You’re Boring Me

We could hold the 2020 Presidential election tomorrow because everyone of voting age made up their mind a long time ago.

Let’s do it. Then let’s take all the money that would’ve be spent in both campaigns over the next five months and use it to strengthen our anemic public health system. Or let’s give it to Dan, Dan, The Transportation Man to hire the newly unemployed to build new bridges, highways, and airports.

Our partisanship is so acute, everyone is an ideologue. Reported sightings of “moderates,” “undecideds,” “independents,” or “centrists” are a myth. There’s no color wheel, only deep red and blue.

I know this because I read your tweets, see your Facebook posts, and listen to you. And there’s one thing all of you have in common, you’re incredibly predictable. So much so, I know what you’re going to say before you say it. Because you’ve said it so many times before. I could write your tweets and Facebook posts and finish your arguments. You mistakenly think repeating yourself enough will cause others to “see the light” and suddenly adopt your way of thinking, voting, being.

Of course, a reader of the humble blog in recent months could say the same thing about me. That you know what I’m going to write before I write it. No subtly, no nuance. I am you.

When it comes to interpersonal communication, there’s nothing more counterproductive than the receiver thinking, “I know what you’re going to say before you say it.” Because instead of truly listening, they just wait, wait, wait for a slight pause to say what they wanted to all along.

Instead of trying to understand why others believe what they do, we just make the same assertions over and over as if we will wear down the other. But our approach is futile because our group affiliations are indestructible. Our team identities are set in stone.

What counts as political “dialogue” in these (dis)United States is a series of highly predictable mutual monologues on continuous loop. We’re stuck in the largest, most predictable, worst Zoom meet up of all time.

Time to “leave the meeting”.

Gendered Bullshit

I knew what I was going to think about Jennifer Palmieri’s essay, “The Hidden Sexism Behind the Amy Klobuchar Reports” before I started it.

Yes, reports of Klobuchar’s egregious mistreatment of her staff are drawing more fire because she’s female, one person referred to it as “gendered bullshit”, but the remedy is to respond more quickly and effectively whenever men in power abuse their staffs. We should be gender-neutral when it comes to abuse of power.

Ah heck, may as well read it anyways.

I can’t recall doing a mental 180 in a shorter period of time. There’s no such thing as gender neutrality. Palmieri’s argument is this:

“. . . the problem is not that political journalists fail to report altogether on demanding and difficult men in politics. It’s that the reporting on such behavior is presented in a dramatically different fashion than it is in stories about female bosses in politics—as a badge of honor, not a mark of shame.”

I let that phrase, “badge of honor, not a mark of shame” sink in.

Palmieri’s just warming up y’all:

“It is not hard to think of tough male bosses in Washington. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has a reputation for being demanding; you will find such stories chronicled in the press. The same holds for men in politics with whom I have worked. A Google search of “Bill Clinton” and “purple rage” yields a number of anecdotes about the private temper tantrums we in the Clinton press office would endure when preparing the president for White House news conferences. Profiles of my friend and former colleague Rahm Emanuel are littered with stories of his profanity in the office and warnings by his staff that anyone working for him needs to “develop a thick skin,” write off going to weddings or family vacations, and expect to be available “25/8.”

While the anecdotes about these men are not entirely flattering, they are presented as colorful asides meant to give dimension to the hard-charging zeal with which these individuals do their jobs. Stories about intimidating male bosses are typically not presented as disqualifying, but as evidence of these men as formidable leaders. These are men who should not be underestimated. These are men who should be respected.” (emphasis mine)

Hook firmly entrenched in mouth, Palmieri reels me in:

“Imagine if it was reported that a female politician was prone to bouts of “purple rage” or that she expected staff to skip weddings and family vacations, and be available to her “25/8.” She would not be admired for the hard-charging zeal she brought to the job. She would be seen as unhinged. She would not be considered a formidable leader.”

Damn. She’s right. And not in a subtle, nuanced way, but in a “Wow, I’m not nearly as enlightened as I like to think” kinda way. I’m guilty of the thought process she details, and when it comes to gender relations, I’m much less a Neanderthal than normal. Hence, the systemic nature of the double standard.

To resolve myself of my gendered bullshit, I once again am firmly in the Kobuchar 2020 camp. Or EWarren. Two formidable leaders, either of whom would represent a bit of an upgrade.

Postscript: Also worth reading.