I’ve been asked the following questions many times, and I believe it’s time to set the record straight once and for all:
Are you conservative or liberal?
Are you pro-life or pro-abortion?
Israel or the Palestinians?
Do you support gun control or the 2nd Amendment?
Frozen or on the rocks?
The answers are, in order — yes, yes, yes, yes and frozen.
In this age of extreme polarization, America has become a this-or-that society. There’s no room for discussion in the gray areas of complicated issues. There are really only two political parties at work … and, yes, I use the term “work” loosely there because it’s hard for anyone to get anything done with ultra-clear political distinctions yet no one with a clear mandate with toss-up presidential elections, a 222-213 House and a 51-49 Senate. It’s a miracle anything gets done.
If you take a stand against something, people automatically assume you support the extreme opposite. For instance, I think Donald Trump is a narcissistic man-child who rode the coattails of Obama’s economy (look at the years-long chart trends) before trying to destroy democracy (and nearly succeeding), and if I were given the choice between Trump and a used toaster for president, I’d vote for the used toaster every time. At least I’d know the toaster would be worth about 12 bucks, while I have my doubts that Trump’s liquid assets actually rise to that level when compared to his debts.
“So, you’d rather have Crooked Joe Biden and the Biden Crime Family?!”
Um, no. I’d rather have a more energetic and coherent nominee. In fact, I’ll cast a primary vote for Dean Phillips without an option like Gretchen Whitmer, Katie Porter or Michelle Obama as an alternative. And do you really think Joe Biden is capable of running a “crime family?” I felt the same way about Trump and Russian collusion. While there were plenty of ties between the Russians and his campaign, I don’t think they wanted to collude with Trump — mainly because I don’t think Trump could collude with bread and a toaster to make toast.
(What is it with this guy and toast today?)
“So you admit he’s too old? You’re ageist.”
No. That’s one of the problems when media polls folks with a question like “Is Joe Biden too old to run for president?” It’s not the age. It’s that he’s often confused or hidden away. Many of the young folks who answer that he’s too old also love Bernie Sanders, who is couple years older but way sharper. So, it’s not the number in itself.
Now, we’ve got folks split on the situation in the Middle East with Israel and Hamas. After the unspeakable horrors committed by Hamas on October 7, folks picked sides, absolute sides. You are either with them or with us. No, you can find what Hamas did on October 7 revolting and still be sickened when thousands of Palestinian children are killed in retaliatory attacks that target Hamas. You can also believe that for every Hamas fighter you do kill that you’re creating about 10 more future terrorists while still believing that Israel has a right to defend itself.
As for where I stand, I hate the whole mess. I’d like for all of the people there to be safe and free throughout all of the lands in the Middle East. Yet, I worked as a copy editor for many years, and I had to read roughly 12,569 stories off the wires about some “breakthrough” in Mideast peace. I quit falling for them long ago. I don’t think the situation is fixable. I do think it is utterly hopeless that peace will come to that area within the next few thousand years.
Then there’s the simplicity of “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” or “there are two sexes — male or female, boy or girl, that’s it.” Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? What about intersex folks? Which bathroom should they use? If you’re against gender reassignment surgery, how do you feel about doctors or parents who chose to go one path or the other for a baby born intersex?
Of course, intersex births are rare. Even those who downplay the condition generally admit that 0.018 percent of people are born intersex, while those who’ve given it more thought and study say it’s probably more like 0.5 percent. Well, with 8 billion people on the planet, that means anywhere from 1.4 million to 40 million fall into the category. And if you want to put 0.018 percent into proper perspective, you’ve probably got less than a 0.018 percent chance as a super-straight male or female person of having a gay person, trans person or intersex person interfere with your life. (I suspect they have a much higher chance of flaming heterosexuals interfering with theirs.)
Are you a tax-and-spend liberal or a wealthy-coddling conservative? Well, I’m for the rich paying more in taxes and the government spending way less. We will never fix the national debt with one side focusing just on higher taxes for the wealthy and the other focused just on cutting spending — which means, of course, that paying down the debt is about as possible as finding lasting peace in the Middle East.
Pro-life or pro-choice — or what many right-wingers call “pro-abortion”? Who in the world would be pro-abortion? Even if you defend a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body, the thought of abortion is horrible. And you can defend that right while still believing that 15 weeks is enough time to have made that decision — unless a doctor advises otherwise.
You support gun control? You don’t believe in the Second Amendment! I do, but I don’t believe the Founding Fathers (a) would be OK with unfettered access to weapons of destruction nor (b) had any idea how to use a comma. That is the worst-written sentence this side of your crazy uncle’s Facebook comments about Bud Light on a Fox News post phishing for totally predictable reactions. I’m a gun owner. I have no problem with folks defending their homes from intruders, though I’m not a big fan of shooting through a closed door because someone of another race rang your doorbell.
Until Americans have the courage to explore the gray areas between the extremes, listen to opposing points of view, use their declining ability to reason, emerge from their bubbles and research more deeply than consuming tweets and social media comments at face value, we’re not going to make much progress.
That means, of course, that we’re not going to make much progress in finding middle ground. Nuance is dying.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to make a frozen margarita. Only anti-American commie nazi self-loathing losers want their margaritas on the rocks.