Aidan Boyle (‘21) and Baltazar Zuniga Ruiz (‘21) pull out chairs at a wooden table outside the cafeteria. “Bernie versus Hillary. Fight me,” says Aidan.

A gang of guffawing guys drifts off campus. Straggling students rush up the stairs and duck into classrooms for after-school clubs. As the courtyard empties out, Baltazar and Aidan prepare for a face-off.

I had asked to spectate during one of their heated political debates. “I assume we’ll have to refrain from swearing at each other,” Aidan had said in response.

Socially right-wing and economically left-wing, Baltazar’s first allegiance is to Bernie Sanders. Still, he was happy when Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US presidential election. Trump shared Baltazar’s anti-immigration and anti-free trade views, and had built his campaign on championing the working class. Most importantly, Trump brazenly challenged political correctness.

Baltazar liked Trump the candidate. Trump the president? Not so much. “Look at his cabinet filled with Goldman Sachs people,” he says. “President Trump is a pure and utter traitor to the working man.” Wall Street ties were just what he had hated about Clinton.

Aidan is a Hillary Clinton fan who emphasizes her diplomatic credentials and interventionist instincts. “Which is more important, some people having low-paying jobs, or stability in the Middle East?” he asks Baltazar, slamming the table with each word. “Bernie’s pandering to you.” In response to Baltazar’s claim that Clinton sells out to corporations, Aidan says, “Sanders is selling out to what people care about instead of [paying attention to] the real issues.”

The two are constantly warring over “the real issues.” Is Russian aggression in Ukraine a real issue? Is Muslim immigration to Europe a real issue? How about the patriarchy?

Whenever Aidan brings up feminism, Baltazar brings up the “working man” and mass inequality. “We’re not talking about the real issues,” he says, believing that patriarchy in the West is so subtle as to not warrant activism.

But Aidan says, “Balta uses ‘oh, there are more important issues’ to escape the fact that he’s wrong.”

[Infographic: Catherine Lin]

Their disagreement on feminism has its roots in the establishment media’s polarizing portrayal of oppression. “They call you a white supremacist or a fascist if you do dare to question anything, which leads to a ‘kid-cried-wolf’ situation where the word ‘Nazi’ no longer means anything.”

Baltazar is referencing a YouTube video titled “The Little Boy Who Cried ‘NAZI’!” from the channel Louder with Crowder. “The moral of the story, kids,” commentator Steven Crowder says, “is don’t cry ‘Nazi’ when there aren’t any Nazis.” Many of Baltazar’s opinions can be traced back to a video from the cluster of political YouTube channels he follows and trusts. Though most of the channels are conservative, one was created by a liberal, atheist radio host, giving rise to Baltazar’s cross-party but ideologically cohesive political views.

“If Steven Crowder told Baltazar that a swarm of vampire Nazis was invading North Dakota through Canada, he’d believe it,” says Aidan. Baltazar, too, claims that Aidan is brainwashed, trapped in a bubble of liberal news sources.

“Hillary Clinton is a puppet of Wall Street. If you support Hillary over Bernie Sanders, then you’re just, you’re just—bad.” Baltazar says at one point.

But Aidan only laughs. “In any international situation, Hillary Clinton will do better than Bernie Sanders. That’s because he doesn’t know sh…”

I say, “You can swear.”

“Because he doesn’t know s—,” Aidan says with relish, “about international relations.”

Julianne Vaughan (‘21) stops by and listens in as Aidan and Baltazar return, once again, to arguing about the patriarchy. “Wait, I thought you were anti-feminist,” she says to Aidan. “When we first met, you were like, ‘Are you a feminist? You seem kind of judgey.’”

Aidan’s pivot on feminism happened last year: “You know the rant I went on about having too much pride to admit to being wrong? I was like that, I was like Balta, but I matured. Last year, I thought, ‘I should really look at both sides of the issue here,’ and I was like, ‘Wow, I’m an idiot.’”

As a result, even though the two have been debating politics for years without reaching an agreement, Aidan is optimistic about Baltazar’s capacity to be persuaded. He believes that Baltazar’s anti-feminism is superficial. “I’m pretty sure that Balta just hates on feminism because it’s the trendy thing to do,” Aidan says. “My political views have changed, I think his political views will change. I think he’ll be a feminist maybe by 12th grade.”

“Aidan thinks he has the moral high ground,” Baltazar repeats at least three times throughout the course of the conversation. “He’s very arrogant, he has a big ego.”

“No, I just have the mental high ground,” Aidan says. “I think I’m smarter than you.”

“This is Kai, the edge-lord,” Aidan says as Kai Yuan Mor (‘21) spots us at our courtyard table and takes a seat.

All three begin brawling over American foreign policy, but when Aidan and Baltazar talk over each other, Kai Yuan announces, “I have something more important to say. Jake Paul just dropped a new diss track.”

They both stop mid-sentence, discard Saudi Arabian human rights abuses, and crowd around Kai Yuan’s phone. “Wait, really?”

“We can rally behind this one thing,” Kai Yuan turns to me and says.

“Also, Jake Paul is really annoying,” says Aidan.

Their moment of unity evaporates. “I’m a Jake Pauler,” Baltazar says. “Jake Paul is the best dude ever!”

About The Author

Catherine Lin
Features/A&C Editor; Copyeditor

Catherine, a junior, is a bookish nerd. Though she is named after Catherine the Great, she does not have a despotic disposition.