by a circuitous route). Kirchick's piece focuses on the reluctance of many gay liberals to date gay conservatives and libertarians like himself. But the underlying issue goes beyond the gay community.

In general, I am sympathetic to Kirchick's view that much of the reluctance to date across ideological lines stems from unjustified intolerance. However, I also have some reservations. First, the reasons for agreement.

I. Why People Overestimate the Undesirability of Cross-Ideological Dating.

I suspect that the most important reason for excessive reluctance to date across ideological lines is overestimation of the extent to which people's political views dictate other aspects of their lives. Ideologies that claim that "the personal is political" (a left-wing slogan that has important analogues in parts of the "family values" right) exacerbate this tendency. In reality, most people's views on public policy have only a modest impact on the way they live their lives. For example, my libertarian views are vastly different from those of most liberal law professors. But the way I live my life when I'm not writing about ideological subjects is very similar to the way most of them live theirs.

An exception are those people who embrace ideologies that really do dictate the conduct of all aspects of their lives, such as members of certain cult groups, or communists in the days when belonging to the Party meant belonging to the sort of all-encompassing group depicted by Richard Wright in "I Tried to be a Communist." However, most people in the US today don't try to inject ideology into every aspect of their lives.

The second-biggest reason is probably the perception that certain political views are not just mistakes, but proof that the person who holds them has corrupt values. As I will argue below, this is occasionally true. But it's not true nearly as often as many believe. Partisans and ideologues routinely overestimate the extent to which political disagreements reflect differences in fundamental values rather than divergent evaluations of the best way to achieve the same or similar values. A very high proportion of the disagreements between conservatives, liberals, and libertarians in the US today fall into the latter category. There are some important exceptions, such as the conflict over abortion. But even these partly turn on divergent views of how to apply shared values to particular cases. For example, both sides in the abortion debate claim to value both life and freedom; they differ, however, over the threshold at which a person acquires a right to life sufficient to override another person's right to bodily autonomy. Moreover, at least some of the issues where adherents of the three major US ideologies really do diverge on basic values have arisen in part because the issues in question are genuinely hard (as the abortion issue surely is). If so, one can embrace the wrong values on that issue without necessarily being a moral cretin in general.

II. Defensible Limits of Political Tolerance in Dating.

At the same time, there are genuine reasons to avoid dating people with certain types of political views. Some views really are an indication of moral depravity. James Kirchick is willing to date liberals. But he probably would not date a racist or a Nazi - and for good reason. Similarly, I would not date a communist or an apologist for that system. Claims that "anyone who believes X must be evil/depraved/immoral" are made far more often than is justified. But that doesn't mean that they are never true.

There is also a more pragmatic case against cross-ideological dating. Even if you don't think that disagreement with your political views is a sign of immorality, strong disagreement can be a point of conflict in a relationship - especially if one or both partners are intolerant or don't like to have their views questioned. The problem is likely to be heightened if both people care intensely about their ideologies or if one of them is a committed activist.

Whether or not such pragmatic considerations are weighty enough to prevent a relationship will vary from case to case. However, it is important to recognize that they should in fact be judged on a case by case basis. If the potential date's views are not intrinsically evil (a category that should be defined narrowly), the mere fact of political disagreement should usually not be viewed as a categorical bar to dating, but merely as one factor to be weighed against others. For many people who are strongly interested in politics, discussing issues with someone who doesn't agree is actually sometimes more interesting and stimulating than just getting an echo chamber of your own views.

UPDATE: Commenters and others will inevitably wonder whether my views on this issue are the result of painful personal experiences of the kind described in Kirchick's article. I'm not going to discuss my personal life in detail here (very disappointing, I know...). But I will say that the answer to this question is "no." I have never been rejected by anyone I was seriously interested in because of ideological disagreement; nor have I have ever had a relationship that failed for that reason (though I have had cross-ideological relationships that fell apart for unrelated reasons).

Also, hate sex is especially hot...

(Did that lower the tone?)
8.25.2007 12:42am
Sarah (mail) (www):
You don't have to be an activist to get tired pretty fast of a lot of things that people you disagree with do. Maybe my family's unusual, but I've seen nasty words and angry silences over something as simple as whether or not the driver decides to listen to Rush Limbaugh -- or whether the guy who's talking on the radio at the moment is completely off his rocker or not. My family has huge, obvious Things We Just Can't Discuss Civilly, including everything having to do with politics and religion, which is annoying at best, mostly since we all care a great deal about our politics and religious preferences. I wouldn't marry a committed Democrat any more than I'd marry a vegan -- it'd make having a nice dinner together entirely too challenging for my taste. Though, I'd swallow really hard before marrying a committed Republican, actually... and people who just don't care drive me batty, too. Heh.

(Note that here I mean "committed" in the sense of someone who thinks Bush really does equate to Hitler, or would vote for even the worst tax-and-spend control freak so long as s/he had an "R" next to their name, or what have you. I know people who truly think it's immoral to vote for anyone not from their preferred party.)
8.25.2007 12:45am
William Spieler (mail) (www):
does purposeful apathy count as an ideology?
8.25.2007 1:23am
LP_Cowboy (mail) (www):
The problem I see, from a libertarian perspective, isn't so much that you may get into an ideological disagreement, but that non-libertarians tend not to be as resourseful as the more pragmatic adherents of the philosiphy would favor.

Whether using an ofshore account to avoid SEC restictions on a growing asian company's stock, or making chemicals that heal out of basic materials to avoid the FDA, libertarians can achieve a higher standard of living than adherents of other parties in similar circumstances. I find that most D's and R's lack both the will and ability necessary to use freedom to their maximum advantage.

While you can certanly "date" someone of any persuasion, without the ability to delegate a variety of tasks, longer term relationships tend to become somewhat one-sided.
8.25.2007 2:41am
Dave N (mail):
For some reason I was immediately reminded of two such cross-ideological couples, one real, one fictional, both apparently happy.

First, there is the James Carville-Mary Matalin marriage of two highly partisan people which, from all appearances, is very happy.

Second, there is the relationship between Mark Slackmayer and Chase in "Doonesbury"--although that relationship appears to have soured.

Any relationship will have certain shared values that are important to both parties. While politics or ideology might be one such value, it does not have to be. It could be shared fanaticism in the Oakland Raiders or the literature of William Shakespeare or the music of Fleetwood Mac.

And let's be honest in this semi-political blog: there are a lot of people who care a whole lot less about politics or ideology than the typical reader here does.

Overall, I think if each part of a couple looks at the other with mutual respect and an agreement to lovingly agree to disagree on those areas where there is disagreement, then I think the relationship can work.
8.25.2007 2:45am
liberty (mail) (www):
Certainly having some disagreement can make things more interesting-- who wants to agree all the time during debate on issues and theory? That would get stale.

However, whether its a sign of moral depravity / corrupt values or simply mistakes-- if the person won't give them up (and you keep trying to make them give them up) it could eat away at the respect and love in the relationship.

This could happen, for example, if a libertarian tries to date a statist, perhaps initially thinking the person was market-friendly and open to becoming more so, but turned out to be very serious about these (obviously mistaken) views. It may be a view that comes from the heart and though arguably morally depraved for being coercive, certainly well intentioned.

I don't really believe the James Carville-Mary Matalin relationship: its either all a show (and who knows what their real views are) or they in fact are both just pundits without principles. At least thats how it looks from the outside.
8.25.2007 2:56am
liberty (mail) (www):
Oh, and that "I tried to be a communist" was excellent reading!! That page was only the first installment...guess I have to buy one of the books linked to get the rest...
8.25.2007 3:00am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
Since the purpose of dating is (or should be) to find an appropriate mate, one shouldn't date blatant no-deals. One of the chief requirements for a successful marriage is a common view of reality. No two people agree on everything, so there is no perfect pairing. A union is wise if it avoids two situations: significant departures on the most critical life issues, disagreement over a vast amount of lesser issues (the death of a thousand pinpricks).

The perils of interreligious dating should be obvious, since religion hits so heavily on ultimate meaning-of-life issues. The problems of political differences is a lot more complicated, since they come in so many flavors. The biggest concerns are those issues most relevant to family life, such as education or anything that impacts the career of one of the spouses.
8.25.2007 3:13am
Dan Glick (www):
I think it depends on how much--and in what areas--politics affects your identity and ideology.

