George Buljan was the City of Roseville mayor in the 1980s.
When he told then City Manager Bob Hutchinson he wanted to sit in on negotiations with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Hutchinson told him fine but on one condition: He couldn’t say anything.
Buljan shared how during the negotiations the IBEW’s representative was virtually yelling, pounding the table and questioning Hutchinson’s manhood among other things. He was ready to explode but Hutchinson just sat their calm and composed.
After the meeting, Buljan related to Hutchinson how he couldn’t believe he could sit there and stay calm with the stuff that was being hurled at him.
Hutchinson, as Buljan told it, turned to him smiling as he cupped his hand over his ear and said, “I didn’t hear what you were saying. I had my hearing aid turned off.”
Buljan said he busted out laughing.
I doubt whether Hutchinson, who retired in 1988 and whose 20 years as city manager is still among the longest tenures for one city in California, wore a hearing aid. Hutchinson was level-headed, even-tempered and never got caught up in anger.
His message — that Buljan said he got loud and clear — was simple. You listen when people have things to say and are willing to engage in a civil exchange and not when they are going ballistic to posture.
It’s been 18 days since Donald Trump took the oath as the 45th President of the United States.
Not saying one way or another about his directives but two things are clear: The volume of indignation — or posturing — of what some are calling “the resistance” isn’t ebbing. And if every time protestors get so fired up that they feel they have to trash neighborhood and business districts that are a dozen or so pay grades below Trump’s by the time his term ends they will have destroyed 1,460 Starbucks coffee shops.
Why Starbucks always get hit by vandals after protests go haywire in the Trump Era is a bit perplexing given how Trump isn’t exactly the cup of tea of the powers that be who run Starbucks.
Even more wacko is what protestors think will be accomplished by elevating every Trump move to the equivalent of the sky is falling down.
We are told by some pundits that is to whip elected Democrats in line.
While that makes sense they seem to forget a lot of other people are seeing their indignation 24/7 over TV and social media. They are going to need the votes of a lot of those people to swing the pendulum of power. You don’t have to persuade the solid anti-Trump or the solid pro-Trump camp. It’s those that aren’t rabid one way or another that count.
And a lot of them after just 18 days are starting to turn off their hearing aids.
If you act as if the world is collapsing every time Trump issues an executive order or tweets your howls of protest are destined to become less and less noticeable regardless of the decibel level.
It’s the same thing that happens when most people move into a home near a freeway or railroad tracks. At first the noise of truck Jake brakes, engines, train horns, and the clack of rolling stock’s wheels on tracks is jarring and annoying. But after a while it becomes background noise that rarely grabs your attention.
Cry wolf enough times and you can ultimately fail when the real thing shows up and people have had their fill of you yanking their chains.
Political discourse has always been messy in the United States. However the amplification of it as well as it being deployed often times without much thought thanks to instantaneous and evasive social media is engaging more people, it is not engaging them in thoughtful conservations.
A few years ago an individual who penned columns on this page kept referring to President George W. Bush as “Junior.” Personally, I was never a fan of George W. Bush but he was the President just as Barack Obama was the President and now Donald Trump is the President.
It struck me as being demeaning but it was the writer’s voice. Then I started hearing from readers — including many like myself who were no fan of President Bush — who viewed it as demeaning as well adding that whenever they saw the President being referenced as “Junior” they stopped reading.
When I brought this up to the author noting that his points were being made in vain because he was essentially — I’ll say it in a politer way than what I did in referencing a bodily function — ticking off readers, he promptly replied he wanted to tick people off.
In some corners that might engage a teen dogging it in football practice to pick up his game but for most people it doesn’t work.
No one is saying we need saccharine debates or not to be passionate.
But you aren’t going to change anyone’s minds or get them to see your point if all you do is yell at the top of your lungs in sound bites, exchange comments on social media that are bracketed with disparaging remarks about the person you claim you are trying to persuade or use colorful and demeaning words you view as witty to describe those with different viewpoints.