Saturday, June 25, 2016

A postcard from "Flyover Country"

A theory I've heard more than once states that Donald Trump's rather astonishing support comes from where "the media elite" aren't -- that vast part of the country that isn't Los Angeles, Manhattan or Washington, DC. Aka "Flyover Country," or the land that newscasters, reporters and pundits flyover on their way to one of the media centers.

That's not what this lifelong Midwestern blogger has been experiencing.

Here are two conversations overhead on the el just this past workweek. The first was Wednesday morning, the second was Thursday evening. For the record, I've never heard anyone on the train say anything at all about Trump -- pro or con -- until this week.

Wednesday: Four young (between 13 and 15) black girls head to Michigan Avenue for a day of fun. As the train rounded Wabash and Trump Tower came into view, one of the girls announced, "Come November they're gonna change that to HILLARY TOWER!" Her friends laughed and applauded in agreement. There was a "girl power" pride to their swagger that made me as happy as my 16-year-old nephew's passion for Bernie Sanders. I love it when politics is relevant to the young.

Thursday: A white family (Mom, Dad, Uncle and two very little girls) are riding home to the suburbs from a day in the city. The girls are very tired -- the younger one is dozing off on her mom's shoulder, the older sister is staring blankly out the window as dad rubs her shoulders. A rather noisy man boards the train and speaks loudly into his phone. When he's done with his conversation, he apologizes to his fellow commuters and when he reaches his stop, he announces, "Don't vote for Trump!"

The little sister sits bolt upright and says to her mother, "You won't vote for Trump, will you?" Mom shakes her head "no," and Dad tells both daughters, "Don't worry. Trump is not going to be President."

The older sister is not about to let this drop. "What if it's close? What if it's a tie?"

Uncle speaks for the first time, explaining about the 2000 Florida recount. This lasts until I reach my stop. At that point, Dad began to explain the role of The House of Representatives in the event of a tie. The little sister has checked out of the conversations by now, but the older girl seems to enjoy being spoken to like a grown up.

But here's the thing: both girls acted as though the spectre of Trump as President was tantamount to Freddy Krueger moving into their basement.

I find this comforting. I've worried about how children process the success of a man who dismisses people as "losers" and "chokers" and mocks the disabled. How do they square the circle of being taught bullying is wrong, yet seeing adult support of this man?

I'm not unsophisticated about the electoral map. I know that Ohio is in play, and that Missouri and Kentucky and likely to go to Trump.

But I also know that Illinois -- which has more voters than Missouri and Kentucky combined -- is going to stay blue. I'm willing to bet a week's pay that Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan will, too.

Yours from Flyover Country,


  1. The people who I've heard talking about Trump (mostly students) don't realize the heavy significance of the office of President.

  2. Ever since the Ohio Fiasco, I don't trust in much in elections. If the electoral vote can screw us as badly as that one did, then the oligarchy will always win if we aren't diligent. This is probably what is missing in younger voters, the knowledge that nothing is ever simple in our "voting" machine brave new world.

  3. Hopefully Virginia will stay blue, too, though we have historically been red up until recently. I have to count on the northern part of the state to pull us through, as that isn't going to happen out here in redneck land, where I am part of like, 30% who actually think.