I got lost. I don’t mean allegorically or professionally or something abstract. I mean lost in the realest sense – I didn’t physically know where I was.
Well, sure I knew I was in Bellingham WA and TBK was in the passenger seat and we had cell phones with GPS and it’s not like we’d be found dead in a desert or lost in some stereotypical bad neighborhood like the Griswolds in National Lampoon’s Vacation. But hear me out.
I have a very, very good sense of direction. I always know which way is (generally) north. Let me drive around a town for an hour or so or show me a general map and I can find shit. I know X road is which side of the interstate, which goes in a general direction and I’m good. Besides -- we’ve driven all over this damn town for three weeks.
But it didn’t work yesterday -- and maybe for the first time in my life. That’s what scared me. I knew where we were and then we took a different turn and went through a neighborhood and up and down a few streets and some steep hills and goddamned if I had no clue how to get to anywhere. Kim was working the phone and we got back to I-5 and things were fine but we got to the highway and I’da swore we were headed south when we were actually headed north. Most discombobulating experience of my life and, even though we were back to normal in a few minutes, the impression of all this was deep and definite. It made me question my self-confidence – and that’s something no one wants. I don’t mind being wrong (I’m good at that), but I DO mind simply not knowing.
We’ve spent the past week on a fast jaunt back to San Diego to make a bankruptcy court appearance and then returning as quickly (and cheaply) as possible. We had hoped to put this off until late August or maybe Labor Day, when we could handle it all on our own. But our attorney advised otherwise and we had to crowdfund the trip. Thanks to friends and family, we raised the money and now we’re clear of travel obligations for awhile. I cannot possibly express adequate thanks to those who helped us.
This trip, along with yesterday’s experience and observation of some of our neighbors, has given me tremendous insight into the Trump situation and why the orange sumbitch has appeal.
The 1970s comedy group The Firesign Theater had a political routine in which the slogan was, “give them a light, and they’ll follow it anywhere.” Ronald Reagan (thanks to the late Lee Atwater and others) certainly knew that and it has been tragically yet effectively imposed again these days by the Trumpster. Folks who feel they’ve been too long in the wilderness will follow pretty much anyone who promises a way out, especially if they can blame someone else for putting them there.
Our temporary move to a more rural area has been beneficial in a variety of ways. We’ve both had our younger-day experiences of going back to Mother Earth and it’s fun to do it again for a minute or two. But we know it’s only temporary.
It’s not temporary for those out here who honestly and, sometimes with reason, feel they’ve been left behind and screwed by an urban elite, immigrants and a gubmint out of goddamned control. Their day-to-day rules have changed significantly (often with reason) over the past decade and, godddammit, they went their fucking lives back. Trump promises a quick and permanent solution and you can bet this is why they’re lining up.
These folks aren’t dumb. But the past decade or so has seen a demographic and economic shitstorm in this country they cannot control nor really even influence In any meaningful way. Back in 2010, they voted the GOP back into control in Congress and in state legislatures and in governors mansions but things haven’t really improved much. Matter of fact, they’ve gotten even worse because there is no longer even a pretense of civility. Hate speech is now seen as protected speech and too few are willing to call it out for what it is. We just accept it as part of a New Normal, along with periodic terror attacks and mass shootings. Meh.
I’ve lived most of my adult life in an urban or suburban setting and the past 15 years or so in areas where my lily-white ass was definitely in the minority. This has been by design and it’s where I’m most comfortable – a place where languages, colors and experiences are highly diverse. But I have to remind myself that is certainly not how I was raised. It has taken decades of living in various places with different populations and attitudes to bring me to where I am.
That’s not the Trump crowd, which longs for a national greatness that never really was . Or what greatness we had was silently offset by darknesses such as Jim Crow or an Asian war or our Harvest of Shame, overt sexism in the workplace and it was okay to beat up on gays. When our modern day “Make America Great Again” folks start talking, it’s pretty clear they want to bring ALL that shit back again.
But our demographics and economics have changed and we can’t go back and that’s why they’re mad and scared and lining up behind a guy who really can’t build the wall, restore manufacturing and coal mining jobs or really do any of the shit he says he’ll do. He’s their Custer, and they’d rather go down in their own personal Little Big Horn.
It’s a shame, really. But it’s damn sure interesting to watch.