by Scott Swanson
From the introduction to Matt Taibbi’s Insane Clown President: “Yes, D_____ T_____’s* campaign was massively fueled by racism and xenophobia. But racism and hatred and fear of foreigners were not irreconcilable with hatred of the arrogant establishment that controlled major-party politics. Many voters out there hated both, and some hated the latter with the heat of a thousand suns.”
I guess you all saw the man with the T____* flag at the Bellingham Women’s March. Who was that guy? One of those “stupid redneck” types that Bill Maher likes to defame, a low-information, uneducated voter as defined by pundits and pollsters?
Again from Taibbi, in describing these people: “They can’t stand the book-smart college types who making cushy livings pushing words around… in professions that reward people who in real life need to call AAA to change a tire.”
Matt is quick to acknowledge his own surprise when Republicans swept the board, placing himself among what he calls “America’s population of Otherwise Smart People” who were stunned by the Democrat’s loss. He lays the blame on unwitting collusion between party hacks and the media, their absorption with polls and TV ratings that bolstered their bottom lines. But the Talking Heads aren’t the only reason the T____* campaign succeeded. Years of resentment and pent-up frustration propelled the desire for change, blue collar workers fed up with the bullshit that T____* called “political correctness”, enough to ignore the rhetoric of hatred they saw as just more of the same.
How they could do that, I do not know, but it serves to illustrate the depth of investment they shouldered in rolling the dice, if indeed they were betting on T____* at all, and not against Hillary Clinton. I didn’t vote for the Clintons myself, though I’m sure for different reasons. Did the flag waver know of the welfare reforms that threw millions of children into poverty? Or the Crime Bill that incarcerated thousands of black men, giving rise to for-profit prisons? Probably not, but he wouldn’t have had to; he might have just looked at his paycheck. Through Reagan, Clinton, the Bushes and Obama, wages have flat-lined and factories closed while wealth inequality soared. Since 1975, in fact, as the costs of living grew.
Not every T____* voter waves a flag or beats up people at rallies. Many had voted for Obama in the past, and might well have voted for Bernie. So they’re not all that different from you and me; at least me, whose collar is blue. I’ve sat with them in crew buses and crowded lunch trailers from the foothills clearcuts to Cherry Point. I’ve worked with them, laughed with them, and shared their smokes as well as their disillusionment. I too petitioned with my boots in the day, ducked not a few billy clubs. But I’ve traded my sandals for Redwings and corks and I’ve walked several miles in those shoes, and I’ve changed a few tires over the years, though I still like to push words around. So I’m all for marching and raising my voice, but I’m leery of what I might say.
Few can imagine the scale of betrayal that some T____* supporters must feel: the collusion with Russia, the corporate coup, the Wizard revealed as a conman. What will happen if The Donald goes down? Will the anger just go away? I doubt it. If anything it will just grow stronger as more flags are waved in frustration. If you’re still on the fence in this culture war – or Wall, if you prefer – then get off it, mingle, and open your mind as to why many drank the Orange Koolaid. We Otherwise Smart People would do well to heed the heat of a thousand suns. So pick up a tire iron once in a while, and get this rig back on the road.
*One of the rules of our Resistance Writing blog is that He Who Shall Not be Named, shall not be named, so his name has been redacted and replace with underlines (the editor)
Scott Swanson is a building contractor who has lived in Glacier for 45 years. He’s worked in logging, the oil industry, and commercial construction in the Carpenter’s Union. He recently self published a story on Kindle Ebooks named “Philly’s Bridge”, which oddly enough has to do with “resistance”. Another title, “Whose Woods These Are”, is currently in the works. Many thanks to Andrea Gabriel and Kari Neumeyer for their help in that endeavor.