Yeah, I wrote one of those columns. One that gets me calls of adoration (OK, I’m stretching that) and support from one side and creates outrage and claims of denigration on the other. Truthfully, it was all very predictable. I say this for two reasons. First, the column was written flat out from a very conservative point of view. Second, what I wrote was true.
Those things aside, it was the manner and tone from those on the “left” when the column was discussed that finally convinced me on the headline for this column. We’ll get into that in a second. But first let me explain the quotes around the word left in the opening sentence of this paragraph. It’s my hope the lesson I’m about to give in business ethics and eternal truths in life is taken not as something coming from someone who believes he’s better than others, but from someone who simply sees reality in our everyday lives.
I’m not a big “left” versus “right” guy in my everyday relationships. Now some will already be up out of their chairs saying, “But you posted this about the left …” or “You said that about the left … .” Admittedly, there are times when I do. And those times tend to be generalizations, all supported by experience.
My first position in all the conversations I have after a column that stirs the proverbial pot so effectively is we’re all Americans and probably agree on 90 percent to 95 percent about life and freedom and the pursuit of happiness. We all want to live freely in our lives, have great hopes for our children and believe we live in the greatest country on Earth. Yet, there are the occasional calls from people who’ve taken such offense to what I write being attached to their way of thinking, they can’t get past identity politics and a conversation simply isn’t possible. And, yes, these folks in my life tend to be on the “left.”
Let me address a couple of different situations that resulted from my last column. The first are two phone calls I received. Let’s just say they were calls from people on the opposite end of the political spectrum. Yes, my column had a leaning regarding how the Supreme Court has made decision after decision that are bad for the country, and that those decisions all fall in line with Democratic policies. I think it’s impossible to not recognize this as fact related to Jim Crow, abortion, Obamacare and slavery. Yet, one caller demanded to know why I was denigrating Democrat business owners. The truth is, I didn’t. I simply connected Supreme Court decisions to a party’s policies. They did the rest. More mind blowing, when I asked this caller about which party ran the states with Jim Crow laws in effect, they asked me to provide my research that said they were all Democratically run states. They said they’d never heard of that. As you can imagine, there was little conversation on this call.
My second caller has been a subscriber to the paper since I arrived 18 years ago. The person was calling to cancel that subscription because of my column. Now I can accept that as a reason to do so. But what I also wanted was a conversation about life. And to this person’s credit, we had an excellent one. What came of that chat? The knowledge I’ve written plenty of columns they’ve cheered because I’ve had plenty of calls from our local leaders on the “right” when they didn’t like the stirring; the fact the Business Times doesn’t make its first question, “Who did you vote for in the last election” when we do a story on a person or business; and the assurance we take the separation between content, advertising and editorials very seriously. All in all, some laughter, logic and much-needed banter. Will this person continue to subscribe? I have no idea. I’m comfortable either way because we had our talk and it’s not my decision to make.
Lastly are a couple of beer-logic-based conversations with a couple of golf buddies who’d be considered more on the left than the right as generalizations go. These occurred because my column was brought up after our round. Once again, it was agreed we all want the freedoms I mentioned above, and we had a decent discussion about the left and right leanings of the Supreme Court. Also, they couldn’t really answer when I asked exactly what the president was doing that was unconstitutional. But what surprised me was the vitriol about the man about to pick the next court justice. All was calm until President Donald Trump was mentioned. Then it was all personal — and a little obscene.
And that I don’t understand. I didn’t care much for President Barack Obama, much less his policies. But I never went profanity-laced in opposing him. As I try today, I preferred conversations with those who disagreed while realizing with some that can’t happen.
Today, all too many want to never speak to someone who thinks differently politically. And yet they do it every day with the businesses and people with which they interact. That’s because free association isn’t political.
And 99 percent of our lives shouldn’t be, either.