Tad was now eighteen. The age of majority! “I can do whatever I want!” he exulted joyfully. “My parents can’t control my life anymore. I’m free!” He still couldn’t legally buy alcohol, and that was a bummer. But he was a university freshman and had joined a fraternity and getting booze didn’t seem to be a problem.
“I can do all kinds of stuff now without my parents’ consent.”
“I can enter into binding contracts!” he shouted to no one in particular. Then he asked himself, a little quieter, “Who do I want to make a contract with?” He couldn’t think of anyone at the moment. But he was sure he would.
“I can legally buy property in my own name!” he yelled at the top of his lungs, jumping up and down. Unfortunately, he didn’t have any money, except what was in the debit card his parents had set up to cover his college expenses.
“I can get married!” he proclaimed with enthusiasm. But then, upon reflection, “Why would I want to do that? Doesn’t that mean you have to be, like, monogamous or something?”
His enthusiasm was waning. But then he brightened, “I can vote. Yeah, I can vote. Maybe I need to join a political party.” That was a good idea, but which one?
Like most millennials, he was vaguely aware that there were two major political parties. He couldn’t quite recall their names, but he did remember that one had a donkey logo and one had an elephant logo. He checked the university’s roster of campus organizations and found listings for a donkey club and an elephant club. Tad was happy to discover that both organizations had meetings scheduled for later in the week.
He went to the donkey club meeting first. He learned that the members were called Democrats. They were nice enough, except they all seemed to be angry for some reason. Some of them carried signs and wore tee shirts with strange writings, like “F**k Trump” and “No Malarkey.”
Although Tad was basically shy, he had no trouble making friends at the meeting, as the club members all urgently wanted to talk to him. They were fervent. One told him about how the Republicans wanted to close our country’s borders to the families and children fleeing starvation and oppressive regimes that tortured and killed people. Another told him how the Republicans were all racists, hated poor and LGBTQ+ people, and didn’t want them to be able to vote. Each person he talked to railed on a different topic, but there was a common theme: the Republicans were hell-bent on destroying American democracy and had to be stopped.
The next day Tad went to the elephant club meeting,
and discovered that these people were called Republicans. The members were nice enough, and he wondered if these were the same Republicans that the people from the day before hated so much. But these people were angry, too. Some of them carried signs and wore tee shirts with strange writings, like “Make America Great Again,” and “Jobs, Not Mobs.”
Just like the previous day, the club members all urgently wanted to talk to him. One told him how the Democrats wanted to tear down American institutions and take away the freedoms that our forefathers fought so hard to create. Another told him that the Democrats were all socialists and their policies would make the United States be like Venezuela, wherever that is. Like the day before, each person he talked to railed on a different topic, but there was a common theme: the Democrats were hell-bent on destroying American democracy and had to be stopped.
He was stunned when he left the second meeting. He didn’t know what to believe. He thought about the Republicans he had just met. The all seemed like nice, ordinary people, but they were so angry. Why? He had already forgotten most of what they were angry about, but it was vivid in his mind how much they hated Democrats. Then he thought about the Democrats he met the day before. They too seemed like nice, ordinary people, but they also were angry. Why? He had already forgotten most of what they were angry about, but, again, he vividly recalled how much they hated Republicans.
He didn’t know who to believe or what to believe. He thought, To Believe or Not to Believe, that’s a damned difficult question. In the recesses of his mind, he thought that the question had a familiar ring to it but couldn’t quite place it. After giving the matter heartfelt serious consideration for an extended period of time … at least five minutes or so … he figured out what he did believe. “I believe I’ll have a brewski,” he said to himself. He pulled out his cell phone, clicked on a name in his contacts list, and called Gloria, his girlfriend of the week. “You wanna get together and have some beers?” he asked.