I ran into him again. My neighbor, I'll refer to him as Bill. Bill and I have lived in the same neighborhood for nearly 20 years. We’d bump into him walking the dog or just strolling around close to our house. Early on, Bill was quite a reasonable Republican, you know, someone with different views but still a moderate politically. That may explain why we often had those spirited talks about politics. We didn’t always agree, but we’d agreed to disagree and felt we could learn something from each other.
Now, after running into him twice in 2 weeks, things have changed. From what I can gather, Bill is still part of the Republican Party but appears to be radicalized so compromise is not part of his vocabulary. Because of this change and no longer a moderate, something I once enjoyed is no longer fun. I’ve included some excerpts of our latest discussion. As one can imagine, the tenor of the discussion is not what it used to be.
Just to set the record straight, Bill railed against illegal immigration last week and this week involves Biden being a lousy president. He said, "We’ve seen higher taxes, high inflation, the war in Ukraine, Covid, and a poor stock market since Biden took over. What’s there to like?" He added. “Biden is a disaster.”
Bill stated, “Inflation is around 7.5%, that’s not been this bad since the 1960s?” I don’t know what to say except there are many factors involved in inflation. It deserves some serious study and reflection on why inflation has been so high this year. Bill doesn’t think It’s going to get any better anytime soon. He added, “Biden almost took down the health care debacle by not controlling Covid19 back in 2020.” I don’t know where to begin. Should I begin with the fact that Biden was not president in 2020? Or should I ask Bill if he knows the inflation rate in the UK? He stops for a sec before realizing we’re talking about a much bigger place than the University of Kentucky. He vaguely knows the basics of the UK but doesn’t realize the UK currently has a similar inflation number. Quick commentary, I think it's useful and socially acceptable to know some of the facts on a topic you speak about.
Bill slightly pivoted to high gas prices. He drives a pickup truck, a Dodge Hemi, which gets about 12 miles to a gallon. When gas was roughly around $2 per gallon, he traded in his Camry (34 mpg) for the Hemi -- it’s easy to drive a gas guzzler if the price of oil was cheap. He wanted to feel like a 'King' when on the road. Of course, folks can easily accept this arrangement, deluding themselves into thinking cheap gas is the norm moving forward. Now, that the prices have doubled, it's easy for Bill and others to feel the financial pinch. Bill admitted that it's less fun driving a Hemi after paying $5 per gallon of gas. He was emphatic by saying he’s never seen this bad of inflation. He may be right, although if Bill and most economic professors were asked the cause, their responses would diverge. He’s not interested in economic theories, although by owing his Hemi for about 4 years, he’s learned at least one economic principle about supply and demand; unforeseen geopolitical events such as Russia's invasion of Ukraine often affect stock markets, and oil prices, and economics overall.
Just when I thought our conversation was over Bill pivoted to Obama and I shook my head as to say, ‘why bring Obama into this conversation?’ He could not resist saying it was maybe a rigged election for his 1st and 2nd terms. In other words, Bill's thinking was on the lines of how else would this be possible for an African-American man to be elected President in the early 21st Century? Bill said, “Before Biden, Obama was the last President to wreck the economy.” I tried to ask him to define ‘wreck the economy’ but He just persisted. He felt Obama could not handle the Great Recession after the October 2008 crash. I smiled and said that perhaps Bush sort of did very little when the economy crashed but in his brain, only Democrats ruin the economy, regardless of the situation. As you can imagine, he felt Bush 43 could have fixed the economic crisis but just ran out of time. I'm thinking to myself, this is the craziest I've ever heard from my neighbor.
Another thing, my neighbor believes that Biden just arbitrarily got us out of Afghanistan without any planning. He feels the greatest country in the history of the world was defeated by the Taliban warriors -- after 20 years. He was so angry at the loss of American lives from 20 years of war and I certainly joined in his sentiment. He continued, "What a disaster, all those American lives were lost." When I mention other lives were lost in Afghanistan besides Americans, he didn’t seem interested in protecting people who dressed and spoke differently from Americans.
According to Bill, Both Obama and Biden sucked at international relations. Democrats not only wrecked the economy but suck at foreign policy. He also believed that if Trump was president, his policy would be on behalf of Americans when it came to Ukraine, Somalia, or Afghanistan. I reminded him that DJT had the opportunity to withdraw from Afghanistan but didn’t get it done. I also mentioned that Trump had a very short attention span. Again, Bill was not having it, saying "Congress didn’t approve the withdrawal to make DJT look bad." I rolled my eyes and said "Trump didn’t need any help from Congress to appear incompetent. He also didn't need Congress's approval for the withdrawal. " In retrospect, I should have remained emotionally calm and objective but fell short.
After this conversation, I was surprised neither of us focused much attention on George W. Bush in regards to Afghanistan. Wasn’t Bush the one who invaded Afghanistan initially looking for Al Qaeda leaders? Wasn't it the Bush Administration that didn't seem to take the military intelligence seriously, especially during the summer of '01? Were we in Afghanistan for so long that our enemies changed through the years?
We have all met people like Bill who have made up their minds on politics and then find sources that will support their viewpoint. It happens without much fanfare, and a person's viewpoint may not evolve. To be transparent, those on the left do the same thing with their political beliefs. To reinforce their beliefs, each side has a plethora to choose from and sources include TV and online. Regardless of the political party, if your views are not factual, credibility can be quickly lost, especially among those who are fact-based. Anyway, we all know that sometimes facts have a funny way of interfering with a good story.