So today Patrick and I were at a CatManDo for lunch, a little Nepali restaurant near Macalester. Soon after we sat down, a 40ish gentleman sat down at the table next to us, and proceeded to hit on the college student sitting along next to him. Amusing as this was, we had a lot of things to discuss and did not eavesdrop half as much as we might have been tempted to.
When the student got up to leave, the man turned to us and held up his newspaper, then said "I don't know your politics but...
...this is ridiculous! How could anyone be AGAINST needing an ID to vote?!"
(uh, dude, you picked the wrong table).
I started out by saying that there were lots of people who don't have IDs, and for whom it was difficult and expensive to get them.
"Well, how much is it? 20 bucks?"
"Yeah, and for a lot of people that's food for a week."
"Oh, come on, that's not true."
Patrick corrected him and described how many people (including his family in the past) lived on less than $20/week. Mr. Uninformed then went into a rant about how much fraud there is, another blow that we neatly parried by asking him to describe this apparent fraud and how he knew about it. He was patently unable to do so.
Just as I was getting my arguments ready about how difficult it can be to get an ID (because really, how many of us know where our original birth certificates and social security cards are — hmm, I don't see a lot of hands raised), and how most fraud is by people consciously voting twice and an ID would not stop that, and how in any case a driver's license in particular is not meant to stand in for a national ID card and if a faction wants to create a national ID card I invite them to Bring It On — just as all that was swirling in, Mr. Uninformed, sensing a losing battle, switched topics. "It's like that union thing."
"What union thing?" (imagine icy tone)
"You know, the thing in Wisconsin that they are trying to get here."
"You mean Right to Work?" (icy tone)
"No, the thing with the dues. Tell me, how is it legal for the government to just take dues out of paychecks like that?"
"Well, because they are not the abstract Government in this case, they are the employer and the employer is in charge of payroll deductions?"
By this point my blood pressure was sky high and so I walked over to pay the bill while Patrick attempted to explain how payroll deductions work, and how it was part of the union contract, and how an employer was welcome not to contract with unions if they wanted to but good luck finding anyone to work the job.
We left the restaurant shaking our heads. I'm sure that the gentleman was truly shocked, that he was just stuck so completely in his spoon-fed world of mis-information that it did not even occur to him that our opinions might be different. I was also struck by how weak his arguments were, and how he was just so poorly equipped to argue his points.
So I guess it gave both of us something to think about.
(I understand that others — often roughly half of America — don't agree with me. But I expect you to be able to competently defend your point. Otherwise, what use is there in even having said opinion?)
(and why would you even think this was appropriate behavior to just launch into a political conversation like that with strangers?)