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Here's Hoping My Children Have Left Feet and Right Feet

A combination of talking to one friend about online dating and another friend about the Daily Kos led me to Act for Love, an online dating site that 'lets you "take action" while "getting action."' To let the site's description speak for itself:

When you use Act For Love, you have access to a network of over 1,000,000 personals via our network of Spring Street partners (including very cool folks like Salon, The Onion, the Village Voice, etc.). So yes, your "one in a million" match is out there. And if you want to search just for fellow activists, you can do that too -- just check "Search only profiles from Act For Love" under "Advanced Search."

Now, by 'fellow activists,' I think we can assume that Act for Love means 'left wing activists.' Certainly, Spring Street used to provide personals for 'cool folks' like The Economist, and I'm sure they're in cahoots with other rightish websites as well, but they aren't mentioned. Furthermore, a look at the list of projects supported isn't exactly screaming bipartisanship.

I'm sure you're asking, "So what? There's a dating site for young and sexually active liberals. This, Tony, shouldn't be worth your time. Go read Con Law."

Well, yes, I should. But that last statement--"if you want to search just for fellow activists"--troubles me. Try as I might, I can't see limiting myself in a choice of bed partner, lover, wife, life-partner or whatever by political affiliation. And I sort of wonder about people who do.

Maybe going to a wedding recently has got me thinking about things more carefully, but I can't think of a single reason to check such a box. I can say without hesitation that I've dated across the political divide more times than I've stayed on my own turf, and it's generally been emotionally and intellectually satisfying. Not only that, but I think it hones tolerance in one of the few ways that's really important: it forces you to divide your feelings about a person from your feelings about their ideals.

There's a good reason that I rarely insult Democrats--either as a whole, or specific Democratic political candidates--by calling them stupid, pathetic, or anything of the sort. I can't do it without also implying that I've loved people too stupid to vote for such a candidate. Since I've shared beds with some hard-core lefties, such accusations that the left has more than its share of morons suggests I have a strong taste for idiots as bed partners. I'll always be happy to attack their positions--especially the ones that are stupid. But it's perfectly possible for smart men and women to hold stupid opinions, as anybody who's kept a diary for ten years and glances back at it occasionally can tell you. Show me a Republican married to a Democrat and I'll show you someone who's learned the fine art of diplomacy. [1]

Anyway, Reg State reading still awaits tonight and I have other things to consider. But if any of my readers decide to click through to Act for Love and sample the world of online-dating, please don't check that box. After all, even after Lawrence v. Texas, the one place that consenting couples of any sexuality are not allowed to share is the voting booth.

UPDATE: The Class Maledictorian takes issue with my point by making it: "I venture to say that most of the people on Act for Love don't just think that Republicans are wrong, but that they are bad: a morally deluded or intentionally wicked force for evil." She concludes with: "If a very sweet and intelligent person holds morally repugnant beliefs, I think they should be held accountable for those beliefs instead of given a pass because they are "nice." Of course, not everyone ties goodness to acceptance of proper philosophical positions as I do."

But as flattering as it is to belong to the 'evil' party, a dogmatic view that a right-wing activist must be not only incorrect but morally suspect is rather what I object to. Furthermore, let's be clear what we're talking about here: people who believe that they should limit their dating pool on an online dating service to people who affirmatively support their political positions. By clicking that box, one is likely eliminating anyone who isn't a left wing activist, even if they're politically neutral. [2] This would seem to take those checking that box outside the realm of the tolerant and into the realm of the dogmatic: those for whom politics has become a religion, and a particularly fundamentalist one at that.

[1]: Where diplomacy is defined as 'the art of telling someone to go to hell in such a way as they look forward to the trip.'

[2]: Actually, they're also excluding any left-wing activists who have signed up through The Onion, Nerve.com, etc., which given the left-wing tilt of that area of the internet seems a bad dating strategy altogether...


