These can be politically touchy times in the United States, as our leaders bark at each other about judicial appointments, Social Security reform, immigration policy, and lots of other issues.
Already some see the nation fracturing into warring camps -- so-called "blue states," mostly along the east and west coasts, that voted Democratic in last year's presidential election; and "red states," in the vast middle, that voted Republican. And, fed by right- and left-wing radio talk shows, political shouting matches on television, and vicious e-mail slurs of President Bush and his predecessor, Bill Clinton -- everyday conversation can get testy as well.
One person insists big government's to blame for the nation's woes. No way, replies another. It's big corporations. And off they go.
But heated political discourse can sometimes be amusing. Consider the following story, which is absolutely true:
The other day, a friend of ours -- we'll call him Charlie -- got to complaining to another friend -- we'll call her Grace -- about American culture. "Whatever happened to values?" he sputtered. Grace agreed completely. She grumbled about sexual decadence, sliding educational standards, and parental permissiveness. Both of them growled about a loss of individual freedoms at the hands of so-called "special interests."
Hearing the commotion, another friend walked up and asked what in the world they were talking about.
"Oh," Charlie replied, "we were just grousing about liberals."
A look of shock came over Grace's face. Said she with a gasp, "I thought we were talking about conservatives!!"