Our kids’ extracurricular activity was at a location not near anyone’s house. It was also a long one, clocking in at two hours. While theoretically the parents could have gone home after dropping off the kids and returned to pick them up, a husband and wife had a better idea: Why don’t we go grab a beer and some queso at the Mexican restaurant just a few blocks away?
While we’d interacted a handful of times, we’d never hung out as adults. It had always been as parents, which meant our impromptu gathering involved normal getting-to-know-you pleasantries. When it was my turn to answer the question about what I do, I thought for a moment and admitted I’m currently between things when it comes to daytime employment, adding, “Plus, I’m publicly a right-wing nut job, which likely doesn’t help me in the current climate.”
I wasn’t sure how they’d respond, as many of us who work, or in my case worked, in more stereotypical corporate environments have learned to keep our mouths shut. There’s a prevailing sentiment amongst “right thinking” (which isn’t to say right politically) people that everyone they interact with thinks just like them. The deplorables are elsewhere. So, they say things they consider unobjectionable and we let them go, not wanting to risk cancellation.
At this juncture, I must add that I was not canceled from my previous job, sadly, as that may have been helpful to me. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? Maybe next time.
Nor was I canceled at the Mexican joint. Instead, it was as if I’d just given the secret handshake, I’d spoken the password, I’d unlocked the message with my Little Orphan Annie decoder ring. Turns out, despite assumptions, and we all know the thing about assumptions, we were in the trust tree, able to speak freely. And we did, up until we returned to the facility just in time to retrieve our kids.
Real Life Isn’t the Internet
There’s a reason we start by not speaking freely, of course, and it’s mostly because the internet ruins things. People spout off in ways they wouldn’t otherwise. There’s a very low risk they’re going to get slugged in the mouth through their screen. Opinions crystallize in excessive directions, like defunding the police or suggesting parents don’t have a say in their kids’ educations or that boys and girls are interchangeable.
Add to that that social media, especially Twitter, has a huge bias toward left-wingers, and it seems like our numbers are smaller than they are. It skews our perception about what sorts of opinions people actually hold.
Now, I have no idea who these parents voted for or what party they’re registered with. It wasn’t a purity test moment that any of us passed. Nor am I suggesting we limit ourselves to ideological bubbles based on which team we’re rooting against. (There are people who actually like one of the parties, but for the most part, we just dislike one of them less than we dislike the other. As to people who actually like politicians, I’ve got a Reagan quip for you, but you probably wouldn’t laugh because of who said it.)
The conversation that followed me outing myself was mostly about things that we as parents are concerned with, whether it be female role models the media tries to push or Covid policies. Suffice it to say, no one at the table ever had an “I’m With Her” sticker or wants kids in masks.
I’ve also had such conversations with those who dislike Republicans more, though those tended to lean more toward confession than philosophical discussion. Apparently, I’m a safe space for progressives in which they can admit their heterodox opinions.
But life is not the internet, as my experience shows, and we should all be clamoring for more of these real-life conversations, ones that require us to be honest about what we believe. Well, most of what we believe. It’s probably best not to lead with things like “If we’re talking equity, how come the average person doesn’t have a tank or even a rocket launcher since the government does?”
That’s obviously just something I made up and not a real opinion I hold, by the way. We can discuss it more, though, after a few more trips to the cantina.
Most People Aren’t Really on the Internet
In my case, as a contributor to this online publication, I sometimes assume that I’m more of a known quantity. In terms of job applications, that’s likely true as The Federalist is at the top of my résumé. I’d rather be blackballed by closed-minded organizations than quietly be a mercenary for one that loudly wants to make the country my kids will inherit worse. As I’m just one man, this will have no effect, but also it really isn’t hard to Google me, so being upfront is a time-saver.
But most people you encounter, whether it’s at the annual HOA meeting or through your kids’ extracurricular activities, aren’t going to Google you on a whim. If they do, you should probably avoid them regardless of what you agree on or what they were able to find. Which isn’t to say you should turn your politics into your personality. Too many people do that already.
We do need to stop censoring ourselves, though. We can’t be afraid to admit what we believe, especially when a surprising amount of people privately agree with us. Because the sooner we all reclaim our voices, loudly and proudly, the better off we’ll be as a people.
And if anyone gives you grief for doing so, for entertaining wrongthink, just tell them you’re living your truth. They’re not allowed to argue with that.