To who and for what
For what purpose, to what end
A trailer for your boat and a truck with which to pull it
Dinner sitting badly but antacids with which to null it
Things for your stuff
Such special instruments
Line your sepulcher
Toll for the bridge to the beyond?
From the outside looking in
One could easily be mistaken
Taken by the fact that I’ve got nothing to show for
I mean to share a notion that liberals and progressives might find distasteful; sympathy for Trump supporters.
Before you recoil in disgust, mouth agape and brimming with righteous indignation, let me remind you as I’ve had to remind myself time and time again: I am friends with and related to Trump supporters. That said, in the immediate wake of the election I didn’t waste a moment’s time in taking to that black hole of bias called the internet and shouting into the void that people who voted for Trump were racists, xenophobes, and/or misogynists. The maelstrom in my soul prevented me from realizing that I had been blind to the realities that many of these people face.
It’s become a cliché to be an open-minded, creative kid from a small town who feels stymied and boxed-in by their drab surroundings and lack of diversity and big-city strangeness. But it is a thing and it’s palpable. People want to go where they feel like they fit in. But in doing so, one risks becoming further disassociated with where they came from. Those of us who leave home can struggle when they return for a visit. We usually leave Ma and Pa in the rear-view while we’re still becoming adults. As time peels away we emerge from our city-life chrysalis and find that little has changed in our point of origin. The sleepy towns can’t compare with the burgeoning cities and we wrongfully assume that our former neighbors are also stuck in the past, not realizing that many of them are uneasy about the future because it’s not all that clear to them.
And therein lies the problem. Many of us current city-dwellers simply don’t know what people back home are feeling or thinking. And when we woke up to find that we had a Mr. President and not a Mrs. President we felt the pang of betrayal from those we left behind. We were probably so utterly shattered because we didn’t see it coming and soon realized that we didn’t know the extent of our friends and family members’ plight. We chalk it up to their lack of growth without taking note that maybe we’ve changed and are also, quite simply, out of the loop.
If your moral outrage is about to bubble over, take a moment and breathe deeply. I too was at one time frothing at the mouth and thought that most, if not all, Trump supporters were very clearly racists because they voted him into office. I still think that a good portion of them were and are, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some racists voting for Hillary too. Some racists probably voted for Obama believe it or not. Propping up someone spouting the kind of language that Trump does is a mistake and there’s no doubt about it. However, many of his supporters weren’t supporting him for those reasons. They have a legitimate claim to feeling left out of the political process and whether he was honest or not, he spoke directly to them and won because of it. Allow yourself to acknowledge the nuanced consideration that some of his voters may have even detested his racial rhetoric but simply decided his economic and national security proposals were more important to them and their families. Accepting this as a possible explanation is crucial to repairing our country.
This particular example gets dredged up on a daily basis but the 2016 election for a lot of people smelled a bit too much like Germany in the 1930’s. Yet little time is spent on wondering just what was going on in the minds of those who cast their ballots for a man who ultimately tore Europe in half. We often talk of using history as a tool to help society avoid past pitfalls but we don’t always sufficiently identify what went wrong and where. When it comes to those events of yesteryear so much emphasis is placed on the military realities of the time, the geopolitical alliances, and other secondary concerns. However, the primary concern from back then should be the primary concern of today: The hearts and minds of the people.
What do the people need? Do they feel safe? Do they feel financially secure? Are they happy? While many of us have moved on and are yukking it up in the cities, the Great Recession is still being felt back at home to varying degrees. The Midwest and the South haven’t seen the same gains since the downturn was at its worse in 2008. The people who inhabit the wide swaths of the country that were developed and cultivated for industrial use wake up each morning to scan the headlines and find out just which country their jobs are moving to or who was the latest victim of the opioid epidemic that, it should be noted, has hit rural areas the hardest.
Our collective post-election grief and dismay is owed largely to our ignorance of the grief and dismay felt by our small-town brothers and sisters.
If we would just can the moral high-ground stuff for a moment it would be to all our benefit. Also cutting it out with the name-calling and the down-the-nose way we look at our fellow citizens would be a start. Before anyone interjects with anything along the lines of a “Well-they-started-it” argument ought to check themselves before they finish that thought. If one is to live up to the icons of Progressivism, Liberalism, or Civil Rights, one must try and be above the fray themselves and be solutions-oriented, not obsessed with finger-pointing.
