I’m not a New Year’s resolution kind of guy. When I make resolutions they generally happen organically. “Holy hell, that pizza was awful, I resolve to never order pizza from that place again …”
With very few exceptions you’ll get no second chances from me. I’m stubborn to a fault, and own it.
It was quite a surprise then, that when I rolled my stubborn ass out of the rack on Monday, I resolved to find a better way to talk to Republicans. I’m sure it had something to do with a recent epiphany, but more on that below.
Lately, I hate Republicans. I don’t necessarily like that I hate Republicans, but there is nothing to recommend them. They are just flat mean, and are actively trying to kill us.
How many more thousands of Americans would still be alive if we all simply listened to the science, wore masks and got vaccinated? How much more stable would our democracy be if a defeat at the polls was accepted through gritted teeth and graciousness, instead of threats and insurrection?
I didn’t always hate Republicans. Hell, I used to vote for ’em every now and then.
Are you still there …?
A number of my oldest friends are Republicans. We’ve been around several blocks together. These are the people I grew up with; got in trouble with; fought for; whose pockets were stuffed with my secrets … The people I loved.
I know where my old friends came from; how they were raised; whether their mother or father was an asshole; where the skeletons were buried … Nobody knows more about you than an old, trusted friend.
Lately, I don’t much recognize many of my old friends anymore. I reckon I look pretty hazy to them, too. I see the stuff they load up on their Facebook page, and wonder how it is we ended up living on different planets when we used to share the same bed.
This all started with Trump, of course. The guy brought out the worst in all of us. It’s his singular talent. Everybody around him is miserable and angry.
I realize I’m not splattering you with any big revelations here. We’ve all gone through this. Not a one of us hasn’t been touched by this negative, soul-crushing force.
Used to be we could trade political insults. Poke fun at each other. In the event it got too heated we could turn the flame down by simply agreeing too many of our politicians were full of shit. They were just going to screw us all in the end no matter what. There was money to be made.
Much better to believe in a friendship that had stood the test of time, than some political party that would stand on your neck.
Sigh … those were the days.
Monday was going to be different, though. Monday, I was going to be the bigger man. I was going to re-engage. Bridge the gap. Start anew. Find some reason amid the ashes of these torched relationships …
I blame President Obama for this.
I don’t know about you, but I do most of my above-average thinking while lying in bed. There’s not a more honest place than safely underneath the covers, head nestled in a pillow.
Just before I closed my eyes Sunday night, I remembered something the two-term, scandal-free president said last year on the campaign trail while stumping for Joe Biden. I’ll paraphrase, and guarantee you it was even smarter than I’ll type it. But it stuck, and here it goes:
“Look,” Obama said in his ascending tone, “If I tell your Republican friends they should consider voting for something or doing something, they’ll look at me and laugh. They don’t like me! But if YOU tell your Republican friends they should consider voting for something or doing something, they’ll listen! And they’ll listen, because-they-like-you! They might even LOVE you! So sit down. Talk with them!”
See what I mean? If FDR deserved four terms, this guy should have got at least three.
Now here I was refreshed, and ready to bring it. There were holes to patch and old friendships to cement. I would extend a hand …
I poured a cup of coffee, plugged into a comfy chair, cracked open the morning paper, and said this: “Awwwwwwwww fuuuuuuuck …”
HEADLINE: “Four Whooping Cranes Killed”
Turns out, a Republican bill in Oklahoma had OK’d a sandhill crane hunting season, because I suppose, the party of death needed to look skyward to quench its morbid thirst.
In the middle of blowing to pieces all these majestic animals, four Whooping Cranes “mistakenly” met their demise. There are less than 500 of these beauties left in North America, because they were almost shot into extinction years ago.
Now they were being shot again, because Republicans just can’t kill enough.
I pretty much think human beings deserve each other, but animals don’t deserve human beings.
So, hands shaking, I put the paper down and cried.
I decided talking to my Republican friends could wait until I could do it without wanting ’em dead.
(D. Earl Stephens is a published author and finished up a 30-year career in journalism as the Managing Editor of Stars and Stripes.)