My “Deplorable” Buddies

NEW BLOG PHOTO_edited- 3With Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote pushing on towards two million I had to get away to northern Wisconsin over the weekend, the land of the Deplorables.

Post-election sniping at who to blame for Trump has left a field of corpses from Portland (ME) to Portland (OR). Let’s see if I can list them all:

Women: 54% of voting white women went with the thrice-married, gleeful pussy-grabber who has bragged in public about strolling, “Benny Hill”-style, into the dressing rooms of naked women and adolescent girls. I get that gals like the bad boys … they’re rarely dull … but really ladies, can we talk?

Bernie zealots: In several key swing states that Clinton lost, votes for Gary Johnson and/or Jill Stein more than covered the margin to flip the electoral college. In Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Stein’s percentage alone blended with less than 20% of Johnson’s would have done the trick. So enjoy your righteousness, folks. History (Nader) has repeated itself.

Latinos: Clinton pulled in 6% less of the Latino vote than Obama did in 2012, never mind The Donald threatening to send all or most of them back to Mexico, even if they were born here. But that’s no reason why the rest of us can’t enjoy our next chimichanga and Modelo.

Hillary the Terrible Candidate:  No, she can’t speechify like Bubba and Barack, and she is so … so … compulsively wonky. All those statistics! All those programs! All that snoozy detail … that was completely ignored by TV’s liberal media during the campaign. Yeah, maybe the newspapers were a little better, but every one of them endorsed her, so how credible are they?

Facebook: Since reading newspapers, or anything longer than 150 words without a picture cat picture is no fun, all those “breaking news” posts from whacked-out Uncle Gene down in his Sun City trailer court made a bigger impression on busy voters than the New York Times. Mark Zuckerberg says that’s ridiculous. But even this morning Uncle Gene is saying Zuckerberg and Hillary are members of the same “Eyes Wide Shut” sex and satan-worshipping cabal, so who are you going to believe?

Liberal “bubble-dwellers” with no pity for the “left behinds”.  Now we’re getting to the meat of it.

By every demographic measurement, other than vast wealth, I’m your classic liberal elitist. I’m here to confess. I read novels that don’t have serial killers … and The New York Times (on-line). Ditto: The Atlantic (subscription), Esquire (love me that Charlie Pierce!), Kevin Drum, Wired, Talking Points Memo, Slate, Vox, yadda yadda. I live in an inner-ring suburb in a large metropolitan area. We own two (foreign) cars. (I like the new Mustang. But I don’t see that thing lasting the six-seven years I keep these things.) I watch a lot of “weird” foreign movies. Did you see “Embrace of the Serpent”? Or that Russian thing, “Leviathan”? Fabulous! I also think Rachel Maddow is … a lot … smarter than anyone on FoxNews. So, yeah… guilty as charged.

But … what I plead innocent to is avoiding any exposure to or contact with the pissed-off white males who came out in very big numbers for The Donald. A lot of non-college educated whites actually fired up their Dodge Rams, went out and voted this year, 67% for the (alleged) billionaire pussy-grabber who wasn’t named Hillary and they think is a lot like them.

Next confession: I like to hang with these people, most of them guys. It’s not like I’m there for every meat raffle. But I’m kind of a regular at the Wisconsin bar a mile from our cabin. I sure as hell know the regulars. Moreover, one of my personal pleasures is road-tripping. Jump in the vehicle and hit the backroads of the good old USA. (If you’re reading this on my whacked-out Facebook page you can dial up photo shows of “Bad Bars of the Mojave”, “Bad Bars of the Great Basin” and soon, “Bad Bars of Montana”.)

Part of it’s anthropological, but part of it is like comfort food. I grew up with people like you meet in road house bars. Their language and humor is entirely familiar. Plopping down on a stool in some joint 200 miles out on U.S. 50 in Nevada and chatting up a bunch of guys in from a morning of elk hunting is a lot like back home in Montevideo, (aka The Garden Paradise of Western Minnesota.)

Contrary to what some might think, my first impulse isn’t to hit these guys with, “Why are you people such a bunch of stupid, racist [bleeps]?”

The better approach, in my experience, is always old-fashion curiosity. Everyone comes with a story. What’s theirs? As a wise man (i.e. me) likes to say, “I never learned anything listening to myself talk.” So, you ask a couple semi-flattering questions then shut up and listen. “You got 10-ply tires on your truck?” “Is the road over the pass open?”

