Four Pleasant Discussions with Political Opponents: Discussion #1

Can I ask you something?

(internally emits two sighs) OK

Why are you sighing?

I’m not sighing.

I thought I heard you sigh.

Why would I sigh?

I don’t know, why would you?

I have no idea why I would…

Don’t you?

Don’t I what?

Have an idea why you would sigh?

What are you getting at?

Just that you were sighing. As though you didn’t want to talk to me about whatever you think I’m about to bring up.

No! No… Why would I have any reason at all not to want to talk to you about a subject you haven’t stopped bringing up in decades.

See! You were sighing!

I wasn’t… OK, well, if you must know, yes, I was sighing. 

I knew it! Why were you sighing?

Because I obviously don’t want to talk about it. 

What did you think I was going to talk about?

I really don’t care. 

Don’t care about what?

Whatever question you were going to try to bring up with me. 

How do you know

Because we both know how this is going to go. 

How is it going to go?

You’re going to ask me a question to which you think you know the answer, and then you’re going to get mad at me when I disagree. 

How could you possibly think that?

Because you’ve literally done this eighty times already.

Done what?

Gotten mad at me for disagreeing with you. 

I am so sick of you making it seem as though I’m trying to do anything but have a discussion with you.

I don’t want to have a discussion with you about the particular subject I know you’re going to bring up. I will discuss anything else, literally anything else, with you: music, movies, TV, sports, art, science, there are hundreds of other topics to discuss if you decide not to let politics obsess over every thought in your life. And we can talk about any one of them, but every conversation with you never goes anywhere but back to politics.

What are you talking about?!

Do you want me to use a tape recorder of our conversations?

Well who’s obsessive now?

You are.

You’re a jerk.

Do I really need to remind you of the times you literally called me an idiot, a screwup, an accomplice to evil, a totalitarian….

I never said any of that.

(sighs again) Of course you did….

How can you possibly think I did that?

Because you did, and not all of it in one conversation either.

You must have seriously misinterpreted things I said.

I know exactly what you said. 

I am so sick of you doing this….

I’ve only ever given back what you give to me. 

(gesticulates) …This is so typical of liberals….

And there we have it. 

There we have what?

You say things, over and over again, that bristle with hatred for every choice we make, everything we value, everything we do. Meanwhile many people among your family and friends are liberals, and somehow you expect us to believe that your opinion of us is completely unrelated to your opinion of everything we believe on issues that you won’t ever stop yourself from talking about. 

You don’t even know the question I wanted to ask before you jumped down my throat!

Answer me this, was it about politics?

Yes, it was.

And did you stop to think that maybe I would find your question a loaded question?

Why is it my job to figure out whether or not you will find my questions loaded?

Because I’m the person you’re asking!

All I wanted was to have a pleasant discussion with you of fundamental beliefs!

There’s no such thing as a pleasant discussion of fundamental beliefs. If there were, the beliefs wouldn’t be fundamental because they wouldn’t be important enough to get mad about. 

I can have those discussions without getting mad.

Really? I’ve never in my life seen a supposedly pleasant discussion of fundamental beliefs you had with either me or anybody else in which you didn’t end up getting mad at people who disagree with you. 

All I ever get mad about is ideas!

If it’s only about liberals’ abstract ideas, then why do you hate liberals so much?!

I don’t hate liberals, I just think they’re extremely dangerous.

They as in including me?

This is what I mean about it being so typical of liberals. All I’m attacking is the issue and you make it personal!

I’m not making it personal, it was already personal, and if it wasn’t personal, then why did you go below the belt whenever it suited you? 

I didn’t go below the belt!

Rosh Hashana 20…

Oh stop it.

4th of July Crabfeast 20…

You actually remember the dates?! What kind of sick…

Because what else am I supposed to do when you deny everything below the belt you’ve ever said?

What are you trying to prove with all this?

That when you bristle with hatred for everything about people like me, how am I supposed to believe that an enormous part of you doesn’t hate me too?!

Oh! And now I’m supposed to believe that you don’t have the same contempt for me that you claim I have for you?

When have I ever made any bones about that? I love the person you are when you talk about anything else. Anything at all. But when it comes to politics, all you ever do is look for targets at which to spew rage so you can show how right you are, how you’re the one of the side of light and morality, and how people like me are just sniveling moral cowards.

And yet you want to make it seem as though you think any differently about me!

I’m not the one who subscribes to an ideology which tells people they can hurl insults at people and still be a fighter for the greater good! When I insult people, I know what I’m being. 

And that’s a jerk.

You’re goddamned right. Whereas being around you is like being around the intellectual equivalent of the nun who hits the kid with the ruler. We’re supposed to believe you’re doing it for our own good, but those of us on the receiving end have always known that you’re doing it because you enjoy being cruel. 

YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT I WAS GOING TO TALK ABOUT! (the political opponents spill a glass of water in my face, storm out of the room, we don’t talk for two years.)

About the Author
Evan Tucker, alias A C Charlap, is a writer and musician residing in Baltimore. He is currently composing music for all 150 Biblical Tehillim. A Jewish Music Apollo Project - because "They have Messiah, we have I Have a Little Dreidel." He is currently on #17. Evan also has a podcast called 'It's Not Even Past - A History of the Distant Present' which is a way of relating current events to history and history to current events. Most importantly, he is also currently working on a podcast called Tales from the Old New Land, fictional stories from the whole of Jewish History. The podcast is currently being retooled, but it will return.