For as long as he can remember, he loved to argue.
He wasn’t sure where this penchant for debate came from.
His mother had firmly held beliefs, but he had no recollection of her engaging others in a passionate discourse about politics or religion, or anything else for that matter.
His father’s passions revolved primarily around a reclining chair by the fireplace, an after-work scotch on the rocks, and cigars.
He remembers a heated debate with a friend at a sleepover when he was just a kid.
They argued fervently about which baseball league (the National or American) had better players and teams. He remembers being energized by the back-and-forth discussion. He remembers the thrill of responding on-the-fly to his friend’s assertions, countering them with well-thought-out retorts.
That debate dragged into the early-morning hours. The warm stuffy bedroom became thick with a swampy August heat and the two boys’ passion for sports.
Eventually, he and his friend drifted off to sleep, no hard feelings, no carryover.
The arguer never put his love of debate to practical use. He lacked direction and parental guidance. In the absence of a nurturing nudge, his life was shaped primarily by the stance brothers (circum and happen).
Later in life, when jonesing for a debate, he’d engage others over social media, arguing with vigor and passion about politics and religion.
It was from 2016 onward, that the arguer noticed a fundamental change in some of the individuals he debated. Many of them disregarded verifiable facts and truth in favor of falsehoods and outright lies.
So, for example, when the arguer made a declarative statement about Trump supporters attacking the capital on January 6th, some of his friends took this as an invitation to debate.
They argued the attackers were not Trump supporters.
They argued that the attackers were tourists that posed no threat.
They argued against what everyone saw with their own eyes and heard with their own ears.
It was stunning.
A basic premise of debate is that there are facts on both sides of the issue being argued.
The intellectual joy of debating comes from being challenged with factual information that counters your argument. The idea that you’ll be able to convince the person that you’re debating to change their mind (and vice versa) is what made debating so enjoyable to the arguer.
The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and work, is not a debatable statement.
On January 6th,the United States Capital was attacked by Trump supporters at the behest of the defeated former president. This also is not a debatable statement.
Climate change is real and poses a genuine threat to our planet. Again, not up for debate.
The point here is that some issues have been settled definitively by evidence, truth, and facts. But because old habits die hard, the arguer was drawn into debating the undebatable.
The result was exhausting, frustrating, depressing, and ultimately revelatory.
The arguer concluded that America is inundated with millions of willfully disingenuous people who are guided by politics over truth. These people are continuously debating the undebatable with falsehoods, misinformation, and quackery.
This represents a default way of thinking and arguing for nearly half the country, to the chagrin of the arguer.
Republicans know that making it easier for black and brown people to vote, makes it harder for Republicans to hold on to their job.
So, rather than engaging black and brown voters and trying to understand issues from their perspective, Republicans are supporting legislative barricades that restrict access to the ballot box and make it harder for black and brown and poorer people to vote.
In America, the gap between “the haves” and “have nots” has a racial element to it and the gap grows wider every day. The truth of the matter is that Democrats are proposing programs to try and stop the gap from growing, while Republicans are fine with the current trend. To put it more bluntly, Democrats are more likely to support programs that help level the playing field, while Republicans long for the good ole days when black and brown people worked in a field.
America’s population is browning.
Republicans see this tinting as a threat to their vision and version of America.
To Republicans, this feels like an ominous fade to black scenario.
And the only way Republicans think they can prevent this from happening is to hinder black and brown people from voting — and that’s what they’re doing by blocking the John Lewis Voting Rights act, while supporting state laws that make it harder for black and brown people to vote.
Republican attacks on voting rights are another shameful assault on our republic and a further tugging on the thread that holds our democracy together.
The other day, I watched former President Trump praise his relationship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Ill in a televised interview.
I listened to the former disgraced and seditious-prick-of-a-president say how well he got along with dictators and autocrats and how he admired their strong leadership.
None of this surprised me.
Trump is an easily manipulated, egotistical fool. Leaders like Kim Jong-Ill and Vlad Putin simply blew a little smoke up the orange one’s undies to court favor with Trump.
What disheartened me most about the interview was the applause from my fellow Americans in the audience.
When did getting along with murderous dictators become a praiseworthy trait in an American president?
Had President Obama or candidate Clinton said anything remotely like this, they would have been crucified by the very same people who were applauding. As Forest Gump would say, Trump supporters and hypocrisy go together like peas and carrots.
Republicans and Democrats have always differed on policy. But when it came to condemning brutal dictators and autocrats, we stood together.
That used to be common ground.
Why is this no longer the case?
Well, for one, we had four years of being led by a self-absorbed, morally corrupt, and intellectually vapid president. Trump rose to power by tapping into many Americans’ grievances and fears around race and then, with purposeful malevolence, sold them a solution based on a warped definition of Americanism.
Trump understood that a divided country was his only path to power. So, from the onset of his candidacy, all the way through his presidency, he divided this country.
Five years later, we see the result in a fact-resistant confederacy of MAGA-hat-wearing morons and the cowering politicians who fear them.
Trump and his supporters are the blood in the boner of an alt-right movement in America — and you can’t reason with a boner.