Generally speaking, they size you up pretty fast. “Not from here.” “But not an a-hole … as far as we can tell, so far.” Soon thereafter, as they talk, you get the feel of The Other Bubble.

My years-long, anecdotal but first-person survey says a couple things for sure. These aren’t the drooling, opioid-addicted KKK-loving crackers too many liberals imagine. They may drink too much, but for the most part they are holding down jobs. But the work they do is rarely anything all that skilled. They drive things. Trucks. Construction equipment. Delivery vans. Not a lot of math and computer stuff. And they have a tribal discomfort with everyone different, not just blacks and Muslims, people who they almost never have anything to do with one-on-one. Blacks come in three varieties: Sidekicks on TV shows, athletes and criminals on the evening news. Muslims? Forget it.

The tone of the conversations shift with any topic that suggests comparison or competition. They are guys after all. Which means “Who’s dominant here” is a meter constantly scanning in the background. But hell, if “the dominance game” is your thing, get ten journalists or corporate middle-managers together and watch the overt weinie-measuring that goes on.

Human nature: We’re this much above a pack of gorillas.

The idea being sold this past week is that Hillary lost because liberals failed to understand AND fully, totally commiserate with guys like my road house bar compadres, the so-called “left behind”, the victims of globalization and technology. As though if only liberals would react sympathetically to self-pity everything would be great again.

What’s ironic is what’s missing from this theory. Namely, the old-style Republican tough love of “personal responsibility”. That was a big deal in Montevideo.

Yeah, “my guys” have been left behind … mainly because “they didn’t keep up”. For whatever the reasons, because this is where they were born, because dad drove a fork lift, because they can’t stand city traffic, because they never got a tutor for algebra, because they’d rather spend their free time hunting and snow-mobiling with their pals than getting more job training, because the only news they regularly see is the local affiliate’s headlines, weather and sports, with a few minutes of Bill O’Reilly for a nightcap, they are falling further behind the elite of the pack. And they know it.

When their tribal thing starts in on the bill of resentments, as it very often does — every politician is a crook and liar and the Clintons and that crowd are the worst of the bunch — I constantly wonder how much happier these guys would be if they turned off the damned TV and radio and just enjoyed their life on their terms? Most made a choice not to become white collar drones. They like ranching, farming, construction, living away from the city and feeling like … men. But who told them they were going to get rich doing that? And who’s telling them now they’re being cheated out of something they’re entitled to, even though they never wanted it badly enough to radically change the way they live their lives?

These guys aren’t drooling racists. But they are creatures of their own self-restricting bubble, and the predicament they find themselves in, which has an upside if they’d stop comparing themselves to “elites”, is mainly because of choices they themselves did or didn’t make. But they are not comfortable with people different from themselves, so in effect their racial fears work out the same. Most also have thing about male dominance. Not a lot of gal bosses on the job site. Home is one of the few places where they still give the orders. But by all indications the ladies around them put up with it, because the guy pool is a little thin. And they don’t work real hard at figuring out what’s real and what isn’t.

Point being, I never doubted there were enough of these people to swing an election. The question always was whether they were motivated enough to drive over and vote? Turns out they were.

Last year a remarkably far-sighted gentleman, a seer really, forseeing a possible Trump victory wrote this:

” … to prissy, wine-sipping elites like me his standard comeback of, “Who cares what you say? You’re a loser” seems beneath the dignity of a President of the United States. But I’m not the crowd that could put Trump up on the south steps of the Capitol Jan. 20, 2017.

“Trump’s game, and so far he’s succeeding at it, is to rally millions of your and my fellow ‘Muricans who haven’t voted in probably 25 years, and even then Ross Perot didn’t have anything like Trump’s pop personality appeal. The psycho/sociological specs on this large herd of regularly untapped voters are pretty well known. They’re not ideological. They’re not particularly religious. They’re certainly not evangelical unicorn people. But they are pissed off. Chronically, and pretty much about everything, certainly everything that reminds them that for one reason or another they’ll never be “great again”, never mind that they never were.

“These people, fueled by a vast methane-like sea of resentments, are indisputably ill-informed. But so what? Their vote counts as much as yours and mine. … the great revolutionary dynamic becomes this: Does that same crowd — chronically angry and ill-informed — feel a mojo they’ve never before felt in their lifetimes, a pleasurable tingling sensation that says, ‘My time has finally come’?

