By Darren Johnson
I’m afraid to write this new column. Whenever I write something from a moderate’s viewpoint online, I get lambasted. Half of my Facebook followers have blocked me.
But I am a moderate – maybe a bit left in a 1950s kind of way – and am not registered in either major party; though if I express a viewpoint that is somewhat positive – I get accused by the rabid far-right and far-left people who dominate the Internet of playing for the other team. They use a lot of exclamation points!!! ALL CAPS! And angry emojis. They scare me in a stalkerish, Craigslist Killer kind of way.
Here are some examples of my moderate viewpoints that have resulted in angry replies:
- Yes, Trump has been a disaster so far in office, but impeachment? Mike Pence would be a lot more problematic should he assume the presidency (I had this same feeling about Dick Cheney vs. George W. Bush). Mostly it’s leftists who hate this argument; I’m unsure why. While the people on the right don’t seem to want Pence, either, because they voted for Trump and Pence really brought little to the table, they don’t want impeachment because they feel it’s an attack against their guy.
- Hillary Clinton was the reason Trump won. She wanted it so badly, she froze, never really reacting naturally on the campaign trail. Voters wanted someone to shoot from the hip. When I’d bring this up before the election – I was one of the only people I knew predicting a Trump win – I’d get shut down online; similar to if I made a religious joke in Catholic school and a nun overheard me. It was blasphemous. The reaction wasn’t nice. A virtual ruler across the knuckles.
- Bernie Sanders would be better than both Trump and Clinton. This argument seems to piss off both sides, though the right is more willing to accept that the fix was in, and there was no way that the Democrats were going to let Bernie run. Again, like Clinton, they wanted it too badly, and bent the rules to fit their desired outcome. Though some on the right will call me a socialist for thinking this. I mean, I don’t think the wealthy need more tax breaks – and college needs to be more affordable – and healthcare is a mess. People die because of lack of decent healthcare, for sure. Bernie is right – er, left!
- The Russian thing isn’t good. I haven’t heard too many arguments against this viewpoint, either way, but it’s an eerie quiet when I mention this. Public sentiment is still simmering on this issue. From a leftist viewpoint, it shows that, indeed, Trump is a traitor; from a right-wing perspective, well, the Russians – historically – can’t be trusted (though some seem to like Vladimir Putin, which is scary altogether).
- The media really isn’t all that biased. Yes, MSNBC and CNN kind of gave Bernie short shrift, and while it seems like a cacophony of voices against Trump, maybe Trump has brought a lot of this on himself. Maybe he’s a bit goofy at this point, in his 70s, and we would have been better off with the 50-year-old version of Trump, when he was at the top of his game. But I think the people who dismiss all media as biased probably have little brains, and it strains them to actually read a paper. Pick up a New York Times. Which of the 100 stories that day are actually biased? The story about a massacre in Rwanda? The review of the new super-hero movie? The Yankees-Mets game recap? Yes, there are opinions, but they are clearly marked. Sure, the cover stories often seem to go after the president – but is he baiting them? He seems to be a big boy and gives as good as he gets. And, Trump, the reality star, has always been about ratings – he sells papers, for sure. A smart voter reads a number of different sources, including The Times, and comes up with his own opinion – as opposed to dismissing everything as “biased.”
In any case, these are the thoughts that seem to spawn the ire of both the right and left in my social media feeds. Maybe I’m a snowflake, as some of them say, and take their criticisms too seriously. Maybe, like Trump, they are mostly bluster.
But, in case you wanted to know a moderate’s viewpoint, this is it. The quiet majority are we. We can see the folly of the current presidency, but can also imagine worse. Instead of dismissing us with a wave of exclamation points and red-faced emojis, maybe try a gentler approach to get us to see your viewpoint. Elections are won by whispers, not screams.
This is a new column by Darren Johnson (pictured, right; not left), a registered Independent who ran a small independent party for a while in New York State. If this piece gets 1000 hits, he’ll write another. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.