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Here's Hoping My Children Have Left Feet and Right Feet:

» Humor-- good or bad. from Crescat Sententia
Anthony Rickey has a pair of very interesting posts up, extolling the virtues of love that crosses party lines, and saying that "A crowd of people whose politics are driven by hatred, no matter how smart they are, are simply... [Read More]

» Dating Outside the (Ballot) Box from Class Maledictorian
Is dating your political opponents a good idea? Short term, maybe. Long term, no. [Read More]

» Love across the aisle from Crescat Sententia
Earlier I expressed near-total agreement with a post by Anthony Rickey, complaining about people who categorically refuse to date people of differing political persuasions. The Class Maledictorian begs to differ, suggesting Mr. Rickey is underestimatin... [Read More]

» Love and Politics from Diotima
There's an interesting discussion going on about whether or not one ought to date across political lines (it's here, here, here, here, here, and here). The darling boyfriend and I actually discussed this at some length when we started dating (I can't... [Read More]


Now, by 'fellow activists,' I think we can assume that Act for Love means 'left wing activists.' You're joking, right ? The service is called Act for Love. Search for Activists... see what they did there ?
Not sure I get the point there, Bateleur. Yes, it's a site for activists, and their marketing department was clever. But a quick look at the site reveals that it's not targetted at those of a conservative persuasion. Or am I missing something?
I can certainly understand people choosing not to date folks of a radically different political persuasion. In fact, every single female I know has such a rule--they don't date anti-abortion men.
I think I can understand folks choosing not to date those with opposite political beliefs. Indeed, practically every female friend of mine has just such a rule--not one of them dates anti-choice men.
ack, for whatever reason, i always seem to encounter difficulties seeing my comments go through--only, of course, for them invariably to show up a minute later, after I've added a second essentially identical one. Sorry for that...
My best friend is very conservative. Sometimes he drives me up the wall. Commonality is important, but so is stuff to argue about. As long as you don't get flaming mad about it. I don't think I could date someone that was a particular type of religion, but this isn't because I have an inherent problem with religious men but more like--you know, you eat spaghetti and get sick and you never want meatballs again in your life. Even if the meatball is perfectly good. Maybe that's how some people feel about politics.
At what point do someone�s political and philosophical positions become morally suspect? While you are less eager to draw this line than those picky folks on Act for Love, I dare say you draw it at some point. This is all a question of degree of ability to tolerate vast gulfs in belief. Most people will put up with differences in opinion from friends that they would reject in a lover (such as the aforementioned abortion issue). Also, the more radical one�s political beliefs, the less likely cross-party relationships are to work. A Republican could be happily married to a Democrat, but could a Libertarian make it work with a Green or Socialist? How successful would the average Act for Love person be with a moderate Dem? Perhaps the self selection is to prevent being rejected by others on the basis of one�s left wing activism. �Only when like marries like can there be any happiness.� � Gone With the Wind
Amber: While I agree that the line has to be drawn somewhere, the question can usefully be rephrased, "At what point does that line-drawing become a sign of intolerance?" I think I can say without fear that imputing every member of the opposing political party with being morally suspect is generally regarded as an unhealthy attitude, and odd for a website that counts 'tolerance' among its cardinal virtues. Further, the exclusion here is even narrower than 'across a political gulf.' True, not everyone in an online personal posts their political views, so by making a wider search you're exposing yourself to a (very small) risk that you'll run across a Republican. But you're also excluding lots of people who may be activists but signed on through, say, Nerve. That's aversion on an almost sociopathic level...
i think what bateleur was saying is that by "activists", they really only meant users of the "act for love" site, not political activists. but while you say that you can't see yourself discriminating in romance, i can't see myself dating someone who doesn't at least somewhat agree with my leftist tendencies. especially on feminism. but sharing with my partner goals for changing the world is a fundamental part of each relationship that i've ever had. and i expect it to be in the future.
