There once was a young girl. (We shall call her Susie.) As many young girls do, she had a best friend. (Laura.) The kind of best friend that she went everywhere, and did everything with. The kind you see in movies and think, "I wish I had that."
There was only one significant difference between them. Sadly, it was the one that caused the biggest, awfullest, most-fights-ever argument between them. And it all started with a book trilogy.
In this particular series, Character X was Susie's favorite. Character Z was Laura's. That wasn't the problem, of course. Everyone has different favorite characters, because everyone values different things.
Characters X and Z set off together to defeat the evil overlord and save the world. X was brave and loyal, but not particularly clever or skilled. Z was very quick thinking, and dedicated to practicing his skills, but he wasn't particularly brave. Together they made a great team.
But you know what always happens. The good guys have it worse and worse, until at last they can't take anymore. They throw in everything they have, and either defeat the evil overlord, or die trying. Usually, it's that one, last, desperate effort that finally topples the evil overlord.
The case of Characters X and Z was no different. By the end of book 2 in the trilogy, they were trapped in a frozen wasteland with no more options. There was only one way out: the ever dreaded "join me or die."
Character X would rather die than ever join the evil overlord. Character Z would rather live to fight another day. The book ended with the two heroes going their separate ways.
And so did Susie and Laura.
"It's more important to be loyal!" Susie shouted. "I don't care what you're faced with. If you're not loyal, then what's the point of anything?"
"Oh yeah?" Laura yelled back. "Well, what's the point of being anything if you're dead? A frozen corpse will do a lot of good against the Evil Overlord, won't he?"
(Approximately 74 similar conversations omitted for brevity.)
This went on for months. 10 months, to be exact. (Because that's how long they had to wait for book three to come out.)
After ten months of constant arguing, they got together to read the third book. Not because they had finally resolved the debate. And not because they had put their differences aside, and become friends despite it.
They read it together to find out who was right, and settle the matter once and for all. Would bravery best cleverness, or would it just make X dead? Could Z live with himself branded as a coward and a traitor? Was staying alive worth it?
Who would be the ultimate hero at the end of the day?
Want to know the ironic catch to this story? They were both right.
Yup, both of them.
You see, it turned out that X was right in one way. His courage and strength helped him find a way to survive in that frozen wasteland. He found help, shelter, and eventually a way to defeat the evil overlord. Without his bravery and sheer gutsiness, he never would have discovered the snow nomads, who knew the Overlord's weakness.
But Z was also right. Trying to use his brains not only kept him warm and fed, but got him in with the Evil Overlord's minions. He, too, learned things about the overlord's weaknesses. When X showed up with the weapon to bring down the overlord, Z was there, ready and able to use it. Neither would have succeeded without the other. And both of them got there in different ways.
It is very true that they still might have succeeded if both had stayed in the wasteland. And they still might have succeeded if both had gone with the evil overlord. It just didn't happen that way.
Eventually Susie and Laura made up. They still disagreed on which path was the right one to take. Susie still insisted that being too cowardly to face the wasteland was unforgivable. Laura still insisted that X was being stupid just to prove that he was tough, and that it was a complete waste of time and resources.
But they also realized that the important things were still the same. Characters X and Z still had the same goal. They were still loyal to their cause, and still working together for the same ends (although they didn't know it, and spent a good deal of time being angry at each other as a result.)
We're humans. We're idiots by nature. At this point in time, Utopia is physically impossible to achieve. We have to make sacrifices in order to come as close as we can to Utopia.
CharacterX-icans think that bravery and cleverness are both good and important things. But since we can't have both (metaphorically speaking), they would rather have bravery than cleverness.
CharacterZ-ocrats agree that being brave and being clever are both important. But since we can't have both, they think that cleverness is much more important than bravery.
Both will have negative consequences. It's just a matter of opinion as to which set of negatives are more acceptable.
Translate this into the political climate.
Republicans have some good stuff that's better for the country. And they also have some bad stuff which is worse.
Democrats have some good stuff which is better for the country. And they also have some bad stuff which is worse.
And guess what, third-party peeps? The same thing even applies to you.
I know. It's a real shocker, isn't it?
So, at long last we answer the question. The real difference between a republican and a democrat is NOT that one is right and the other is wrong. It's not that one is closed-minded and the other is open-minded. And it's certainly not that one is perfect and the other is flawed.
The pure and simple difference is that when it comes down to crunch time, and we HAVE to choose one set of positives and negatives over another, not all of us choose the same set.
Moral of the story: Shut up and leave me the heck alone about having different preferences than you do.