One of the worst bits of advice I ever received was, “Consider the source.” Yeah, it seemed like great advice when the car salesman said he was giving me his best price and the real estate agent said it was the perfect time to buy a house and the Secretary of Mining from Nigeria said I could trust him to send me the money. Beyond the obvious stuff, though, that once-great rule isn’t working for me anymore.
The problem, not surprisingly, is politics. My tribe good. Your tribe must die. You get the picture.
A few weeks ago, a reporter for a cable network asked an embarrassing question about someone’s behavior during the pandemic. There’s absolutely no question about the hypocrisy of the exchange, especially when we consider the way that network has responded to similar behavior by the people they support. Still, the question was legitimate, because it’s legitimate to ask whether a leader is upholding the same standards that leader demands of others.
No one will be surprised to learn that the answers started to divide along party lines. And absolutely, positively, without any shadow of a doubt, we will not be surprised to learn that nobody actually answered the question.
Because we are considering the source.
We’re being pretty stupid these days, at our great expense. We aren’t fixing the weaknesses in our economy, we aren’t inoculating people fast enough, we aren’t reducing violence, we aren’t improving our kids’ education, we aren’t making government more responsive or effective or efficient or transparent, or or or… We aren’t making progress, in large part, because we cannot and will not discuss ideas. We identify the source, support or reject accordingly, and then move on to our next post.
In The Time Before, I went to a program about the way elections are handled in the United States, a session that covered everything from voter registration to gerrymandering to allocation of Electoral College votes. The speakers raised some good points about the ways our system fails to reflect the will of the people and they offered some solutions for our consideration. When the meeting ended, the guy sitting next to me leaned over and said, “He sounded like he might be a Democrat.”
That was it. The conversation was over. My neighbor doesn’t think his views are represented in government, but he wasn’t going to consider any solutions that might be offered by Democrats.
He was considering the source.
He didn’t care about the ideas, just the team that owned them. Four years from now, he’ll still be complaining that the government doesn’t respond to the will of the people, but he’ll be glad to learn that no Democrat solutions will be imposed.
And that kind of reaction makes him a chump. He isn’t alone, of course. Our leaders have learned how to deflect blame and responsibility and refuse to make progress for the nation by simply labeling ideas as socialist or populist or fascist or leftist or radical or Republican or Democrat.
You know why we aren’t making any progress in this country? It’s because we talk about sides instead of ideas, tribes instead of visions. We’ve decided we’re okay with suffering, as long as the other guy suffers more. We’ve decided we don’t care about leaving a better world for our kids if it means the world will be better for our rivals’ kids as well.
We have met the enemy, as Pogo said, and he is us.
Because we are considering the source.
Dad Writes subscribers will be the first to know when all this tribalism crap disappears and we’re singing Kumbaya around the campfire. Doesn’t that make you want to click here to subscribe?
Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.