This weekend, I had the honor and the privilege of attempting to discuss the views of the presidential candidates with a couple that I’ve known for a few years. Unfortunately, I was unable to do this. Instead, I was interrogated much like a murder suspect would be, when they’ve already found the knife with your fingerprints on it. They really don’t have to interrogate you, because their mind is already made up and they feel that they already have the evidence to convict you. All they’re really doing is trying to show off. Except in my case, they just think they have the evidence – in reality, it doesn’t exist.
The interrogation began when one of them had spotted my McCain-Palin bumper sticker. Apparently this was a mortal sin, or a crime of treason. Immediately, the husband began to belittle Governor Palin as “cute, really cute, but dumb as a doornail” to which his wife exclaimed, “Don’t insult the doornail.”
Now, those of you who know me, know that I have temper – not a mild temper either. However, I managed to keep it in check, for the sake of the issues, and because I happened to be in my mother-in-law’s house and did not wish to be kicked out. So, I immediately began to try to steer the conversation towards the issues at hand. Too late. I had forgotten that I was the suspect, and they were the interrogators. The first question was at hand – “Exactly what is the difference between John McCain and Bush?”
Now, a truthful, honest, and somewhat insulting answer may have been – “Well, let’s consider the fact that the Bush administration warned us six years ago that this mortgage crisis was going to happen and we ignored him, instead listening to the same party that is currently screaming for change. This party suggested, no, demanded, that we encourage Fannie and Freddie to partner with banks to offer mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them. It failed to realize that if they couldn’t afford the mortgages that meant that they probably wouldn’t actually pay for the houses. (Simple mistake, I know. Who would’ve thought that people who couldn’t afford something wouldn’t actually be able to afford it? But anyway…) Thus, we would artificially inflate the housing industry like a raft with people buying dream houses that they couldn’t pay for, sail the raft into the deep sea of Debt, then pull the plug of foreclosure, thus drowning the people in Debt and crashing not only the housing industry, but the banking industry as well, and requiring a 700 billion dollar bailout that would only touch the tip of the iceberg? Now considering that, what was wrong with the Bush administration’s policies?” However, my friend, I was tired and new that such inflammatory remarks might do just that – inflame my opponents. No, I was here to fight fair and immediately asked a milder question in return. “Are we sure that we are changing what needs to be changed, or are we just changing for the sake of change?” And with that, my friends, we began to hurl ourselves down the slope.
“Well, it certainly is a mess right now!” she began to scream. So I began to try to explain that yes, we were in a mess, but no, raising taxes wouldn’t fix it, to which she began to scream in the middle of my explanation about how the rich and big business never had to pay taxes and how it wasn’t fair that she paid more taxes than her millionaire bosses and how Obama’s plan would fix it. Well, I think in a good debate, you should acknowledge the other team’s good points, and strive to find a bit of common ground. So, I of course replied that no one would ever think that she should pay more in taxes than a millionaire. I began to attempt to explain that John McCain’s economic plan included a plan to close the loopholes that so many of the wealthy use to avoid paying taxes. But alas, I was too slow, she began to scream again – this time about the fact that they made too much money for their child to attend preschool. This one really baffled me. How could a preschool legally discriminate on the basis of wealth? Turns out, she was upset that her child couldn’t attend government-sponsored Head Start programs, and because of a goofy state law, daycares were prohibited from teaching any of the basics to children. I immediately countered that this was a state problem that most agreed needed to be fixed. In the mean time, I suggested she enroll her child in a private preschool. But off she went again, this time screaming that there weren’t any private preschools in the town she just moved to. Now, what Obama plans to do about that eludes me. I never heard him promise to build a private preschool in every town, nor did I hear him promise to provide government subsidies to those making six figures. If I missed it, please let me know, but I don’t think that does a lot to aid the underprivileged, which they are far from. Before I could ask what Obama’s plan for preschool was, she was off again, this time screaming on about “He only wants to give us five thousand on twelve and it’ll cost as much as Obama’s plan” to which her husband agreed with over and over. Now I had reached another level of confusion. I had no earthly idea what she was talking about. I was later informed that the curious exchange