The other day I was sitting in the waiting area at my daughter's ballet class discussing the election with the other moms. Most of us were Obama supporters. I turned to the woman seated next to me and said, "Oh I hope nothing goes wrong on election day and that Obama wins." She replied, "Well, I'm supporting McCain." I smiled at her and said, "Oh, okay then." And then the fun began.
Her 19 year old daughter was home from college for the weekend and was with us at the ballet class. She said that if Obama gets elected, she will have a tough time when she graduates because of Obama raising taxes. I wasn't sure what she meant, so I asked, "Are college students making over $250,000 right out of school these days?" She explained, no, it wasn't that, it was the fact that employers will be hit with the higher taxes so they won't be hiring any new people.
If I were having a civil discourse with her where I could calmly reply to that, I would have explained to her that Obama was simply rolling back the tax rates to where they were under President Clinton, when we experienced the greatest period of prosperity in American history. Alan Greenspan, the then Chairman of the Federal Reserve said during Clinton's term in office we experienced "the longest economic expansion in the nation's history."
Unfortunately, with so many people speaking at once coupled with the girl's refusal to listen to reason, I was not able to tell her that. Luckily some other Obama supporters were mentioning how they thought it was about time that someone did something for the middle class, and that it was our turn for the tax breaks. I mentioned that everyone in the room at that moment would benefit from Obama's lowering taxes on the middle class, as I was sure no one netted, after deductions, an income of over $250,000.
This ruffled the feathers of the woman who had originally informed me that she was a McCain supporter to such an extent that she spat out, "Well, what about Bill Ayers?" I asked her why sitting on the same board of directors with someone means you are complicit in every activity that everyone in that room had ever engaged in, when she threw up her hands in exasperation and said, "See? This is why I don't discuss politics!"
What she was really angry about was, after all, the fact that every one of her condemnations of Obama was based on misinformation at best, but lies more than likely. If I were having a civil discourse with her I would have explained to her that William Ayers is a very highly regarded and deeply respected man in Chicago. Even the man who prosecuted Ayers defends him:
"In a Letter to the Editor in today's New York Times, William C. Ibershof,
chief prosecutor of William Ayers and the Weather Underground in the 1970s,
expressed outrage that McCain/Palin are deliberately misleading the public
about the nature of Ayers' history in relation to Barack Obama's charitable
work in Chicago.
The chief prosecutor wrote of those events that brought Ayers to trial 40
years ago: "Although I dearly wanted to obtain convictions against all the
Weathermen, including Bill Ayers, I am very pleased . . . that he has
become a responsible citizen." In the 40 years since those radical
activities, which occurred when Obama was eight years old, Ayers has gone on
to become a productive citizen, helping to promote public education, and
even earning the distinction of Chicago's Citizen of the Year for his
After this encounter I realized why it wouldn't have even mattered if I had been able to say all that I wanted to say. I realized why we can't have a civil discourse about the election. It is not only because the negative attacks against Obama are complete fiction and have served to elicit a negative emotional response to Obama., but that the people with these views wanted to believe the lies in the first place.