Once, in the land of Los Angeles, I was engaged to a Hollywood liberal. Alec Baldwin was his name and the time was 1982 to 1983. Alec was charming and funny and quite persuasive. I loved him and consider him a friend today.
The church had already been booked for our wedding, the dress purchased and the invitations addressed when we mutually decided to cancel the wedding. Heartbreak of enormous proportions ensued.
Ironically, politics was not the reason for our split, yet the reason for our split led me, well, both of us, to higher ground. There was a Divine purpose in our relationship and it has positively impacted the way I live my life today.
Political discussion was a challenge, however. When I was in the early stages of dating Alec, I read an article by William Safire. In the article he called for young Republican leaders to step forward and be of service. Enthralled, I called Alec and told him how inspired I was. There was a long pause on the phone. “You’re a Republican?” “Yes,” I responded enthusiastically. He then muttered something along the lines that he would try to not hold it against me.
As a young twenty year old, I sat around dinner tables in Hollywood and experienced zero tolerance for any of my beliefs or political perspectives. I liken it to being put in a corner wearing a dunce hat. (I want to make clear that I am not singling out Alec in this regard.)
I silently observed that I believed in American exceptionalism, they did not. I believed that though we may not be a perfect country, in Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s words, “show me a better one.” They believed in better ones. (Interestingly, they did not move.) I loved Ronald Reagan. They hated Ronald Reagan. I was the proud daughter of a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. They ran to Jane Fonda’s parties. They were part of the hip crowd. I stayed home – alone.
I learned that their viewpoints were different from my own. I could accept this. I could not accept their intolerance for another person’s point of view. It was blatantly wrong. I walked away from those years a fighter for justice with a keen ear for hypocrisy. My lens became wide angle instead of zoom.
I believe now, as I did as a twenty year old in Hollywood, that tyranny is the biggest threat to our inherent, unalienable rights. My freedom of political speech was shut down during years amongst the Hollywood elite. Thus, I realized something of intrinsic value that reached beyond party politics–the necessity for reason and that learned reason is more powerful than dogmatic rhetoric.
The art of reason is the vital component of freedom of speech and it is our responsibility to maintain it. In order to reason we must be willing to hear other points of view, to have the confidence to not be threatened by them and to be willing to have a tempered and reasonable debate both in our national politics and within our own personal spheres.
All the dogmatic, hot, and insensitive jargon spewed forth by ideologues in both parties smothers the flame of liberty and darkens our horizons. Prejudiced passions muddy the water within the political parties themselves. Often judgments and statistics, which defy reason, are thrown out into the general populace with no thought of the impact on the individual human being. And it is the individual human being who votes–not statistics. All Americans are entitled to their point of view.
As I reflect on my twenties with Alec and Hollywood, I recognize that nothing has really changed. We are still a society that often balks at or stifles reason. Reason is missing in our nation’s schools and colleges, reason is missing in our culture and reason is missing in our own political discussions–often for the rise of a political party.
We are Americans. May we speak with one another, not at one another. The world is imploding around us, let it be a reminder that it was our founder’s willingness to reason that built the foundation for our liberties. It is upon this reason that our liberties will prevail.
Janine Turner, actress, author, speaker, political pundit, founder of Constituting America. Her new book, A Little Bit Vulnerable on Hollywood, God, Sobriety & Politicsis available for pre-order now and in bookstores September 30.