Oh Say, Can You Stand?

Colin Kaepernick has every right not to stand during the singing of our national anthem. That is a freedom guaranteed to him by our Constitution and protected by the military and law enforcement officers whom he is choosing to disparage.

Fans across the country also have the right to agree with him, or to express their outrage at Mr. Kaepernick’s generalizations and mal-informed commentary. If they want to burn his jersey in protest, that is also their right. If they want to boycott the 49ers, or boycott any product that he has endorsed, they can go ahead and more power to them. That is how the marketplace works.

I hope the NFL doesn’t take punitive action against Kaepernick. That might have a chilling effect on his First Amendment rights. I hope the NFL remembers said rights when the Dallas Cowboys want to display pro-police decals on their uniforms, or when some closet white supremacist screams, “Make America great again!” as he runs through the goal posts. The NFL should stay out of politics and stick to policing quarterbacks who suck the air out of their balls, or slapping the wrists of wife-beaters.

My minimal research indicates that Mr. Kaepernick is a man of considerable wealth. If he wanted to have a meaningful impact on race relations, there were other, far less petulant methods he might have employed to do so. But given the recent climate of symbolism over substance that permeates our politics and our culture in this country, I’m not surprised he chose this route; a route that might very well backfire on him. He probably should analyze the career trajectory of The Dixie Chicks before he pulls more stunts such as this one.

Or, maybe I’m just over-thinking the whole thing. My minimal research also indicates that Mr. Kaepernick has spent a lot of time on the bench of late. Maybe he just got to like sitting down so much that he didn’t feel that the flag was worth stretching his legs.

My final thought…thank God Denver didn’t acquire him! In the aftermath of Von Miller and The Great QB Question, we don’t need any more drama. Thank you, Marty.

Grab the Domes and Ride

This blog entry is dedicated to all the ladies out there. Clearly, many of you desperately need to read this. I won’t bother with the men, because they already know what I’m about to write here.

I just heard the song, “It’s Different for Girls,” by Dierks Bentley. This little ditty from an artist whom I used to respect is further proof to me that country music is a genre in a state of decline.

But before we get to that, let’s examine the premise of the song by sampling a few of the lyrics:

“She don’t throw any t-shirt on and walk to a bar
She don’t text her friends and say, I gotta get laid tonight
She don’t say, it’s okay, I never loved him anyway
She don’t scroll through her phone just looking for a Band-Aid
It’s different for girls when their hearts get broke
They can’t tape it back together with a whiskey and Coke
They don’t take someone home and act like it’s nothing
They can’t just switch it off every time they feel something
A guy gets drunk with his friends and he might hook up
Fast forward through the pain, pushing back when the tears come on
But it’s different for girls”

The rest of this song continues in the same vein, piling on every cliché and gender-related stereotype in order to paint a picture that girls have it so much harder when it comes to matters of the heart.

I’ve had my share of relationships and break-ups, so I speak with more than a little authority when I call bullshit on this song. What’s more, I think Mr. Bentley knows it’s bullshit. He’s likely a man who’s been hurt by a woman before and he knows what a man’s pain is like. He is also an artist who understands his listener base.

Over the past decade or so, country music has had an increasingly large female audience. This explains the shift in tone from male-centric songs to those in which the emotions of a woman are featured front and center. The reasons aren’t so much a matter of male enlightenment as they are economic. Dierks wants to sell his music, therefore, he wants to give his fans what they want. So, let’s trot out a song that relies on every sexist cliché in the book to boost those sales.

I have no idea who wrote the song and I’m not inclined to spend any energy researching it. It was either a woman who is coming from a place of ignorance where men are concerned, or a man who wanted to spread bullshit like fertilizer in order to put TV dinners in his freezer.

Now, pay attention, ladies. Here’s what you really need to know.

I will start with the caveat that I am only speaking from my own experiences here. The following remarks do contain some generalities. In this age of bathroom wars and gender fluidity, the masculine and feminine concepts seem to be evolving. That said, it still holds true where most modern men are concerned.

When men set foot in the arena of love, they do indeed suffer. They hurt. They bleed. They cry. They carry guilt and regret. They try and fail and often chew on that failure like a well-worn bone in the jaws of a hungry terrier. Where then do women get the idea that men don’t bleed from the prick of love’s needle? The answer is, they get it from men themselves.

