What’s Going On: Politics and vegetables: two choices, two philosophies

I don’t like turnips.

In fact, I loathe turnips. They are the devil’s vegetable and I don’t care how you cook them, they taste like what I would imagine something resembling a sneaker.

But here’s something that might blow your mind: Just because I don’t like turnips, doesn’t mean I like radishes.

Wait, what? One has nothing to do with the other. Why would anyone assume just because I don’t like one thing I would have to love another? Turnips, radishes, beets, carrots … whether you like one or the other is not contingent or dependent on any other decision.

That kind of binary thinking when it comes to food preference seems irrational. Crazy talk. “That would be … illogical,” Mr. Spock would say.

With that in mind, why do we that when it comes to politics?

If you’re not a Democrat, you’re a Republican.

If you’re not a conservative, you’re a liberal.

If you’re not a Trump supporter, you’re an Obama/Hillary lover.

The same philosophy applies to current events as well.

If you think gay marriage is a sin, you’re a homophobe.

If you support the Black Lives movement, you’re anti-police.

If you want enforcement of existing immigration laws, you’re a cold-hearted racist.

If you kneel during the national anthem, you don’t support the military. Or the flag. Or the country. Or puppies. Especially puppies.

We do not live in a binary world. I can criticize President Trump and at the same time, not support the Democratic party; I can support common sense gun control and not want to seize every weapon in the country; and I can advocate for using common decency and respect in public discourse while not being a whiny, politically-correct-obsessed snowflake.

But as a society, we won’t accept that. We have been conditioned and trained to believe it is either black or white. Right or wrong. Good or bad. Puppy lover … or puppy hater.

It’s almost like we believe there are only two options … for everything. Hmm. I wonder what about our political system that could be reflective of?

***

Speaking of binary thinking, Ben Bowling delivered arguably one of the greatest commencement speeches I’ve ever heard from a graduating high school valedictorian last week.

The senior from Bell County High School in Pineville, Ken., during the obligatory “offer an inspiring quote from someone else” portion of his speech said this:

“‘Don’t just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table’ — Donald J. Trump.”

The crowd erupted in boisterous cheers and applause; exactly the kind of response you would expect from rural Kentucky where the president’s support is unwavering.

Then, Bowling uttered six words that would silence those cheers and turn a few into boos.

“Just kidding. That was Barack Obama.”

And because I don’t like turnips, I can’t like radishes.

——

Gregory Orear is the publisher of The Journal. His award-winning weekly column, “What’s Going On,” has been published in four newspapers in three states for more than 20 years. He can be contacted at gorear@nujournal.com.

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