It’s not too late to transform that moral outrage into moral outreach. Trump supporters, those who aren’t billionaires anyway, are not going to be getting the help they need from this administration anytime soon. Whether it’s the AHCA or the incomprehensibly chaotic White House we now see, the needs of his core supporters are not front and center. Their lives remain mired in place, with their guy in office and accomplishing nothing.
Organize the people in your home town. Move back and start your own grassroots political movement. If you live in a different state now but are still a registered voter where you come from, research local politicians and choose wisely, blind straight-ticket voting isn’t an option. If you can’t vote for your favored candidates back home, donate to them instead. Have an in-person conversation with someone you disagree with and listen more than you speak. We should be reminded that although Trump supporters find themselves in the minority, there were enough of them to elect him. We will need to work with them if changes are to be made.
Should such sentiments prove to be unpalatable for you, it need only be said that the future of our country will depend on emphasizing reconciliation over persistent division and that can start with your next visit home.
Allen West. I like to think of him as the reason we invented the phrase “bat-shit crazy.” He was a one-term U.S. Representative from Florida and it’s not because he answered to a higher calling, it’s because he was voted out even quicker than he arrived.
He’s proven himself to be a gold medal-caliber bigot and conspiracy theorist. He rode into office on the Tea Party wave and the current must’ve been too strong because two years later it carried him right back the fuck out. The re-election campaign that he lost was the most expensive one ever waged in the history of Congress. Guess it goes to show that all the money in the world can’t convince people to vote for crazy two times in a row. These days he hangs out where all now-unelectable Republicans go to retire; Fox News.
The following image (WARNING: It is somewhat graphic) comes courtesy of the Facebook profile, “Allen West Republic” which claims to be in support of his website:
The easiest way to gig him on this is poor grammar. Or what seems to be a fundamental lack of understanding of what Islam is. But that’s low-hanging fruit so how about the message of the image instead?
In looking for countries ruled by Islam (his terms, not mine), I figured the quickest way would be to find a list of countries where Muslims represent at least a simple majority of the population. And here is a quick blurb from that link:
According to the Pew Research Center in 2010 there were 50 Muslim-majority countries. Around 62% of the world’s Muslims live in South and Southeast Asia, with over 1 billion adherents. The largest Muslim population in a country is in Indonesia, a nation home to 12.7% of the world’s Muslims, followed by Pakistan (11.0%), India (10.9%), and Bangladesh (9.2%).About 20% of Muslims live in Arab countries. In the Middle East, the non-Arab countries of Turkey and Iran are the largest Muslim-majority countries; in Africa, Egypt and Nigeria have the most populous Muslim communities. The study found more Muslims in the United Kingdom than in Lebanon and more in China than in Syria.
So, let’s assume that from the perspective of the graphic’s creator that they’re talking about countries in the Middle East, which is not really a stretch considering current events. That being said, after reading the statistics above you might be asking yourself how can a claim such as the one in the graphic be true if the majority of Muslims don’t live in the countries implied? And the simple answer is that it’s not, it’s an out-and-out fabrication.
I’m just shooting from the hip here, but I can count at least twenty out of the fifty Muslim-majority countries that I know are not a “HELLISH NIGHTMARE” as West would have you believe. Now, those are only the countries I know something about. Out of the same fifty Muslim-majority countries I can only name around ten that I absolutely would not visit even if I knew more about them. Maybe this isn’t the most scientific of approaches, but I think it’s hard to say that it has any less merit than West’s. I pray that you’ll find that my argument at least includes numbers and research and most hopeful of all, good grammar. (If yer not picking up what I’m laying down, this is a good resource that gets more in-depth.)
This image and countless others shared by West’s supporters and people like them continue the incredibly short-sighted, reductive arguments that will only serve to harm American policy both foreign and domestic. I urge, even beg people to not blindly accept any broad-based assertion that they happen upon, regardless of its intent. But that’s perhaps a little too optimistic of me. I would just like to sign off by reminding anyone who still isn’t with me that never in our history as Americans has discriminating against an entire group of people ever worked out for the best.