I had a Twitter exchange a few nights ago which had me weary for a while. On the one hand, it was just a simple, personal exchange and of no importance to reference it. But more than that, I realized that it oddly sums-up a problem with political discourse today, what I'll called "blind listening. It happens on both sides, to be clear, though I feel comfortable saying that I think it occurs far more on the conservative end. Yes, I know I'm biased about that, but I have reasons to support thinking that's the case. After all, the Far RIght are the people who are able to listen to Donald Trump talk and completely disregard all the utterly-hellish things he says about Gold Star families, ridiculing disabled people, grabbing women against their will, dismissing military heroes who were tortured in captivity and so much more which would sink any other candidate into oblivion. Furthermore, this is the man who specifically said he could shoot someone in the middle of the streets of New York and his supporters would still follow him. And these are the disciples who chided Democrats by saying, "You people listen to what he says, rather than what he means. We listen to what he means, rather than what he says."
So, I stand by my position that this phenomenon I dealt with last night is far more common among conservatives.
It began when I received a reply from a Trump supporter who disagreed with something I'd written. Shocking, I know. (Oddly, I'd written it quite a few weeks ago, but apparently it just came into her field of vision.) For a specific reason which will become clear soon, I'll leave out for the moment what I had initially written. But it concerned Trump's pardon of Joe Arpaio. As readers here might imagine, what I wrote was not positive. And to that, the dear woman replied --
"No Sheriff Joe is great such a good man and law officer and the President did a good thing. I am glad"
My initial reaction was to explain why Joe Arpaio is as far from a great and good man as a breaded fish stick is from my car repairman. But before diving into to what would surely be a head-numbing endeavor, I checked back to see what, in fact, I'd written weeks earlier. When I saw it, all I could do was sigh deeply, since it turned out to just be a simple lead-in for people to click on a link I had provided to an article I wrote. (Something on these pages, in fact.) So, rather than debate her on the merits, what I instead tweeted back was --
"Clearly you didn't read my article, since it had ZERO to do with if Arapaio deserved a pardon. It was on problems Trump caused himself."
And so it was. You may recall it. I presented five reasons why the Trump pardon was seriously problematic for Trump himself, regardless of whether or not Arpaio was a great and good man who deserved it. (For instance, I noted that the public tends to not like pardons in general, and this particular pardon was foolish for Trum because it not only saved Arpaio merely about two weeks in jail, but Arpaio accepting the pardon was an admission of guilt.) That was what the article was about. And the tweet. That it was on problems Trump caused for himself. To which she quickly replied -- which is the point of all this:
"That is not what was written i just answered what I saw."
And that, in a nutshell -- pun intended -- is when I realized we had in a single sentence a microcosm of TrumpLove acolyte fandom, whose fingers-in-the-ear deafness not only explained the breakdown in rational discourse, but also explained a significant reason why so many people could vote for such a sociopathic, racist, egomaniacal, lying, misogynistic, incompetent con man, ignoring all that and blindly hearing what they wanted to hear. As a result, I realized all I could reply was --
"That is not only PRECISELY what was written, almost 'word for word,' but I also provided a link to my article which explained it in detail."
And, in fact, I was being spot-on honest and accurate, without hyperble. It was PRECISELY what was written, almost "word for word." And that then brings us to what the initial tweet was that I written. What I had written was, and I quote --
"I believe Trump caused FAR more problems for himself with Arpaio's pardon than is generally perceived. Here's why - " (And I then included a link to the article.)
Boy howdy, as far as I can tell, "It was on problems Trump caused himself" is indeed pretty darn word-for-word close to "I believe Trump caused FAR more problems for himself."
But in Trump-sighted fantasy eyes, she just -- well, as she herself said, she just answered what she saw. Never mind the words that were actually written. And written in really simple, clear English. (And never mind that she stopped there, after only 18 words, and didn't even bother to read the actual article it linked to which I specifically said ("Here's why -- ") was the total point of the comment.)
Perhaps 18 words is the limit of her stamina, and anything more hurts. I don't know. Actually, in phrasing that previous sentence, I had initially written, "...is the limit of her comprehension," but realized that "comprehension" wasn't a standard that was appropriate.
Yes, it was just a personal exchange. But "I just answered what I saw" was simply to vast a concept in today's conservative universe that I couldn't pass it up.
Some people merely see what they want. Some people don't listen to "What he said" and only interpret for themselves, what they more comfortably believe he means. Some people would indeed still support a person even if he shot someone in the middle of New York. Some people choose to ignore reality because it's too inconvenient for them, and instead accept a sociopathic misogynistic racist con man because the con is easier for them to swallow.
A fool and their country is soon parted.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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