Trump’s election tells us that we’re all a bunch of liars

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 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.

I think you read this blog because I spend a lot of time calling out people for lies. Here are some things I’ve said that people hate me for saying:

Don’t report sexual harassment.

Don’t hire for diversity.

Marry for money.

You put your kids in school because you are cowardly.

You are not going to earn any more money than you earn now.

Your graduate degree is worthless.

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.

242 replies
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  1. Cheryl Wahlheim
    Cheryl Wahlheim says:

    I live in one of the crazy bubble areas also, Boulder County, CO. While Colorado did go for Hillary this year, in Boulder we went to bed firmly believing we would have our first female president. My ex-husband called me the day after the election to admit he did vote for Trump, even though he has 5 daughters and 2 granddaughters. So you are right, everyone lies. My husband and I earn in the top 5% so you would think I would be excited about Trump, right? Instead I am mortified that this guy will go down in history as a U.S. president. I am embarassed by my fellow countrymen. Ugh.

  2. Modesta
    Modesta says:

    Hillary was the “people’s choice” though. That’s why she won the popular vote by almost 3 million votes.

  3. Jan
    Jan says:

    Penelope, you are full of shit. You may have wisely chosen to homeschool your kids, then you watch South Park with them and consider that your correct political news informant? That tells you Repubs are racist but offended by sexist remarks? You believe those writers? You’re not just a liar, you’re an idiot! You can preach all you want, but you’re still a part of the establishment media, which is skewered and biased, and you’re still a brainwashed woman SJW, just with smoother edges. It’s writers like you that really irritate me because you sound almost sane. The headline was a clue, though. Just another sensationalist headline designed to piss people off and draw them in. I’m ashamed to say it did that for me, but it didn’t take me long to get the gist of your viewpoint. You don’t know it or us all, and how dare you act like you do. Bleech on you.

  4. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    Yesterday I read this article ( ) titled ‘The 2016 Election and the Demise of Journalistic Standards’. It’s adapted from a speech given by Michael Goodwin who is chief political columnist for The New York Post and has taught at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He also started his career at the New York Times and worked there for sixteen years. This all to say he has worked in various venues over the years to witness the changes in his chosen career field. The events leading up to the 2016 election, the election itself, and events afterwards have revealed themselves to be a tipping point for political journalism.
    Last night I listened to Joan C. Williams (Distinguished Professor of Law and Founding Director of the Center of WorkLife at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law) on a radio talk show. She was being interviewed/promoting her new book – White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America. It’s being offered by Harvard Business Review Press, Amazon, and other places and was preceded by an article she wrote at HBR – titled ‘What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class’. Basically, it’s about the diversity often ignored and which you’ve written about in previous posts here on this blog – the class culture gap marked by the pay scale/respect given to the working class relative to the professional class. The divide between the two classes. And it’s not the divide necessarily between the rich and the poor. It’s the divide between the classes due to (lack of) respect given to the working class by the professional class. Of course, there’s more to it but much of it seems to be about respect. The article was published two days after the 2016 election and discussion of the campaigns and election results were included.

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