For most people, social issues would probably make more of a difference than economic ones. I'm married to a fellow liberal, but if I were single, I could certainly imagine dating a woman who was socially liberal but fiscally conservative (say a female Dan Drezner). OTOH, I don't think I could ever date a Rush Limbaugh fan.

IOW, the differences that matter for a relationship are identities and values, not policies.
8.25.2007 3:17am
MikeC&F (mail):
If you think you have found All the Right Answers such that any person who disagrees with you is clearly off his or her rocker, you will indeed have many relationship troubles. These troubles will arise regardless of whether the person you're dating shares your ideological views. The trouble with stem from your overall dogmatism and know-it-all-ism.

I have my own views on politics and life. But I am not so sure of them that I view anyone who disagrees with me as some sort of reprobate.

I've seen nasty words and angry silences over something as simple as whether or not the driver decides to listen to Rush Limbaugh

This is truly pathetic, and illustrates a dysfunction that likely goes well beyond politics. I think Limbaugh is an idiot, but if someone in the car wanted to listen to him, assuming fair procedures for "radio control" were followed, I would have no problem with this. I also don't like listening to Britney Spears (is she still on the radio?) and her ilk. But if it's on the radio, I'm not going to pitch a fit. Then again, I am an adult and usually behave as such.

It seems like a lot of people need to realize that just because someone disagrees with you doesn't mean s/he is crazy or immoral. Some people also just need to grow up!
8.25.2007 3:40am
"I don't really believe the James Carville-Mary Matalin relationship: its either all a show (and who knows what their real views are) or they in fact are both just pundits without principles. At least thats how it looks from the outside."

Oh, I don't know about that. I totally buy the relationship. I also suspect that they are political consultants first, and buy into any specific ideology as a distant second.
8.25.2007 4:34am
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):

It seems like a lot of people need to realize that just because someone disagrees with you doesn't mean s/he is crazy or immoral.

Disagreements are fine. But once you impose your opinions on someone's body, life, or property they stop being opinions and become coercion - in many cases crimes, torts, and/or rights violations. And therein lies the rub - many non-libertarians don't have a problem with coercion as long as it is their opinions being imposed by force. (And note that coercion or the desire to coerce is often rooted in pathology, so in some cases it is a situation where mental illness is involved. If someone sold most of your possession without your consent and gave the money to charity there is clearly something wrong with them.)

Some people also just need to grow up!

Yes, coercion often is rooted in immaturity in addition to or instead of pathology.
8.25.2007 5:12am
"I have never been rejected by anyone I was seriously interested in because of ideological disagreement; "

True of me as well. Fortunately, there are so many other reasons to reject me, ideological disagreement has never come to the fore...
8.25.2007 5:17am
pmorem (mail):
I would say that ideology in and of itself is not really relevant, except in extreme cases. However, it is very relevant as an indicator of thought process. Here's how:

More than anything else, we own what we choose to believe. In this century, we all have access to the same huge body of data from which to form political opinions. We filter it differently, and arrive at very different conclusions and ideologies. It's not that the raw data is different, it's that we interpret it differently. There is only one objective reality, but our subjective realities can end up looking very different.

Our minds are all different.

(though I have had cross-ideological relationships that fell apart for unrelated reasons).

I'm going to take a stab in the dark here and venture that it had to do with how certain (unknown to me) events/actions/statements were interpreted. I would say that your differing ideologies were symptomatic of different thought processes.

It's not absolute, of course. It's just an indicator. It also doesn't work both ways, as there are multiple paths to any given ideology.

As for Carville and Matalin, "there is more in common between two deputies, one of whom is a communist, than between two communists, one of whom is a deputy."
8.25.2007 7:30am
Public_Defender (mail):
In what now seems like the Dark Ages, I had a (very) few dates with a woman-of-a-different-political persuasion. She clerked for a truly awful judge, also of a different political persuasion. She got mad when I told her I voted against the guy. "Do you want me to lose my job?"
8.25.2007 7:54am
magoo (mail):
In my house, I decide all the important issues, like whether and how to pull out of Iraq, whether to privatize Social Security, and whether to raise the minimum wage. My spouse decides all the other issues, like the house we buy, where the kids go to school, where we go on vacation, what kind of car we drive. It works out pretty well.

I can tolerate political differences, but I could never have married a Cowboys fan.
8.25.2007 9:26am
...making chemicals that heal out of basic materials to avoid the FDA, libertarians can achieve a higher standard of living than adherents of other parties in similar circumstances. [LP_Cowboy]

To satisfy my curiosity, would you give some examples of "chemicals" you think have healing potential and would make for yourself "out of basic materials to avoid the FDA." I can't imagine what those might be.
8.25.2007 9:34am
...making chemicals that heal out of basic materials to avoid the FDA, libertarians can achieve a higher standard of living than adherents of other parties in similar circumstances. [LP_Cowboy]

To satisfy my curiosity, would you give some examples of "chemicals" you think have healing potential and would make for yourself "out of basic materials to avoid the FDA." I can't imagine what those might be.
8.25.2007 9:34am
MikeC&F -

I agree. Political snobberies, which divide people into in-groups and out-groups, are the problem. I tend to get pissed off at anyone who tries to pass himself or herself off as a member of the politically elect, whether because they are more caring and sensitive than everyone else or because they think they have been more successful at social darwinist competition. That sort of thing is called "being a jerk," and it is independent of a person's position on any particular issue.

This is reflected in my voting patterns. I vote for whichever party is currently more successful at keeping its wing-nuts under control.

Leaving aside the loonies at either end of the spectrum, for whom I have little use, there are very few issues in the vast middle that I would consider deal-breakers. Sexism is probably the only one, because I am female and would not want to date anyone who viewed me with contempt.

Racism is trickier, because nowadays the word gets applied to everything from actual race hate to something as mundane as questioning the efficacy of affirmative action. I would certainly reject anyone at the race hate end of the spectrum, but I would probably also reject anyone who saw no distinction between the KKK and the Clarence Thomas position in the University of Michigan affirmative action cases. Both of those are "which club are you in" positions, not serious efforts to address racial issues.
8.25.2007 10:12am
JohnEMack (mail):
One disadvantage of cross-ideological dateing (or, more importantly, mating) relates to opportunity costs. Most reasonably successful interreligious marriages or cross-idological marriages work by suppressing religious or political dialogue. The spouses know it is going to be a potential sore point, so they leave it alone. But if politics or religion are an important part of your life, this is likely to leave a hole in your world. It will also probably cut out an important source of interaction with your kids and your chances of much involvement in political or religious affairs. To be sure, the relationship may be worth that cost -- every good relationship involves some suppression of personal values. But it should not be denied that the cost can be considerable.
8.25.2007 10:29am
Justin (mail):
"Note that here I mean "committed" in the sense of someone who thinks Bush really does equate to Hitler"

Ah, Sarah. You won't date CARICATURES! Since they're mostly fictional, I think you'll be ok.

Mike C&F - I think most liberals tend to have the "I won't date" problem with social conservatives - though more recently, there's an increasingly small subset of "pro-war" people I wouldn't date (thankfully, my current girlfriend is an anti-war, social-moderate independant). With social conservatives, it indeed is about values and moral worth, and the concept of what makes a person "good" or "bad" for the most part.

I wouldn't date a social conservative, and I'm agnostic about abortion. And my near-communist ex-girlfriend is currently dating a Republicam, though that Republican is also anti-war and socially-liberal (liberterian), or so I'm told.
8.25.2007 10:50am
AK (mail):
I've had the good fortune to have had many good relationships, romantic and otherwise, with people who don't share my (rather strong) political beliefs. I can identify several reasons:

(1) Humans are rational: It's easy to dismiss your opponents as stupid or crazy. One of the left's favorite criticisms of social conservatives is that they're "irrational," believing in the flying spaghetti monster and all that. But humans are rational animals. We all have the ability to reason, and we all use it. The difference in outcomes flows directly from the difference in inputs. And the inputs - the assumptions that we take as given in evaluating an issue - are determined largely by accident of birth or by other factors beyond our control. If I were born in a family of liberal atheists, I'd probably be a rational liberal atheist. I was born into a family of conservative Catholics, so I'm a rational conservative Catholic. If you want to convince me that conservatism or Catholicism is wrong, appeal to my reason; don't assume I'm incapable. Once you realize that everyone is rational, you'll be less of a dick when you're trying to convince them. You won't talk down to them or try to bully, ridicule, or shame them into agreeing with you.

