Grape Nuts and blueberries, that’s as normal a breakfast as I’m likely to have. But the other day I went out instead. Not far from me at the diner were a group of three old guys thinking about going hunting, or maybe fishing, or maybe not, being served by one of those old time waitresses who call everyone honey or dear and have no problem entering into the conversation. When they finally got down to it, politics was what was on their mind, presidential politics.
It was not that odd of a political conversation in the sense that no one offered any evidence or source for what they believed to be true. They simply asserted it as incontrovertible. You have probably heard the same. Maybe you have done the same. And what was incontrovertible, you ask? The big one was Hillary’s foundation. Each of them had special inside knowledge of the many, I mean many, FBI and Secret Service investigations that the liberal media was suppressing. How exactly they were so well informed while the rest of us live in ignorance was never explained. Nor were their differing sets of incontrovertible facts that each could expound on with increasing knowledge of greater detail about what the FBI and Secret Service know, but the rest of us don’t. Even among the four of them, each knew what the others didn’t, but now they had shared a cornucopia of intelligence that brought them collectively up to speed.
The conversation ended with the assertion that if Hillary gets elected the Constitution will no longer be the law of the land. The Supreme Court will replace it with its own rulings. Wow! Who knew the Supreme Court could rule on the meaning of the Constitution? It’s just another hole in the hull of our sinking ship of democracy I guess.
I’d like to say that my mainstream Republican and Democratic friends are better than that, but coffee conversation seems to be filled on every side with a gullible willingness to believe as fact whatever attractive rumor passes by. We reinforce each other by sharing them with certainty in their truth. I am even more stunned at the lack of basic knowledge of American civics, not in the young, but in mature adults who were supposed to have learned this stuff back when schools were schools.
I suppose it might help to have some kind of mass remedial education in 9th grade civics, but would it take? There appears to be a missing link, and that is the ability to think critically. Did we never teach critical thinking in high schools? Or did we teach it but no one was paying attention? Conservative acquaintances harrumph at critical thinking as just another liberal fad to brainwash kids. Liberal acquaintances love critical thinking and assume that whatever they think must have been arrived at critically simply because they thought it. The hard work of testing one’s thoughts with logic and verifiable evidence that spans the political spectrum seems to be an alien idea unworthy of American exceptionalism. There also seems to be a general discomfort in learning that what is true is not the whole truth. It’s never more than a partial truth, but properly tested it can be enough of the whole truth on which to act with confidence.
Oh well, we have to live with what we have, so here’s to the three old men and one old woman at breakfast. May they decide to go hunting or fishing after all, and may they do it on November 8th.