A time to pull the damn rug out from all the self-serving, prevaricating, ‘smartest kids in the class’ who have deprived them of their, well, self-respect to put a fancy phrase on it, and install someone totally different? Someone who sees, or at least describes a world exactly as they see it, full of thieves and killers, and with whom they feel entirely comfortable, in part because he’s already so familiar to them by virtue of having been on TV most of their adult lives?

The choice then is Trump, as the official Doomsayer Party nominee, still taunting, confident and funny or Hillary Clinton, yet another one of ‘them’ … .”

Oh wait, that prophet was me.

So, you’re welcome.

I’ll have another Keystone Light, and with luck I’ll make Tonopah by sunset.

17 thoughts on “My “Deplorable” Buddies

  1. Yes, you called i back then:

    “Trump’s game, and so far he’s succeeding at it, is to rally millions of your and my fellow ‘Muricans who haven’t voted in probably 25 years…”

    Let’s hope Ellison, Sanders, Warren et al can turn the Dems around in time for 2020.

    The Nader parallel may hold — I voted for Clinton cuz the race was too close — but no candidate is guaranteed a vote. Clinton lost this one, thanks to Electoral College math and the hurting rust belt.

  2. Here’s the thing. Y’all shit-shamed many of us into voting for Hillary. We did it. Maybe it’s time to let Bernie-Was-Our-First-Choice-But-We-Did-the-Arguably-Right-Thing group, whose numbers are legion, off the hook. Really tired of being the scapegoat for multiple failures all across the board (which is what this article does with rage and vindictiveness). We are on the same side, Brian. Why not get off our backs?

  3. I grew up in a sparsely populated deep red state that went 62% for Trump. I agree with your “tribal discomfort with everyone different” conclusion.

    Sometimes racism, sexism or otherism is in the mix with those folks, but it’s more often just being unwilling or unable to adjust to a changing world that includes different kinds of jobs, neighbors, coworkers, religions and cultures than they saw growing up. It’s more differentism than racism and sexism. Many just don’t want any part of this fast changing, pluralistic, automated, secular and global world, which hurts their ability to thrive in that world. They yearn for an over-romanticized version of their parents and grandparents past, or the noble Rockwellian lives celebrated in syrupy country music songs and narrowband right wing media.

    So when Trump promised to turn back to the clock to the days when they believe America was greaterer and put the elitists and Others in their place, I’m not at all surprised it sold with those folks.

    I’m just very surprised that they voted in larger numbers than they usual do, and that the legions who Trump insulted along the way didn’t vote in historically high numbers commensurate to the historic threat Trump poses to them.

    A lot of it was that Hillary, with three decades of congressional and cable news witch hunts fueling “where there’s smoke there must be fire” conclusions, was the perfect heel for Trump. But Trump also had the vision and shamelessness enough to punch all of the right buttons.

  4. I’m tired of the post-election narrative that these are people who have been wronged by city elites, who are not racist, who just want to go back to work. Yes your post has an angry tone, but it’s necessary push-back against that narrative. I grew up in a rural area and observed over many years all the traits you have pointed out.

    That being said, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans were doing anything to help people get on their feet after the industrial jobs disappeared. For that those voters have a right to be upset. But they don’t have a right to scapegoat other groups who didn’t cause their problems, and to be perennially ticked off because red, yellow, brown, and black people are a growing segment of the population..

  5. The point I want everyone to hang on to, and keep from getting buried as it did 16 years ago, is that the American people–the ones who actually voted–REJECTED TRUMP. He is not the people’s choice, and although he gets into power “legally,” he doesn’t have legitimacy. Like Junior Bush, he’ll rule rather than govern, and he’ll run roughshod over any attempted opposition (not the feckless Democrats will even think of offering any.) And yet, he was REJECTED by the voters. He not only has no mandate, he has the opposite of that. And yet the media will acquiesce in the fiction that Trump and his supporters represent a majority. They do not. This is minority rule, and should be stigmatized as such. Of course, if past is prologue, a fascist regime can quickly ramp up to majority support by launching a war, stifling dissent, aggressively scapegoating unpopular minorities, and selectively prosecuting or murdering labor leaders or other potentially effective leaders of resistance. Each of us must decide at what point he or she will take a stand, and take personal responsibility for our own actions and investments. What new and increasingly heinous crimes against people and the planet will be done in our names and with our money? How can we avoid being stained with the responsibility for those crimes, unless we somehow actively protest and resist?

