I’ve Always Been A Devil’s Advocate

Sometimes I’m amazed that I’m still alive. Seriously, with what I’ve done, it’s hard to believe I made it to 30, let alone 58. I wouldn’t say I was the most obnoxious person I’ve ever known, but let’s just say that when I was born, the doctor smacked my mother. All throughout my life, I have tested the patience of virtually every human being who was unfortunate enough to be in my presence. Family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, it mattered not. When it comes to anguish, I’m an equal opportunity dispenser.

While I was in high school, I made the mistake of telling some classmates that I thought the White Album and Physical Graffiti were overrated. I haven’t run that fast in my entire life. I made a similar mistake a couple of years ago after the death of Tom Petty when I commented on Facebook that I thought he, too, was overrated. What can I say? Timing was never my strong suit. 

Getting back to my high school days, I once thought it’d be a good idea to give a teacher of mine some feedback about how he was running his class BEFORE he graded an exam of mine. FYI, not a good idea. I talked myself down from an A to a B. Would you believe that college professors similarly don’t like “feedback?” Who knew?

Among my more “memorable” feats was trying the patience of a priest. Yes, you heard right, a priest. Lucky for me he took the words “turn the other cheek” literally. At a Mets game in the ‘80s, I was dumb enough to believe I could get into an argument with a Hell’s Angel and NOT get my ass kicked. Fortunately for me, even after downing a dozen big beers, I managed to evade him. Fortunate for my friends, too, since I was their ride.

When you look up the term Devil’s Advocate, this is what it says: “One who argues against a cause or position either for the sake of argument or to help determine its validity.” In my case, you can stop with the words “for the sake of argument.” For the sake of argument, more often than not, WAS the point of the argument.

Not that there weren’t moments where I didn’t have a valid point to make, but as I have discovered on more than just a few occasions, my zeal to be correct often undermined any moral high ground I might have had. It’s really hard to claim you’re right while you’re behaving like a dick. My wife can attest to that. This October we will be celebrating 25 years of marriage. Don’t ask me how; I’d have bailed on my ass 20 years ago.

My first passion was music. I grew up listening to all kinds from R&B to rock to bubble gum. And I loved ‘em all. There was this rock critic who wrote for the Village Voice by the name of Robert Christgau that turned me on to artists like George Clinton and Kid Creole and the Coconuts. He was, by far, the most consistent critic in the industry; the Dean, they called him. He also had a bit of a sarcastic demeanor to him. When a reader criticized one of his reviews, he replied, “Yeah, fuck you, too!” A man after my own heart.

But politics is what gets my juices flowing. It takes me to another level. To say I’m opinionated would be an understatement. There are days when I make Trump seem almost reserved by comparison. I’m not proud of that; in fact it gnaws at me. My only solace is that at least I have enough self awareness to know when I’ve crossed a line. And just in case that self awareness isn’t working, there are people in my life who will be more than happy to point it out. It’s one of the disadvantages – if there are any – of being sober for almost thirty years. We have a saying in the rooms: “You can’t bullshit a bullshitter.”

I describe myself on my blog as a pragmatic progressive, but truth be told, I’m more of a moderate / centrist Democrat. I support a woman’s right to choose and believe, as George H.W. Bush once said, that supply-side economics is voodoo economics. I believe that global warming is real, but I’m not prepared to wreck the economy to deal with it. If given the choice between Bill Clinton or Bernie Sanders, I’d choose Clinton every time. And I cannot for the life of me understand how the most successful period in Democratic politics since the days of JFK and LBJ is dismissed by so many liberals. I voted for Mondale and Dukakis; they both got their asses kicked. Why anyone would want to replicate that failure is beyond me. I thought the whole idea of running for office was to win. Apparently I’m wrong.

It drives me up the fucking wall when someone like Elizabeth Warren stands up on a debate stage and says she doesn’t understand why anybody would go to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what they really couldn’t do or shouldn’t fight for. It’s condescending and insulting. And it makes the rest of us feel as though we’re the dumb kids in the class who’ll settle for a C+, while good, old Elizabeth strives for the A+.

As someone who has lived most of his life in the suburbs, I can tell you that attitude doesn’t sit well here. It never did and it never will. Call me a sellout if it makes me you feel better, but I know how to read a room, and people like Warren and Sanders are not very popular in the area of the country Democrats will need to get rid of Trump. Obama was a progressive too, but he never flaunted his progressivism in people’s faces. The man was ahead of his time, and if Warren and Sanders live to be a hundred, they’ll never be one-tenth the politician or person he was.

Another thing that drives me crazy is when I hear progressives say they need to be inspired to vote. INSPIRED?! They’re politicians, not rock stars. Knock it off with the “inspired” crap. If getting a dictator out of the Oval Office isn’t inspiring enough for you then I feel sorry for you. And for those who insist they need something to vote FOR, here’s my comeback. How about saving the fucking country? Or is that too much for your delicate sensibilities to grasp?

Sorry for being such a dick – AGAIN – but this is personal to me. The nation is being torn apart by a sociopath and I’m watching a bunch of spoiled brats who are more worried about not getting their favorite toy under the Christmas tree than they are about the fate of their fellow countrymen. Grow the fuck up! Check your ego at the door and take one for the team. If this maniac wins another four years in office, not having Medicare for All will be the least of your worries.

The most consequential election since the founding of the Republic is fourteen months away, and so far, the frontrunner has gotten about as much respect from the left as a bowl of Corn Flakes left out on the kitchen table too long. If that frontrunner should go on to win the nomination only to lose the general election, it will not be because of a lack of support from the center. It will be because a bunch of prima donnas threw a hissy fit and decided to stay home.

And if that happens, to hell with you!

Author: Peter Fegan

Progressive but pragmatic. Lover of music, die-hard Giants' fan and reluctant Mets' fan. My favorite motto? I'd rather be ruled by a smart Turk than a dumb Christian.