Somewhere in the third week of these quadrennial treks of mine, I have a melt down. The specifics vary, but the result is a loneliness so profound as to stop me in my tracks. It happened today as the first ominous storm was forming on the horizon. God was clearly playing along.
I believe that this is an unavoidable element of a journey like this and the actual triggers are secondary, but I would like to share this year’s meltdown with you.
It took days to digest the news and the experience of the rallies. Add to that, the growing concern over the sheer amount of ‘misinformation presented as fact’, I was finding writing and interviewing increasingly difficult.
My first message today came from a man I respect very much. Well educated and astute, he had been on the original distribution of the ‘little Shakiel’ email. Because I had sourced Politifact in my response, he wrote to share a study that shows Politifact bias against Republicans. My heart sank. Invalidating data has become a predictable response.
I read it carefully and could see (kind of) how they came to their conclusions. My less evolved self was thinking ‘well if the Republicans would just stop shoveling so many lies, maybe they would not be targeted’ but I digress.
No, my melt down did not completely start until I looked more closely at the website that hosted the Politifact study. Written by an alias, Wintery Knight aims to ‘integrate Christian Faith and Knowledge in the Public Square’. Fair enough. Clearly Wintery is a devout social conservative even while claiming a libertarian foundation, but the following excerpt caught my eye. Titled My Marriage Plan and under a photograph of a man instructing a woman on proper handgun marksmanship,
Men are created different than women. And man’s priorities, deep in his very being, are very different from the woman’s priorities.
The family was created to be an institution, and that institution has a purpose and function in God’s order for the things: to expand the dominion of God’s people over the whole world (Gen. 1:27-28). The purpose and function were first given to the man, and he is supposed to be the chief carrier and executive of that function. And just as the woman was uniquely designed and gifted to discern and understand the issues of relationships, the man was uniquely designed and gifted to fulfill the purpose of taking dominion over the earth. The father’s and the husband’s position of the man is not primarily focused on relationships – that’s what he was given a wife for. That responsibility is given to man to ensure that his family fulfills its purpose in the plan of God in conquering the earth. Man’s very being is outward-oriented, not inward-oriented. His interests would be in work and war, not in feelings and relationships.
Oh dear God.
I will not even parse the whole ‘dominion over the earth’, let alone it’s ‘conquering’ or ‘what he was given a wife for’ but suffice it so say, this was my trigger. Allow me to summarize: I send data from a Pulitzer Prize winning website and was debunked by a study re-published by a man who will not even identify himself for fear of the gays, while making a case for his Biblical dominion over the earth and his wife. I closed my laptop and prepared to drive into the storm that had formed outside.
Enter Scott. A Wyoming techie, this poor guy had no idea what he had just walked into. After a brief introduction, (I had every intention of of making a hasty retreat) he made the mistake of sharing that his biggest concern in this election was the possible manipulation of the results.
I’ll own this. I snapped. I launched a verbal tirade on the recent proclamations of the Trump campaign and the very threat that they posed to our democracy. I think I was eloquent, but it is equally possible that I was shrill.
And then this happened. Scott asked me to listen to him. He explained it was important, because how else could we work this out? This guy totally stole my bit. He proceeded to ask me questions. What the hell? Aside from my disappointment that he did not want to be recorded, it turned out to be a complex and in depth reasonable exchange of shared reading material, influences and very different beliefs. Astonishing.
Finally, the last message today came from Michael Brown. The well spoken gentleman that I interviewed at the Trump rally, his words marked the end of my meltdown. It was perfect. The storm has passed.