When a man breaks up with a woman, he will usually withdraw from her emotionally. The pullback is almost instantaneous. If the man is the one who dumps the woman, he often feels a sense of guilt because he knows he hurt her. If the woman dumps the guy, he feels the pain of rejection; a pain that is deep and real. Either way, he’s not going to be inclined to share his emotions with the person with whom he’s just burned a major emotional bridge.

The reason women operate under the erroneous assumption that men have it easier after a break-up is only because that’s how men want it to look. The song is accurate in that many men often do go out, get drunk, hook up with strangers or casual acquaintances and pretend like everything is alright. But it’s not. Women tend to wear their emotions on their sleeves, while men bury them.

But it’s never as easy as it may seem. Men lie awake at night and struggle with the demons of what might have been. They don’t often go out for coffee with their buddies and maybe cry in public. Instead, they will find someone close who they can trust and they will vent privately. It may be a family member, a close buddy or two or even a gal pal who is an emotional confidant. Whatever the manifestation, guys are far more selective over whom they choose to show their private face of pain to.

Like it or not, ladies, men simply process pain differently than women. Break-ups are very depressing affairs. Women tend to feel sorrow and display it openly. Men tend to feel anger and guilt. Yes, men may go out and bestow their carnal favors on another woman, but it’s usually rebound. Men have an easier time compartmentalizing when it comes to sex. Blame it on biology, or society, or the fact that Mercury is in retrograde. Whatever the reason, men can more easily separate sex from love.

Does that mean they don’t feel love? Hell no! Another harsh fact of life is that men are more selective about whom they fall in love with. Just because many men aren’t as discriminating over their sex partners doesn’t mean they aren’t subject to the most powerful emotion on Earth. Men feel love, but just as it is with the grief over the death of a relationship, so it is with love. Men process it and display it differently.

Several years ago, I was a part of a group of guys. Every so often, we’d hold a guys’ night; beer, cigars, sports, junk food and music. We were comprised of an alpha male jock type, one or two shy, geek types, and one or two more sensitive types. In other words, we were a fair cross-section of manhood.

Inevitably, women would become the focus of conversation. In fact, I’d say women were the main topic more than any other. On the surface, a female eavesdropper would have had her worst stereotypes confirmed. There was much talk of tits, asses, blowjobs, levels of hotness, speculation about moaners versus screamers and more about tits and asses. We would even play a game called, Marry, Fuck or Kill, in which a contestant was given three names, thereby being forced to choose which female he would engage in the three activities sited in the game’s title.

Yes, we were guys being guys and feminism be damned. Yet, if the eavesdropper had listened long enough, she would have heard things come out from beneath the crass surface. Certain women would emerge who would garner a softer approach. Certain names would carry with them a thoughtful pause, followed by a statement such as, “She’s really a sweetheart,” or “I’d take her home to Mom.”

One guy (the jock type) connected with a woman who was special in his eyes. Yes, we all heard about how impressive her bust size was, but it was clear from his tone of voice that she was more than just a casual conquest. She had taken out real estate in the domain of his heart. Today, he’s living with her. They may make it and they may not. My crystal ball is broken just now. But I will tell you this. If their relationship does meet its demise, he will be the poster boy for the guy in Dierks’ song. He may get drunk with his buddies, smoke a few bowls and bang a few women for comfort. Yet, when he takes a breather from his coping mechanism, she will be waiting for him in the night. No man escapes unscathed.

Another guy in the group (the loveable geek type), was relatively inexperienced in the sexual realm, yet he loved to fixate on a woman’s breasts. This makes him similar to 99.9 percent of men on the planet. He is now in a serious relationship. If it were to fail, he would be devastated. You wouldn’t catch him going to a support group for comfort. He’d just go home and sob into his pillow with a few empty beer cans strewn over his bedroom floor.

Then, there was the smooth-talking salesman type of the group. He was married for a while, but ran into the airplane propeller of divorce a couple of years ago. He chooses to be more open and expressive about his struggles with depression than the rest of us do. Yet, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t go out and get trashed and bang random women from the bar. Some would argue that they are better off divorced. This may be true, but no one can tell me that the parting did not take a major toll on him.