  6. Oliver Steinberg, this is pitch perfect. I would like your permission to post this on my FB page, with or without attribution to you (your choice).

    • P.S. I urge you to submit your comment to the Strib OR the NYTimes. As you likely know, neither accepts submissions that have been sent elsewhere.

    • Thank you, Ms. Gilbertson, go right ahead (and edit or alter as you wish.) Attribution is totally optional–I don’t insist on it, but of course I assume responsibility for what I write, and I always use my own name on the internet and elsewhere. Not being intimidated is the first step to standing up against a bully. That’s our duty as American citizens and our obligation as human beings on this finite and imperiled planet.

        • What I am interested in is how can we organize an effective resistance to the usurpers. Marches and street demonstrations may be good for morale but otherwise accomplish nothing. Gerrymandering and voter suppression have seriously diluted the effectiveness of voting. Concentration of media ownership has removed the checking force of informed public opinion and diversity of viewpoints being heard. Ubiquitous camera and electronic surveillance and overt militarization of police have increasingly intimidated people from exercising rights of speech, assembly, and petitioning. I believe that the most effective potential vector of resistance will prove to be economic actions flowing from the decisions of individual persons, multiplied and coordinated in a conscious attempt to create a resistance movement. It would help if we had a government-in-exile, but the Democrats don’t yet comprehend the magnitude of the historical catastrophe we face, so they won’t lead in this. Organized labor no longer has enough power to effectively exert real strength against the power structure. So we should be thinking in terms of boycotts, disinvestment targeting, shareholder insurrections, tax rebellions (toward military and other corrupt expenditures), and re-directing personal investments from standard anonymous accounts into consciously selected socially responsible investments. I realize I am talking “drops in a bucket” tactics, but we must decide to start somewhere. Meanwhile, remember that silence is complicity. My friend in Mankato says that if a “registry” is started, then “there’s going to be a lot of Muslims with Irish-sounding names” showing up on that list! My own resolution is to never refer to Trump as “president,” since the people rejected him. I shall simply call him “the dictator,” or “Putin’s puppet,” or “the orange maggot.”

          • Our first bold move…hijacking Brian’s comments.

            My personal approach to the man who would be emperor is NEVER to refer to him without including the word “Republican(s’), e.g., the Republican Diktator, the Republicans choice. While I agree that marches and street demonstrations are not the solution, they are the opener, the attention-getter, the visible kickoff for the monumental effort that must follow.

            “It would help if we had a government-in-exile, but the Democrats don’t yet comprehend the magnitude of the historical catastrophe we face, so they won’t lead in this.” I have spent way too many years trying to convince myself this couldn’t possibly be so, followed by way too many years of doing battle with the party faithful who believe I am a traitor for challenging the wisdom of the party elders who seem ever and always to be reactive vs pro-active.

            I am neither the wisest nor most knowledgeable person (not always the same thing), but I am among the most vocal and persistent. I suspect there are pockets of people who are or soon will be ready to don the mantle of resistance.

            I wonder whether Bernie Sanders has the infrastructure in place for much of what you’re suggesting, going forward. It seems worth to set aside internecine pissing fights, declare a sort of demilitarized zone, and set up safe space to (brace yourself) brainstorm sans egos.

            How now?

            My belabored point is that the individuals and clusters need to find each other, sooner than later, to craft a plan by people who don’t tolerate dictatorship and its tentacles, sedition, questionable ethics and integrity, economic and social undermining, et al.

            How now? Specifically…?

            • I gave money to the Sanders campaign, wrote letters to the newspapers, and went to door-knock in Wisconsin for the primary there, but didn’t participate in on-going way. So I don’t know what is left over in the way of on-going organization, activism, or vision. It would be a logical starting point to rally around.

              • If it’s all right with you, I’d like to ask Brian to send you my email address so we can take this off his page. Reluctant to post it here. I’d like to continue this conversation.

                • Fine with me, I would like to know who, what, why, when , where & how the resistance will be manifested in Minn. For personal contact, I can’t suggest Facebook since I withdrew from that medium. My e-mail address is widely available and not a secret, but I don’t know if protocols forbid my mentioning it here. I’m sure there’s a way ahead. Whose blog is this, by the way? Is it Brian Lambert’s? His name seems familiar. His posts are terrific with insightful analysis and sparkling, straightforward prose style.

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