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Cowboys and Socialists

September 6, 2011

This Saturday, a most sacred day, I dressed in head-to-toe red, applied a temporary face tattoo, put a jersey on my eight-month-old and strapped her into a carrying harness for seven hours of college football tailgating. She’s a trooper. But more on that later, this is about a unique tailgating tradition: Alpha Mama and Uncle Ron have a debate.

Uncle Ron is one of my dad’s best friends. He lives a few doors down and tailgates with us every Saturday. It should be noted that he is a true fiscal conservative, more interested in tax reduction than any other GOP talking point. Our debates have become more like a game of friendly-fire comebacks, we both know we won’t change each-others’ minds and we both know I am outnumbered in present company.

This time, all he wanted to talk about was my hero Warren Buffett’s recent tax scandal. He summarized his conservative position with the following: “We’re NOT all in this together.”

As short as American memories are, we are still trapped in the pioneer me-against-the-world mindset.

So there you have it: you either see America as a collection of competing individuals or as a community where each individual contributes to and benefits from its greater success. Even during the most unifying event my state offers – a holiday of enthusiasm, tradition and shotskis – apparently, we are all either cowboys or socialists.


Uncle Ron and I did agree on one thing (the Texas miracle that wasn’t), illegal immigration is hindering job growth and economic mobility. We agreed that the solution is to hold employers accountable for abusing cheap and illegal labor instead of paying fair wages to American workers. Personally, I’d consider outsourcing to be in the same moral realm. Uncle Ron did not see this compromise as a Liberal win, but conservatives equate compromise with loss.


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