The short answer is—unlikely. Naturally, it’s complicated so I did a little research. I also searched within my own mind because my core beliefs are so deep I can’t remember ever—ever—ever changing one. However, I have changed my opinion on many other things in life.
Whether or not someone likes mustard on a hot dog and another likes ketchup is not part of this process. Over the years as I’ve matured my taste buds matured, my interest in certain books and movies has matured, my taste in colors has changed from earth tones to bright primary colors, and the like. Those likes and dislikes are simple daily pleasures or annoyances and can be easily changed or not but whatever we decide we can manage without angst. No, this post is about the big stuff: religion, politics, social issues, lifestyle choices, feelings about addictions, marriage, child rearing, and countless other issues that can turn a person to putty when challenged.
When we hear the word “debate” it’s usually in connection with elections, especially as of late. However, we debate issues all the time, every day, all over the world. We even debate with our children. It doesn’t matter that we are the parents and they are the children. The debates explode and can sometimes create horrible barriers to harmonious family lives. Some family debates end up with years of family feuding. And let’s not forget the Hatfields and McCoys!
Office debates are similar but continuation of employment usually brings folks to some sort of compromise—but not always. Of course, the outrageous outcomes we read about in the news are not what most of us experience. Still, some of the people who bring guns to work often get that way because of disputes and unresolved issues and debating who is right or wrong. Arguing with people who have fragile mental control is dangerous we have all learned.
But the type of debate I’ve been thinking about recently is the political debate. In my entire 66 years I have never changed my opinion about any person due to their debate expertise, pro or con. In fact, even if they are not very good at debating sometimes they get their point across so debate style is highly overrated. I personally don’t care if someone is a pro at debating. That’s something that can be learned. It’s a skill one develops in politics and some learn it better than others. Some, like Ronald Reagan, join politics already highly skilled in speech-giving even though most of what he spoke about ran shivers of absolute horror up my spine. It didn’t matter because he was handsome, charming, and could talk the sugar off the cookie (i.e., a sweet talker). The fact he didn’t prepare his platform and was a mouthpiece was lost on the naïve populace because of his excellence in appearance and presentation. But not me. Nor anyone in my camp.
So if someone as expert as Ronald Reagan couldn’t change my political position it is unlikely all these Johnny-come-latelys are going to and none of them hold a candle to Ronald Reagan. I’ve listened to a few of these debates, bits and pieces, but mostly I prefer watching the various analyses after the debates. The part I find particularly amusing is the TV screen split into four parts and each head screams and interrupts the other talking heads. It’s better than a late night comedy show. And they are all full of hot air. There are serious commentators and analysts to be found on TV, but good luck finding them.
I don’t get a lot of my news from TV, nor do I get much of anything from TV, but I like to search the internet for news and that’s where I’ve found detailed blow by blow analyses of the various debates and interviews. Though I always state that my political leanings are slightly to the left of Jesus, I do look for people with opposing views who do not spew filth and hate and lies and there are many out there I respect. I don’t particularly have a “side.” When it comes to politicians I don’t believe or trust any of them nor anything they say. Instead, I dig in and look it all up myself. It’s so easy to do and when I am discussing events with people it’s disheartening that a) they often do not know what I’m talking about, and/or b) they believe whatever B.S. they hear if it’s related to their “party.”
So when these huge debates hit the airwaves with the beautifully crafted and designed background TV “sets” and candidates dressed in their finest with slicked backed or coiffed hair it’s an impressive sight. They appear bigger than life and represent, supposedly, the best of humanity. People who are devoting their lives to public service. In reality, regardless of political party, they are self-promoting, opportunistic, charlatans who are purposely duping the citizens with razzle dazzle speech writers and speeches often filled with pure malarkey.When this happens it’s not too dangerous if the speakers are bad at delivering speeches or carefully crafted responses that they can’t quite spit out, but when we see a pro, such as Ronald Reagan, it is our responsibility—our duty—to ferret out the information on our own. Too little of this is done to the detriment of our political system. Too many times people believe what is said and only days later do we learn the candidates sheepishly apologize and say they didn’t mean that exactly, what they really meant to say was . . .
We have become a very confrontational society. It’s appalling to watch news “shows” with guests pontificating on their opposite views and the commentators barely hanging on to control. Add to that the several seconds of delayed feed in case someone uses the “F” bomb then it makes a huge mess and my chest hurts.
But whether we want to participate in the debauchery of debates (that just sort of rolled off the tongue) or we would rather spend a little time digging into candidate voting records (all easily obtainable and reliable on official public sites) and digging into their bios, and digging into both sides of issues important to us, is all up to us. But if we don’t do the research we should probably not pontificate on our views otherwise we could make fools of ourselves.
My mantra is: don’t believe everything you see or hear. Check it out and make sure opposing views are part of your research. You won’t change your mind about your core beliefs but you will know if your candidate is really who you want. There are people out there, somewhere, with your views who are actually smart and honest. Not too many but there may be a few. I’m still looking for folks with my views but most of them are dead.