Welcome! You’re reading the very FIRST “Southpaw” column, the continuing adventures of a social and political ‘leftie’ living in a predominantly ‘rightie’ world.
Yep, the T-A now has a liberal column. But I wouldn’t worry too much, righties; the odds of this newspaper becoming an official organ of the Communist Party anytime soon are even lower than the odds of seeing an Apple iPhone product placement in the upcoming season of “Game of Thrones.” So take a breath — or as I’ve so often seen on rightie signs at leftie events: “Suck it up, buttercup!”
A bit of bio: I was born in the Bay Area at the tail end of the Baby Boom generation and raised Catholic; even attended a Jesuit university. Fast forward what feels like a thousand years ago and ten minutes ago at the same time to when my wife and I settled here in the 80s. We raised two kids in this valley, both of whom have recently graduated with honors from CSU San Marcos. I’ve always resisted writing a political column in the past because of concerns over what the kids might run into at school. Probably nothing, but parents worry. But that was then. You should see our boy. He can take care of himself. And his sister’s even tougher.
My grandfather was a Swiss stonemason who immigrated to this country to help rebuild San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake and fire. Aqualino — or Joe as he was called — was a carry-me-out-in-a-box Democrat. An FDR Democrat. And he taught me to revere this nation and the power of a founding idea strong enough to not merely tolerate, but welcome ones often shunned by lesser nations.
I remember my grandfather when I attend townhall meetings and marches, or when setting up rickety tables outside Walmarts, Targets, and 99 Cent Stores to sign up people for the Affordable Care Act, or registering new voters at the local library or the Rincon Indian Reservation.
Even though I’m a Boomer, I must confess that I hold my own generation in pretty low regard for the hash we’ve made of things socially and environmentally, especially considering what appeared to be an unwavering commitment to both in our youth (pick up any ‘Greatest Hits of the Sixties’ compilation and you’ll see what I’m talking about).
So, if I’m such a leftie, why not move up to Northern California, where (righties think) all the state’s libs congregate in trendy coffee shops, cooing socialist propaganda in one another’s ears? It’s sometimes tempting, but where would the fun be in that? Or the opportunity to change a mind? Or of gleaning a new point of view for myself? Life is so much more interesting out of the echo chamber. Which is why you righties now have… me.
In my 20 plus years as a journalist, I’ve written thousands of articles (and continue to write) for many publications, along the way collecting enough awards that I don’t have to worry about painting a couple of walls. As I do beginning any new project, I’ve laid out a few rules for myself and promises to you: These columns will not be endless screeds that read as if they’ve been pulled from a DNC position paper (although I read them all). Nor will they be tit-for-tat rebuttals of whatever appeared in this paper’s most recent editorial or opinion piece.
And, for goodness sake, let’s have a little fun. I mean, c’mon.
That means if you’re someone (rightie or leftie) who feels an urgent need to fire off a five-page email replete with charts, graphs, and Venn diagrams, well, go ahead and do that but, respectfully, you’ll be missing the point. I’m not writing this for the die-hards; they already know their way up the well-trodden stairs to the choir loft. I’m writing for the leaners, the undecideds… the Southpaws
For me, perhaps the finest compliment I could receive will be from the person who stands behind me at the local bank, or at the annual Christmas parade, or in Trader Joes’ produce section and says, “You’re the only damn leftie I can stand readin’.” Because that might be a person willing to look at things in a different way. At least that’s the plan. Fingers crossed.
Besides, don’t we already have enough drama these days? Comity — working together toward a solution — is what is in short supply. But then, of course, drama is easy… (ahem) comity is hard.
Thanks for reading.
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Multiple award-winner author Charles Carr has written well over a thousand columns and articles for The Union-Tribune, The Orange County Register, The Reader, The Californian, Parent Magazine, and many others. Thousands have attended Carr’s original theater productions at prominent venues throughout So Cal. He is also co-founder of Art Animates Life Films. More info and contact at charlescarr.com.