Most of us have taken bus rides at one time or another. Whether the school bus, the parking lot shuttle, the cross-town commuter, or the cross-country Greyhound; nearly all of us have some experience with traveling in groups. It’s not always pleasant, either. Public transportation is full of,…well…the public, with all that entails. The loud-talking phone addict. The person who appears not to have bathed since the last election. The exuberant cougher. The extremely friendly person who, with empty seats throughout the bus, plops right down next to you. Sometimes it calls into question your judgment, and you vow NEVER to ride the bus again.
But there always seems to be another compelling reason or circumstance that makes you get back on that bus, even if it’s just for one ride. Because, after all, if you want to get from Point A to Point B, and this is the only option at the time, then it makes sense to suck it up and climb on. It makes sense to overlook the idiosyncrasies of the other people on the bus, find something distracting to do for the journey, and make the best of it.
What works for us in transportation, though, we sometimes forget to apply in politics. Let’s assume that most of us are on the “No War in Syria” bus for the moment, and see who the other passengers are.
Jon Stewart, no friend to the rightward end of the spectrum, seems to be on the bus.
Code Pink, of “Bring Your Vagina to the RNC” fame, seems to be aboard, given their demonstration during Kerry’s testimony in committee this week. (And wasn’t it fabulous the way Senator Rand Paul used Kerry’s words from the Vietnam era against him?)
Moveon.org seems to be along for the ride as well.
Meanwhile, nominally (okay, not even nominal) conservative Senators Graham and McCain (before McCain apparently changed his mind) were off the bus completely, as was Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner. Those bedfellows are almost as strange as the mix of us on the bus. I don’t mind riding the same bus as Medea Benjamin for a while. (But I had better not see any vagina costumes up in here.)
And that’s the thing. Code Pink and their pals are nutburgers, but on this issue, they agree with me. I’d be a fool to change my position just because of the people who find themselves aligned with me. I might re-examine my thinking just to make sure I’m not missing anything, and I will always be open to new information, but my position is my position because I think it’s right, not because of who else believes it. If no one else was on the bus with me, and yet I was right, I should still be on that bus.
And I’d also be a fool if I rejected the help of people who agree with me on an issue, regardless of how many other ways we disagree. I shouldn’t stop them trying to get on the bus when they’re right, too. In fact, I might be able to influence one or two of them on the ride. But that can’t happen if we’re not both on the bus.
The other thing is, I’m not riding around forever with the same people in this bus. People get on in different places; people get off at different destinations as well. I should not expect everyone to get on and off in the same place as I do. And that’s a great thing. I can ride the bus with Medea (or Occupy, or the ACLU) as long as I need to in order to get where we’re going, and then I can part ways with them. I’ll try not to be very rude to them (though it taxes my abilities heavily) and I’ll focus on the task at hand to make the time pass more quickly.
And as soon as we’re at the end of that particular ride, I can get off the bus and on to the next issue.
Preferably with people who don’t smell like patchouli.