Did you argue politics with relatives over the holiday weekend? My Trumpster kin had nothing to say about their orange idol. I suspect they’re ashamed of him but too stubborn to admit it.
I’d like to think that’s progress, but I know better; they still believe the same stupid shit that made them vote for a racist, sexist, xenophobic demagogue in the first place.
Over the weekend, I read a Washington Monthly piece by Daniel Block about Democrats in deep red areas — kinda the opposite of the Deploraville safari articles about “heartland” Trump voters.
There’s a lot of truth to it, IMO. Here’s an excerpt:
Reporters have descended on conservative bastions like Augusta, as well as counties that recently flipped from blue to red, in a bid to understand how a reality television star became president. They have spoken to longtime, working-class conservatives and ex-Democrats who, through Trump, finally found a vehicle through which to express their political frustrations. In doing so, they’ve routinely painted a picture of Trump-voting America so predictable that it has become a trope. Yet very few journalists have chosen to focus on the Democrats in Trump country who stayed Democrats…
But even in places like Augusta County, thousands of people voted for Hillary Clinton. No depiction of Trump country is complete without them. Most of their neighbors may be standing by the president, but if Augusta is any indication, Democrats in rural red counties are just as fired up and enthused as their counterparts in liberal cities. In Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District, which includes Augusta, no Democrat has mounted a midterm congressional campaign in twenty years. This year, four people ran…
As more activists come out of the woodwork, the Democratic Party gains more people like Frank Nolen: human faces who can make the party more accessible to residents with hidden liberal inclinations. This is critical for the party’s fortunes. Building a viable electoral infrastructure depends on making it socially acceptable to be a Democrat.
Ironic, isn’t it, that the people who belong to the party that opposes an abusive, corrupt, would-be authoritarian degenerate are the ones who suffer social consequences for that. But it’s a reality that many of us live on the daily. That’s part of the reason you won’t find me boo-hooing over Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ comped cheese plate or pitying Tucker Carlson for blowback to his hate-mongering.
Fox News feeds its viewers a steady diet of “oppressed conservatives in Hollywood” stories and plays up incidents where its wealthy hate-mongers are harassed by ordinary citizens. The Fox News audience eats that victimization shit up — all the while engaging in subtle and overt intimidation tactics against neighbors with different political views.
The Post has an article today by doctoral candidate Emily Van Duyn about Democratic women secretly organizing in a deep red part of Texas. Some of the women in the underground group she studied shared why they’re unwilling to “come out” as Democrats:
The existence of this group does more than tell us about 136 women in a small county in Texas. Their experience of fear and intimidation challenges assumptions about democracy in the United States. That is, in a truly liberal democracy, people should be able to voice their views without fear of retaliation.
These women’s choice to engage and persist underground also challenges us to reconsider the privilege of being publicly political and the possibility that the things we see on the surface in our communities, the yard signs, the bumper stickers, are not the whole story.
It’s not the whole story, and we can’t write off the folks in those places. I know it’s tempting to give up on red areas — I live in one, and sometimes I think the best solution is to re-stage Sherman’s march. In a post about radicalized rural kids earlier this week, Mistermix observed:
This is not to say that radicalized rural kids aren’t a problem – but the problem is bigger than that. The Senate and the Electoral College over-represent states that intelligent progressive kids want to leave. Maybe, as Deb and James Fallows have reported, some of these kids will stay and enlarge blue dots in otherwise conservative states. But why bother when you can just move a few hundred miles away and not have to deal with the narrow minds and poverty of spirit that infects rural America?
I don’t have a good answer to that dilemma for individuals. I fled my conservative home turf as a young person too, only to ultimately return. But as a society, if we want to have a functioning democracy (and maybe even avoid a second civil war), those of us who do choose to remain in red areas — people like Cole, some of you, and me — have to do the hard work of building an electoral infrastructure, as outlined in the Washington Monthly piece.
That’s the only way forward. I sure hope we can pull it off.