(2) Your opinions don't matter: I hold the standard Catholic position on abortion. My wife is first-trimester pro-choice (although she's personally opposed). We could spend our entire marriage trying to change each other's minds, but it wouldn't change the legality of abortion. We could march, protest, write letters, and give money to advocacy groups, but our efforts would amount to nothing. We're two of 300,000,000 Americans, and we're not going to make a difference. I'm not about to waste my time getting in a huge fight over a moot point. You think Bush = Hitler. Your girlfriend thinks he's awesome. Is your opinion going to get him out of office one day beyond 1/20/09? Is her opinion going to keep him in office one day before 1/21/09? Then shut up. Your opinions don't matter. Talk about something that does matter.

(3) If you can help it, don't make the personal political: Most of the time you have to look pretty hard to find a political dimension to everyday decisions. I guess if I was really looking to pick an ideological fight, I wouldn't like some of the bands I like because of their political views, but I really don't have that kind of energy. I like their music, and if they want to be hard leftists it really doesn't affect me. Nearly all things that humans do are ideologically neutral. To bastardize Fiorello LaGuardia a bit, there is no Democrat or Republican way to watch football, drink beer, go swing dancing, watch movies, exercise, have sex, or play Xbox. And those things are the things you should be worried about, not policial stuff that you can't change (see #2).

Incidentally, LaGuardia was wrong when he said "there is no Democrat or Republican way to pick up garbage." The Republican way is to contract out to private companies; the Democrat way is to have the government do it with public service union employees.
8.25.2007 10:50am
Justin (mail):
The gay issue btw, is even more complex. I can COMPLETELY understand why gay liberals won't date gay conservatives. When Ilya Somin said "unjustified tolerance" I thought he was making that point - that is, that gay liberals won't date gay conservatives because of an inability to support the very basic fundamental rights that they've been denied, which go to those gay liberals at a person.

After all, while "there’s nothing about my homosexuality that dictates a belief about raising the minimum wage, withdrawing immediately from Iraq," it doesn't seem unfair if a liberal gay man wants to date someone whose beliefs about Iraq (especcially in that irrational direction) aren't so strong as to keep him from supporting the liberal's fundamental right to get married and live a life free of de jure discrimination.
8.25.2007 10:55am
Justin (mail):
It's amazing what caricatures of the left are found in posts whose broader parts are that we're all so similar and rational. I'm a straight male, so I couldn't date AK for all sorts of reasons, but in addition, I couldn't date someone who held AK's views because regardless of their merits, its clear he doesn't respect my intelligence for holding my views.

Okay, I have to go to work. No more time wasting.
8.25.2007 10:59am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Mostly, I have dated women who were not as ideological as I, but when I was in Texas, I was dating someone who was politically liberal. The problem arose when we would hang out with liberals, and, in particular, one of my brothers. The entire conversation would inevitably turn into "Shrub" jokes, as that was when GWB was still governor there. I have no doubt that for my brother, it was partly to needle me, but from the woman, it was likely just finding those who knew the same jokes - despite the fact that she admitted that GWB had done a better job of hiring agency heads than Ann Richards had done.

In any case, while we could, and did, easily keep ideology out of the relationship when it was just the two of us, it didn't work out very well when we were around others. Either we would be around my more conservative friends, or her more liberal ones, and in either case, being around a bunch of people of the opposite political persuasion was trying.

I suspect things have gotten worse. Both sides have their accepted wisdom, which the other side doesn't share. And liberals who hang around liberals tend to not understand that not everyone believes that Bush is a front for the evil Cheney, who in turn is a front for Halliburton and the oil companies, and that everything they do is to make their rich friends richer, etc. Or, likely going the other way, that the Clintons didn't have Vince Foster killed.

I don't know how the Carvilles make their marriage work, though I will say that Matalin is the only person I have ever seen be able to shut down her husband in a political debate.

I think that the answer for most of us is that if we are political, then we likely either need someone of a somewhat similar political bent around us, or someone who is mostly apolitical. But since there are plenty of the later, this is usually not a problem.
8.25.2007 11:07am
Houston Lawyer:
I don't think I've ever heard a guy say he wouldn't date a girl because of her politics, especially if she's hot.

I think this falls more under Lefty group think than anything else.
8.25.2007 11:09am
Justin (mail):
One last point - I know there's something hypocritical about thinking support for the Iraq war is irrational, and then noting that one of the reasons I couldn't date many conservatives is their lack of belief that my views are founded on a modicum of reason and intelligence.

Well, ok. But I never said conservatives should want to date *me* either :)
8.25.2007 11:11am
Al Maviva (mail):
I'm with AC. With the exception of the small edges of loonies - actual communists and neo-nazis, there are few political positions that would be deal breakers, other than positions like "no bush voters" or "nobody who believes in nationalized health care." There are enough real life issues to have rational disagreements about, without inserting the latest party talking points or think tank white paper into the mix.

The whole "I wouldn't marry somebody who has political policy differences" boils down to "I'm not mature enough to deal with the fact that people sometimes disagree with me."
8.25.2007 11:32am
bellisaurius (mail):
If memory serves, there are more conservative males than females, and vice versa on the liberal side. This means that a lot of people will have to (and obviously have done) establish a modus vivendi in order to have a relationship. Of course, my experiences in relationships seem to suggest that lots of things are pretty easy to look over when you fall in love, and once you get over that "water is cold" feeling of finding them odd, the rest works itself out until something else disturbs it.

I think an obvious, glaring question here should be "that if love is this amazing, powerful thing, greater than any other force out there (which I assume most people will pay lip service to), why are some lesser ideas concerning the various duties and responsibiolities of state actors so important?"

Then again, maybe there is no such thing as love, and it's just a chemical thing to be overcome so we can maitain the purity of our bodily fluids ideas...
8.25.2007 11:33am
liberty (mail) (www):
AK, interesting 3 points. I somewhat disagree though and I think it is because ideas and goals and ideology and those things associated with world view are more central to me than football or swing dancing (and hence can also affect romance and sex - which alone are not enough).

Alan K. Henderson above said "One of the chief requirements for a successful marriage is a common view of reality. "

I think this is a good point. For me it isn't "issues most relevant to family life, such as education or anything that impacts the career of one of the spouses."

For me, its exactly the point that it is about "is a common view of reality."

It needed be exactly the same - it can be fun to disagree - as you and others have pointed out, we are rational animals.

I disagree that it doesn't matter and you can't have an affect anyway (#2). For one thing, effect or no effect, it is a core part of who each of you is, if you care about it. To understand and love each other, you must recognize the differences.

Secondly, if it is important to you, you may affect things (obviously people are making things happen, its logically impossible that nobody has any affect).

On the more personal side, if your world view says that the Iraq War is good you might want to travel to Iraq to help rebuild - and if you both go, but the way that you each interpret the same humanitarian crisis is radically opposed, this could hurt emotionally.

On the other hand, if your partner is against abortion and wants to make a difference, a protest in front of a clinic could affect the lives of some women who may change their minds or be intimidated; this would be positive to your partner and negative to you. This kind of basic difference in world view could have serious consequences in your judgment or understanding of each other.

I was in a relationship with a conservative, and at the start of the relationship I was a wavering, uninformed liberal, in the midst of re-thinking my world view. It is not true that people are never going to change their minds on issues-- I am proof of that. I am also not the type who avoids discussion of areas where I have disagreement with my partner. But although I came around on all the economic issues, I think I retained resentment over his social and religious views (he was an atheist-catholic, somewhat confused; I am an agnostic: totally confused).

But, it does depend on how much your broader world view is important to you. If you only care about the quality of your local schools, whether you can go watch football, etc, (and its true that these are not likely to change much simply depending on your votes), then indeed it may not matter that you and your partner disagree on core values.
8.25.2007 11:36am
bellisaurius (mail):
I should point out that I used to get screened out early in the dating phase for political reasons. But that was more because I like being a devil's advocate (one wonders if it's a peculiarly libertarian trait to be able to argue three different sides to a two sided discussion -at the same time), which plays well to keep girls talking to you in the bar, but usually doesn't result in much in the way of getting them to go out with you afterwards.
8.25.2007 11:38am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Also, hate sex is especially hot...

All those ecstatic cries of "Sieg Heil!" and "Oh Mein Fuhrer! ringing in your ears...

My late father in law went to Case Western in the late 30s, and used to joke about how blindly dogmatic the communists were. Thruout the pact between Germany and the USSR they would be out there every day with protest signs to the effect that the US should stay out of the war, FDR was pandering to the military industrial complex (or whatever term they used), etc.

