As I have attempted to explain in my essay series, I am convinced that the root of our problems is the ignorance of the people concerning the basic principles of our founding, the Constitution and how our government is designed to work. This has resulted in the ability for demagogues, such as Donald Trump and Barack Obama, to exploit that ignorance by fomenting divisions and strife. They, and other players in the political arena, are pitting us against each other for their own benefit.
They have created a system of “Us vs. Them” in just about every issue that comes along. You know, a binary choice. The other side is the enemy that must be destroyed. And it’s getting uglier and uglier with the rise of the Internet and social media.
The left believes that everyone on the right is greedy, selfish, uncaring, bigoted and ignorant. The right believes that everyone on the left is unpatriotic, freeloading, snowflaky, and ignorant. Both sides are convinced that they are correct because both sides can produce plenty of corroborating “evidence” that bolsters their positions. Evidence, by the way, provided to us by the politicians and the other players.
Along with the corrupt, power-loving politicians, there is a whole private-sector industry that pushes us into our respective corners and gins up as much controversy with the other side as possible. Talk radio, 24 hours cable news, political websites…they all have their team and work to destroy the other team.
Is this really how self-government should work? Of course not. But the bigger question is, can the Republic survive this nonsense for much longer?
Within the last 5-10 years, I have realized how wrong all of this is.
Don’t get me wrong, I was right in there throwing punches with the best of them for many, many years. I thought I was informed, I thought I was on top of things, I thought I knew the real story. I trusted Rush, and Hannity, and Levin, and FoxNews, and Drudge, and myriad other pundits and experts who filled my head with hatred toward the other side. And I was 100% convinced that I was on the right side of every issue I debated.
So what changed? Mainly, three things:
1. I learned things through actual, real study. Rather than relying on all of these others to explain what is important to me and why, I made a concerted effort to learn about things myself, from the actual sources. I dug deep into the founding, philosophy, history, economics, the Constitution, and our government. And I realized how much I didn’t know. After all of those years thinking that I was well-informed about these things, I realized how ignorant I actually was. Knowing the things I now know, I can see that many things I had been told for all of those years were simply wrong or not complete. It’s not that I found that the other side was right (far from it), but rather both sides were wrong…both sides were ignorant.
2. I learned things through life experience. About 6 years ago, I started a a trail running group in my area. In my liberal, university city, the group was bound to attract liberal trail runners. Sure enough, a large percentage of the group are (I know by way of social media comments and such). But I just wanted to run in the woods with others who also enjoyed it. I thought I might have to institute a strict policy of no politics in trail running. But, I didn’t have to. Nobody wants to talk about politics while running in the woods and it has never been an issue. Anyway, over the years, I have gotten to know many people in the group on a personal basis. These are not the monsters that they want us to believe they are. They are responsible, family and community oriented people who are productive, tax-paying members of society. They do not hate the country. And that’s the thing…I bet we all know liberal people who we know aren’t like the stereotype that the right makes them out to be and we can have somewhat rational, civil political discussions with…but that is because we know them personally and we’re not casting aspersions on them. Then we walk away and think, “well, sure, but all of the other leftists are terrible” and it’s easy to have uncivil arguments on the internet with strangers with that kind of thinking.
3. Election 2016. This opened my eyes to a whole new level about things that I had taken for granted, things that I had thought were so, for so many years, just were not. I watched with my own eyes and heard with my own ears things that Donald Trump was lying about and ignorant about and just plain wrong about, only to hear from all of those people that I had trusted over the years tell me that it wasn’t so. What?! So, that made me take a closer look and wonder what I had also been misled about for all of the years I didn’t even question them.
But, Steve, I thought this editorial was about ducks and frogs?
Sorry, yes, it is, but I thought it was important to lay down a little background first.
So, the ducks and frogs…I’m actually talking about one particular duck and one particular frog. Most of you will recognize them as AmericanDuckie and TXBullFrog. Now, I don’t personally know these two very well, but I have seen and interacted with them enough to make the point that I am working on making (trust me, I’m getting there).
You probably know AmericanDuckie as a moderator at The Right Scoop. I have always seen her as a calming, rational voice, which is very often needed in this political environment. Duckie is an immigrant from Canada who has become an American Citizen. Already, just going through that process, I am confident that she knows more about American Civics that the vast majority of natural Americans. Anyway, Duckie has spent years in the political realm attempting to convince and persuade people to the right way. When fed up with the 2 parties, she even made an attempt at starting a 3rd party. But these past couple of years has paid its toll on Duckie and she is simply tired of the constant rancor, not only between the left and right, but now also the infighting on the right, due to conflicts with Trump. This has caused her to pull back from political discourse as much as she can.
TXBullFrog is a frequent visitor here at TNB and often participates in discussions. I find that he, also, is a rational, calm voice. I have attempted to recruit him to write for TNB, but he has respectfully declined, asserting that he’s trying to cut back on politics and focus on a less rancorous community. He is now writing and hanging out at AmericanDuckie’s nonpolitical website, The Heart Beat.
What instigated this editorial is an article that TXBullFrog wrote that was posted today at The Heart Beat. I want to encourage everyone to go read it, as it applies perfectly to what I’m trying to say. He explains what is happening and the results of it.
The enemy is loving every minute of this. The vultures are circling overhead as I write. We have got to stop this. We have to put this behind us. We have to move on or things will never heal. Some may not want a healing. But if most search their hearts, I believe they would say they do. The thing is, we must first get over ourselves. You are not always right. I am not always right…as much as I don’t like to admit that. But having our noses stuck up in the air so high that we are breathing jet exhaust will solve nothing.
Please do go read the whole thing and say “Hi” to TXBullFrog and AmericanDuckie while you are there. Let them know that some of us do get it.
It saddens me that they would want to step away from politics. I get it, believe me. Some of you know that I’ve lamented about this myself a number of times. I recently wrote an editorial about it, Will You Stand?
The thing is, we need the voices of reason that AmericanDuckie and TXBullFrog provide…now, more than ever. It is my hope that they will relax, regroup, re-energize, and reenter the discourse with renewed vigor. We’re not all looking to simply snipe and throw bombs at each other. Many of us are with them and if we all bind together and grow, maybe we can make a bigger difference than we thought.
We need more frogs and ducks.
TXBullFrog’s LOVE THY NEIGHBOR?