Why Doesn't Everyone Agree With Me?
Anyone who has read this Blog should have realized that I am not a fan of our Dear Leader. If there is any doubt, let me lay it to rest. Trump is a disgrace to his office and an existential threat to democracy. To even mention his name in the same sentence as other Presidents such as Washington, Lincoln, Regan or Obama is to besmirch their names. He is a narcissist who thinks the world stops at the end of his nose even if his myopia leads to the deaths of tens of thousands of his countrymen. He is dishonest, a liar and a cheat. If he does anything to help the country it is only by accident and because he will also benefit.
So why is it that a significant portion of my countrymen voted for him and still support him? Polling consistently shows that over forty percent of those polled approve of our Dear Leaders job performance. It would be easy to dismiss the forty percent as ignorant, deplorable, racist or somehow hypnotized by our Dear Leader's rhetoric. It would be easy to just stand tall on an intellectual and moral pedestal and loudly chant about my superiority. After all, that is how some have rationalized previous elections.
Maybe, just maybe, I am the problem. God forbid that I am wrong and our Dear Leader is actually a good president. There is something called the Rubicon Theory of Decision making which holds that once you have made a decision, or reach a conclusion, that you switch from listening to new information in order to reach a conclusion to defending that conclusion. I like to think that because I am better educated and more widely read than most I am immune from what psychologists call confirmation bias. But I am not. The data actually suggests just the opposite - that the greater the education the stronger the confirmation bias. So what is a person with a Bachelor’s Degree in history and Juris Doctorate to do?
The only answer that I could come up with is to try to listen harder and to put my bias aside. To test my hypothesis, I started with the people who are staging the recent protests against the shelter in place ("SIP") orders in various states. As you would expect, there is a
website dedicated to the cause. It's called Open the States. It champions the argument that the SIP orders are unconstitutional and that the cure (the orders) are worse than the disease (Covid-19).
What first struck me about the website is that if the experts are right about the need for social distancing, then these mass protests may be more than just self-defeating. I have heard more than one piece of dark humor that marks these protests as a scheme by liberals to cull the right wing herd. Some of the protestors are probably infected and the closer they are to each other, and the greater time they are together, the greater the chance that the infection will spread and the fewer will be available to vote in November. This is similar to a pact that some have made that if they are ever infected the first place they will go to a Trump rally.
This, like everything else these days, brings us back to our Dear Leader. He has criminally mishandled this pandemic, even going as far as to stop the CDC from issuing guidelines for the reopening of restaurants . There are not enough bytes on the internet to count the ways his self-congratulatory inaction has increased the pain and suffering of the nation. When I saw the individual who got the job because he is the son-in-law who knows how to kiss his father-in-law’s buttocks call our Dear Leader’s actions a success story I almost choked. But then I realized that baby Jared has to say these things or his Dear Leader would cut off his allowance and God knows what wifey would do. Hey, baby Jared, when there have been almost 70,000 deaths when you were publicly kowtowing, that is conclusive proof that there is no success story.
The above does not mean that the protestors are all wrong, or that the Dear Leader did nothing right. There are grave constitutional issues involved with these SIP orders. Governors unilaterally closing business and forcing citizens indoor without explicit legislative permission
should not be easily accepted. Moreover, the protesters are right that we cannot stay indoors for ever. The SIP orders are having a terrible effect on people's livelihoods and some may never recover. The solitary confinement of some is having a disastrous effect on their mental health. These are not minor inconveniences. They are real and significant and in many cases as terrible as the virus.
Moreover, our Dear Leader has not done everything wrong. The partial travel ban from China was the right decision. The assistance in the increased production of ventilators and the partial invocation of the War Production Act were correct. The fact that he listened to Dr. Fauci and issued the SIP Guidelines in April saved lives.
Those who voted for Trump or are protesting the SIP are not bad or evil people. They are not deplorable, even if Trump is. There are legitimate points to their arguments, and anyone who just dismisses their opinions as based on ignorance or evil motives is really the one who is ignorant. Plus, playing into the us vs. them scenario is something that our Dear Leader needs to perpetuate in order to be reelected.
This is not to say that I am any less certain that I am correct. What it does mean is that I am comfortable enough with my opinions that I can listen to those that disagree with a relatively open mind. If I am wrong, I would like to know that. The hope is that the other person will take the same mindset into our discussion. No minds may be changed, as we both may have crossed the Rubicon, but that may not be the most important thing. The most important thing is that we recognize that we are part of the same country, and while we may want to take different paths, our end point is the same.
In the end, the only way to alter someone else's opinion is to enter the discussion with the willingness to change yours. In these moments, I think back to what the smartest man to ever live said when he was asked what he knew. Socrates answered, "One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing." If it was good enough for old Soc, I guess it's good enough for me.