The day after Hitler invaded the USSR they were out there with signs calling for us to get involved in the war against fascism, etc.. Hey, the orders had changed. It was not for them to judge how or why.
8.25.2007 11:52am
anonymous academic (mail):
I have daughters. I am not raising them to wear bikinis -- I see no reason that they should expose their bodies to incite male lust. I married a woman who agrees with this point of view.

My poor brother, who shares my view, made the mistake of marrying a woman who voted for Clinton, Kerry, and will vote for B. Hussein Obama in the primary. They have terrible fights over this issue -- they're trying to get it resolved before their daughter is old enough to wear a bikini.

It's her right to believe that it is a good thing for a pubescent girl to incite the lust of hormonally-crazed teeneaged boys, many of whom will think nothing of slipping her a roofie....but it's not a good way to raise daughters.

Besides which, there is a reason that modesty is a virtue; my brother and I both believe this. I was smart enough to marry a woman who shared my belief. My brother was not.

Crossing political boundaries makes it much harder to raise children the way the parent wants them to be raised. Neither parent gets his/her way, and the children are some illogical, incoherent cross breeds.

Now, if conservatives marry conservatives and liberals marry liberals, in a few generations there will be no more liberals since they don't procreate at replacement levels... I have six children, my brother has a designer family of two -- not by his choice, but by his wife's.
8.25.2007 11:59am
Realist Liberal:

does purposeful apathy count as an ideology?

I think it can if the other person's politics are important to them. I dated a girl for a while that could not care less about politics. That put a major strain because that is something that is important to me, both in the context of voting but also in keeping informed with what is going on in the world from a variety of sources, etc.

With that said, if one person is apathetic and the other person is only mildly interested then I think that would probably work.
8.25.2007 12:03pm
Cornellian (mail):
Line from y tu Mama Tambien: "left wing chicks are hot! ."

I have daughters. I am not raising them to wear bikinis -- I see no reason that they should expose their bodies to incite male lust.

Absolutely, raise them to believe that their clothing choices should be governed by how men perceive them. There is, after all, no other conceivable reason why a woman might want to wear a bikini than to "incite male lust."
8.25.2007 12:11pm
NK (mail) (www):
My wife is a die hard Democrat and I am a Libertarian. We have great discussions about politics and we more importantly have a wonderful marriage.

We have found that we have a few things in common, which make it work; don't take political stances personally, we respect contrary view points, we both value each others opinions.

I feel that way too many people have too much of their self worth / ego invested in their political view points. My advice to them is to take it easy and chill out...
8.25.2007 12:24pm
Prufrock765 (mail):
I know we are digressing, but re: the hilarious comment by anonymous academic:

Ditto Cornellian.

I will go a step further and take bets that your daughter/s will wear bikinis and your niece/s will not.

BTW, my daughter turns 5 this week
8.25.2007 12:33pm
Justin (mail):
Ditto Prufrock. I'm not sure why you believe you can control your parent's morals, but just remember the general rule in physics - for each action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
8.25.2007 12:44pm
Justin (mail):
Grrrrrr. CHILDREN's morals.
8.25.2007 12:44pm
Courtesy of yesterday's Salon, here is one example of the kind of moral condescension that makes cross-ideological dating impossible sometimes. Note that the guy writing in to their advice column is not even talking about a date, he's talking about his parents . . .

How can I love my parents when they are supporters of the most corrupt, willfully ignorant, deceitful, lying administration in our nation's history?

If we were not related by blood, I would have nothing to do with these people. The Bush presidency has ruined our reputation in the world, destroyed many of our civil liberties and increased the divide between the rich and the poor. Plus they think torture is just dandy . . . .

Salon Advice Column About Parent's Politics
8.25.2007 12:46pm
Taeyoung (mail):

The gay issue btw, is even more complex.

Is it? I'd have thought that since gays can't and are not expected to biologically have children together, one of the huge ideological issues that would otherwise be looming over the relationship would be taken out of the equation entirely -- how to raise children. Obviously you can't control you're childrens' political alignment (I'm considerably more right-wing than my parents, for example), but if you're a social conservative, there's particular expectations you're likely to have in raising your children that may differ dramatically from the expectations a social liberal may have. Not everyone thinks about children when dating (not everyone dates with a view to marriage, after all) but I would think this is much more of a problem for heterosexuals than for homosexuals.
8.25.2007 12:55pm
Wallace (mail):
I'm a conservative. My wife is a socialist vegan. We get along better than I did with conservative girls I dated. I have also had a few girlfriends before I got married who couldn't handle the fact that I was pro-life.

The secret to my happy marriage is that whenever we discuss politics we approach the issue with the mindset that "I could be wrong, but here's how I see it." Too often, idealogues approach issues with the mindset "I can never be convinced that I am wrong." That attitude, whether about politics or how to hang your toilet paper, is a precursor to an unhappy life and marriage.
8.25.2007 12:57pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
Magoo -- that's the classic model. It worked for us as well.

I'm a yellow-dog libertarian with Objectivist leanings who is not opposed to sucking on government teats if they can't be eliminated; my wife was a Massachusetts Democrat who disliked the Kennedys, was personally a little conservative, and distrusted the government when it tried to tell her what to do. Just different enough to keep it interested. We both liked guns, and that came out early.

One of my closest friends is taking "one gun a month" literally, but he believes in affirmative action and thinks government intervention was necessary in race issues. We manage. His wife is a more classic NYC liberal (again, except when the government tried to get between her and her kids) but they tolerate each others' views and have a very strong marriage.

IMHO there have to be some significant areas of agreement, especially in principal but also on hot-button issues. Otherwise as long as there is respect, things can be worked around. At least for people who tend to live in the intellect and have strong political views.

Within family, as opposed to relationships, the commonality and ties are tight and permanent, and greater differences can be tolerated.
8.25.2007 12:58pm
If you look at the ads in places like Craigslist, it never ceases to amaze me that many women will describe themselves, as "daring, open minded, full of life, etc." and then end their ad with "no republicans/conservatives, need apply"!! Kind of negating their self description in my view. I try not to wear my politics on my sleave and given the area I live in, the north side of Chicago, I am in the minority politically. It helps to have a sense of humour about things. I realize that not everyone sees the world the same way I do. It is important to find someone regardless of political stripe, that understands that as well.
8.25.2007 12:58pm
Dave N (mail):
I think the Salon article that Carolina linked to has to has some great advice. Some people get so wrapped up in their own ideology that they do not realize that it is but one component of the human condition. And franly, I am appalled by those who are so wedded to their own views that they simply cannot agree to disagree about politics if they agree on other issues.

Though certainly not a dating relationship, the long-time friendship between Senators Orin Hatch and Ted Kennedy is an example where two people are polar opposites politically (and in some other ways) yet enjoy each other's company enough to not only work together but to have actually vacationed together. (The prior-to-1960 friendship between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy is another example).

Indeed, I suspect Teresa Heinz Kerry would attest that if her first husband had insisted that they only hang-out with Republicans, she would likely not be married to her second husband.
8.25.2007 1:06pm
Justin (mail):
BT, when people say they are open minded, that does not mean they are open minded to things that more relate to closemindedness.

When conservatives try and use "liberal" language about tolerance, its often in order to get people to tolerate their intolerance - the world just doesn't work that way, I'm afraid.
8.25.2007 1:12pm

I am assuming that you have your tongue firmly planted in cheek.
8.25.2007 1:26pm
liberty (mail) (www):
Dave N,

There is a huge difference between friendships and family relationships on the one hand and marriage on the other. Having been raised among socialists, I am the only non-liberal in my family and all of my oldest friends are far-left or socialist. Although there was a period of re-adjustment, I am as close as ever with all of them. I happily make new friends who are liberal too - in fact, I have only one or two friend who libertarian like me. That is all fine. I am not so sure that I could happily marry someone with whom I have profound disagreement in world view though.
8.25.2007 1:31pm
Dave N (mail):

I agree you can't choose your family. I would further agree that a committed relationship will potentially last longer if both parties share common values. But both David Chesler and Wallace describe relationships that do work--in large part because both spouses give the other respect.
8.25.2007 1:44pm
Kurt A (mail):
I've long admired that Carville-Matalin relationship, and when I was in a relationship with a left-wing activist type a few years back, I looked t that as my inspiration that things could work. The truth is, we had few discussions about politics, and those we did have were usually friendly debates at the beginning of the relationship. The problem I had with the relationship was with his venemously left-wing friends who would go on rants about how much they hated Bush and how Karl Rove was the devil. Or they would say nasty things about conservatives, Mormons, and Baptists, and yet act like they were the most tolerant people in the world. Had I been more in the mold of Mary Matalin, I might have called them on it in a forceful and humorous way. But mostly I sat there in silence and felt like I didn't want to be there. I wasn't sure how to be argumentative without seeming rude. Although I tried discussing this discomfort with the guy I was seeing after such incidents, he wasn't too receptive, and eventually he just shut me out. He never told me why he broke up with me, but I suspect it was because I posed a greater challenge to him and his worldview than he was prepared to deal with. Since that time, I've been wary of dating anyone who was too much of a committed liberal for fear that the same thing would happen again.
8.25.2007 1:53pm
liberty (mail) (www):
Dave N,

As I said, I have friends-- new friends that I have made since becoming libertarian-- that I disagree with. I am quite capable of giving respect to their views. However, for me, an intimate lifelong commitment requires more than just respectful disagreement. For me, the most fundamental core values and world view need to align or at least be understood and not conflicting.

