At the recent CPAC Women’s Breakfast, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R.–Col.) announced that she was about to become a 36-year-old grandmother. Her son, 17, would be a father. She was delighted. Hello, human nature. 

Boebert’s welcoming a future grandson, the child of two teenagers, strikes me as expressing more of liberal than conservative thinking. Yes, her conservativism came through in her being happy that the young parents-to-be chose not to abort the child. Boebert and her husband will provide financial and other assistance. 

You’d think conservatives would frown on teens having children. Teens not only lack financial resources but also full development of their frontal lobes, which involves decision making. Yet Boebert is holding her son and the girl close rather than citing some biblical verse to condemn them and shoo them away. That’s good.

But Boebert also seems engaged in cultural dog whistling: “If you look at teen pregnancy rates throughout the nation, well, they’re the same, [in] rural and urban areas. However, abortion rates are higher in urban areas. Teen moms’ rates are higher in rural conservative areas, because they understand the preciousness of a life that it’s about to be born.”

Boebert, pro-life (her choice), is crowing that more white teens will have their babies than black and brown teens. This could enable America’s shrinking white population—projected to be less than 50 percent in a few decades—to cling to majority status.

Nonetheless, Boebert has demonstrated something of which she may not be aware but very much matters in today’s culturally torn United States. Americans of all political stripes share a common humanity. Boebert may take a white-nationalist perspective regarding adding another white baby to the nation, but she maintains a liberal attitude towards teen mothers—and fathers.

Talk of black and brown versus white misses the mark. Real life encompasses areas best described as gray. Sadly, what people condemn in others they often consider okay for themselves. Hypocritical? Yes. Also telling. People may stake out a political/cultural position but find it difficult to uphold in every instance when it involves self-interest.

Tossing around labels like “us” and “them” is easy, as is seeing all issues in binary black-and-white. But human nature—hence the world—is more complex. For example, fiscal conservatives in Congress want to bring home the bacon to their states or districts while limiting federal funding in other states and districts. For that matter, some openly anti-gay conservatives are closeted gays.

Fox News sets a prime example of dual public/private messaging. Fox hosts, such as Tucker Carlson, publicly maintained that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Why? They feared angering—and losing—their audience. Privately, they exchanged texts recognizing Joe Biden’s win. Rupert Murdoch, who owns Fox, texted, “It’s all about the green.”

We shackle ourselves by clinging to labels and refusing to take positions outside the party line. Fortunately, some people take conservative fiscal positions but liberal positions on individuals’ rights to be who they are. Others support liberal government spending yet take conservative approaches to such issues as out-of-wedlock and teen births while not casting parents and babies aside. This is healthy.

It’s time we stopped fixating on labels and unshackled ourselves. Americans might find taking positions issue by issue liberating. It’s also the key to making democracy work.  

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