As many of you know, I am a cradle Catholic and a volunteer with my parish. Those two facts alone make many of the people there believe that I am actually a conservative. It's actually kind of humorous, a few of us there are underground liberals. There has been talk of developing a signal where one of us draws half a donkey and the other one finishes it. It's a lonely world we live in, but is a world that has taught me how the other side speaks and thinks.
One of the things I have done over the past several years is volunteer with a group called Lifeteen. It helps prepare pre-teenagers for the rite of confirmation. Since most of the people in the group are weekly church goers and dedicated Catholics, the group is mostly conservative with some notable exceptions. In particular, one of the volunteers is a councilman in one of Houston's satellite communities. He's one of the fire and brimstone Catholics and I have the "fortune" of having him think I am as well.
He recently had a medical procedure done and so the topic of health care came up. He is a very intelligent guy, so it was interesting to me to see what he thought about the subject. He said he was committed to Pete Olson even though he knows Nick Lampson well. Health care was one of those major issues. He blathered on about death panels (even if he didn't use the name) and had problems with Obama because he gave money to ACORN and ACORN has "been corrupt for 20 years."
Other than those two points I it was a fairly reasonable if not completely well informed discussion. I think his main objection is that he objects to the notion that health care is a right. This is one of those discussions where I interjected a few points here and there, but tried not to pick a fight. I think if he understood that universal health care wouldn't be free to the uninsured then he might have less of a problem. I do think portability and banning the term "pre-existing conditions" is a universal among liberals and thinking conservatives.
What I also found out is that there is a possible alliance to be had between progressives and Libertarian type conservatives in the form of campaign finance reform. He sounded more pissed off about it than I am. As the Republican party keeps moving to the fringe, it becomes more of a challenge to find interesting coalitions to get things done. On some issues, people we would consider the enemy are actually our friend. As we have already seen, some of the blue dogs may have the Democratic label, but the ingredients in the box just don't seem to fit.
In short, it's about getting things done. On most issues, history books are not going to care whether it was a straight party vote or an unusual coalition. Often, history remembers more about the people who opposed a major initiative (say Strom Thurmond with the Civil Rights Act) than who voted yes or no. As for me, I'll let them think I am conservative because it allows me to find out what they are thinking without suspicion.