A Father’s Journal: Debating this year’s politics in the fast lane
The night of the Iowa caucus, I conducted my own telephone poll in Iowa. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 100 percent. I talked to my 85-year-old aunt, who is a Catholic nun in Dubuque. I called her just as she was heading out to the caucus place, or wherever Iowans call the place they stand around and … actually I don’t know what they do. They seem to stand. I didn’t see a lot of chairs on television.
My aunt was a Hillary caucuser. We in our family argue politics and religion all the time. If you eliminate politics and religion from conversations, why even talk to people? I polled her and the results of my informal poll are that 100 percent of Iowans could care less about emails, policy problems and trust issues with Hillary. They think Bernie Sanders is not a serious candidate, and that all the Republicans are crackpots. There may be a small sampling error. Also, I now know for sure that 100 percent of Iowans are very concerned with some recent problems my cousin had, and want me to hug and kiss my daughters for them.
Once a week or so, on my drive home from Stamford, I will call another Fairfielder, who has even a longer commute, and we will argue politics. This guy, who I will call John (because that’s his name), and I will sometimes get in screaming matches. Mainly because we are both law-abiding people on speaker phones, but sometimes because of the topics. We have been doing this for about 10 years, and we have not changed each other’s opinion on any topic of note. But both of us live with the dream of the other one saying, “You are right, I never heard it that way, and with that much volume. I have changed my position.” We also fear that day since it would mean that our arguments would end. And the commute would get even longer.
We have come up with some guidelines over the years. And since the political season is upon us. I will share some of them. This could help other car commuters want to start their own arguing/screaming group.
1) You can only do this in a car by yourself. Very hard to scream continuously on the train.
2) You can’t compare any current politician to Hitler. You can’t even cheat and compare them to “historical demagogues.” Everyone knows that’s Hitler. Hitler was Hitler. He was really bad. Also, “kind of fascisty” is unacceptable.
3)”This is the most important election.” Aren’t we full of ourselves? My old history teacher Mr. Kurtz said the most important ones were the two after George Washington. They established precedent. He was probably right.
4) It’s hard to say your candidate is more moral. They probably aren’t. Morality is a slippery slope (but fun to argue about because it has no number, like unemployment figures) after 10 years, both of us realize that we are a product of our environment. In college, I learned that if they know your parents party affiliation, zip code, religion, age, ethnicity and education, and a few other facts, with 86 percent accuracy these party operatives can tell you who you are going to vote for. Morality is not a factor in it. If it was, whose morality?
5) No personal attacks. This one is hard, because obviously John is an idiot. He is completely wrong on so many issues. I am right on most everything. This one gets us into the most trouble. John is a moral man (my definition). He loves his family as much as I love mine. He wants a bright future for his kids and grandkids as I want for mine. To say, “You must not love your grandkids because they will starve because ...” is plain stupid but it’s it’s kind of fun to skirt around. Also neither one of us has grandkids.
So I am looking forward to the election year. John and I are gearing up for our periodic matches. It makes the commute go faster. I feel pumped up when I get home. Maybe next week we’ll conference in my aunt in Dubuque.
Thomas Lawlor lives in Southport with his wife and two daughters. His column appears every other Friday. He can be reached by email at Tlawlor@mcommunications.com.