The one on the right is on the left, and the one in the middle is on the right
I admit, I was pretty much there already. It's grown incredibly wearisome to listen to people being pigeonholed based on party. You like peanut butter, so you must be a liberal, or you like chocolate, so you must be a conservative.
Have Reese's Cups taught us nothing?
And worse, for example, every time there is a shooting the first thing everyone wants to see is the culprit's voter-registration card, so they can begin assigning blame. Yeah, pity about the victims and all, but was the shooter a member of the Tea Party? I knew it!
It's the person who matters, not the party affiliation; we all know good liberals and bad liberals, good conservatives and bad. There are a few wild-eyed loons on both sides for whom political affiliation is the driving factor in their lives. But it's OK. We know who they are and avoid them as best we can. We don't hate them, we feel sorry for them, as we would for someone who has an airline seat next to Joan Rivers.
For most normal people, politics is just one small part of who they are as a whole.
And that's a good thing, because the liberal/conservative flow chart has just become too complex for rational people to follow. For Exhibit A, I turn to Wikileaks.
The basic facts are relatively clear: Julian Assange, Wikileaks Creep in Residence, releases a top-secret sheaf of government papers allegedly fed to him by Bradley Manning, who is now in a maximum security prison and being forced to sleep without underpants.
The military says this is for his personal safety, which sounds less like a real concern than it does a verse out of Alice's Restaurant: "And he took out the toilet paper so I couldn't bend the bars, roll the toilet paper out the window, slide down the roll and have an escape...."
I hadn't thought about this in political terms, but apparently everyone else has. I would have assumed that conservatives would have sided with the individual against big government, and liberals would have sided with big government against the little guy.
But apparently I am wrong. A Washington Post column this week calls Manning "a hero of the left," while the right sees him as a "traitor."
Really? A traitor to whom, Middle Eastern dictators whose excesses were fingered by Wikileaks? Well, yes, says the right. Those guys were tyrants, but they were our tyrants.
But I thought that the right .... And that's true, then this must mean that the left ....
That would be correct. Somehow the left is not taking its typical stance that the establishment is always correct, and the government exists to tell us children what we need to know, while withholding from us what we don't.
So how did we get here? If we can't even get any consistency out of our ideologues, it might just be time to pack it in and abolish parties altogether.
Wait, did I say that? It sounds like too intelligent and workable an idea for me to have thought up on my own.
Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tune in to the Rowland Rant on www.herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.