Bleeding Heart

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Please help me get through 2012. I narrowly survived the primary
battle here in Florida. I confess to being a liberal Democrat who lives
in a sea of conservative Republicans. I was nearly blinded by the lawn
signs in my neighborhood last month, and virtually had to stop
listening to the radio to spare myself the cascade of distortions,
exaggerations, and outright calumnies that spewed 24/7 from the
airwaves. I know things will settle down eventually but can you give
me some survival strategies for communicating with people who seem
to have no memory about how this country got into the mess we’re in,
what it takes to turn around a huge, complex, and greedy economy
that chews up people and spits them out like industrial fodder for the
machines of the rich, and generally seems to have lost its way about
providing a social safety net for the poor, the needy, the homeless,
and the general masses of folks who live without big bucks in the bank
or even health care.

Bleeding Heart

Dear Bleeding Heart:

My first response was, Don’t bother talking to your neighbors whose
lawn signs you hate. But that’s a cynical attitude that’ll merely help
perpetuate the great divide, the blue vs red hatred about how to fix
what’s wrong with what ails us. Emphasis on us. Because this is one
big interconnected society, economy, even world. I’m reminded to the
Hillel line, when asked to summarize all of Torah for his Roman
torturers (supposedly said standing on one foot, but midrash can
exaggerate): What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor.
That’s the Golden Rule on its head with the same punch line. Don’t
blare your liberal talk radio out the windows at their lawn signs, but
consider trying constructive dialogue.

I’m assuming you have other liberal friends. If you do, consider
getting together with a handful of them and an equal number of
conservatives to hold issues forums. You can do it now or once the
nominees are final. Really focus on the facts and figures. Clearly they’ll
compete, but you may win over someone. You don’t sound vulnerable
to poaching by conservatives so I think your bleeding heart is safe.
The only other alternative: vote by mail and stick your head under a
pillow for the next ten months.