Last night my husband and I woke up in the middle of the night to talk politics. We didn’t talk about how surprised we were. We went through the list of people we know who voted for Trump but wouldn’t admit it. We know a lot of them because we don’t live in California or New York. We live in The Rest of The Country.
If you live on the coasts you probably don’t understand what it’s like to be surrounded by Trump voters, so I’ll tell you.
First, there’s no discussion of politics except to say platitudes that everyone accepts as true. Because outside of the coasts it’s not polite to start disagreements. So a political discussion goes like this:
“Everything fell apart with NAFTA.”
“Uh huh. That’s for sure.”
“Hillary’s a liar.”
“Yep. She’s been lying forever.”
“That video of Trump in the bus was so sad.”
“It was so sad.”
Conversation among people who are not New Yorkers is not really give and take, so much as it’s call and response.
No one tells you they are voting for Trump. Instead, their kids tell you.
As typical homeschoolers, my kids know no typical limits for intellectual discussion. So they talk politics with other kids, and most kids my kids talk to say they support Trump. And let me tell you, it’s not because they are reading CNN.com voraciously. It’s because their parents support Trump.
My niece, also living in a state that does not have an ocean front, had a mock election in her high school. We are not talking impoverished and uneducated here. This is a high school with a ski team. And it wasn’t just that Trump won the mock election that made my niece leave school early. It was that her classmates were chanting, “Build that wall! Build that wall!”
What I want you to know is that Trump voters don’t tell you they are Trump voters.
It shouldn’t surprise you because the only people who have a voice in the media are in New York and California. And look, I’m not telling you this as a Trump voter. I’m telling you this a member of the media.
Does it shock you to hear that 80% of the writers for high-end magazines come from Park Slope or Montclair? I made that number up, but I dare you to spend a day reading the bylines. You will be completely shocked by how many writers live in these towns. The reason is that being a writer is a glamorous job that doesn’t pay enough to support a family, so the only people who can do it have spouse making a ton of money. And those writers live in Park Slope (Brooklyn) or Montclair (New Jersey).
So if you want to be a member of the media, you have to talk like them. Act like them. Or you are a loser in a small-town and not really counted as media. I’m telling you this to let you know how out of touch the media is with America. Mainstream America doesn’t go to spinning classes. They go to casinos.
We lie to ourselves when we think we know how the US thinks and votes. We lie to ourselves when we think there is anything in the media reflecting The Rest Of The Country.
Rural people lie to each other when they pretend they are having real conversations. And city people lie when they pretend they can represent the US in the media.
But there are more lies.
The Democratic Party propped up Hillary as if she was the people’s choice. She wasn’t. Even laudatory writing about Hillary was lukewarm. Poll after poll showed that Bernie Sanders could beat Trump and that Hillary would have a harder time beating Trump.
And I don’t know if Russia hacked the DNC or Comey is working for the RNC or what, but it’s clear that the Democrat Party didn’t plan for a fair primary. The Democrat voters don’t like Hillary. Why is this a shock? We knew this during the primary. Why are we pretending that the DNC didn’t throw this election away? American voters want change, and people do not perceive Hillary as change. We don’t need polls to know this.
And now, a word from South Park. I watch South Park with my son every night, so you can imagine that we have ended up watching many episodes more than once. Which means we are excited when a new episode comes out. And a recent South Park episode pointed out that Republicans didn’t throw a fit when Trump repeatedly said slurs against the Hispanic population in the US or against the Muslim population at large. Republicans didn’t distance themselves from Trump until he talked in lewd ways about women. Which tells us that the Republicans think it’s fine to be racist.
We live in a racist country. We live in a country of arrogant city people. We live in a country with corrupt parties. And we have open elections but we don’t have open discourse.
I think about Nazi Germany all the time. What would I have done? Now I know. I would have lied to myself just like everyone else lied to themselves. That’s how democracies crumble: under the lies we tell ourselves.
This is not controversial stuff. I mean, in terms of research and data it’s not controversial. But we don’t let people say those things because they offend our sensibilities. People feel compelled to tell me I’m hurting someone — their wife, their daughter, their career, their ego, whatever — because I’m telling the truth.
That’s why we are all shocked that Trump is elected. Because we are so comfortable hiding from the truth.
Do you want to know how to have a safe, secure work life and a personal life that is stable and fulfilling? Stop lying to yourself. Put your outrage aside and open your eyes to reality. Learn to understand why people do what they do. Just because the world is not how you think it SHOULD be doesn’t mean you can’t see it for what it actually is.
Redirect your election incredulity. Try to find your part in it. Try to find where you lie to yourself. Try to be more honest about your own life. The best way to fight a failing democracy is to try radical honesty. With everyone.