This is a project long overdue. There ought to be a space for the more subtle and nuanced thinkers among us, those unafraid to entertain a complex thought now and then, who occasionally feel concern for human beings on the planet less fortunate than ourselves – in other words, liberals – to meet people of the opposite sex who share similar core values.
In my past dating travails, I’ve had the miserable luck of getting involved with a few conservative, business-type gals. Not exactly Ann Coulters, but in the general heartless vicinity. When I recall their blank, glazed expressions while I shared excitedly about one of my progressive projects, projects central to my identity, I still cringe. And yet, I have faith that there must be some American women out there (liberal arts majors, readers of serious fiction, women who instead of neutering their natural sense of caring to become corporate zombies, channel this caring into progressive politics) who have a more European need for dialogue with the men in their lives a tad more complex than, “So who are the Jets playing this weekend?”
Anyone not sure of what I mean by complex dialogue between men and women can check out the newly released DVD collection of Eric Rhomer’s “Six Moral Tales.”
To flush these women out of hiding and connect them with men like myself who might share their interest in art, culture, and progressive ideas, we need to create a new project. Inspired by the joyful transformation of public spaces by artists like Reverend Billy (and his Church of Stop Shopping), and the recent second annual “Art in Odd Places” on the Lower East Side, I’d like to create a space for something truly radical: simple conversation between progressive strangers. Such conversation could lead to romance, but this needn’t be its only goal.
Possibilities for friendship, sharing information, serendipitous coalition-building, or an ephemeral chat that makes a person feel less isolated exist as bonus prizes alongside the chance of finding the next great love of your life.
And for those who say that lefties have plenty of opportunities to meet at their usual rallies and events, I say think again. The noted fragmentation on the left (So you’re a Marxist Humanist? Well screw you, I’m a Humanist Marxist!) creates silent, competitive barriers to connection that can only be broken down when you purposefully frame the meeting as one designed for people to get to know each other.
Notice, if you will, the shy turning away from strangers among liberals during the prelude to a progressive meeting, or the intellectual armor that makes it hard to approach someone at the Moma or Film Forum, and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
So let me reach out to any forward-thinking café or restaurant owners (or people with nice big apartments) to host a mingling opportunity for progressive singles. Since I live in Hudson County, I’ll try to connect with the Grace Church and Victory Hall crowd. But I’ll also extend an invitation to my New York City friends at Judson Church, the Village Independent Democrats, Politics for a Human Community, and We, the World.
My idea is to mix in some music, poetry and prose readings, or short films to give the meeting structure and substance, then allow lots of free time (and cold white wine!) for the magic of spontaneous conversation. Before the unfortunate closure of Drip Café, a remarkably innovative dating space on the Upper West Side, Barbara Streisand had expressed a desire to base a TV show on it. Given Barbara’s unabashed liberal leanings, if anyone knows someone who knows someone, please see to it that she gets this essay!
George Soros, too, might be interested in a project that builds community and brings badly needed joy to dispirited American liberals. – John Bredin
John Bredin is a frequent contributor of the Current. Comments are welcome. Please e-mail: email@example.com.