I could enjoy a fun fling with a socialist, but I don't think I could marry one-- even though I respect my old friends who are socialist. To form the deep bonds of lifelong commitment, I can't have that kind of fundamental disagreement about such important and core issues about the nature of human society, reality, moral virtue, human rights, freedom, etc.

But theory is reality to me: to some people that stuff is unimportant and vague and they live "unpolitical" lives where it doesn't affect daily life. I also could never date (let alone marry) someone like that. I would be more comfortable dating a feisty socialist than a disinterested non-partisan.
8.25.2007 1:56pm
Ella (www):
Of course you're right, anonymous academic, because all liberals/Democrats/Socialists (because they're really all the same) raise their daughters to dance naked in the street and spread their legs for every man that comes along and all Republicans raise their daughters to be virtuous, modest, proper young ladies. And children never, ever deviate from their parents' values. Not unless they were raised in a Democratic household, of course.

And may I say, I'm very impressed with the little trick you played with Obama's name. I mean, I just don't see how any of his supporters could overcome that stinging insult. It makes such a persuasive argument, too. Two for one. Bravo.

Seriously, I've never seen any particular correlation between political party and child rearing choices. You probably could not predict whether a person would raise his daughter to "wear bikinis" (or inculcate whatever other value floats your boat) based on political afiliation alone. Yes, conservative Christians are likely to hold this value, but so are liberal radical feminists. And frankly, I can't see bikini wearing being the hill most parents of teenagers would pick to die on.
8.25.2007 2:37pm
Dave N (mail):

I suspect we are mostly in agreement. I think shared values are important for a relationship to last. I just don't think the standard liberal-conservative nomenclature in our society (let alone Republican-Democrat) is such a deep value that it should trump a relationship as long both partners give the other mutual respect.
8.25.2007 2:38pm
liberty (mail) (www):
"Seriously, I've never seen any particular correlation between political party and child rearing choices. "

I have to disagree here. Not wrt bikini wearing, but in many other ways, where parents are on the spectrum may have a huge influence on parenting choices. For example, every single friend of mine from childhood, all having far-left or socialist parents, were raised to call their parents by first name and be much more on a friend-friend basis than traditional parent-child, and were not prevented from partying and having boys (or girls) overnight, many were allowed to smoke and a fair number shared joints with their moms (most didn't have dads) etc.

But my views on this are both influenced by the extremeness with which I am familiar in core values (I am not thinking of moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans getting married, but socialists and libertarians) and also the great importance that such core aspects of world view have in my life.
8.25.2007 3:08pm
Mark Field (mail):

I am assuming that you have your tongue firmly planted in cheek.

I think he was dead serious. And dead right.
8.25.2007 3:38pm
Liberty - I agree that, on the far extremes, it probably does make a bigger difference. But in the vast middle where most of us reside, I've never noticed a strong correlation between political party and day-to-day lifestyle and parenting choices. Certainly not in something as inocuous as bikini-wearing. Seriously, folks, the children of die-hard Republican and conservative parents were just as likely to have sex, drink, and (gasp) wear bikinis as the children of similarly committed Democrat and liberal parents when I was in high school. And Democrat and Republican parents tended to have the same attitudes towards these activities (they didn't like the first two and had ceased caring about the last).

If a couple is having terrible fights about whether to let their daughter wear a bikini years before she'll be old enough to do so, their problem is not that they have different political affiliations. It's that they both have serious personality problems that will, in all likelihood, prevent their being happy with anyone, ever.
8.25.2007 3:56pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

A great many people believe that it is wrong to date anyone whose political views differ significantly from their own.

how many?
8.25.2007 3:59pm
Mark Field,

Hmm, well, in case Justin was dead in his seriousness, can you fill me in as to the meaning of "open minded" and "close minded"? I was taking these terms at face value to mean either accepting or not accepting of a wide range of views, whatever they may be. If that's the case, then it's paradoxical that to be really "open minded" you have to be particularly closeminded about some things.

Perhaps it's understood that the phrase "open minded" is a code-word for openmindedness to a specific set of views and closemindedness to other views? The difference being, I gather, that it's understood within the community using the phrase that some views views are deemed acceptable and others are out of bounds? If so, that would certainly explain why you would object to conservatives trying to appropriate the language: if someone has a different sense of what is acceptable or not, then the argument will sound the same but actually mean the opposite.
8.25.2007 4:04pm
Mark Field (mail):

Hmm, well, in case Justin was dead in his seriousness, can you fill me in as to the meaning of "open minded" and "close minded"?

I was referring to Justin's second paragraph, not his first. Sorry, should have made that clearer. I'm not sure the two paragraphs were directly related.

Perhaps it's understood that the phrase "open minded" is a code-word for openmindedness to a specific set of views and closemindedness to other views? The difference being, I gather, that it's understood within the community using the phrase that some views views are deemed acceptable and others are out of bounds? If so, that would certainly explain why you would object to conservatives trying to appropriate the language: if someone has a different sense of what is acceptable or not, then the argument will sound the same but actually mean the opposite.

I think this is basically right. Think of creationists using the language of postmodernism and philosophical skepticism to argue against evolution. Similar issue.
8.25.2007 4:33pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I doubt this has anything to do with politics or ideology. It sounds more like poeple who can't handle having anyone disagree with them should make sure they date only like minded folks.
8.25.2007 4:35pm
theobromophile (www):
As the result of (painful?) experience, I no longer date committed pro-choicers. To put it as delicately as possible, the ideological view that abortion is morally neutral (or morally positive) manifests itself in expectations in a relationship that put anti-abortionists at odds with their morals.

Perhaps that is an exception to the rule that the political need not be personal.
8.25.2007 5:57pm
Elmer (mail):
Re family discussions: I met a guy who had a family dinner every election night. His kids were grown, and one was married. Everyone, including his son-in-law and any girlfriends present, had to say who they voted for and why. It often became quite a battle, and newcomers were prone to see it as an ordeal, but it made the family closer.
8.25.2007 6:10pm
anonymous academic writes:

Now, if conservatives marry conservatives and liberals marry liberals, in a few generations there will be no more liberals since they don't procreate at replacement levels... I have six children, my brother has a designer family of two -- not by his choice, but by his wife's.

Would that this were true. Growing up two strongly conservative parents is probably one of the main ways that one becomes a liberal. I doubt the child backlash against liberal parents is quite as strong. This is how liberals stay around.

On the pro vs. antiabortion thing, that might be one ostensibly "political" view that could actually matter in personal relationships. One's views of the war in Iraq would probably make for little more than heated conversations unless one partner decides to enlist. But if the relationship produces an unwanted pregnancy, that issue might become very relevant.
8.25.2007 6:14pm
Jaded (mail):
When my husband and I met he and I were both hard core liberals because our parents were however the funniest thing was we came to be conservative's after 9-11 and honestly I don't think either of us would be able to stand the "progressive" Democrats opinions in the other person today because we have done a complete 180 in our views on life and politics.