Then, there’s me. I’ve been through too many relationships. I’ve had serious ones in which I was sure I’d get married. I’ve had relationships that were more casual. I’ve had one or two that felt more like prison; when I got out, I drank in the sweet taste of freedom. Some women I’ve dated have been kind and genuine, some were damaged and some were just bat shit crazy. In the sexual arena, I’ve made passionate love to women, I’ve fucked a few women and I’ve been ambiguous when the sun came up the next day. I’ve approached certain partners with honest intentions and I’ve been less than honorable with one or two. I’ve been with women who went home to visit my folks and I’ve been with a few who required me to shower after they were gone in a futile attempt to wash away the shame. I’ve had relationships that ranged in duration from one night to two years. But all of them had an impact that went beyond the sad confines of this country music depiction of the gender gap.

As I write this, I am struck by an irony. Three of my ex girlfriends are getting married this year. One of them is a recent relationship that I terminated after it became obvious that she was using me as a distraction from her regular boyfriend. From her perspective, I’m a heartless prick who suddenly cut off communication with her for no good reason. From my perspective, she was a less-than-stable person who needed a good laugh and who resorted to subterfuge in order to get it. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? God can sort it out later. Until then, I won’t care if I never encounter her again.

The second woman represented a dark time in my life. I won’t trash talk her, save to say that she is a big part of the reason why I left Nebraska and why I took up cigar smoking as a full time vice. We don’t speak anymore and I’m fine with that, but I do wish her well and hope her future husband treats her well.

The third ex girlfriend slated for the altar is one of my closest friends. We dated for two years and they were often tumultuous, but I don’t regret a single day. We have shared much laughter, many tears and a lot of vulnerability. The passionate intensity of our sexual encounters were matched by those of our fights, but we weathered the various storms and have a strong friendship because of it. It will be my honor to watch her get married to a guy who is true, honest and worthy of her.

Sidebar: After our break-up, she dedicated the song, “Insensitive,” by Jann Arden, to me. This song carries more emotional credibility than the Dierks song because it comes from the female perspective after a break-up. She played it for me and I exploded like a virgin getting a tug by a hand other than his own. We talked it over and came to a better understanding about the grief and pain that the other person was experiencing.

These were three separate relationships that garnered three separate reactions. At no time did I ever grieve over any of these women by getting drunk and hooking up with random chicks. Does that make me an abnormal man? Oh well.

But what about the other side of the coin? If the lyrics of this farcical tune are to be believed, women never grieve the loss of their men by drinking and screwing. Again, I call bullshit. I know women who lie, cheat, drink and spread their favors around like promises at a campaign rally. Are they abnormal women? Oh well.

Seriously…haven’t any of you ladies ever reading this ever sat around over a few margaritas and played MFK? Be honest.

You never hear them anymore, but men in the country music genre used to be sad. Their hearts used to break over lost love and what might have been. You don’t even have to go back to the days of Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard to hear men cry over a broken heart. Try some vintage George Strait, Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, Vince Gill or Steve Wariner. In my opinion, the ultimate break-up song from the male perspective is, “The Lights are On (But Nobody’s Home)” by Clint Black. It is the perfect illustration of a man who is clearly depressed by a failed relationship, but who hides it behind the façade of normalcy.

I had lunch with a former coworker and I told her I was writing a blog rant about this stupid song. “I love that song!” she said as we pulled into Wendy’s. I smiled to myself. She loves modern country music. I hope she reads this and finds it instructive.

Ladies, if you want to enjoy this song by Dierks Bentley, more power to you. You may crank it up loud, give a great big “huzzah!” to Mother Wicca and go to bed with a smile on your face. But you’re dead wrong. I know Mr. Bentley is offering a musical placebo that eases your pain, anger or frustration through the application of simplicity, but men ain’t that simple. There are men who are honest, noble and who puke after one shot. There are women who lie, cheat and do coke out of a man’s naval. Sleep on that.

I was just about to post this when Rosie walked into the control room. I give her a 7/10 on the hotness scale.

Marty, if you read that, ignore it. I give you 26/10 on the hotness scale.


