OP/Ed: As a conservative Independent, in 2021, I prefer to deal with Democrats than people on the Republican side. I have no desire to preach to the choir. Today, I feel the shifting winds, as prominent Democrats like Sheriff Alex Villanueva and rank-and-file voters are fed up of the far left onslaught in the last year or so, from the “defund the police” movement to Critical Race Theory in schools to basic law and order issues (like meth labs in front of elementary schools). We now have enough common ground on issues that effect our everyday lives. Yet, I also cherish the ability to discourse with those who don’t agree with me and see things from a different perspective. Most political partisans do not.
Ideological partisanship is characterized by rigidity. The number one turnoff for me is when someone talks at you and down to you. Political partisans of both stripes will lock you into a conversation, assuming you care as much as they do about a certain issue and talk your ear off until you end up disagreeing with stuff you agreed with, going in. Let’s start with the “defund the police” issue. One side is hyperbolic and will basically yell and scream if you even suggest any gratitude towards the police. The other side is equally alarmist and will witch hunt you if you’re not giving enough deference to the police.
The side that doesn’t get talked about is the side that doesn’t care either way, which is most Californians who haven’t been affected by crime. Expecting someone to be guns ablazing on an issue as much as you are is ridiculous and can be seen as autistic, or at the very least, low EQ. Isn’t that ultimately elitist, the idea that you’re better than others and they must listen to you?
Political partisans also love to overrate their candidates and act like they’re celebrities. No, they’re public servants and work for us. What if I supported Trump but I could care less about the celebrity side of what he did, and I don’t see him as an idol to worship? I certainly disagree with him on many issues. Meanwhile, on the other side, the current governor, Gavin Newsom is under recall and his tone deaf TV ad on “No on Recall” featured political “celebrities” like Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who doesn’t even live in this state. The premise is her opinions matter to Californians. Since the ad has been airing nonstop, polls have actually moved the other direction, confirming to me that the intent of the ad had boomeranged.
Last year, with Proposition 16, the “Yes” side released ads tying their side to now Vice President Kamala Harris and Gavin Newsom, relying on what they perceived as celebrity power. In the end, that was a shallow calculation and “No” won by a landslide. This confirms the Democrats’ reliance on celebrity status is not a winning tactic, and the public cares very little about them.
For decades, it was enough to run against Republicans on hot topic issues like abortion and LGBT rights. But now, with more serious issues like water shortages, wildfires, COVID, schools, businesses and law and order, everything else takes a backburner and people realize the Democrats are thin on solutions. Similarly, when Republicans freak out over election results from last year and drop their support for frontrunner Larry Elder because he said it’s a settled case that Biden is president and he’s’ ready to move on, the hysteria from the conservative base is just ridiculous when even people closest to Trump such as Kellyanne Conway believe the same way. Once again, it’s politically obsessed people who cannot see the big picture.
The fastest growing segment are Independents or No Party Preference voters, who are rejecting the tribal mentality that prevents us from deeper analysis. I am one of those, as I viscerally dislike people in politics. Many in politics are willing to throw away lifelong friendships for immediate gain, citing a noble bigger cause. We saw this happen way too much in recent years.
From the outside, and I have enough of a perspective as an outsider, it is shocking people would act this way. Many things in life are bigger than politics or political movements. Reject political autism and embrace societal integration. We are better than tone-deaf partisans and political creatures whether it’s grassroots wannabes or establishment hacks. There is a bigger world outside hardcore political activists and both parties and their ardent supporters can learn to be human beings again and maybe then, they can attract people without yelling and being caustic. Because the issues do matter: let’s talk about it without taking differences too personally.
About the author: Marc Ang (email@example.com) is the President of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance in Orange County, co-chair of “Recall Gascon Now”, was the Director of Outreach for the “No on 16” campaign, a community organizer in Southern California and the founder of AsianIndustryB2B who specializes in race relations and the minority conservative experience. His book “Minority Retort” will be released in late 2021.