Good thing we grew together:-)
8.25.2007 6:37pm
Rick Rockwell:
Jerry: She's a Nazi George, A Nazi!.
George: I know, I know, kind of a cute Nazi though....
8.25.2007 6:44pm
Justin, I think you just made my point. It has been my experience that the intolerance that I have witnessed and or directly experienced has been largely purpetrated by liberals, many of whom don't want their world view challenged and certainly not from some guy like me, which was the point of my post in the first place. This is not to say all conservatives are open minded and welcoming, etc., that is certainly not the case. It is just that in my experience quite the opposite is true. One amusing story, at my 25th highschool reunion, I was threatened with bodily harm just by mentioning off hand that I was fairly conservative politically. This by a family therapist!!! Justin, should he be made to go into sensitivity training?
8.25.2007 6:56pm
Peg C. (mail):
I met my hubby online (Prodigy, mutual interest board) and married him 12 years ago. I was a lifelong lefty feminist Democrat; he a hardcore Republican Rush fan and golf-playing Harley rider. We agreed long before marriage that to keep harmony we could never discuss politics, and we didn't. If you are ideological, and we both are, you can't be on opposite sides and keep the peace if you don't basically make political discussion verboten.

Good thing I did a switcheroo in 1998 (thank you, Bill Clinton and Rush) but my hubby had nothing to do with it. Had I not switched, I am positive the Bush years would have driven us to divorce, because as it is we've divorced family and friends whose BDS we cannot tolerate or avoid. However, our mutual ideology has been our greatest comfort the past several years. We are compatible in so many ways it's unfathomable to me that we were so opposite ideologically when we met.

Now we share a mutual loathing for virtually all of Hollywood and its products, D.C. (just drove through it), government in general and most of the MSM. Last decade, I believe it was possible to be on opposite sides and be happy because nothing mattered. We lived in unserious times. Everything matters now, we live in very serious times, and ideological compatibility (Carville and Matalin notwithstanding) is much more crucial to a happy relationship.
8.25.2007 7:27pm
Hattio (mail):
anonymous academic says;

Crossing political boundaries makes it much harder to raise children the way the parent wants them to be raised. Neither parent gets his/her way, and the children are some illogical, incoherent cross breeds.

Yeah, illogical incoherent cross breeds. Or, perhaps capable of thinking for themselves and smelling out the bullshit in each parents ideology.
8.25.2007 7:30pm
Hattio (mail):
I basically agree with your point in the post above (that you should respect others, and not make the personal political). But, I have to completely disagree with you on issue number one. Humans are, by and large, not rational at all. And no, I'm not saying that one side is more rational than the other. I'm saying that for the vast majority of issues each and every human is irrational. We are all capable of being rational, and for most decisions we can't be. Fortunately, primarily because of your point number 2, if you approach someone else with respect, it's easy to rationally debate politics, because for the most part the decisions doens't matter.
8.25.2007 7:35pm
Tennwriter (mail):
It seems most people agree on 1)maturity 2)the vast majority are ok as long as you're not flamingly extreme (no members of Int'l ANSWER or the Aryan Nations need apply.)

I'd be okay with some moral cretinry because as a conservative, I have low expectations for humanity. Thus if a Libertarian supported abortion, I'd just shrug. Humans are weak, and easily deluded (and that includes me).

I did read the first half of Gradisil, a new 'freedom in space' SF novel. It dealt extensively with relationships this broken woman, the protagonist had. Halfway through it, one of her former lovers tells her 'there's something wrong with you, you don't love. When I told you I loved you, you'd say --that's nice.' This novel seemed to be to be a critique of a too Libertarian (or perhaps any really committed and straightforward ideology) approach to life. Most libertarians aren't like that. But if you think--I can only date non-coercive people, then you might want to read this book.

Now, for moi, I married an independent who likes divided gov't, and prefers balance. Moi, I'm a conservative who thinks we probably need to destroy the Dem Party. Also, I know vastly more about politics than my wife. But, I showed that I wanted to have discussions, and that I was interested in her view (often she thinks of things that would never occur to me). I also learned that I couldn't dump all my information on her. And I learned the virtue of short humorous stories about politics like the one today about the Chicoms trying to regulate reincarnation--one has to get a permit to reincarnate.

We've both grown. She's learned to trust me that I'll be fair (many people aren't), and not get upset. I've learned to restrain myself from being too political, and to try to have a bit more of a sense of humor about things.
8.25.2007 7:42pm
pedro (mail):
I personally would not mind dating a libertarian woman, no matter how strong her opinions, but I do not believe it would be sensible for me to date a conservative. This doesn't imply that I do not respect or admire a good number of conservatives; rather, it is the result of a strong inclination to share my life with people with whom I have, at a basic moral-intuitive level, deeper connections. I feel rather strongly about respecting sexual, ethnic, and religious minorities, and about the proposition that the lives of innocent human beings ought to be viewed as having equal worth, regardless of nationality. People whose political views strongly hint at a major disagreement along these lines are people with whom I frankly do not want to share a life nor raise a child.

Interestingly, in spite of my not being gay, I come as close as possible to being the sort of person Ilya refers to in his post. Since I would not be willing to share my life with someone who, for example, considers homosexuality a sin (or atheism an outrage), I can easily understand why a gay liberal would refuse to date a man who aligns himself with the party that panders to the anti-gay fragment of the US populace. (Even if I were economically conservative, and at times I come close to being so, I care so much more about not having authoritarian lunatics dictate social and cultural mores than I do about the rather diminutive, in my view, degree of difference in economic policy between the two parties.)

Like in the case of a previous commenter, it is true for me that cultural fault lines are far more significant for me than economic ones. In matters economic, I can see how people who genuinely care about the welfare of the poorest members of society would choose to align themselves with economic conservatism, and so it is not easy for me to conclude that a person who embrace economic conservatism must have different values from mine. But when the subject is anywhere near religious verities like the immorality of homosexuality, things are different. After all, why would I want to marry someone who would impose her values (so at odds with mine) on my child?
8.25.2007 9:54pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Pedro: "I feel rather strongly about respecting sexual, ethnic, and religious minorities, and about the proposition that the lives of innocent human beings ought to be viewed as having equal worth, regardless of nationality."

Do conservatives contend sexual, ethnic, and religious minorities should not be respected? Do conservatives value innocent human lives as a function of nationality? If so, can you provide some examples to demonstrate this?

Is it possible that conservatives have the same respect for people that you do, and have the same value for life that you do, yet disagree with you on the best way to safeguard such respect and value? Might they disagree with you on the social policies that derive from such respect and value?

It's quite easy to observe liberals and conservatives who both agree with the sentiments of respect and value you put forth, yet have very different approaches to incorporating those sentiments into society.

It also seems that there is little difference between the personal behaviors of liberals and conservatives regarding respect and values, while there is a lot of difference on how each thinks everyone else should behave.
8.25.2007 10:18pm
bleat my little loana the mild & nupondi the excitable bleat:
Does this make choking fantasies hot again?

I want to know because in that case I want to get a seat at:

this cafe
8.25.2007 10:58pm
Daryl Herbert (www):
Yeah, illogical incoherent cross breeds. Or, perhaps capable of thinking for themselves and smelling out the bullshit in each parents ideology.

That's often how interfaith marriages work out.
8.26.2007 2:26am
Daryl Herbert (www):
I would personally never go out on more than 3 dates with a woman who favors Ewoks over Stormtroopers.
8.26.2007 2:33am
The big relationship gotcha tends to be with hard-core environmentalists, who are likely to get into "the personal is political" in a big way as regards food choices, car choices, etc. If you dare to drive a pickup truck, or prefer a tasty dead animal on your plate to vegan slime, you're Satan - even if you do use fluorescent light bulbs.
8.26.2007 2:53am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
One reason why political differences are a major indicator of relationship compatibility is that many of them reflect differing basic assumptions regarding human nature. Hawks and appeasers differ on how to deal with bullies, or even how to identify them in many cases. Cultural conservatives believe that sexual promiscuity has inherently harmful psychological effects on adults as well as children, and cultural liberals would bristle at including that view in sex ed. The fiscal Left and Right disagree on the long-term sociological impact of welfare statism, as reflected in some of the pro and con arguments bullet-pointed here. A relationship is in danger if there are significant departures regarding how humanity operates.