Monica: If that's what he means, then while I take the meaning, the argument still stands, in that 'Activists' would be left-wing activists. But I would think that if they meant to do that intentionally, they'd have capitalized 'activist' (as Bateleur does). The question, I suppose, isn't whether you'd 'see yourself dating' someone like that, but rather if the opportunity presented itself, would you turn down someone who was otherwise compatible but disagreed politically? Because that's what searching with the check box clicked amounts to. And as I've pointed out, it actually amounts to more than that, because not all activists on Spring Street will be 'Activists.' What you're actually doing is making certain you'll never meet a Republican through the network, at the expense of quite a few fellow-travellers...
A. Rickey, If all you're talking about is a partner to share a necking session or even a carefully protected night, I suppose political and/or religious affiliation won't be that important. HOWEVER, when you contemplate the person with whom you would like to share your life and raise children, it's exceptionally short sighted to NOT recognize that your core values should probably be fairly well aligned. For example, if you happen to know that a fertalized human egg has it's own (complete and human) genetic code and meets the traditional tests for life, and find the taking of life on a whim to be morally abhorant, you will grieve youself tremendously if your girlfriend/wife/etc. doesn't want to be bothered by your child, and doesn't think your feelings on the issue mean one thing in the matter. You will have recklessly created a life with someone who you knew you could not trust to not kill that human life. On the other hand, if your political/religious leanings are not so pronounced as to direct your actions, and therefore are really just preferences and not beliefs, then I suppose you can hook-up with anybody of any leaning. The point is that being selective in choosing your spouse on terms including "core value issues" is not "intollerant" so much as respectful of yourself, your potential spouse, and your children, should there be any. If you have a household with parents who diverge significantly you probably won't teach the child so much about the value of tollerance as you will that you don't bother to let your beliefs affect your actions. Of course, maybe that's just me. I've been married for over a decade, my parents have been married for about 35 years, and the same for my in-laws, and each couple mentioned shares core beliefs including the religious imperitive of preserving marriage. Therefore, keeping my political preferences out of choice in bed-partners is not an issue that will narrow my options. Do as you see fit. You are a law student, so put your intellect to work on this one. Do you think it is a bright idea to link yourself to someone who has drastically different core values from a long-term persepctive? Remember also: As a guy, you don't really have a choice if the female decides to make it a long-term committment, if you know what I mean. Do you imagine that a couple with significantly divergent core values will be able to (1) stay together to raise a family, and (2) impart anything other than moral uncertainty and contempt to their children?
Bronson: Again, let's take a look at the action we're contemplating. Nothing in the article above deals with whether there is no reason whatsoever not to date across party lines. The question is whether it's wise to never to take the risk that you might--just might--meet someone whose other characteristics are enough to outweigh party line issues. I'm not saying that two people with clearly divergent values on core issues should--if those issues are of primary importance to them--date anyway, although I actually think they might learn something. But I don't think it's wise to take out any risk of meeting someone who might disagree with me on those issues, anyway. Do I think that a couple with significantly different core values can have a valuable and long-term relationship, including marriage? So long as they share a core value of respect, yes. And they can impart much more than moral uncertainty to their children, who will not only get a full education in morality but an introduction to more than one point of view. Perhaps that's a foolish hope, but you see, I'm not one of those who thinks my political opponents are evil, or that they have no moral teachings to impart, even if they're ones I disagree with. Further, most of the hard-core separatists above focus on one issue, which is the logical one: abortion. But even this isn't insurmountable. First of all, opinions on abortion are variable in the extreme, and don't necessarily fall into a pro/con camp. Many people approve of the right to an abortion, but wouldn't want to have one themselves, for instance. So long as both partners know what each other believes, they can agree to respect that. In the example given above, for instance, a couple who love each other, even though the man is pro-life and the woman pro-choice, might agree that in their case if the woman were to get pregnant she would carry the child to term. So long as both sides love and trust each other, that should be a sufficient compromise to allow a caring relationship irrespective of a difference in political views. Of course, if you believe that you're firmly right, and that your opponents have no moral position on which they can rationally stand--if, you consider your opponents to be not only mistaken, but actually bad people--then such a compromise cannot stand. But that is precisely the attitude with which I would take issue. Yes, there are some positions so horrible that I don't think that honorable people may reasonable disagree upon them, but there is no rational instance of that line for which Act For Love's check box would not be grossly overinclusive. [I should note, however, that I'm mostly arguing marketing here. That check-box exists on all Spring Street sites, so far as I know, and is part of a standard implementation. I couldn't even guarantee that Act For Love could get rid of it if it wanted to do so. The functionality itself isn't the issue, it's the description of its supposed usefulness.]
