To the editor:
I have a good friend who's an ardent Democrat. He and I debate politics good-naturedly, even though our arguments have been a little edgy lately. I was with him the other day and said to him, "I guess you're going to vote for Obama."
"Certainly," he answered confidently.
"What if he were a Republican? Would you vote for him then?"
"Of course not," he answered, with equal confidence.
"Then you are guilty of partyism," I told him.
"Partyism?" he asked, somewhat surprised.
"Certainly. We agree that judging a person by the color of his skin is racism, which has no place in the decision to vote for somebody. I put it to you that voting for a person simply based on the party he chooses is equally wrong. Racism biases a voting choice negatively; partyism can bias a vote in a positive sense. Neither attitude should determine a vote. When we vote for a candidate, we should judge that person as somebody alone in the world, stripped of all labels, all allegiances, and all accidents of birth. What is important is only the candidate's personal history and accomplishments - his or her virtues and sins."
He thought about this for a minute, then said, "Well, anyway, I'm still voting for Obama."
"Excellent.," I laughed, "you are an American enjoying an American's privileges, driven by the courage of your convictions, regardless of the cost to the republic."
"Oh, buzz off," he muttered, with a grin.
We parted amicably. However, as he went away, I thought I caught a glimpse of a different expression on his face - a kind of uncertain worry, like that on the face of a man who has just realized he has lost his wallet.