Being a middle-aged Southern white guy, it should be obvious that I have friends and family who are Republicans. The list of people I love and admire includes some names of folks who not only voted for Trump, they voted — twice — for the previous record-holder for Most Blatantly Unfit For Presidential Office — George W. Bush.
These people aren’t racist Southern stereotypes. They run the gamut from teachers and physicians to executives, nurses, developers, entrepreneurs and tradesmen.
When it comes to the things these people do for a living, I would trust their opinions implicitly. They’re competent people when it comes to their work.
But when it comes to politics? I freely and confidently ignore every single opinion they assert.
That’s not because I’m a smug liberal dickhead, although I may, in fact, be a smug liberal dickhead. It’s because being competent in one facet of your life does not automatically confer competence to unrelated topics.
For instance: If a bicycle mechanic diagnoses an expensive bottom bracket replacement because of a ticking sound without first applying lubricant to the pedal threads, I’m going to question that mechanic’s opinion on what’s wrong with my bike. And if he then strips the threads on my pedals because he doesn’t know which one is reverse threaded, I’m going to reject anything he says about bikes as profoundly unreliable. I don’t say that because I’m biased against a class of bike mechanics. I say that because I used to be a bike mechanic (though not a particularly good one), and those things are objectively incompetent.
Likewise, if you voted for George W. Bush in 2000, when it was fairly obvious that the man was unprepared for office, that’s a mark against you. But if you voted for him again, in 2004, when it was absolutely obvious that his entire administration was a rolling disaster, I’m done listening to anything critical you have to say about politics. Because anyone — anyone — who voted twice for Dubya is a confirmed political incompetent. They’re free to have opinions, but no one should be required to give anything they say about politics a second thought.
So it goes with Trump voters. A person supporting Trump might be the best pit barbecue master in the Carolinas. Another might be a great plumber. But political opinions?
There have been three votes since 2000 that stand as objective litmus tests for the seriousness of an American citizen’s political knowledge: Bush 2000, Bush 2004, and Trump 2016. One of those votes makes your opinion suspect. A Bush 2004 and Trump 2016 combo makes you a political incompetent. All three? You really ought to reflect on your life choices.
But Trump 2020?
That’s a scarlet letter. There is no rational excuse for it. Hence, there is no reasoning with such a person. Not on politics, anyway.
I believe people can learn and change, but you can’t learn and change without recognizing your mistakes. So if you’re still not willing to say “I was wrong about that vote,” just move on to another topic. You’ve been tested, you’ve failed, and serious people are no longer required to take you seriously.
It’s not me being a dick. It’s you not knowing what you’re talking about. And that’s not my problem.