Lane Filler is a member of the Newsday editorial board. He came to Long Island in 2010.
You couldn't care less what I think of Hillary Rodham Clinton, and I don't blame you. I couldn't care less what you or anyone else thinks about her, either. Our minds are all made up, and have been for decades.
Clinton has been with us as a debate topic for nearly 25 years. At this point, most of what we hear about her we react to based on how we already feel about her. So Clinton lovers see the outcry over the Benghazi attack as unfair and the outrage over the hidden emails as a right-wing conspiracy about a nonissue. And Clinton haters think the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi were due to her incompetence, that there's been a cover-up and that the hidden emails are part of that.
Everyone is still where they stood in this fight after every new round, but with different ammo. We have Clinton filters in our brains that turn new facts into whatever we need for our narratives.
Now, you may also not care what I think about Common Core standards, campaign finance reform or the proper temperature to cook a standing rib roast. But there is a chance I could sway you on these issues. Common Core standards are pretty new, so if I wrote about conclusive data showing Common Core makes kids smarter and more respectful, more capable of controlling their impulses and less smelly after soccer games, any opposition you have toward Common Core might well melt away. If I showed you melt-in-your-mouth beef, I could probably convince you 350 degrees was the ticket, even if you swear by 425.
We are capable of changing our minds on most issues. There are a few things, though, on which a majority of people can no longer be swayed by anything less than an apocalyptic revelation, if that. And it seems opinion writers expend a lot of time and resources on the few topics on which everyone's opinion has the fluidity of granite. When was the last time you tried to persuade somebody not to be so blindly supportive of Israel (or Palestinians) and it worked? Never has your debate opponent said, "I've considered Palestinians (or Israelis) murderous scags for decades, but you're just so darn convincing I've decided to switch sides."
Ditto on abortion. People's views on the issue can evolve, but in my experience, that happens mostly slowly and mostly because their perspective on life changes as they age. I have never heard of a serious abortion rights supporter or opponent change his or her view because someone argued that person into it.
And when it comes to politics, there are plenty of people still worth wrangling over. Most of us have not decided yet, not permanently, what we think about Elizabeth Warren and Rand Paul and Jeb Bush and John Kasich and Martin O'Malley and Mike Pence and Marco Rubio and Bernie Sanders and . . . well, you get the point. Even with very famous pols like Chris Christie, Andrew Cuomo, Joe Biden and Ted Cruz, we could probably still be swayed if we found out they saved puppies in their spare time or sold puppies to coal mines to be used as dynamite testers.
Clinton's vote tally in the 2016 presidential contest is going to vary based entirely on who goes against her and how well they run their campaigns. So those are the people and ideas worth writing about and talking about and arguing about.
I mean, hopefully.
It's possible that we won't hear a single debate worthy of our attention. But with 196 candidates filed thus far for the 2016 presidential race with the Federal Election Commission, one of whom is named Sydneys Voluptuous Buttocks, I'm sure we can find topics beyond Clinton on which we can attempt to sway each others' positions.
Lane Filler is a member of Newsday's editorial board.