Interestingly, one of the roots of political bigotry is the assumption that this divide doesn't exist - that everybody perceives human reality in much the same way but some people care about humanity more than others. People regard affirmative action opponents as antiblack racists out of a mistaken belief that the opponents believe that such policies actually help blacks as intended. Accusations fly that welfare state opponents don't care about the poor, drug criminalization opponents don't care about victims of drug-related crimes or those vulnerable to being sucked into the drug culture, and people who believe that homosexuality is a psychological disorder don't care about gays. Fortunately, this kind of bigotry tends to prevent the kind of unwise dating relationships cautioned against in this thread - not very many International ANSWER types ask out Dittoheads, and not many in Fred Phelps' congregation wouls ask out cultural liberals, supporters of gay reorientation therapy (a weird irony), or warbloggers.
8.26.2007 5:21am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Okay, I can marry anybody -- liberal, conservative, libertarian, Nazi -- as long as she's not a Yankees fan.
8.26.2007 8:54am
pedro (mail):
Elliot123: I hold that conservatives differ with me intensely on their attitudes towards minorities. I am not a religious person, but even if I lived in a country in which the majority of people are--in that specific regard--like me, it is clear to me that I would not have any qualms voting for religious politicians for office (the data--which was discussed some time ago on this very blog--suggests that cultural conservatives in this country are very reluctant to view atheists/agnostics with similar generosity). Moreover, even if I believed it potentially socially dangerous and morally repugnant for religious people of certain denominations to congregate and worship, I would not be tempted to refuse to grant such people the same civil rights that others enjoy. By contrast, cultural conservatives feel they are justified in denying homosexuals certain rights that other people enjoy, simply on the basis that they--the conservatives--find the behavior of homosexuals morally distasteful and potentially socially dangerous.

Regarding the relative value of the lives of individuals, I have actually had serious discussions with people who believe it is not only reasonable but desirable that citizens of a particular country (in this case, the USA) value the lives of their own compatriots higher than they do the lives of citizens of other nations. It is no wonder, to me, then, that the moral calculus that leads them to advocate military action is measurably distinct from my own. I happen to value the life of an innocent child in country X just as much as I value the life of an innocent child in country Y. (The reason I choose to invest my efforts in making the country and community I live in better is that this is an optimal way to maximize efficiency on my part: I have local knowledge here, and not elsewhere.)

I think the nature of my disagreements with social conservatives is in large part moral, not just about perception of reality.
8.26.2007 10:32am
pedro (mail):
More bluntly, perhaps: I don't think social conservatives have as much respect for my gay friends as I do. Perhaps this is because I use the word respect to indicate 'respect for personal life-choices and personal judgment.' I cannot, for the life of me, think of a case in which I respect a person and wish to prevent said person to exercise his or her judgment on matters that do not directly harm other respectable human beings. And no, I don't respect everyone.
8.26.2007 10:42am
I was in a cross-ideological relationship. The actual disagreements were less of a problem than the fact that I often felt that she perceived me in stereotypical terms. My statements and ideas were not taken on their own terms, but rather forced into her preconceptions and assumptions about me. I didn't like being treated like a narrow-minded partisan ideologue when that is not how I see myself.
8.26.2007 1:47pm
theobromophile (www):

Okay, I can marry anybody -- liberal, conservative, libertarian, Nazi -- as long as she's not a Yankees fan.

Ditto that.
8.26.2007 2:03pm
Grey (mail):
With a few notable exceptions, this is a quintessentially hilarious myopidogmatic thread. Absolutely nothing of substance. Well done, VCrowd.
8.26.2007 2:26pm
The Cabbage:
When I started dating my liberal environmentalist now-fiancee, I was a little concerned about the political differences we share. Then I asked the question I always ask in times of doubt: What Would Scalia Do?

If Nino and Ruth Ginsburg can be best friends, I see no reason why the rest of us can't say, "I respectfully disagree with your opinion and its ramifications, but I'm not going to get wrapped up in it."
8.26.2007 3:44pm
Waldensian (mail):

One of the chief requirements for a successful marriage is a common view of reality.

NOW you tell me.
8.26.2007 4:12pm
Elliot123 (mail):

Many liberals who favor an American withdrawal from Iraq tell us it is not worth any more American lives. However, like Obama, they acknowledge there will be a huge bloodbath and potential genocide if the US troops leave. Does this indicate those liberals place more value on American lives than they do on Iraqi lives? Is it valid to conclude they view the value of innocent lives to be a function of nationality?
8.26.2007 4:16pm
pedro (mail):
Elliot123: Indeed, the current position of some liberals in this country is deeply troubling to me, for precisely the reason you hint to. I opposed the invasion of Iraq quite strongly back in the day when it was standard practice to dismiss war critics as idiots, communists, and a long et cetera. Today, as things stand, I think the US has the responsibility to fix what it broke, and so count me among many reluctant supporters of President Bush on the issue of withdrawal.

But I know liberals--I hang out with them. And I can tell you that it is very rare to find liberals (at least liberal academics) who articulate their views on a moral calculus in which it is transparent that the lives of Americans are more valued than the lives of Iraqis. And it is even rarer to find, in the left public sphere, the degree of xenophobia that I have found on right-wing venues. There are exceptions, of course, and I am speaking generalities here. The point is that, a priori, I do not feel the need to be guarded against people with peaceful inclinations and a respectful disposition towards ethnic, sexual, and religious diversity.

People who, on the other hand, worry about cultural purity, rant about the ills of multiculturalism and the decline of family values (almost certainly in reference to homosexuality), and publicly display, in general, a hawkish attitude towards other countries--that kind of people do make me feel guarded (once again, regardless of the merits of the individual topic on which they may be pronouncing).

I find myself often in agreement with Republicans and in disagreement with Democrats: e.g., I concede the usefulness of faith-based initiatives, notwithstanding my own atheism, mind you, I am opposed to affirmative action, I find myself charmed by Mike Huckabee and would consider voting for him, etc. But my moral compass, I strongly intuit, is far more in tune with that of the average Democratic voter than with the average Republican voter. In particular, being a minority within multiple nested minorities, I am intensely attuned to the ways in which minorities are depicted in public discourse, and I detect far more contempt from one source than from another. I may, for example, agree with the substance of many arguments against affirmative action, but the way in which many such arguments are framed leaves me cold. I may, further, agree with conservatives that centralizing health care is bound to have a negative impact on research and development of new drugs, but once again, the manner in which the situation of millions of poor Americans is glossed over leaves me cold, etc.

In short, I seriously think that I am morally closer to liberals, and morals matter a lot to me when I am considering sharing my life. Morals matter less to me in the realm of the political, admittedly, and I could see myself voting for Republican candidates, even conservative ones (so long as they are not utterly repugnant to me morally). And this is why I frame things the way I do: I can even cultivate friendships with cultural conservatives, but do not expect me to build a lifelong project of raising children with any of them.
8.26.2007 7:19pm
Randy R. (mail):
"Tis with our judgments, like our watches,
None go just alike, yet each believes his own."

-- Alexander Pope (An Essay on Criticism)
8.27.2007 2:34am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
One of the chief requirements for a successful marriage is a common view of reality.
NOW you tell me.
Sadly there are lots of people who jump into marriage without squaring away this compatibility issue.
8.27.2007 12:08pm
Elliot123 (mail):

You don't have to search academia for liberals who value innocent lives as a function of nationality; just look at Obama and his millions of liberal supporters. Apparently it's a widespread idea among liberals. So, in selecting a liberal mate, there is a high probabliity of raising children with someone who values innocent lives as a function of nationality. Be afraid, very afraid.
8.27.2007 11:25pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I agree with the comment that people are not necessarily rational. If they were, things would be enormously, unrecognizably different.
There is probably more rationalizing than rational examination of issues.

I am pretty conservative. My experience with people farther left than extremely moderately liberal is that they are absolutely immune to facts which contradict their narrative. See the fem blogs ref Duke, for one example. And the sun will rise in the west--they'll swear on a stack of somethingorothers that it is true--if necessary to make their point.

I realize this can be turned around. But I don't see it. For example, the insistence that Bush stole Florida is contradicted by at least three post-election recounts. Makes no difference. That the Iraq war is for oil--except for the limited point that it would have been bad for Saddaam to have the oil revenues--is so silly that refuting it is difficult, there being so little to start with.

Unfortunately, the propensity to screw up a view of the real world can slop over into more immediately practical matters. Bad thought habits don't stop at VC topics.

In addition, some liberals make me a bit suspicious. For instance, I know a lady whose life has been, since the kids got out of the house, a selection of volunteer work, or low-paid charity work helping the less fortunate fix up their lives. How to budget. How to save. How the pack-a-day habit, and shopping for groceries at the gas station damage your bottom line. Nothing she has done has been other than one-on-one. But in addition to that, she is a hair-shirt environmentalist. We have to change our ways. Her awareness of climate issues is elementary, but it appears the utility of the issue is to make people change their ways. IOW, and for other reasons, I see her laudable work being chosen because she can tell people less fortunate and less virtuous how to live their lives. And with more laws--she's against urban sprawl except for those who've already got theirs, for example--the rest of the population can be made to behave. More straightforward environmentalists think people will have to change their ways to help the environment. My acquaintance seems to think--words slip here and there--that people need to change their ways, period. To meet her aesthetic sense.

