The Other Side

The Iowa caucuses are now a month away. Politics……sigh. Despite my huge interest in historical non-fiction and current news events, I generally don’t like talking about politics and usually I can’t put my finger on why. I’d just rather know and focus on a person’s core personality and demeanor before I know anything about their political views.

I don’t ever want political views to cloud my relationship with people because it’s not fair to anyone if they are pre-judged based on those beliefs. The only thing you are allowed to pre-judge people on is their musical taste. OK, I’m kidding. Maybe.

Anyhow, if you’re a repeat visitor on this blog you know that I tend to lean leftward and I don’t put it out there aggressively, nor do I push my beliefs on anyone. I don’t put signs on my lawn and I don’t post on social unless it involves a politician doing something really dumb or funny. Like this:

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One thing I do try, though, is to listen and understand the opposite opinion of the one I have. Which is why I’ve begun reading “The Life,” the new Ronald Reagan book which came out recently. Reagan was the head honcho from 1981 to 1989, a time period where I went from 10 to 18 years of age. Suffice it to say I wasn’t paying much attention to politics back then. It was more like hockey, school, girls and music. As time has passed, though, I’ve learned enough to know he was a polarizing figure, much like any other president.Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 2.46.18 PM

However, in the modern era, he’s the one president that I don’t know all too much about and I need to fix that. I begrudgingly I bought his estate some dinner and purchased the book.

I’m only into the 1950s right now so it’s too early for me to pass any final judgements on him, but I can say that I am pleasantly surprised with the book. I always thought he was an A-list actor, but that’s actually far from the truth. He had a cup of coffee with a single nomination, but never got to the upper echelon for actors.

I also was surprised to learn that his interest in politics hit him much earlier than I thought. His failing to get acting jobs pushed him to be more involved in the union dealings of the off-camera/industrial part of the movie-making business in Hollywood and that’s where his foundation was laid in politics.

I have a good sense of how I am going to feel about Reagan at the end of the book – probably not well. With that said, there is a moral to today’s post – keep an open mind. You will come across great people and good friends in your life who believe the exact opposite of you. Whether it’s personal or professional, you’ll do yourself a heck of a lot of good if you try to gain perspective from the other side. I can’t think of a single time when it hasn’t served me well and opened my mind.

This song, by Tommy Womack, is a killer. Worth a listen and so well-written. Will make you smile.

Election

I’m very proud to be an American today. Not because of who won, but because the U.S. took a major, historic and emotional step forward yesterday in starting to right hundreds of years of horribly embarrassing wrongs. Which isn’t to say that Obama was elected because he’s African-American. It’s that the majority of Americans (myself included) elected him simply because we felt he would do a better job than McCain. Color didn’t matter.

Oh, of course it mattered for some people. Racism is basically the war on drugs or the war on terrorism – it is a stain that no detergent will ever fully clean. But the haters, they are fast becoming the minority – and good riddance. So I look around now and I see a younger generation of people who don’t hate based on sexual orientation and I see a country who is making progress and getting more colorblind. That is history and we are so, so lucky to be living it.

Now, regarding politics, really I think these politicians are all the same. I certainly don’t envy the man who won the race yesterday. He’s got a tough road to hoe. I hope more than anything that his actions back up his eloquence, because his voting record is awfully partisan. I hope his clever “red-state, blue-state, united-states” catch phrase isn’t just a catch phrase. I refuse to get caught up in a candidate because of catch phrases or promises for change. It happens every four years and then the day after the election, everything goes back to the normal B.S. I hope more than anything he succeeds. His victory yesterday, in my eyes, is the most significant in my lifetime thus far and brings something we’ve rarely seen in politics – hope.

Andy Dufresne: That’s the beauty of music. They can’t get that from you… Haven’t you ever felt that way about music? 
Red: I played a mean harmonica as a younger man. Lost interest in it though. Didn’t make much sense in here. 
Andy Dufresne: Here’s where it makes the most sense. You need it so you don’t forget. 
Red: Forget? 
Andy Dufresne: Forget that… there are places in this world that aren’t made out of stone. That there’s something inside… that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch. That’s yours. 
Red: What’re you talking about? 
Andy Dufresne: Hope.