Iʼve been watching the past weekʼs U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee hearings with abject fascination. The level of nonchalance with which they attempt to unravel a conspiracy by a foreign power with ties to some of the highest offices in the land - if not the very highest - is beyond me. James Comey has been added to my list of people with whom Iʼd like to have a beer someday. Heck, after last Thursdayʼs performance, Iʼm buying.
The thing I noticed, though, is that there was a strong correlation in the quality of the questions the various senators asked¹, and whether or not there was an
(R) on their nameplate. It is in this light that Iʼd like to share a formative experience I had some years ago.
In my university years I was a member of a musical society, where we had weekly post-rehearsal pub nights. An election season (local government) arrived, and one of the candidates visited us to explain his partyʼs plans for cultural spending and why heʼd be the best choice for a group that cares so deeply about performing classical music and visiting concerts. Naturally, this prompted a lot of discussion about politics.
Being my introverted self, I opted to stay at the sidelines for a bit and see how this played out. I ended up chatting with another member, letʼs call him Mark Smith², whoʼd employed the same strategy as I did. He mentioned the following:
“You know, I usually vote Republican³, but I guess I shouldnʼt be to vocal about that in this group.”
Little did he know that this was a life-altering moment for me. Here I was, happily in my left-leaning bubble, and hereʼs someone I know and respect, who, in spite of him being neither stupid nor evil, supports the wrong team. How could this possibly be?
And in that instant, I could see past the tribalism, past the flag-waving, past the anythingʼs-okay-as-long-as-my-guy-wins-ism. Marc votes Republican because their priorities for running the country are in line with his; no other reason necessary.
From that point on I started reading newspapers and manifestos differently, trying my best to judge ideas, not teams. (And in this particular instance, since one party made an effort to visit us and tell us why they think culture is important and another basically said “itʼs expensive bullshit, letʼs get rid of it,” my choice wasnʼt difficult to make.)
You know, I used to think a “Party Line” was a phone number you could call when you had something to celebrate. But now that Iʼve seen this shit show going on, Iʼm feeling more and more relieved that I live on a different continent.
Far be it from me to tell the U.S. how to run their business; Iʼll leave that to my favorite senator for Vermont (paraphrasing until I can find the actual quote):
“The Democrats cannot use this investigation to score political points. The Republicans cannot blindly defend 'their guyʼ just because theyʼre currently the ones in charge. This collusion investigation affects everyone.”
¹: And, in the case of AG Jeff Sessions, the quality of the answers they got.
²: Fun fact, thatʼs what heʼs actually called. (I donʼt mind doxing someone with a name that generic.)
³: He didnʼt actually say “Republican”, but I adapted this post to fit U.S. politics.