Traveling around the South's
redneck strongholds, I've run across my share of Trump supporters, you know,
those bigoted, ignorant, loudmouths. In the ghettos, I've run across Bernie's
brethren, you know, those self-absorbed communists looking to stick their mitts
in other people's pockets.
Only problem is that I've found
both groups full of the most likeable, intelligent, patriotic, inspirational,
friendly, and enlightened people on the planet. Seeing how each group spends an
appreciable part of their days with their panties in a bunch about the other
group, I was left with a conundrum until Billy Joel's "Allentown" made things
The rust belt is full of the
disenfranchised who can remember the good old days of fat factory paychecks,
and now turn their anger toward the Chinese and Mexicans who have run off with
all that. They buy into Trump's "Make America Great Again" because they want to
be great again themselves, proud to be making something with their hands and
living well from the sweat of their brows.
Bernie's bunch were never great.
They've been poor as far back as they can remember. Inequality and injustice
are also remembered.
Both groups have been kicked to the
curb by the great American economic miracle, Trump's recently, Bernie's
forever. We in the middle look at them as extremists since we can't understand
why they're so huffy -- and because we don't agree with their
Trump promises to bring back the
past while Bernie promises to rob the rich. Neither promises to retool their
truly capable, intelligent, and hard working followers into the economy of the
future. As a card-carrying geek, I see technology and science companies begging
for talent -- dangling internships, apprenticeships, and ginormous
The stock answer is that welders
and food stamp collectors are not bright enough to be programmers and analysts.
Somehow the welders and food stamp collectors have come to believe this
rubbish, as though some of us are born programming and analyzing. The truth is
we were all born crapping our drawers.
I've come across farmers with
innovative crops, oilfield workers now making solar cells, and inner-city drug
dealers now marketing health insurance.
Wouldn't it be truly radical if
from among the politicians a statesman emerged who understood both camps to be
one forsaken but lovable community? A statesman who didn't pitch threadbare
soundbites to collect us-vs-them votes. A statesman who inspired the abandoned
and put in front of them more opportunities to reinvent themselves.
All it would take is to love one's
followers instead of to just use them
Out on the road, rubbing shoulders
with my fellow Americans, I can tell you that this hope is not lost.