Earlier this year, in a piece I called Diversity on Ice, I waxed semi-eloquently on my wish to more fully understand the "other side." To talk with, listen to, and perhaps learn something valuable from Them.
I still think it's possible, but efforts in that direction have not been promising.
First of all, there was one guy who had "discovered" and "liked" my posts on Facebook and wanted to be my Friend. He said he was a "journalist." Actually, I think he said he had "studied journalism." He turned out to be a troll. When he started telling me how he wanted to help me realize my hopes and dreams and warning me about Sharia law, I threw him under the bus. I hope he still has the tire treads.
Then there's a guy who, I admit, I never met, but who is a verified friend of a couple of actual right wing guys I went to college with, and is known to an ex-fiancee's old best friend, who is not a right wing guy. This one is a curmudgeon who, as best I can determine, hates illegal immigrants, hates that he has to "press 1 for English," hates the very concept of eminent domain, told me that he wanted MONEY (yes, all caps) to rule the marketplace. We ended up talking past each other. I talked about ideas and the different ways they could be interpreted. He talked about either/or.
Lately a friend of a friend started a private list where people could come to argue about issues. Once again, I've been stymied by the one or two people there who espouse either/or views. And they have taken over the conversation. No one else is posting anything, except another friend and I and I realize that it's a lost cause. My ideas are "liberal ideology." Theirs are based on facts. They lecture and instruct and throw facts and figures at us that can always be countered with other facts and figures and they might as well be talking about the workings of the internal combustion engine or the benefits of supplements for all that it is of any actual interest to me. They don't engage. They don't tell me a story. They've told me nothing of what they, personally, think or why.
I'm still waiting, hoping for someone to talk to me about some way they would deal with illegal immigration that doesn't involve treating these people as anything other than criminals. About ensuring that voters are both legitimately eligible to vote and enabled to do so. To give me something that can help me see them as someone with a perspective based on their life and experiences.
I'm not certain what it means that the actual old acquaintances of mine who also hold right wing views don't engage with me either. Only this friend of theirs, who is further removed. As part of another fruitless dialog in which we were exchanging views about the concept of eminent domain, I made this statement: The more we involve ourselves in local government, the more say we have. The more we involve ourselves, the more government is "us", not "them.
To which he replied:
I'm sorry but you and I are not us you are them.