February 18, 2014

Misty Watson: So what if I’m a liberal?

Misty Watson

— So I’ve been labeled a liberal now apparently.

I’m not surprised, but I prefer the term modern-day hippie — if we have to slap a label on me.

The word liberal is almost used like a dirty word or a slam. So is conservative. Those words are becoming pejoratives more than just a description of a person’s views.

If you say liberal and conservative it often conjures up images of extremists. Not all liberals are Bill Mahers or Michael Moores. Not all conservatives are Sarah Palins or Rush Limbaughs. (Thank goodness on both accounts, right?)

There’s a lot of stereotypes associated with each.

Liberals: drive fuel-efficient cars, live off welfare, never touched a gun, wear skinny jeans and eat Nutella (oh wait, that’s hipsters), among other things.

Conservatives: are Bible-thumpers, are gun enthusiasts, are either a rich white man or a redneck, grow long beards and wear camo (oh wait, that’s the “Duck Dynasty” cast), among other things.

I drive a fuel-efficient car, I’m not trying to take away anyone’s right to carry a gun, I believe quite literally in the Bible and I’ve had some type of job since I was 15.

I think I am labeled a liberal because I spout off lines about loving each other, even if we don’t agree. Or because I believe in the freedom to live and believe whatever you want, even if we don’t agree.

I find that most often people support the concept of freedom right up until that means freedom for someone who doesn’t share the same belief. And when people want to talk about the hot topics, they mostly just want to tell you why they’re right and you’re wrong. It’s not a conversation about understanding the other point of view.

Then there’s the misconception that liberals only surround themselves with other liberals while conservatives only surround themselves with other conservatives, as if those two words define our entire sense of self.

My parents and my husband are more conservative than me. My maternal grandfather was the biggest conservative I’ve ever met in my life. They somehow find it in their hearts to love me anyway.

Though some days I’m not sure where that love comes from, it has very little to do with me being a hippie. It has more to do with my hotheadedness, stubbornness, desire for perfectionism and my habit of trying to “lead” (i.e. boss) people a bit too often.

So what if I’m a liberal? That’s only a tiny portion of the mixture that makes up who I am.

I’m also a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, etc. I love old books — especially the way they smell — but also reading and discussing them, vinyl records, singing, chocolate, spending time with my family (most days), hiking, running, being outside, snow, butterflies, penguins, learning about astronomy, local history, talking to veterans, writing, taking pictures, cooking and sharing my recipes, watching and playing along with “Jeopardy!,” laughing, painting, making handprint art with my daughter, and did I mention chocolate?

Murray County native Misty Watson is a staff writer and photographer for The Daily Citizen. You can contact her at mistywatson@daltoncitizen.com; facebook.com/MistyWatsonDCN; or on Twitter, @mistydwatson.