Thursday, January 5, 2017

Cutting their throats

Today the N.Y. Times ran the article "Why rural America voted for Trump." Illuminating, disturbing, disheartening are three words I would use about rural attitudes.

From the article: "People in red counties resent the attention cities get - and [they] don't care for liberals."

My first reaction is we don't like them much either. From our viewpoint, they'd rather cut their own throats than accept any views differing from their own. But that is my first reaction. I don't like saying I do not like someone. I really don't. 

BUT I do not understand the "convicts." I jest about the nickname. Sort of. I look at one my brother's Facebook page and the word libtard is hurled around dozens of times. The venom is staggering.

To be honest, I cannot visit his page for all the bile. I suppose he might view my bleeding heart liberal stances just as offensive.

Second reaction: reading that sentence from the article, and I cannot help to detect an element of jealousy.

If the article is correct and rural folk think we city denizens get all the attention, they surely must know that their attitudes drove a large number of us to cities they claim to hold in contempt.

I know many conservatives think liberals are stupid. Just like many liberals think their opposites are backwater and ignorant. Do I think that? I'll be honest, some of them, I do.

It appears to me, that neither side wants to get to know each other AND listen to one another. It's easy to dismiss the other side; it's easy to dismiss minorities; it's easy to dismiss gays, lesbians, it's easy to dismiss Muslims; it's easy to dismiss lowly women; it's easy to dismiss [fill in blank] because no one is willing to get to know those they disagree with.

THAT is why we are in this boat we are in in Washington.

Bob Dole, not a man I have the greatest love for (but I do respect--at least before he endorsed the great divider, the Donald), once said something that pretty accurately describes the climate in Washington. He said in his day in Congress, members of both parties thrust and parried against the other side and when the day was done, they went out and had drinks, dined together, worked out at gyms together. He continued by saying none of that happens in DC anymore.

So we are polarized. We don't know one another. We don't trust one another. We don't hang out together. We don't talk. We don't listen. Which makes it so damned easy to say, "I don't like you."

Sad thing is: As a gay man, demonize me all you want, but I work. I pay my taxes. I pay my bills. I struggle to get ahead, just like a whole lot of us Americans, AND I put on my trousers one leg at a time. Just LIKE my conservative brothers and sisters do.

So until this happens. Democrats will be dismissive of Republicans. Republicans will do everything they can do to smack down members of my party. Conservatives will call us libtards (which, as I said is probably my brothers favorite insult) and liberals will view conservatives as dumb rednecks.

AND nothing will get done. Ever. We'll spin our wheels. We'll deny a President his chance to appoint a Supreme Court Justice and the new resident-elect will most likely find a Democratic Party taking the same tact that the GOP did with President Obama.

One conservative Navy Senior Chief with whom I have the utmost respect and I talk constantly. He has pointed out on numerous occasions that both parties treat (or mistreat) the others much like the old childish chant "you started it." We disagree often. We talk often but I think we have a golden rule. We LISTEN to one another.

Both conservatives and liberals... and let's not forget the moderates who are punished by both sides for straddling the fence... I believe want the same thing. We want security. We want peace. We want the best for our children and families and friends. We rarely agree on the means "of getting there," though.

My brothers went out of their way to torment me about the election. One wanted to tag my page, mentioning I felt butthurt (his words); another said they'd miss me at family gathers; another threatened to disown me. Odd thing is, my conservative Navy friends went out of their way to console me, even though they were happy with their candidate/party's victory.

The difference? I hate to admit it, but I am not close to my family. My Navy colleagues practice a long-held maxim: We in the Navy ARE family (I imagine the other services act accordingly). We may disagree but we respect each other and opinions are cherished.

When I mentioned to my brother Scott that Trump followers liked him because "he speaks his mind," I said I would appreciate if I was afforded the same courtesy. His response was he would if my opinions made any sense. Yeah, I just love the respect there.

THAT is why conservatives and liberals rarely get along. Even though we both harbors fears about the future, both sides would rather focus on differences and weakness and attack than work together.

While these are words I preach--believe me--I find them just as hard to practice.


  1. I'm so sorry you had to deal with that with your brothers.

    It's funny, but when I saw that headline, my initial thought was the same as yours: "Oh yeah? Well, we don't like you, either!" haha

    1. Great minds think alike. Thank you for your comments and for reading. And of course, for your friendship.

  2. ...this was an very good read ... thanks for sharing it ... I have not had to experience too much of what you have had to deal with... people close to you with such a different political and social view... I mean, for your brothers to say what they said to you ... as a veteran, I am like "How dare they?"

    I have to think that the difference between urban and rural is philosophical in nature... and it is being used to keep both at odds with the other...

  3. Thank you, Mark. As you may surmise, I have a rather contentious relationship with my siblings. Thankfully, my good friends that I have ARE my family. They say you can't choose your family and I say, oh yes you can!