And What About Pennsylvania?

I find myself puzzled/fascinated by people who see what I see, hear what I hear, but their brains sort that exact same information into an entirely different folder than myself. It’s like I see an apple, but they see a tractor trailer truck. How can that be?

I have spent the past five years watching a fraud campaign for president, accidentally get elected, and then bluster his way through four years of running one of the most powerful countries on earth. My brain sorts that information into folders with various labels including incompetent, huckster, Elmer Gantry, faker, grifter, and so on.

I know some of you have sorted him into folders marked racist, sexist, white supremacist. I could be wrong, but I think those labels involve some sort of a commitment to principles, which I don’t think he possesses. Still, I think we can all agree on one master folder labeled, “guy that absolutely should not be running our country.”

While I look at Trump and see a dangerous idiot, his followers look at Trump and see a savior, a champion for the common people. When I look at that absurd video of Trump leaving the hospital and whipping of his mask, how can I howl with laughter, when another guy watching the exact same thing on Fox News salutes? How can that be?

***

On Friday night, I canceled a BBQ for disabled teens at my house, because too many people couldn’t make it. But one teen was terribly disappointed, so his mother and I took the boys out for burgers in town. We picked a place that also had nice grown up drinks. With the other teen scripting to himself and Ian emerged in his video games, we settled down to a few drinks and some political chat.

This mom grew up in Southeastern Pennsylvania — coal country, Hillbilly Elegy country. She said that her town was divided up into various ethnicities — Italians, Slovaks, Poles, Blacks, and so on. When one guy edged his way into a good union job or a managerial position in the mines, he fired the old guys and brought in his cousins. Because there weren’t many jobs even back then, the tight ethnic groups protected their own and hated others.

She despised those people. She hated them for their closed mindedness, and for their treatment of women and anybody outside their closed ethnic communities. She said she was only valued by whatever guy she was dating at the time, and nobody cared or cares that ultimately she went to an Ivy League college and is a big shot lawyer in New York City now. She said these are Trump’s voters. (Check out the excellent The Daily podcast on Trump’s voters in Pennsylvania. And thanks to Y81 for suggesting this great article from 2016 on the white working class by Joan Williams. )

***

The polls are in our favor. Even Nate Silver says that this is probably going to work out, though I think everyone is afraid of calling it too soon after getting burned in 2016.

So, what should the Democrats do with a big win? It would be tempting to plow salt into their fields. And we could. We could make changes that would ensure that our country was essentially a one-party state for the next fifty years. I would rather not do that. Maybe because I’m the parent of a kid with a disability, so I have a weakness for the underdogs. I do think that people must be pretty miserable to vote for a guy like Trump.

Jonah went to a job fair at his school last week. Soon he’ll have to decide whether he should take an interesting job that doesn’t pay much money or a boring job that pays a lot of money. But we have no doubt that he’ll have a good job that will enable him to live in our general area, and that someday he’ll have a house, a family, a car, health insurance and so on. Ian I am more worried about, but I’ll talk about his situation another day.

Maybe those guys in coal country Pennsylvania would make better political decisions, if they had the same options as my college kid. Check out the debate on Twitter whether poverty helps explain what those dudes wanted to kidnap Michigan’s Governor. What do you think?

Warning: I’m going to be obsessed with politics for the next three weeks.