rate was exactly what McCain had promised to do to help fix the healthcare problems we face in America. Then I began to hear the oft-replayed “Obama-mercials” we’ve all heard: how John McCain wants to tax healthcare and make is so expensive that only the very wealthy can afford it. Plus, it will cost almost as much as Obama’s healthcare plan and do hardly anyone any good at all. Now, let’s all just pause a minute and think about how absolutely absurd that sounds. Ok, back to the debate at hand. I started to counter that John McCain’s plan would allow more people to access healthcare by allowing Americans to purchase healthcare as Americans, not restricted to the state in which they live. It would put money in the hands of the people to decide what healthcare they want for their families – no longer bound by only being able to afford employer-sponsored healthcare, which in some cases, can be extremely over-priced and leaves its policy owners under-covered. Furthermore, it would throw open the field of healthcare to the same principles of free trade and competition that have always resulted in lower prices and have applied to most products in America for centuries, thus reducing healthcare premiums. Any leftover money would be put into a Health Savings Account (HSA) to reimburse Americans for the oft-forgot about co-pays, deductibles, and other related expenses that can put a serious crimp in anyone’s budget. Even FactCheck.org, the “whistle blower” that exposed the nearly identical cost of both candidates’ health plans the wife had mentioned earlier, had serious doubts that Obama’s plan would benefit the average tax payer to the tune of the $2500 that Obama has been touting on the campaign trail. Fact Check’s summonsed expert, M.I.T.’s Jonathan Gruber, was quoted as saying, “I know zero credible evidence to support that conclusion.” However, I felt that this would be of no use, for shortly, they would be screaming about something else.
For days, this conversation chewed at me. I felt I had lost the debate, and that the fight had been fixed from the start. I was torn between whether I should’ve thrown caution to the wind and plowed through, starting a fight and making my point to deaf ears, or if I should’ve withdrawn my points earlier and avoided the confrontation all together. I was angry, I was saddened, and I was amazed at the way someone can stare at the same sky I see, and adamantly believe that it is red.
Later, I was discussing the conversation with a friend of mine. I finally came to the conclusion, after several minutes of thinking out loud, that you just couldn’t reason with them. They were too busy screaming to listen. Immediately my friend confirmed my thought. He said you couldn’t reason with most of Obama’s supporters, and that they all seemed to be screamers. He then asked me, “Do you know why?” Of course, I wanted to know his idea about something my father had ranted on for years. His answer had to be one of the clearest summarizations of the conservative vs. liberal debate. “The reason why they all scream, and the reason why they won’t listen, is that you just can’t argue with the core conservative beliefs. So, instead, they scream.” At its root, the conservative doctrine believes in sensible and restrained spending, lower taxes, less government oversight in American’s lives, and living by moral principles. Those values are hard to argue with. Their counterparts aren’t popular – higher taxes, more government invasion – but they are the grim reality behind many of the cotton candy promises of the liberal political side. It would be truly great to live in a society where those sticky, sweet and lacking-of-substance cotton candy politics came to life. It would be a place where I didn’t have to pay for anything, and the government gave me all these services without raising taxes. But simple math insists that isn’t possible. Either we raise taxes and increase our deficit, or we cut back on spending. It doesn’t work any other way. Every household that lives on a budget can tell you, if you want to spend more, you either have to make more money or go into debt. If you don’t want to go into debt, and you aren’t able to make more money, then you have to cut your expenses. These simple principles are hard to debate, so instead – they scream.
They scream about how it’s all our fault the economy has tanked, when the evidence shows the opposite – or at least a mutually shared fault. They scream that conservatives are for the rich – when the top two wealthiest Americans have supported Democratic candidates this year according to moneyline.com. They scream about Palin’s lack of experience, even though she has spent more days in an elected office than Obama. They scream that we are “just air-raiding villages and killing civilians” in Iraq, when we’re the ones protecting the civilians. It’s hard to argue against reason, so instead, they scream.
We can only hope that some of them will stop screaming long enough to listen, recognize the cotton candy promises of Obama are just that – sticky, sweet, and lacking of substance, and that the core beliefs that this nation was founded on deserve to be revisited. The future of our nation depends upon it.