Bread Bowls, Suspenders and Sarah Palin

How an Elderly Man in 50s Garb Taught me a Valuable Lesson

I had a deeply profound, introspective moment last week, and it occurred in the most unlikely place: Panera Bread.  There I was, picking apart the last little bit of my sourdough bread


Courtesy of Stephen Trendy's Fashion Diary

bowl, when an elderly man wearing suspenders asked me a single, simple question that sparked a torrent of thoughts that tortured my psyche for the better part of a week.

“Are you going to see Sarah Palin speak tomorrow?”

Anticlimactic, right? Well, not really.  Immediately, I became enraged that this man could confuse me with someone who’d actually join the droves of people flooding D.C. for Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally.  Though fuming on the inside, I remained calm and unfettered on the surface as I responded “no, not this time.”

The man seemed disappointed, likely realizing that my family had no intention of joining him at his table to discuss the moral decay of America.

Sarah Palin Speaking at Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" Rally

Courtesy of CBS News

“Oh, I saw her Alaska shirt (the man said, referring to a shirt that my mother bought while on a cruise to Alaska), and thought you folks might have come down to see her speak.”

Unbelievable! This man actually thinks we’d travel more than 4000 miles to see that imbecile complain about more things that she has no idea how to fix?

“No, no, we’re from around here,” my mom said, in a cordial, albeit awkward tone.

As we left the restaurant, my mind was still racing.  “Who does that?” I thought to myself, still unable to get a handle of my emotions.  Then it hit me.  I embodied the quality that I hate most about Tea Partiers.

It was one of those self-realization, venture down the rabbit hole moments that was probably a long time coming.  I have grown to so stigmatize the extreme right, that the mere suggestion that I might be associated with them enraged me.  To be honest, I’m embarrassed and ashamed.

How can I sit here, advocating that our country strive for better cohesion and temperament in our national dialogue, when I can’t even embrace that notion over a cup of soup with an old man?  I had become just as polarized as the extremists I denounce.

Elephant vs. Donkey

Courtesy of Ten Minutes a Week

When was humanity lost in political discourse?  For too long, we’ve forgotten that our political enemies are still people.  They have families.  They own dogs.  I’ll even go out on a limb and suggest that they root for the same sports teams we do.  But the second that someone brings up the national debt or the immigration issue, we forget that we’re dealing with people.  People who deserve the right to have an opinion.

Please know that this does not mean that I will not comment critically on extremism in the conservative movement in future posts.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love a fervent, heated debate, but only as long as it ends with the victor buying the less-apt debater a beer after all is said and done.

**Note to my readers:  I know that the blog has been on a bit of a hiatus for about three months now, but I intend to start writing weekly from this point on.  I appreciate the patience you’ve exhibited, and look forward to restarting our dialogue.



Filed under National Politics

5 responses to “Bread Bowls, Suspenders and Sarah Palin

  1. Two down, millions to go.

    Who knows where this will lead? Perhaps one day, after citizens renew the lost art of considerate political discourse with one another, we’ll also demand that our representatives start working for us again.

    You may be interested in reading a similar post on this blog:

  2. Hey Aaron,

    It’s been a while, actually way to long. I saw your article on facebook and it is very well written. I have to argue the feelings you felt towards to Sarah Palin supporter. As a staunch neo-con, she is not one of my favorite politicians but I really respect her work with the Tea Party. She is a natural leader, not a scholar nor president material but I see her having a very influential role in “stirring the pot” to bring the Republican base together. The Tea Party togetherness is very similar to the cohesion that brought many Obama supporters together. Both come together to support “change”. I feel that if this was two years ago and you were wearing an “F the president” shirt, you would have taken to a random persons conversation about attending an Obama rally. Do not hate the togetherness, embrace it because this is one of the very few times Americans have become very politically active to this level.

    But lets catch up sometime, it’s been to long.

    • Hi Jason,

      It’s awesome to hear from you again. It definitely has been too long. Give me a call sometime, we can catch up.

      Per your comment, you make some terrific points that I won’t dispute. Palin is, as you’ve described, a natural leader who plays a very influential role in refueling American political passions. She may not be conventional, but she is effective.

      Ultimately, I think the Tea Party movement will be swallowed up by the GOP as the Republican Party changes its social platform to conform to the standards of the religious right (potential for a future blog post?)

      Thanks for checking out the blog. Good to touch base with you again.

  3. just so i can see comments on email

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