“99 44/100% pure. And it floats!” That was Ivory Soap’s tagline once upon a time. Being that pure does not float anymore. It is 100% or go fish.
That is the subject of today’s 10 minute episode.
Beware the True Believers. QAnon and antifa are true believers, as are the many who believe that the 74+M who voted for Trump in 2020 are in league with the KKK and other white supremacists.
I am not talking about people who have a true belief in a higher power, a moral compass that guides their lives. We all need that in one powerful form or another. And we should all be True Believers in America, and in each other, but we’ll get to that. I am talking about those who hold the conviction that if you are not 100% with them on everything, that you fall short of the mark, that being 99.44% “right” does not qualify as acceptable.
Where did that 100% or nothing thinking come from? A. From being lazy. Okay, Will, how is that the correct answer to your question? Simple, seeing things in black and white is a lot easier than actually thinking things through, seeing if some parts of the other side makes enough sense to be credible. Said differently, it is far easier, lazier, to simply refuse to accept anything that is not 100% what you believe, and then reject the person making the argument if you cannot get them to think 100% the way that you do
My recent episode on Donald Trump is a prime example. I have upset subscribers who were clear that any criticism of Mr. Trump was completely unacceptable, and others who thought that any support for him whatsoever was equally unacceptable. In these cases, on the left and the right, it was 100% or nothing. That’s just lazy thinking–and downright dangerous thinking. And that kind of thinking is always doomed to failure. No two groups agree on everything, and no two people will either. If the l00% rule continues to be applied, then groups will splinter and splinter into smaller and smaller subgroups, logically ending up with “groups” of one. Here is a case in point. Antifa like protesters continue to protest and riot on the Northwest Coast, having moved the focus of their displeasure from the cops to the Democrats. The Democrats are not pure enough for them, so they continue with their tactics. But don’t blame the Dems; nothing will be pure enough for antifa, for they are True Believers.
One challenge with True Believers is that even if their initial demands are satisfied, they will change their demands, always asking for more. And then even more. In Menlo Park, CA, mere miles away from where I lived for 25 years in San Mateo, a woman’s livelihood and peace are being destroyed because she went to the Capitol Hill protest. She did not get anywhere near the Hill, but her presence in support at the protest was enough. Let’s hear from Suzi Tinsley, the owner of the now-closed Sugar Shack candy store in Menlo Park. “I do not have social media and did not post any images of myself at the rally. I was there for a peaceful march and shared photos via text with a few friends. I left the rally when the crowd became unruly and I was pushed to the ground. I returned to my hotel at that point, long before the agitators stormed the building. Just like every other American, I watched in horror as the chaos unfolded on television. I couldn’t believe my eyes and remain appalled at what I saw. I love my community, I love my country, and I hope those responsible for storming our Capitol Building are held fully accountable.”
The “leader” of the protest, which has closed the store and driven Ms. Tinsley virtually underground, says, “I don’t know whether she went into the Capitol or not. And I’m not saying that she did. And I’m not saying that she didn’t. But she partook in an anti-democracy protest,” says local youth activist, Henry Shane. “Call this out and say, ‘This is not ok!'” In other words, Shane wants to ruin Tinsley’s life because she is on the other side. In his True Believer mind, support for Mr. Trump is sufficient reason to ruin a life in any way that he can.
For almost four years, gaining momentum with the Democratic debates, we were led to believe that the job was to get Trump out of office. That happened, but it seems there is a new goal for these True Believers: attack as many of the Trump supporters and voters as you can, and discredit them in any way possible. Don Lemon, a leading voice on CNN, makes it clear that all of the 74M Trump voters are in league with the KKK and other white supremacists. All 74M. At least Hillary put only half in the “deplorable” basket. I voted for Trump twice; as did my wife–and she has two Masters Degrees to my one. In 2016 when there were 17 candidates for the Republican nomination; Trump was my 18th choice. In 2016, I voted against Hillary, not for Mr. Trump. In 2020, I voted against the Democratic platform, not for Mr. Trump. But to the Don Lemons of the world, I am in league with the KKK. Not only is that the easy, lazy way for Lemon to attack Trump voters, it is scurrilous, cheap and dangerous.
And there are True Believers on the right, likely as many as on the left. Some yearn for civil war, especially those who have never heard the sound of gunfire or artillery aimed in their direction. And haven’t pissed their pants the first time they heard it up close and personal. There are those who are adamant that being asked to wear a mask is a violation of their constitutional rights, worthy of open rebellion. And hang on if you disagree with the many who believe that not only was the election stolen, but that Trump won in a landslide. If I remember correctly, Mrs. Clinton made a similar argument in 2016. In each case, you’re either 100% with them, or 100% against them.
Here in Colorado Springs, I attended an evening meeting in support of a local Republican candidate. There were less than 20 of us around a table in a local restaurant. After the candidate spoke, there was time for comments and questions from the attendees. When I spoke up, it was to say I agreed with every major policy and principle the candidate espoused, and that I was registered Unaffiliated, asking if that would make a difference. The room fell into a shocked silence. The first people to respond told me that unless I changed my registration to Republican, that I was more a part of the problem than a part of the solution. When I did not agree with them, the tone became more strident. The next type to respond likely felt they were being more reasonable, simply urging me to get off the bench, and join the team. Not a single person acknowledged my alignment with the principles and policies they and the candidate shared. Nevermind that I could have been seen as a bridge to other Unaffiliated voters, with registered Unaffiliated voters enjoying a plurality, outnumbering both Democrats and Republicans in Colorado. And they never even said “thanks” for taking three hours out of my evening to support a Republican candidate. I was not pure enough, I was not in their club, and I was not accepted. 99 44/100% pure did not float. I drove home, convinced that I was in the right non-party. And this Unaffilited has very much been off the bench with this podcast for the last three years, and committed to the task, to being on the team, well into the future.
In 1776, Ben Franklin prophetically said, “We must all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang separately.” He was talking about the Revolution, and the certainty that the British would hang them all as traitors to the Crown if they lost. Hanging together today does not mean being in lockstep, it means that we are not lazy thinkers where everything is black or white, where we see everything as 100% right, or 100% wrong. Instead we listen, we learn, we argue, we learn some more, and hang in with each other while we disagree–and learn even more. We need to be True Believers in America and in each other.
Today, either we all hang together as Americans, or we will all hang each other separately.
Tell me what you believe. I and many others want to know.
As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty.
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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.