Folks, while I figure out how to dig myself out of this hole, go YouTube Clint Black.


Several female friends read this and wanted me to clarify that not all women buy into the line of BS that Dierks and company are selling. Consider the point made. Yet, my original argument about the decline of country music stands. The themes have changed over the years, largely due to marketing toward a certain kind of female listener. I’m not saying all women…just some.

This addendum is your wedding gift, Alicia. Congratulations!

Waiter! There’s a Fly in My Vinegar!

This will be my last blog post about the current election until November 9.

You cannot rationalize with irrational people.

A therapist once told me that and, as I grow older, I find that this little maxim becomes more and more true.

It applies to the current political landscape. A gulf has emerged, as symbolized by the feud between pro-Trump pundits like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham and #NeverTrumpers like Bret Stephens and Jonah Goldberg. These folks were once on the same side, bound together by common principles and political enemies, but the invasion of Trump into this election has thrown everything and everyone asunder.

It’s one thing for the left and the right to come into conflicts of personalities. This is the natural outcome of a system that was designed to be adversarial. The left excels at name-calling and dirty attacks. But when Republicans start doing it to each other, it’s time to withdraw. There is nothing to be gained by below-the-belt fighting. These tactics may suit Donald Trump, but I thought Hannity was better than that. Obviously, I was wrong.

This kind of dirty pool has even crept into my personal life. Several friends and family members have started to sharpen their arguments with personal coercion when I state that I will not vote for Donald Trump. This disappoints me, but it is indicative of a larger truth that has shown its ugly head this year. It is best expressed by Bill Kristol who says, “Trumpism corrupts.” There is ample evidence of the truth of this statement. I have never seen an election so rife with pettiness and ranker than this one. Yes, that includes the Bush/Gore fiasco in 2000.

So, as of right now, I am done. I am finished posting various rants and raves about a political contest that started in the basement and has graduated to the sewer. I am following my dad’s example and am going to be a class act in the face of further bullying from the Trump camp. I am secure in my decision not to vote for Trump and have nothing to prove to anyone. I suggest those of you #NeverTrumpers adopt the same mentality. Hunker down and ride out the next two-and-a-half months quietly and gracefully.

I will impart one final truth before I conclude. In a free and open society, no one is obligated to vote for a candidate. A vote is the most valuable form of political currency. The best politicians learn how to woo voters, not bully them. In other words, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Sadly, Donald Trump never learned this very basic lesson and it will be his undoing (and that of his loyal base) in November.

If you want to continue to take an interest in my political machinations, you can follow me on Twitter at RyanO218.

Finally, a note of hope in these murky times. Despite the fear and anger from both the right and left, our country will survive, no matter the outcome in November.

There is No Sulu. Only Zuul!

I have no plans to go see the Ghostbusters reboot. It’s not because I’m sexist. Melissa McCarthy doesn’t do it for me, but whatever.

The reason I’m not going is the same reason I have no intention of wasting time and money on the latest Star Trek installment. I don’t care that Sulu is gay. I mean… George Takei doesn’t like it, but what does his opinion matter, right?

I was talking with Joe and we were commenting on the fact that we never go to movies anymore. It’s not the cost that is prohibitive. I’ll pay $12 to see a good movie. It’s not the visual medium. Most major theaters have audio description for the blind now (and sometimes, it actually works.)

The reason is more basic. I officially have reboot/sequel burn-out. I firmly believe that Hollywood no longer has any originality when it comes to blockbuster entertainment.

Let’s take a look at the biggest movies from the Spring/Summer season of this year:

Superman vs. Batman: Dawn of Justice
Captain America: Civil War
The Jungle Book (this is the third film interpretation of the Rudyard Kipling novel)
Warcraft (based on a videogame)
Finding Dory (sequel)
X-Men: Apocalypse
Star Trek Beyond
The Legend of Tarzan
Suicide Squad (another comic book movie)
The Purge: Election Year (sequel)
Jason Bourne (sequel based on the Robert Ludlum novels)
Independence Day: Resurgence (sequel)

The only two original movies I can find that have done well at the box office this season are Zootopia, and The Secret Life of Pets; both animated movies geared for kids.

