When You Shut Up And Focus, You Can Learn A Lot More

I don’t know who I’m voting for in the 2024 Presidential election.  It’s still more than a year off, and a lot can change in a year.  From my perspective, I pray daily and nightly that it does.

But my prayers are far more personal than who winds up winning.  As is my rationale for why I simply at this point am not willing to consent to reelecting Joe Biden.  Nor am I willing to fall in line and fall for the tidal wave that seems to believe it has already been prophetically determined that Donald Trump will, like Cyrus, return to power and reclaim America for the righteous.

Yet somehow, that very simple personal statement seems to trigger a handful of otherwise decent friends of mine.  One in particular has been particularly aggressive lately; the mere mention of any ambiguity on my part seems to trigger detailed responses.   If you access these musings via Facebook, you have probably seen some of that person’s comments; they are, thankfully, a fan.  But what has become sadly clearer in recent days is while this person has extremely strong opinions, they seem to lack the capacity to actually read any response I may offer to them.    Impassioned arguments defending Biden’s track record; citing his personal ethic as the reason I still have a life.  Accusations that I spend all day watching nothing but right-wing propoganda and being brainwashed by it.  Citing their own personal journey as well as their family’s to defend their viewpoint and zealotically insisting that anything counter to their view is detrimental to my mental health.

Foolishly, I attempted to respond with actual facts.  The fact that my viewpoints on based on actual credible current polls, such as the one released earlier this week by USA TODAY and Suffolk University.   I’ve digested and dissected and even conducted thousands of polls over my long career; I can tell which are more legitimate that others.  I ignore the ones that are commissioned by either side of the aisle, because often they will skew samples to favor a particular viewpoint as their baselines.

The fact that I have access to dozens of focus groups on these candidates, and no, not  just the ones run by Frank Luntz that tend to turn up all over CSPAN and other news channels.  I’ve worked with Luntz and seen him in action, and even Wikipedia cites the level of bias that Luntz often throws into his research.  Not to disparage Luntz completely; as a methodologist, he’s impressive.  But he’s personally anything but impartial.  I watch groups conducted more recently and more quietly that continue to show that despite the continued indictments on everything from January 6th to fraud, and the flippings of his lawyers, a sizable percentage of voters, not simply the blindly evangelical, simply do not care about his character.  In one recent set of groups conducted shortly after the infamous “mug shot”, even independent voters were unimpacted.

The fact that I judge the electability of a candidate as much by the level of intelligence available to them rather than what they may or not personally possess.  I personally knew many executives who were involved with Cambridge Analyica, the controversial company credited with helping Republicans access information and microtarget voters that the Democrats’ research consultants–people with ties to companies run by one of the party’s wealthiest donors–ignored.  They didn’t know at the time that Cambridge was in violation of any existing laws in either the US or the UK.  The wonderful Netflix documentary THE GREAT HACK tells the story in detail.  

My impassioned friend even cites data that purports that 10 million of Trump’s 73 million 202o voters have died since then.  Data that insists that virtually every 18-22 year old newly eligible in 2024 will vote for Biden.  I’ve challenged this person to share the source of those numbers, for the same reasons that I cited above, because I for one can’t find those actual numbers anywhere.    I’ve asked this person which focus groups they’ve seen.

No response to any of this.  Just a lengthy regurgitation of the same personal viewpoints and shaming.

It was bad enough when I argued with just this person.  But in later hours a couple of other folks joined in, apparently only seeing the highlights and most recent posts.  Let’s just say my detailed defense for my position went over almost as well.

I decided, arguably belatedly, to take this conversation to private texting because, let’s face it, there’s only so much bandwidth anyone has for this, myself included.

One more impactful person was equally as impassioned as my opinionated friend.  When cooler heads prevailed, we actually had a lovely catch-up and reconnected.  Turns out we have a mutual friend who I have revered for years, and that particular admission was even more triggering than my political viewpoints.  As I defended this mutual friend this person suggested, as my bestie often does, to Google the person in question.

I did.  This was what came upThis, too.

I never knew.  I never took the time to focus.  Perhaps this may have explained why this person almost never returned phone calls of mine when I was particularly in need

Shame on me indeed.

I still think this person is a decent father.  His wife stands by him.  We do have a long history, often supportive of me in true times of need; lately not so much

But I’ll never quite see him in the same light ever again.

I’m truly thankful to the person who set me straight.  We appear to be back on a friendly course.

But it would have surely disintegrated into rage and vitriol had I not taken the time to actually read and listen to their concerns.

Unlike so many people on social media.  And, it would appear, in Congress as well.

So if I can finally put a cork in all of this, my simple and sage advice to all–including myself–is to occasionally stop texting, shut up, and focus.

We all might be a lot better off if we did.

Until next time…




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