Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

CONTRARIANS-a reflection on democracy 7-4-17

CONTRARIANS-a reflection on democracy    7-4-17

When our girls were in elementary grades, one of their favorite books was Contrary Jenkins, by the wonderful Rebecca Caudill. As I remember, Jenkins came for a visit and overstayed his welcome. The more the family tried to get him to leave, the more he dug in his heels and stayed. They finally got him to leave by asking him to stay. Our daughters loved it because they were both contrarians, but different types.

There are four types of contrarians: 1] Yes, but… 2] Yes, and… 3] No, but… 4] No, and…

The “Yes, but” people agree with you but add on to what you said, sometimes actually contradicting, even though they initially said “yes,” but sometimes just amending, “Yes, Hudsons were good cars, but Packards were better.”

The “Yes, and” people basically agree, but they can’t stop there. “Yes, Hudsons and Packards were both good cars, but few people know that they were actually built underground in New Mexico by…”

The “No, but” people contradict flat out. “No, you have that wrong, but here is the right answer …”

The “No, and” folks contradict and give you a whole list of reasons why you are wrong.

Some contrarians are just hostile, “That would never work,” but others are passive-aggressive. “Oh, that’s a good idea, but it would fail because…”

The main thing is: contrarians just have to be “against.” It’s a habit, an addiction, a personality trait, whatever.

Strangely, contrarians stick together. They are all united against the non-contrarians. I think that is one reason Donald Trump was elected. He is a contrarian and gets the support of all the other contrarians. Contrarians dislike people who are factual, because it gives them less opportunity to be contrary.

I find contrarians irritating, so if I’m with one, I just don’t say anything at all, although a really good contrarian can contradict even silence. Anyway, if you don’t like this post, don’t bother to tell me; I won’t reply.


I once heard Rebecca Caudill speak at Illinois State University. She told of growing up in Appalachia, in a county where her father was the only Democrat, so he had to be an election judge. As one election came up, when she was a young girl, death threats were made against him if he went to the polls to be a Democrat judge. Early in the morning, while it was still dark, as they were eating breakfast, several Republican men burst into their kitchen. They walked her father to the polls, some in front, some in back, some on either side, to be sure he got there safely. She said that he was the most respected man in the county, so much so that when he died, someone said, “We are all orphans now.” 

1 comment:

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