You say that the people in question are *never* taking the risk they might meet someone of the opposite party and are averse on a near sociopathic level, but consider that people of a particular uncommon political persuasion are less likely to run across like minded folks in their day to day interactions than might otherwise be the case. It's likely that Act for Lov-ers meet tons of moderates and even Republicans at bars, work, etc. If you view this as a supplement to traditional interactions, not a substitute, the concern about limiting tolerance becomes unnecessary.
Sheesh. It takes all sorts 'nuff said. M
Mr. Rickey, "On the other hand, if your political/religious leanings are not so pronounced as to direct your actions, and therefore are really just preferences and not beliefs, then I suppose you can hook-up with anybody of any leaning." The central assumption of my posting above was that political views are reflective of core values. This may or may not be true in an individual instance. It is quite possible to believe that someone is seriously mistaken, and possibly self-deluded, without thinking that they "are evil." "Doing Evil" is far too easy and essentially human. "Being Evil" would, in my mind, involve (at least) recognizing the wrongness of an action and choosing to do it anyway, and that may not be indicitive of a total lack of morality. If your CORE moral/ethical/religious convictions are not the sort that you feel need to *necessarily* direct your actions, but rather, just hint at a direction, then there is no strong reason to choose a mate of any particular political persuasion. I don't mean this as a criticism of you, but it sounds as if you *like* the moral foundation to be found on the right side of the political isle, but that you are not personally invested in that foundation. More likely, you appreciate the fruits of moral foundation on the right (economic propsterity, individual liberty, personal responsibility, etc.), but perhaps believe that those fruits are not necessarily the RESULT of that moral foundation. This is fairly common, especially among the 16-35 year old crowd. I would call this distinct from conservativism... perhaps "informed moral pragmatism." Ann informed moral pragmatist can say "I'm pro-life" and then couple with someone who claims to be "pro-choice" so long as that person's child is not aborted... The PERSONAL EFFECT, in that family, is indistinguishable from "pro-life," so the "pro-life" moral pragmatist can feel OK. To someone who buys into the moral foundation that "life" and "innocence" themselves are foundational moral imperitives, there can be no (satisfying) long-term coupling with someone who is of the opinion that the lives of the inconvenient (to be generous, perhaps a better description is that "whim trumps the weak") have no inherent value. And someone who thinks that convenience is a higher moral imperitive than life will probably dislike feeling constantly judged by someone who strongly believes otherwise. It's simply incorrect to state that someone who has sufficient self-awareness and moral clarity to discriminate in the choice of partner/spouse on the basis of actions that often spring from core values will never come into contact with . In our daily lives we come into contact with all sorts of people with all sorts of moral perspectives on many different issues. It think it takes a special, and admirable, self-control to choose to NOT be blinded by the various attractive qualities of people with whom you simply cannot share core values that you try to keep central in your life. Be that on the right or left of the political spectrum, choosing to limit the universe of potential mates based on core values shows a strength of character and willingness to accept the costs of your beliefs. On the other hand, if you have derived your political affiliation by little more than geneology, then, you're right, intentionally limiting your options is foolish (or potentially pragmatic). [I should note, as if you couldn't tell, that I am not speaking of anything that is remotely specific to Act For Love. I'm speaking only of the underlying reasons that probably drive the mate-selection tendencies that seemed to bother you.]
Hi, I was hoping you might know of away to sumamrize the opinions put forth in Lawrence v. Texas. Daniel
I believe that I am a reasonable person, but I do not beleive, for instance, that honorable people can take a reasoned stance against gay marriage, and would never align myself with someone that did.

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