I Just Don't Understand

by Annie Reneau
Originally Published: 
Getty Images / Ira L. Black - Corbis

I don’t understand

How we can look at the same man And see two such different men.

Where you see a political strongman,

I see a manipulative con-man.

Where you see a powerful leader,

I see a petulant Tweeter.

Where you see an unrelenting winner,

I see an unrepentant sinner.

Where you see an enforcer empowered,

I see a draft-dodging coward.

Where you see a man who “speaks his mind,”

I see a personality disorder defined.

Where you see someone to respect and admire,

I see a compulsive and dangerous liar.

Where you see a commander-in-chief who protects,

I see a philanderer who projects and deflects.

I can’t see the Christian family man you see,

When he brags of grabbing pussy and committing adultery.

And when every white supremacist leader embraces him,

How can you say that you can’t see his racism?

You’ll claim that the media is just manipulating me,

But the words from his mouth are as plain as day to me.

Are our eyes really built so differently,

That we see the exact opposite so consistently?

Or is one of us oblivious to reality

Seeing only the things that we wish to see?

I just don’t understand

How we can look at the same man And see two such different men.

I recently wrote and shared this poem on my Facebook page. While I was obviously referring to our current president, I could have written a similar sentiment about our former president as well.

I’ve seen both of these men described and talked about—both revered and vilified—in ways that I do not recognize. Not even a little bit. It’s baffling to me.

I’ve seen people say that President Obama caused racial division in America, as if racial division weren’t a thing before 2008 and as if acknowledging race issues is somehow the cause of them. I’ve seen people say that Obama wanted to take everyone’s guns away, when he never once said anything even close to that and never once attempted to enact any legislation along those lines at all. I had a person I consider a friend tell me that she believed Obama was the Antichrist when he was elected. Like, the actual, biblical Antichrist.

I don’t know what to do with any of that.

President Obama was not perfect, and there are some legitimate criticisms one could make about his presidency. But I don’t understand how anyone could listen to the words coming out of his mouth—which were always measured, diplomatic and even-handed—and call him divisive. Yet I hear it all the time, “Obama was the most divisive president we’ve ever had.”

I just don’t understand.

And President Trump? Tony Schwartz, who co-authored “The Art of the Deal,” has given a detailed account of the months he spent shadowing him. If you haven’t read any of his articles or interviews, you should. But even without that testimony, one only has to look at Trump’s Twitter feed or read transcripts of his interviews to get a sense of who he is. The man can’t stay on a topic, lies habitually, gaslights incessantly, insults people like a schoolyard bully, and then whines about how unfairly he’s being treated. And yet people think he’s the greatest president ever.

I just don’t understand.

Based on what I’ve written so far, I bet you assume I’m a liberal Democrat. I’m not. I don’t and won’t align myself with any political party, largely because I believe partisan politics is the root cause of most of our country’s issues. When people see themselves as members of a “team,” opposition and demonization of the other side is inevitable, and rational conversation takes a backseat.

I don’t even like the terms “liberal” and “conservative.” I don’t think most of us fit neatly into those two boxes and simplistic ideological labels only create problems.

I’m anticipating the comments from people who will say I’ve fallen for “mainstream media” propaganda. People’s views definitely are shaped by the media they consume, and being well aware of that influence, I seek out the least biased and most reliable media outlets I can find. (Reuters and the Associated Press rank as two of the least biased and most factually accurate news sources, in case you’re wondering.) It’s very easy to spot people who immerse themselves in highly biased news sources–their comments are rife with “alternative facts” and skewed perceptions of objective truths.

Is this where our vastly different viewpoints come from?

Look, I know people have differing perspectives, and that’s fine—as long as those perspectives are based in reality and fact. I just don’t understand how so many people can reject factual evidence that is laid out directly in front of them.

For instance, I don’t understand how people can look at the tape in which a married, 60-something-year-old man says:

“I did try and fuck her. She was married . . . I moved on her very heavily . . . I moved on her like a bitch. But I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything . . . I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

And then try to claim that this is a Christian man with good family values who isn’t a sexist pig. It doesn’t compute. At all.

And people can try to explain away his painfully-obvious-to-me racist rhetoric, but if former grand dragon of the KKK David Duke gleefully tweets about you, and white supremacist groups celebrate your election as their own personal victory, you’ve clearly done or said racist things. There’s no way around that. Normal, non-racist people don’t get celebrated by white supremacists. They just don’t.

I could go on and on, but sadly I know it won’t do any good. I feel like we’re living in an alternate universe, where up is down, left is right, and vice is virtue. I feel like a good percentage of our population has been brainwashed—literally—and it’s terrifying.

I try, I really do.

But I just do not understand.

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