Monday, January 11, 2016

An Open Letter to Sean Hannity

Let me preface this letter by stating that I have no party affiliation, and I'm probably not voting for any of the candidates mentioned herein.

This is in regards to the show playing around 3:30pm Eastern, January 11, 2016.  I can find no recording or transcript as of this writing, so it shall be difficult for me to reference it except from memory.

Mr. Hannity,

Today, on my drive home, I was listening to the radio.  As one station faded out, I hit the scan button, and landed upon your announcer-like voice, discussing the recent polls.  It was to your pleasure that this poll was showing numbers indicating that three Republican (Rubio, Trump and Cruz, if I recall) candidates had more percentage points of support than a particular Democrat (Hillary, as it were).  This isn't exactly shocking, considering the nature of these polls.  You then went on to inform us that Democrats had a historically low level of support (presumably referencing this poll again), being extra sure to mention that all parties had the lowest level of support ever.  Conspicuously, it was the only number given, somewhere around 29%.

After rambling on about this topic for a bit longer, and pandering to those who inevitably listen to your show most, you decided to take a phone call.  The fellow who answered had a question for you, approximately this:
If a Democrat were to win the election (nomination, etc), which one would you rather it be?  Bernie or Hillary?
In what I can only presume to be typical fashion for you, the answer you gave was 'neither.'  This is especially unfortunate for a person who has a talk radio show based upon a supposed expertise of politics.  At least, I gather from your website that you believe this to be the case.  Perhaps you merely have a terrible publicist.  This answer demonstrates the core of the problem, for there's only two reasons such a political pundit would take it.  The first, if I'm to be polite, is that you simply don't know enough about the candidates to actually make an informed decision.  The second, a bit more dire, is that you simply don't care, because the issue are of no importance to you.  Alternately, there could be a third reason, such that you literally are not smart enough to make your own decision.

Let's take the implications here, though, as we walk through a bit more of the conversation.  Previous to the caller coming on, you informed us that Hillary was indeed a person not to be trusted, and you were indeed quite sure of this.  However, you backpedal here a bit, explaining to the caller that you simply didn't think you knew enough about her to think that she was a viable candidate.  Certainly, I'm not voting for her, but I can at least give cogent, coherent reasons.  You can't simultaneously be absolutely sure that she is not genuine, while saying you don't know enough about her to make that same determination.

Moving on, it's important to note that the caller did indeed point out that you were avoiding the question, and you claimed you were not.  Fortunately, you didn't get too meta here.  You simply don't like candidates you don't seem to know anything about, and that a fine position to hold.  Not lying about that position might help you seem more honest in the future.

Again, the caller tried to clarify, and you simply refused him.  This is where the call does indeed get good, and demonstrates truly your intentions in this game.  You asked the candidate where he was from, at some point.  He mentioned that he'd been living here about 5 years, but was from Iraq.  This must've touched a nerve in you somewhere.  I'll give you a hint for next time, it's probably not a good idea to compare the president of America to the former dictator.  I say next time because you flubbed it royally here.

You proceeded to tell the caller, an apparent Iraqi native, that having Hillary or Bernie would be exactly as bad as you purport Obama to be.  It is pertinent to note here that you said (and I'm paraphrasing here - you've got the audio, I presume, so post a copy somewhere if you want to make your defense) that choosing between the two would be like choosing between Hussein and Bashar al-Assad.  To a person who apparently formerly lived under the rule of at least one of them, I'm sure your remarks were laughable and tragic at the same time.

This fellow wasn't asking you to support one of these candidates, he wanted to know which you thought would be the least detrimental to you.  He then pointed out that Bernie was indeed favored over any of those four, and you told him that he was wrong.  Your response for this was not any actual data, but simply a ploy to turn the discussion back upon how much you dislike Hillary.  You implied that the caller was incorrect, and then reminded us that the three Republicans were indeed showing higher polling numbers than Hillary.

I'm not sure, after hearing that bit, that I can believe you are actually uneducated in this regard.  This eliminates that third possibility.  It's telling that you're so concerned by a candidate that you can't even address a valid point because you think giving him a few seconds of airtime might actually increase his rating.  This shows a severe lack of preparation, talking about frontrunners but being unable to address such a simple inquiry.  Not only that, it shows a severe level of intellectual dishonesty, not that I think you much care.  If you ever come across this letter, I reckon you'll attempt to dodge the actual criticisms I've put forth.  It's certainly simpler to fabricate your own straw man than to deal with the issues at hand.  Still, I wouldn't mind being disappointed in that regard.

This does lead me to one conundrum of my own.  Given one side or the other winning, which candidate would I actually want from that side?  I'm not in favor of any candidate, and I don't like either of the two main parties.  So, in the interest of actually answering the question you were unable to, here's the candidate I'd prefer to see on either side.  Yes, like you, I wouldn't actually pick any of them, but they're the lesser of the evils, I suppose.

For the democrats, I'd probably tick my box on Bernie.  I like the gist of what he's going for, even if I don't completely agree with some of what he says.  I agree with more of the ideals he's putting forward than I do with Hillary.

Of the three candidates you mentioned, Cruz is from Canada and therefore cannot become president.  I'm still in awe that most political pundits, including yourself, continue to overlook this.  As a strict supporter of the constitution myself, I think the onus would also be on you to remind people that he can't actually become president.  Trump has absolutely no problem bankrupting people simply because it's legal.  As you and I are people who are rightly worried about the economy, I think I cannot support someone who would willingly bankrupt entire collections of people just to get better benefits from other groups of people, and further himself only.  This leaves Rubio, the man who says that education is important, but also presided over the $2.3B in cuts to Florida school systems.  Ergo, my vote would be for Cruz, since he cannot become president.

Perhaps take a moment to remove yourself from your echo chamber (all sides could stand to do this right now) and think about what you're actually saying, from now on.  I gave your show a listen, and it's clearly not part of my echo chamber.  Indeed, your stances on lots of thing are apparently quite different from mine, and I listened to you for only ten minutes or so.  Let's try to tone down the hate.  Unlike you, I haven't got a radio show, and I'm not reaching hundreds of thousands (or perhaps millions) of ears.  Like you, however, I have a responsibility to be equitable when I'm speaking to anyone.  Many people take you quite seriously, and equating our President to a dictator is probably among the worst ways to foster open communication between parties.  You'll never appeal to the other side until you can learn to treat them as human.  My own beliefs about Obama's character, for example, do not factor in to my opinions of the actions he (or rather, the entire government, as you also like to forget) takes in office.

Martial law is not here.  Obama has not passed any executive orders declaring himself a dictator.  The economy is actually improving by many metrics.  Instead of attacking the other side, engage with them.  What can we do better, as a whole?  That means not just addressing the words that come from the president, but the actions of the entire government.

That is, of course, unless you've actually run out of valid criticisms.