I have a far-right ditto head friend I've mentioned here on occasion. After years of him sending me emails filled with lunatic articles that other people have written, a while back I finally felt pounded enough and told him not to send me of those articles any more. It wasn't that I didn't want to hear from him anymore -- quite the contrary -- in fact I said that was the point. I wanted to hear from him. Not other people's opinions. I wanted to hear what he thought and why. But when he sends me other people's opinions, I said, I not only don't know his thoughts, but I can't argue with these other third-person people. They're just words on a page. Whenever he had something to tell me about what he thought, I looked forward to hearing it.
He's done pretty good about not sending me articles since then, though the other day -- I guess with the election nearing -- he sent me a cartoon that had "no doubt the greatest caption ever." I don't know if it was the greatest caption ever, or if there was some doubt, since I didn't read it. But I did read his own note (which refers in part to his brother and a friend, who are both liberal) and responded to it.
What he wrote was --
Couldn’t resist sending you this. It’s not an article so I thought it was ok! Too bad the Democrats are going to take a terrible beating this Tues because people get that this is the worst president ever. (even my brother and Mark now agree! Too bad there were some otherwise decent Dem. candidates who will be dragged down in a storm of voter anger over electing this very competent community organizer to a job way above his ability.
And this is what I responded --
Well, if even your brother and Mark agree, then it must be so…
I do get it that you hate Barack Obama, but please, just please, let’s at least be serious and start from a position of fairness and reality. I read a breadth of news, and this includes reading what actual historians write who actually have an objective sense of what they study professionally as their careers. And here’s a link to a survey reported in U.S. News and World Report from Siena College covering 238 Presidential scholars. The title is – “Survey Ranks Obama 15th Best President, Bush Among Worst.”
But if you hate Barack Obama, so be it. Your choice. Much as it’s convenient, though, to forget George W. Bush, and forget that he ignored warnings that lead to the U.S. being attacked and 3,000 people dying, and that he used lies to start a 10-year war that resulted in 4,500 Americans dying and 150,000 civilian casualties, and overseeing the economic crash of the U.S. economy, reality shows that Barack Obama has (in actual fact) lowered the unemployment rate from 7.8% when he took office down to 5.9%, and the budget deficit has actually shrunk every year since he took office – as reported here by the conservative Wall Street Journal, and their chart below. (It begins, “The U.S. government’s budget deficit narrowed in its 2014 fiscal year to its lowest level in six years, as an improving economy boosted tax revenues,” dropping below the “pre-recession levels” he faced after being handed the massive deficit from George Bush crashing the economy.)
That’s reality. Those are actual, objective facts. The deficit has LOWERED every year. There’s a lot more, but I’ll leave it at that.
Honest, I really do get it that you hate Barack Obama. Really. But your hatred does not make facts. For instance, Republicans hated Obama so much they kept insisting it would destroy the country, but reality shows from this Commonwealth Fund health-care poll that 75% of Republicans today say they are satisfied with the coverage they’re getting. (In fact, 44% of Republicans say they are “very satisfied”!) Hatred simply does not make something so. Feel free to pass this along to your brother and Jim Abrahams. As for what happens this Tuesday, the party in office ALWAYS loses seats. But let’s wait to see the results before we re-define “terrible beating.”
Anyway, things are fine, and I hope the same with you.
I won't go into the exchange that followed. It would likely make your heads explode, and not only would I not want to do that to such fine folks, but I fear the result would risk creating a Black Hole. Suffice it to say, that his second reply to this began -- and I swear this is true --
"PART OF MY ANGER (EMOTION) IS THAT I FEEL THAT THE LEFT IS DESPICABLE"
And yes, it was all in caps.
I'm not quite sure how he expected me to react, but if it was anything other than believing that such a statement is somewhat divisive to the concept of communication, he'd have been mistaken...
I actually did my best to write a polite response, though I have no doubt that someone who begins by writing the above probably would have a big hurdle seeing politeness in any political discourse. The short version (of a long note, bending over backwards to not blow up a friendship) is that I said, basically -- What I most don't understand is why on earth you would keep relentlessly sending me political articles and saying things like this, when you know our opinions are SO massively different that you have no chance of convincing me of anything any more than I'd have of convincing you if I sent you political articles and said such things. You're a friend, and I'd rather hear how you're doing and if you've seen any good movies lately. But you make it seem like any different political view makes that person The Enemy. And you're a better person than that.
I said many other things, too. But bluntly. Yet politely.
I suspect he'll hate it.
What I've come to accept -- which he alluded to in one of his replies, though I suspect he doesn't realize it -- is that he hates having a political discussion between friends because it forces him to express his own opinions, rather than rely simply on sending articles written by others.
And if anyone wonders where the "Dittohead" moniker came from, bingo, there you have it.
And today's BobTip ™ -- if you begin a note to someone whose political are anything but on the far right: "PART OF MY ANGER (EMOTION) IS THAT I FEEL THAT THE LEFT IS DESPICABLE"...it's not the depiction of an open mind, nor an invitation to warm and receptive communication.
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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