Now, let’s contrast this list with the top 10 grossing films from 1984; the year the original Ghostbusters was released:

1. Beverly Hills Cop
2. Ghostbusters
3. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (sequel)
4. Gremlins
5. The Karate Kid
6. Police Academy
7. Footloose
8. Romancing the Stone
9. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (sequel)
10. Splash

Let me clarify that those 10 films were from the entire year, not just the summer season. Only two sequels out of 10. Not one animated flick! Videogames were still B-grade entertainment. Honest to God… Can you imagine a movie based on Pac-Man?

In closing, let me say that the glut of sequels and reboots shows no sign of ebbing. Coming soon, we will be treated to remakes of Ben-Hur and The Magnificent Seven.

If there’s any justice, the ghosts of Yul Brynner and Charlton Heston will send a giant marshmallow man to Hollywood. There, he will take a giant, sugary crap all over that festering town, because ghosts love symbolism. And it won’t be no wimpy 50-foot marshmallow man. Since Hollywood has to do everything bigger and better, it will be a 500-foot version.

If it survives an attack on Hollywood, maybe Seth MacFarlane could talk it into stopping by Trump Tower for one final push. Wouldn’t it be great if that Staypuff stud could do what the GOP couldn’t and, dump Trump?

Pick Your Poison

I recently received a message from a former student named Sai (pronounced Sigh.) Yes, you read it correctly. I used to be a teacher at the Colorado Center for the Blind. My job lasted for about two months. I’d love to share a story about how I got fired and went out in a blaze of glory, but truthfully, the job was temporary. It was a summer counseling job. I had the (ahem) honor to work with blind teenagers as a cane travel instructor.

Sai was one of our best. She was quiet, thoughtful and she never broke curfew. A lot of our male students had a crush on her, but she couldn’t be bothered with boys. She was too busy figuring out how to plan her cane travel route, cook a meal and memorize Braille contractions.

As often happens, I kept in touch with some of my students through social media. To that end, Sai wrote me privately a few days ago and asked this question. I will paste the relevant portion below, then give my response.

Since you mentioned that you wouldn’t mind answering questions about politics, I’d like to ask one thing I’ve been curious about. Because you consider (or maybe used to consider) yourself a republican, but you don’t support Donald Trump, what are you planning to do when the election rolls around in November? I heard that some democrats who don’t like Hilary would bite their lips and vote for her anyway because they don’t want trump as president, so I was just wondering what republican supporters who don’t like Trump would do. Please let me know if you don’t feel comfortable answering any of my question, or if you’re already planning to address it in one of your future blog post. In the former case I’ll just wait to read your article.
End quote

Sai, here is your rather protracted answer.

I am a part of the Never Trump movement. That means exactly what it says. Under no circumstances will I ever be persuaded to vote for Donald Trump for president. He has had almost 14 months to convince me and he has failed miserably. Many Republicans disagree with me and I will try my best to illustrate their position later in this post.

I don’t believe that Mr. Trump has proven himself to be temperamentally suited for the Oval Office.

Serving as the President of the United States is the most difficult job in the world. It requires the ability to have a vision of what you think America should be. It requires the ability to compromise with many competing agendas. I don’t merely mean the Republicans and the Democrats, but you have to manage hundreds (sometimes thousands) of people, all with their own selfish interests in mind. A truly gifted leader has the ability to maintain his or her own vision while simultaneously respecting the goals and views of their opponents. If you want examples, study Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

Most leaders are not truly gifted. If they are merely good, they possess the ability to steer a steady course in order to keep our country safe from harm, whether that harm comes from internal or external forces.

Donald Trump has demonstrated that he is completely bereft of these characteristics. He is a petty bully when he feels attacked, resorting to name-calling and blame displacement that is more befitting an adolescent than an adult. When he is asked about his views on issues of substance, he often dodges the questions, resorting to slogans and shallow political rhetoric to smooth over his very obvious deficiencies in his knowledge of political affairs.

He is capricious in the making of promises that have no chance of ever being kept. There is no practical way that we will ever build a wall along our southern border and compel Mexico to pay for it. There is no pragmatic way that we can ever start a trade war with China without suffering major financial repercussions. There is no legal or ethical way we can ever ban an entire religion from entering this country.

