The Princess met a nice young man through a computer dating service. All seemed well, until she met his parents and discovered that they were staunch conservatives. Her parents were aghast.
Does political orientation really matter in a relationship?
There are several examples in my own experience. The Poster Queen and her husband cancel out each other’s votes at every election, since she is a Yellow Dog Democrat and he an equally straight-party Republican, and they have been married for 34 years. They just don’t ever discuss politics. The Empress and That Man are in complete political agreement. They discuss it a lot. I am in agreement with them, too, so we all discuss it a lot — unless there are other people listening, in which case we try to be diplomatic.
My husband is a royalist who believes that most political conflicts are best handled through magic (you can read about a typical political situation in his country here). This is not relevant for U.S. politics. Here, he tends to go with generalized compassion. Clinton, he felt, could not be faulted for being unfaithful to his wife when he had so many opportunities — any man might have done the same. Bush, he felt, was cowardly to run and hide after the Trade Center attack, but anyone might be frightened and do the same. We do talk about politics a lot at our house, but there are so few points of connection in our views that we cannot be said to agree or disagree. I think he feels that we in the U.S. are unfortunate to have mere humans in our government, with no superhuman powers or connections with the gods or anything, but since that’s what we’ve got it’s no wonder that they behave the way they do.
The Princess claims that she and her beau don’t really have strong feelings about politics at all. They are able to overlook it. Indeed, she didn’t even know it might be an issue until she met his parents. So how serious a problem could it be?
But some of the things that we call “politics” are not about whom you choose at the polls. Some are about moral values. For example, a fellow named Phelan was talking on NPR’s “Fresh Air” the other day. The subject was cars and fuel efficiency. In discussing the despoliation of the Alaskan wilderness for oil, he said that the oil “has to come from somewhere,” so that for us in the U.S. to refuse to despoil our own wilderness only meant that someone else’s wilderness would be despoiled. It would simply, he said, be a matter of “outsourcing” the destruction. He said sadly that he wished people would understand that.
Now our government’s energy policy has nothing to do with conservation and everything to do with increased profits for the oil companies. Exxon has surpassed Wal-Mart in sales and profits now, car companies can side-step all requirements for fuel efficiency by making their vehicles heavier, and the only change is that prices keep rising. Our government is even making a bit of hay with that — since we are all forced to spend more on fuel and the price rises being caused by increased fuel costs, our spending has risen, and the government has identified this as “increased consumer confidence.”
But Mr. Phelan is assuming that the continued use of fossil fuels at the current rate is inevitable. Conservation, use of alternative energy sources — these things are not even on his radar.
Is this a political decision on his part, given that approaches to environmental issues often follow party lines? A moral one, supposing that one might feel responsibility to future generations? A religious one, given that stewardship of the earth is part of several of the world’s major religions?
And could he be happy with a wife who did not share his views? Insofar as politics is about individuals and governments, it might be as non-threatening to family harmony as differing tastes in music. But shared values are a basic of happy relationships.
Something to ponder. The real news, of course, is that The Princess actually found her beau through a computer dating service. Consider it anecdotal evidence that this method can work.
Ah, it is the right front of Brooklyn. Astute observers will note that it looks just like the left front. And not much different from the back of Brooklyn. Can we stretch this to a metaphor and suggest that sameness is dull, and differing values can be good for a relationship? Nah, widely divergent ribbing on a track jacket would look silly.
These, O knitters, are my antique needles with the steel cables. You may never have the opportunity to knit with any yourself, and it isn’t worth seeking out such an opportunity. Modern nylon cables (and whatever has supplanted nylon, since I have not been paying attention) are much smoother.