Anyway, the idea of dating an earlier version of this person makes me very nervous. In fact, I did, and I was. They seemed to have an easier time with me than I did with them. Go figure.
8.28.2007 12:35am
pedro (mail):
Elliot123: Whatever I may think of the merits of Obama's case for withdrawal, it would be laughable to ascribe to him disdain for the lives of innocent foreigners. He has made it quite clear that he believes that staying in Iraq will only make things worse for innocent Iraqis, and that in his mind, while violence will increase as an immediate result of withdrawal, it would increase more were the US continue to occupy the country. In Obama's view, withdrawal now has bad consequences, and withdrawal later has worse consequences.

Funny how someone who takes the high ground and urges others not to argue in bad faith about conservatives seems so quick to judge Obama and his followers in the manner you do. I may not agree with Obama's perception of reality, but I cannot ascribe to him the sort of views that are rampant in right-wing-land.
8.28.2007 8:27am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Pedro. If Obama believes as you claim, then his intelligence is an issue.
When we look back at Viet Nam, it is hard to imagine that the folks who said there'd be no bloodbath, no re-education camps, no oppression, actually believed it. It is far more likely that they said it as an excuse, which would only be proven wrong once they'd accomplished their goal.
If they actually believed what they said, I think we'd have heard various statements about how awful they feel about having been so disastrously wrong. But that isn't happening.
Given dem and lib politics, I find it far more likely that they know there'll be awful massacres and don't G.A.S. They never have before.
8.28.2007 11:59am
pedro (mail):
Richard: Obama does not claim there won't be a bloodbath. In fact, there already is one, and it has been going on since awhile ago, at levels that ought to make President Bush look like an idiot in your eyes (by your own logic). Obama claims, rather, that there *will* be a bloodbath. He and I disagree on the expected value of prolonging the occupation. In his very explicit argument--one that bears no resemblance with the caricature that you make of it here--, the prolongation of the occupation is more likely to intensify the level of the eventual bloodbath. I may disagree with his assessment, but his articulation of his argument comes across as rather thoughtful to me. On the other hand, the facts that (1) he opposed the stupid decision to go to war in Iraq when almost nobody but Feingold did, (2) he articulated his opposition to the war in Iraq in ways that highlighted his prescience and good judgment, (3) he explicitly worried about loss of innocent Iraqi life when he did the latter, and (4) he has Samantha Power as his adviser--somebody who takes genocide rather seriously, and who would be dismissed readily as a peacenik and a human-rights cuckoo by you-know-who--reassures me that the man is not a callous xenophobe. Concerning his intelligence, I have no worries whatsoever.

With most democrats, I may disagree (intensely, even) about issues, rhetoric, etc., but I have no trouble identifying in them good intentions. (Yes, I know what they say about good intentions.) It is harder to do just that with people who advocate dropping atomic bombs on Iran, torture terrorism suspects (or terrorists, as they are called this days, without the word suspects appended), or what have you.
8.28.2007 1:30pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Pedro. If Obama is as you say, he will be the first to really worry about genocide against brown folks when committed by enemies of the US. So, on form, I believe he doesn't G.A.S.

If, on the other hand, he thinks that, going forward from here (pulling out now won't resurrect the already dead, a fact some may not have thought about)things would be worse if we stayed than if we left, he has an IQ problem.
8.28.2007 3:03pm
pedro (mail):
Richard: It shouldn't take a very high IQ to understand Obama's position, really. He thinks that staying in Iraq will be more costly (in human lives) to Iraqis than a careful withdrawal.
8.28.2007 4:05pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Pedro. If, as I say, "if", that's what he really thinks, he has an IQ problem.

But, as I say, on form, he knows better and like his lib predecessors, doesn't G.A.S.
8.28.2007 5:08pm
Elliot123 (mail):

Obama would do well to hire you as media consultant. He needs one to get out of the mess he has gotten himself into. However, he did not make the contrast between staying and getting out of Iraq. He made it very clear that he doesn't want to lose any more American lives regardless of the prospects for genocide in Iraq or anywhere else in the world. And millions of liberals support him. That's hardly laughable. It's very unfortunate.

Of couse I am judging Obama. I am judging him on his on words. He and millions of his liberal followers are content to allow genocide in Iraq rather than lose anymore American lives. That's about as clear as can be that they value innocent lives as a function of nationality.

And good intentions? What's good about allowing genocide when one has the means to stop it? That's what Obama and millons of his liberal supporters want. Be careful. The nation is full of liberals who consider the value innocent life to be a function of nationality.

Perhaps some of those liberal academics might tell us what will happen if the US troops leave as quickly as the liberal congressional caucus wants? They were horribly wrong about Viet Nam. Let's see them try again.
8.28.2007 5:53pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Elliot and Pedro.

As I said earlier, if the folks--like Kerry--who insisted little or nothing untoward would happen after our scarper in '75 had really meant it, really believed it, they would have said something later about how wrong they were.
But it was just a cover until the thing was too far gone to recover. Then it was a nothing.

The only exception I can think of was Joan Baez who actually believed all that stuff. Stunning resonance must have a price--all that sounding space up there, I guess--and remarked upon the horror later. For which she was pilloried by her peers.
8.28.2007 7:56pm
pedro (mail):
Richard: partisanship can be blinding in terrible ways. Ernesto Sábato, a wonderful Argentinian writer, was hated by the right for his denunciations of Argentina's despicable military right-wing regime, and despised by the extreme left for his denunciations of the Soviet Union.

I do not presume to be able to convince you that liberals are not the sort of callous monsters you make them out to be (you seem to have cemented your opinions since a times I do not remember). For my own part, I feel far cozier among liberals, with their occasional myopias, than with what, shockingly to you, perhaps, I regard as a poisonous, callous, xenophobic, homophobic, authoritarian right-wing. Like Elliot suggests, we are acutely attuned to the foibles of our adversaries, and we are perhaps too familiar with our comrades not to detect the unfairness with which our enemies paint them.
8.28.2007 10:45pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Pedro. Nice essay. Problem is, Obama is okay with genocide. As others have put it, human life is valued according to nationality. Perfectly clear. Your essay notwithstanding.
Somebody mentioned calling for Teheran to be nuked. Obama is against it. Problem with that is, not having to fear nukes, Teheran might do something awful, the answer to which nuke Teheran. So taking something off the table unequivocally makes it more likely. Purity of intention does not affect the real world. Screwups do, irrespective of intent. See the Oxford resolution of 1933.
The reason I think libs are callous monsters is, I watch their actions. Their words are based either in wilful ignorance or lies. Just for starters, find any number of liberals complaining about genocide committed by the enemies of the US. After Germany's WW II Holocaust---nada. And that was an aberration. Our enemies have generally been leftist and the libs don't complain about them. Stalin killed and killed and killed and the libs chose to complain about Hitler. They should have complained about both. It's conservatives who complain about both. And we complain about liberals' insouciance in the face of the atrocities committed by the enemies of the US.

No, your view isn't shocking. It's ignorant as hell, but as long as it keeps you over there, great.
8.28.2007 11:02pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Got interrupted.

Pedro. You know exactly what Obama is proposing. It's to let the murderers take over in Iraq and kill and kill and kill. In the process, making it impossible for us to ever get anybody else to ever trust us again. Which is to say, no allies. So, in the future, we can't move unilaterally--bad juju--and nobody will work with us. So we're paralyzed. What a surprise!!!
You know what he's proposing. You are trying to get him elected, or at least obfuscate what he is trying to do, which will help him in some little bit. Still, you're doing your best to see that the horror happens.
When I see liberals doing that sort of thing, I don't get all warm and mushy about their pretenses.
8.28.2007 11:19pm
Elliot123 (mail):

Ignoring genocide is myopia? I'm sure such people really are cozier amongst their own kind.
8.28.2007 11:24pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
And, to get back to the original theme, I surely wouldn't want to date anybody who thought genocide in Iraq was a good idea, more especially if she were actively working to promote it.

Even if she claimed she was only trying to give peace a chance and fluffy bunnies and kite flying and so forth.
8.29.2007 11:23am