There are many other objections I have to Mr. Trump, but we don’t have enough time to go into all of them.

The other major red flag I will discuss here is the fact that Trump refuses to release his tax returns. It is pro forma for all presidential candidates to disclose their financial records to the public. Trump has made it clear that he refuses to do so. He blames an IRS audit for this, but that is a dodge. An audit does not prevent anyone from making their tax returns available for public scrutiny.

One of the biggest reasons that Trump inspires his supporters is because they believe that he is a rich man who creates jobs and builds things. Trump is, by nature, a braggart. If his tax returns would flatter his image as a self-made billionaire, he would release them in a heartbeat. Moreover, he wouldn’t just casually release them. He’d throw them in the faces of his skeptics, adding his middle finger to boot.

Yet, his campaign manager, Paul Manafort, recently indicated that the Trump campaign had no intention of releasing his tax returns during the current cycle. I’m sure there are sound reasons for this. I believe that, if he were to show them to the public, we would learn a good deal about his finances that would not flatter his not-so-carefully crafted façade as an economic stimulator.

I am sad to say that many people who voted for Trump in the primaries were not smart. They chose not to employ their critical thinking skills, choosing instead to fall for his populist line of bs. After he became the Republican nominee, many who did not initially support him came reluctantly over to his camp. This is not because of his skills of persuasion, but rather, they are taking a desperate stand against the alternative to Trump, Hillary Clinton.

From an experience perspective, Hillary has Trump beat hands down. She was the First Lady for eight years, a senator from New York for six years and she spent four years as Secretary of State. Yet, many people on both sides of the aisle view her resume as a weakness. They believe that Hillary represents a broken and corrupt system that badly needs to be reformed. She does very little in her conduct to effectively counter this image.

Hillary badly mishandled the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, she put our national security at risk by storing classified E-mail messages on her private server, then blatantly lied to the public, the press and FBI investigators in order to cover it up. The recent revelations that the DNC tried to stack the deck against Bernie Sanders came as no surprise to me. I am hard pressed to think that Hillary didn’t have a hand in it.

The feminist fanfare about Hillary shattering the glass ceiling by being the first woman nominee for president rings hollow with me. Her husband, former President Clinton, is a proven sexual predator. I firmly believe that she enabled and covered up his atrocious behavior, thereby putting many women in jeopardy, in order to advance her career. I have no doubt that she will perpetuate Obama’s liberal agenda for the country by appointing left-of-center Supreme Court justices, by federally funding abortion and by adding to our already staggering national debt.

I’ve heard a few Republicans say that they would rather bite the bullet and vote for Hillary, rather than support Trump. Frankly, I don’t know how any self-respecting Republican could ever pull the lever for Hillary. Trump exemplifies the stark fact that desperation makes people do crazy things. Whatever the case, I am too conservative for this option. In these perilous times, I could be persuaded to vote for a moderate Democrat, but such a breed doesn’t exist anymore, thanks largely to Bernie Sanders. At any rate, Hillary sure ain’t it.

Many Trump supporters have tried to pressure me to change my mind, invoking the anti-Hillary arguments. Sometimes, their attacks have become personal. One Trump supporter called me, “Narrow-minded,” because I refuse to back Trump.

I am not an inflexible person. I have made compromises in the voting booth in spite of my conservative world view. In 2008, I supported John McCain for president, even though he was not my first, nor second, nor third choice during the primaries. I disagreed with his stance on immigration, manmade global warming and campaign finance reform. That said, I believed that, at his core, he was a Republican who cared about the welfare of our country.

In 2012, I voted for Mitt Romney, even though his involvement with socialized healthcare in Massachusetts and his past pro-choice views made me nervous. Once again, I perceived Romney as a decent person who would do what was best for the country.

But for me, Donald Trump is a bridge too far. He is an opportunistic, narcissistic bully with no real sense of what it takes to serve as the leader of the free world. Bill Kristol, a political pundit and father of the Never Trump movement, has a saying that I have found to be accurate. “Trumpism corrupts.” He is saying that Trump’s bad behavior has infected, not only the leaders of the Republican Party, but his supporters as well. If the high-pressure tactics of those who show a preference of the stick to the carrot is any indication, Kristol is dead right.

