Opinion/Commentary – A Conversation With Danny

[Updated to include additional discussion]

A friend of my sister did the unthinkable the other day – he asked my opinion on a current topic.

Social media has become a platform for advocacy without attendance, lately – people with thrust their opinions into their own spotlight without much consideration of the accuracy of their sources, the potential for that bothersome “echo chamber” issue, or the residual fallout which may result from a differing opinion. I typically refrain from such participation in that I have not the unfettered access to unbiased facts, nor do I have a degree in political science that many seem to think they have in proselytizing their version of the truth.

…Well, all of the above and I just don’t have the patience anymore. You have your ideas, I have mine, and I’d rather argue which brand of dog food makes for the nastiest canine flatulence.

I say “unthinkable” only for the fact that the conversation which I try to avoid resulted from the question actually helped me define my apolitically moderate stance and showed that it is quite possible these days to actually have a conversation…

(Danny’s contributions to the conversation are italicized)

“…What did you think of Obama to what you think now with Trump?”

Give me a bit to get home and be able to compose properly.

…I haven’t forgotten, Danny… politics are one of those things that there is never really an easy answer – especially when one is disgusted and distrustful of politicians.

These are great pictures, and he tended to be very charismatic as a President… and at times, he was pretty eloquent. Other times, not so much, but holding such an office entails stresses we cannot imagine.

What did I think? There hasn’t been a person in office for most of my adult life that I liked. Ok, ALL of my adult life, now that I think of it… and while he succeeded in a lot, he failed at a lot. There is no such thing as a perfect President, really. One of the biggest things I had an issue with over the last 8 years is that, if you disagreed with his policies, you were instantly labeled a racist. In that sense, I feel that a lot of genuine concerns were stifled or minimized with the threat of being incorrectly categorized. On the other hand, if you agreed with his policies, you were labeled as an apologist… There was little chance of dialogue when it came to having an opinion about the last 8 years without it launching on several different tangents other than the matter at hand.

What do I think? It will be more of the same, but with more anger. I wouldn’t want the job that Trump is about to take… just like I wouldn’t have wanted it 8 years ago… 16 years ago… ect. We’ve become lazy in political involvement, somewhat, in that terms are now 8 years instead of 4, essentially. Do I think he (Trump) has the capacity of doing well? Sure. Do I think that he can royally screw the pooch in a way that no other President has since Andrew Johnson or Herbert Hoover? Sure. We shall see, but I will remain skeptical and cynical, as I have for my whole adult life…

“That is really well said and points that I’ve never thought or looked at before I can’t argue with you there…”

Anyone can argue, Danny…

There’s a lot more to my perspectives than what I posted – I was in a rush and got carried away with an ‘I’m still thinking about it’ placeholder. Well, that, and the fact that Facebook tends to have the post-Taco Bell digestive issue when it comes to people’s opinions being excreted -forcefully- without anyone ever asking for theirs in the first place.

That is part of the problem, though… people type before thinking, especially when it is about something so polarizing as a comparison between the two. Hell, just watch any ‘news’ show where they have people with opposing points of view – all they do is talk louder until the other person gets pissed and shuts up/shuts down or talks even louder. There is no point in such crap… it’s no longer a ‘discussion’ or ‘debate’ and only a competition of who can spout supporting facts faster, louder, and more importantly-sounding.

What it comes down to, for me, is ‘who benefits?’ If you and I take opposing views that we hold dearly and debate the ‘normal’ way, as above, will we change the other person’s point of view? Nope. Both sides become entrenched (I seem to be using this analogy a lot on FB – it featured in my MLK note the other day). Now, if we take a different approach – the “reasonable” way, you and I may not change our ideas about the issue, but we’ll build respect in the process, in spite of our differences, and respect leads to effective communication and problem resolution… theoretically.

It doesn’t matter the label of the people in discussion of the topic being discussed, it is all about the manner in which it occurs that interests and draws me in. Obama….Trump… it doesn’t matter – they are both idiots and respectable guys, at the same time. What truly frightens and concerns me is the people who continue to isolate themselves from the identity that binds them together in this whole mess: ‘American.’ We’ve seen what happens when ideologies become fragmented and supported by angry, non-communicating Americans… Ah, but that is history, and folks only want to cherry-pick the juiciest fruits of the past to satisfy their appetites.

Honestly, I really gave scant attention to much of what Trump’s campaign promises were. Between the feral-cat-on methamphetamine-fight the election has become and the Facebook fallout, I would rather be selling sunscreen in the Orkney Islands in winter than to try to keep tabs on the various nonsense that came out of their mouths. The extent of my social media participation during that time was pointing out sites where people could get the *whole* picture of the candidates and opponents, as opposed to voting because what the media pushed and/or rote party affiliation.

Trump, just like all of them, will tell people what they want to hear… just enough to keep them interested or supportive. In some cases, what is told (by all politicians) could even be seen as inflammatory, after all – outrageous nonsense gets people talking more than sane and rational commentary (I bet if you and I were adversarial in our comments, there would be a lot more from the total 1,401 friends here on Facebook we both have… but not even a “like” other than our own? Hm)

As for Putin? Who knows… ? The man is interesting and disturbing at the same time, but in watching a lot of his interviews, I think that the level of confidence that he shows is almost disconcertingly arrogant to many for good reason – Putin seems to understand the idea of political and social power in ways that a lot of folks don’t. Good power or bad? Again, I don’t know; more than likely my great-grandkids will be reading *our* history and debating the same ideas I am wrestling with when it comes to my academic submissions.


There are no real answers, Danny… I don’t have them, the people tearing up Starbucks in D.C. as I type this don’t have them, and the ones celebrating on Facebook don’t have them. Politics is a segment of human society, and how we manage in the face of political oppression or freedom… how our efforts to make this whole mess work… is what will always interest me.

We shall see what happens, but in the meantime, I’ll keep sitting back and reading the arguments on Facebook and thinking…

Keep listening.


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