The lovely and talented Jane Galt contemplated giving up meat, gave a reason to do it, and being the analytical sort, promptly came up with a fistful of reasons not to do it. There are, I believe, valid points on both sides of this particular issue, but this is not going to be a piece on vegetarianism: it's a piece on romance, of all things, and it stems from a comment to her post, which read as follows:

Are you dating a liberal?

She answered this way:

Short answer: No. And the last time I did date a liberal, it, if anything, drove me farther from the left. I'm contrary like that.

Longer answer: As romantic as it would be to give up meat for someone, this is crazy talk. I was a vegetarian for several years; that's why I flirt with going back to it every time I see something like this. And giving up opinions for someone else is not just crazy; it's undignified.

"Something like this" refers back to the argument in that earlier post. What's interesting to me, though, is the idea of "giving up opinions for someone else": is this even possible?

Inevitably, when you mention couples on opposite sides of the political spectrum, someone will bring up James Carville, a leader in the Clintonista brigades, and Mary Matalin, last seen running a fledgling conservative imprint at Simon & Schuster. If you ask either of them, they'll tell you "We don't talk politics at home," and maybe that's even true, though to me it seems more than a trifle improbable: everybody talks about their work, and these two work in politics. At some point something is going to be said. Perhaps they're just better than most of us at smoothing over the rough spots.

Or it could be something else entirely. The other day I said something to the effect that "While it's not absolutely essential that a couple be on the same page, it will be a lot easier for them if they're at least somewhere in the same chapter." At the time, this struck me as being a couple of ticks short of Actual Wisdom, but the more I think about it, the more sense it seems to make. At the very heart of contemporary politics is the perceived necessity of making a lot of noise about something about which most people don't give a damn; it's precisely for this reason that there's a pair of opposites and a lot of people in between who can't stand either of them. It seems at least plausible to me that Matalin and Carville are on the same page on things which actually matter — home, family, the intangibles of life — and that this offsets their very real differences on the ephemera of the day.

This does not mean, of course, that it's easier for centrists to get dates. (Please note that I'm writing this on a Saturday evening.) And I don't believe, even for an instant, that someone who agrees with me on everything is going to show up; indeed, I have no reason to think that someone who agreed with me on everything would necessarily have any use for me in the first place, since obviously one of us is superfluous.

Besides, if I start thinking too much about politics, I simply remind myself of Jane's Law:

The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out of power are insane.

And then it simply becomes a question of which I'd prefer — and the thought of staying home on Saturday evening becomes rather less of a trial.

The Vent

  24 February 2007

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