Amazing and heart-wrenching: Cracked explains this election so accurately it hurts
Go read it.
Go read it now.
If I had seen this article (which Cracked published on Wednesday) earlier, it would have been the link of the week, no question. I’ve written previously on this blog about several of the things that David Wong, the author of the piece, pulls together, but all of the pieces of the puzzle hadn’t quite come into focus for me in this way before. There are a couple of teeny quibbles I have with the article. He lumps the suburbs in with cities in most of the article, for instance, while one of his few citations of statistics (that 62% of the population lives in the cities) ignores that fact that cities plus suburbs actually add up to 80% of the country’s population.
But all of them really are just quibbles.
For me, the most frustrating part of the perception gap he describes has been trying to bite my tongue as people I love—in some cases the very people who taught me to love my neighbors and try to understand other people—aren’t just voting for Trump, but they are absolutely convinced that voting for him is the most Christian and reasonable thing to do. Sometimes in the same breath that they say they are so, so sorry that my queer self and my husband didn’t drive a couple hundred miles to attend their Independence Day barbecue, they talk about how marriage equality and letting trans people use public restrooms are literally causing an Apocalypse.
And they really don’t understand why I don’t feel safe in their community!
Don’t message me saying all those things I listed are wrong. I know they’re wrong. Or rather, I think they’re wrong, because I now live in a blue county and work for a blue industry. I know the Good Old Days of the past were built on slavery and segregation, I know that entire categories of humanity experienced religion only as a boot on their neck. I know that those “traditional families” involved millions of women trapped in kitchens and bad marriages. I know gays lived in fear and abortions were back-alley affairs.
I know the changes were for the best.
Try telling that to anybody who lives in Trump country.
I have tried to explain that the Good Old Days were only good for some people. I have tried to explain that Black Lives Matter is not a movement bent on killing white cops. I have tried to explain that the rate of violent crime is actually lower here in the city than where they live. I have tried to explain that gender inequality is real. I have tried to explain that gay bashing isn’t something that only lunatics do, but something they are themselves doing verbally to me all the time.
And they can’t hear it. They can’t see it.
They blame Obama for their economic troubles because things got really bad after the 2008 Great Recession started. They don’t care that it started while Bush was president, to them the hurt came after Obama was elected, so it’s obviously his fault. They also believe it’s all his fault because of all the insane, often racially-motivated misinformation they receive from the only news sources they think they can trust. They honestly don’t believe that any of the facts they are relying on are actually racist distortions, so they get very angry when we characterize a lot of the blatantly racist memes that they regurgitate as bigoted.
Even putting the pieces together the way Wong does, however, I couldn’t understand how in the case of my specific relatives, they don’t experience pain from the cognitive dissonance of telling me how much they love Michael and I—specifically that they realize we are truly meant to be together—but they also think that the Supreme Court ruling making our marriage legal throughout the land is a literal attack out of hell?
I guess, using Wong’s analogies, they see us as the cute supporting characters among the elites of the Capitol City in the Hunger Games? We’re sympathetic and they will shed a tear over our corpses when the revolution comes, but they have every intention of storming the city, hurling the bricks and firing whatever weapons they have, because it’s the only way to save their way of life?
Then, as I was writing the paragraphs above and re-reading Wong’s article, I had an epiphany. Wong does a good job of using the imagery and cultural shorthand of The Hunger Games, but I think he missed another important touchstone. I saw it the third time I read this bit:
In a city, you can plausibly aspire to start a band, or become an actor, or get a medical degree. You can actually have dreams. In a small town, there may be no venues for performing arts aside from country music bars and churches. There may only be two doctors in town — aspiring to that job means waiting for one of them to retire or die. You open the classifieds and all of the job listings will be for fast food or convenience stores. The “downtown” is just the corpses of mom and pop stores left shattered in Walmart’s blast crater, the “suburbs” are trailer parks. There are parts of these towns that look post-apocalyptic.
I’m telling you, the hopelessness eats you alive.
Downtown is just the corpses of mom and pop stores… just the corpses of mom and pop…
Economically, to them, the world as become The Walking Dead.
Everywhere they look they see the shambling, murderous horde searching for more living flesh to consume. We, the liberal elite city dwellers with our city jobs and smart phones and environmentally friendly cars (if we haven’t already gone carless), are already infected. Maybe we don’t look like walking corpses, yet, but they know what we’re going to turn into eventually. They don’t like what’s going to happen to us, but they fear even more it happening to them, and to their children who haven’t already been infected.
Yeah… now I’m getting a clearer picture.