Hedging New-Age bets

A handy way to view the political landscape is to define everyone left of conservative as liberal. Given the vast influx of artists, nonconformists, and nature lovers, there may now be more liberals in Western North Carolina than conservatives. Yet we’re often stuck with conservative representatives such as Blue Dog Heath Shuler and water vulture Tim Moffitt. Why? It’s partly because many liberals don’t vote.

One reason liberals don’t vote is their passionate diversity. Though most liberals have transcended the conservative absolutes of fundamentalist Christianity, capitalism and patriotism, we often seize onto other absolutes just as tightly. This is due, in part, to leftover impulses from fundamentalist Christianity, as well the human longing for certainty. Be it liberal Christian morality, Buddhist detachment, green development, pacifist socialism, New Age manifestations, Wiccan Earth-worshipping, anarchist faith in human nature, etc. — many liberals cling fiercely to pristine absolutes, and adamantly avoid messy political reality.

But politics, and life, is sometimes more about compromising than abiding by absolutes. Get two people together and they’ll usually have to compromise some — be it about what movie to see or whether to increase employment through deficit spending or direct job creation.

Liberal absolutes have many virtues, should be encouraged, and may be manifested. But they may not. Thus we should hedge our idealistic bets, and at least register to vote (by April 13 in Buncombe County, at the Board of Elections, across from the downtown YMCA) and make the tough compromises necessary to decide who to vote for (on May 8 in the primary, and Nov. 6 in the general election). If we don’t vote, our next representatives may force every woman to give birth to about 10 children and send them to kill and die for oil, all while developing almost every acre of our natural, mountain paradise.

— Bill Branyon
Asheville

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