Trump’s tactics may have been effective in the primaries when the voters were fragmented between 17 candidates, but they have only served to backfire on him since the Indiana primary. Instead of instigating and provoking, Trump should be wooing disaffected members of the conservative base, as well as right-leaning independents. The fact that neither Ted Cruz nor John Kasich would endorse him is very telling.

He should have made amends with Ted Cruz, thereby courting his endorsement at the GOP convention in Cleveland. Instead, his supporters tried to bully Cruz once again from the floor, only to discover that it was all for not. Cruz refused to endorse Trump, gaining my respect along with many other rock-ribbed conservatives. Even though the convention was hosted in Cleveland, Ohio Governor John Kasich refused to attend, declining an opportunity to associate himself with Trump’s antics.

As we head into the final three months of the campaign, Republicans now find themselves weathering one gratuitous controversy after another as Donald Trump attacks judges of Hispanic heritage, Gold Star families who happen to be Muslim and babies at his rallies. I don’t even want to talk about Putin. I understand that many want to shake up the political establishment in Washington D.C., but Trump is a walking, talking hand grenade who serves as the wrong kind of disruption.

This is the dilemma our country now faces. We get to choose which poison we’d rather drink. Would you rather sip a cyanide shake, or arsenic juice? I choose neither. My party affiliation creates no obligation for me to vote for any candidate, particularly when he (and many of his supporters) presume that they are entitled to my favors.

I was praying that a viable third-party alternative would emerge before the Republican convention, but my hopes have been repeatedly dashed. I investigated Gary Johnson, but in these troubling times of ISIS and the fatally flawed Iran nuclear deal, I feel the libertarian approach of non-intervention is willfully naive. So, I will do what Ronald Reagan did in 1976 and leave the presidential contest blank when I go to vote in November.

To my Trump-supporting comrades who would accuse me of a proxy vote for Hillary, nice try. That is a manipulation tactic worthy of The Donald, but it is not a positive argument in favor of a candidate. It was appropriate in 2008 when I cast a pro-McCain vote that was really anti-Obama, but it won’t fly this time. Trump is just too unstable to be given the nuclear codes. Yes, I remember Marco Rubio’s words, even if he doesn’t.

You asked whether or not I still consider myself a Republican. The answer is a hesitant, yes. I’m not ready to leave the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower and Reagan just yet. That said, I am particularly angry at the way the GOP silenced descent on the floor of our convention two weeks ago when the anti-Trump delegates tried to have their say. I will remember those actions with bitter irony the next time some GOP official is censored from speaking on a college campus.

Despite our recent difficulties (which were largely self-inflicted), I still believe that the GOP is the best apparatus to keep this country on the right track. If we are still in chaos four years from now, I will give up my long-held Republican registration and become an Independent until such time as a viable conservative third party can be established.

Finally, Sai, let me slip briefly back into my role as your instructor. You’re in college now and you indicated to me that the pervasive sentiment on your college campus is liberal. I won’t presume to tell you how to think. I can only give you the facts as I see them and let you draw your own conclusions. Any good teacher or friend who truly cares about you will adopt this same approach. The structured discovery method is the best, whether we’re talking about cane travel, or life in general.

That said, the reason that the Democrat party is being pulled to the left is due to Bernie Sanders; a self-described socialist. Many of your professors and fellow students agree with the core tenants of socialism. I strongly urge you to employ your critical thinking skills that I know you have and analyze socialism.

When Bernie Sanders says that he wants to make college free for all, is it possible? I submit to you that there is no such thing. Someone, somewhere, will always have to pay the bill, whether it’s for college, entitlement benefits such as Food Stamps, or mass transit in a big city like Denver. When Bernie Sanders talks about breaking up the banks, is that something that a president should be allowed to do? When he talks about defunding the military, do you think Russia and ISIS would welcome such a thing?

Then, ask yourself, your friends and your teachers where socialism has succeeded in the world. I’ll give you a hint; take a hard look at Venezuela.

I appreciate your questions, Sai. You were a joy to work with two years ago and I hope you are well now. I apologize that this was so long, but I wanted to give you as thorough an explanation as possible.

Take care, Sai, and please do keep in touch.

Your friend and former instructor,