Trump is my fault. He’s yours, too.
This morning I was trying to have a Facebook fight with a stranger. It was about the election, obviously, and here’s what she had to say:
We need to do a better job with rural populations, but that does not exclude them from the hard work of contextualizing their lives in the larger picture of humanity.
She also used the term “country folk.”
Look, you guys — and by “you guys” I mean “progressive forward-thinking folx of all heritages and genders” — we gotta cut this shit out. Now.
We don’t know it yet, but we are the problem. Everyone with skinny jeans and a snooty attitude and a job that pays us to think on the internet. Everyone who‘s spent their day reading thinkpieces and yelling about how all these stupid Americans should go fuck themselves. Everyone who can look at a country full of dead industries, skyrocketing suicide rates, and endless heroin overdoses and say, well, they really need to contextualize their lives in the larger picture of humanity.
Let me be clear here: I am 100% ride or die for examining and expunging my own privileges. For dismantling the white supremacist patriarchy. For putting my money and my body where my mouth is. But I also know my time and space and privilege make it easy for me to do this. One of my strongest privileges is life in the easy-breezy urban upper middle class, and yet it’s the one I’ve seen our shared community take credit for least.
So what’s the solution? I think it’s time for some intense, class-based intersectionality.
Let’s deeply, wholeheartedly center some huge sections of America we’ve never deigned to pay attention to before. Let’s, for the first time ever, shut the fuck up and let someone else speak. (And — stay with me here— let’s do this 100% in concert with our continuing, flawed, and always inadequate work on centering people of color, queer people, people living with disabilities, etc. We can do this. There is no limit to love.)
How does it work? It starts with realizing every single person outside the blue spots on this map is a whole grownup person, someone with smarts and agency. They chose to vote for Trump, and they made that choice for reasons. They may not be reasons we agree with, but they’re reasons — and deeply felt.
It starts with listening to the people who made those choices. It starts with honoring the fact that for so many people, there are tremendous needs that are not being met, and tremendous cries that are not being heard.
It starts with saying goodbye to the “country folk” who have only ever existed in our lazy imaginations, and saying hello instead to our neighbors who have been there the whole time.
It starts with realizing that maybe, just maybe, we’re not the most important part of America after all.