A Tale of Two Sillies
We have two friends who don’t know each other and couldn’t be more unlike. One identifies as a “progressive” concerned with social, economic and environmental justice. The other identifies as a capitalist-libertarian concerned with immigration and security.
The second friend, call him “S,” has been a vocal supporter of Donald Trump from the start of his candidacy. Yet S is probably not the “typical” Trump voter. S loves psychedelic drugs, the counter-culture band Phish and boundary-pushing cinema, but Trump’s “blunt talk” and New York brashness appeal to S’s straightforward East Coast sensibilities. S doesn’t consider himself (or Trump) a racist, though many of S’s angry diatribes — and he is often angry — are aimed at Liberals in general and Black Lives Matter in particular. Colin Kaepernick, the media, the Democratic Party — they’re all frauds (his favorite insult), who, in S’s hard-to-follow logic, are at the core of what’s wrong with this great country of ours. (That and unwanted Mexicans.)
S doesn’t believe Mr. Trump really cares much about “social issues” — as though scapegoating immigrants isn’t a social issue. Repealing gay marriage, criminalizing marijuana — these are not Trump’s concerns, S claims. Trump is all about business, not about meddling in America’s private affairs. So when the President-elect chose the Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to be our next Attorney General, S was blithely unworried that he or any of his pot-smoking friends will be rounded up in a federal raid — even though Sessions is on the record as disagreeing with the 28 United States that have made cannabis legal, calling for uncompromising enforcement of the DEA’s categorization of cannabis as a Schedule One narcotic with no medicinal value. Aside from sounding aggressively stupid every time he offers his opinion on just about anything — YouTube is bursting with some of his finest insights caught on tape — Jeff Sessions is one of the most backwards, wrongheaded “drug warriors” in government.
S cannot bring himself to admit that his hero, Donald J., is surrounding himself with professional politicians whose ideologies are in direct conflict with some of S’s most deeply held core values, and that these appointments, in the grand summation, are not really Great for America.
Our other friend, call her “D,” has been a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton from the start of her notorious candidacy. D is drawn to communal living, utopian philosophers and multi-cultural art happenings, but Clinton’s “track record” and vagina appealed to D’s feminist sensibilities. D doesn’t consider herself (or Clinton) an enemy of the environment; indeed, much of D’s righteous anger is aimed at greedy corporations despoiling our air and water. The Koch Brothers and the Republican Party — they’re what’s wrong with this great country of ours.
So when D recently made a cross-country trek to Standing Rock to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline, it did not occur to her that the candidate she supported throughout the campaign (and to this day) was one of the architects of a global energy policy that prominently features fracking. It didn’t send her into a crisis of conscience when Bernie Sanders, a candidate she initially mocked like everyone else, was the only major party politician to join the Green Party’s Jill Stein in actually standing up for Standing Rock. On DAPL, Clinton has been both absent and silent. What can she say? “I’m the reason you’re choking on tear gas today! Let’s all hope the rubber bullets don’t hurt too much.”
D cannot bring herself to admit that her hero Hillary R., is a professional politician whose choices as a leader are in direct conflict with some of D’s most deeply held core values.
Both friends, ensconced comfortably in the swaddling reassurance of their dogma, have developed a kind of tunnel vision, wherein the object of their affection precludes seeing the periphery. On those edges and borders is where we begin to find clarity.
Knowing D and S for some time, we consider them virtually opposite in temperament and outlook. But seeing how positive-feedback-loops know no political affiliation, we’re encouraged and concerned. We’re encouraged because D and S illustrate the beautiful idea that, despite the wildly different stories we tell ourselves, we all really are essentially the same machine replicated infinitely, and one day we’ll recognize our Oneness. We’re concerned because D and S remind us that maybe during this soul-searching season we’re as deluded as everyone else.