Dispatches from Deep inside Progressiville
In the 1979 suspense thriller When a Stranger Calls, a legendary movie reveal on the order of The Sixth Sense and The Usual Suspects occurs at the film's climax. Having been terrorized by sinister, anonymous phone calls for most of the film's running time, the babysitter suddenly finds out that "the calls are coming from inside the house!"
These are words – or words to that effect – that many in my community might collectively gasp if they knew how I voted on November 8, 2016. (Tar and feathering to follow.)
I live and work in a passionately progressive sub-hamlet of a major metropolitan city in California. (OK, it's Los Angeles.) I voted for Trump. According to the zeitgeist, those two facts shouldn't even be in proximity to one another on the page – let alone be true in real life.
Per the modern liberal California mindset, like the menacing stranger in the film, I am odious, insidious, and nefarious. These are adjectives of which I now share joint custody with the president – ever since poor-sport leftists, in their pique and petulance, decided that being Trump and voting for him are effectively the same thing. I am repugnant, by definition. So I am hiding in plain sight in my community – effectively closeted because of my political beliefs.
On November 9, 2016, the day after The Election That Dare Not Speak Its Name, the Los Angeles Unified School District issued a memo from the superintendent of schools acknowledging that "emotions are running extremely high" following the election and that "there may be anxiety and concerns among our students." The memo went on to say additional counseling services would be available and that we should encourage students to "embrace diversity, renounce intolerance, and respect differing ideologies," especially "when the need for healing and common understanding are greatest."
Credit is due to the superintendent of schools for moderation in tone, particularly considering the hair-on-fire hysteria of much of the left, but it's nonetheless noteworthy that the second largest school district in America saw the need to issue a memorandum about how teachers, counselors, and parents should help children cope with the results – of a democratic election.
The very same Day after the End Times, the well-meaning principal of our elementary school posted a school-wide memo via email that included a link to a Huffington Post article entitled "What Do We Tell The Children?" The virtue-signaling and hypocrisy of this article are too myriad to quote, but suffice to say that honoring the outcome of the election (yeah, right) and fighting bigotry (except the bigotry that reviles differing viewpoints, of course) were just two of the tone-deaf directives urged by Ariana Huffington's hard-left website. This is the same worthy successor to The Weekly World News that relegated Trump to the entertainment section over a year before the election – then reversed itself six months later with an imperious and embarrassing editorial by AHUFF herself.
One measure of how left-leaning my community is? The entire school my kids attend gathered in the auditorium to watch Obama's inauguration in 2009 – enraptured. One guess as to whether that was reprised in January of 2017. Too triggering, I imagine. Who wants to see a creature bent on our destruction put his hand – or his claw – on a Bible?
And what rough beast, his hour come round at last, slouches toward Washington to be sworn in?
Signs of the burgeoning "resistance" were everywhere in my community. A makeshift "revolution wall" popped up at a nearby crossroads with DIY signs condemning "Agent Orange." Children as young as second grade, worried about the evil president and his desire to hurt all foreigners. A local vegan restaurant painted a huge Shepard Fairey-like mural of Trump on its side with the word "DISOBEY" across it. Kindergarten-age children in "pussy hats" shopped at the local Whole Foods with their parents, having attended the Women's March (that excluded pro-life women) the weekend prior. A middle-schooler in my carpool commented that his family had decided not to share Christmas with their close relatives who were "Trump people."
It was easy to see from what source these kids' talking points and attitudes originated, if you had even a moment with their parents. These otherwise often delightful and engaging people were wont to suddenly start riffing on the nightmare we are now enduring at the tiny hands of the fascist, racist, sexist, misogynist POTUS.
I became expert in nodding earnestly and offering up innocuous commentary such as "right?" when stuck in these one-sided rants. I decided I could join in honestly when the conversation, such as it was, turned to Trump's impolitic tweeting, his clumsy rhetoric, or his vulgarianism – things I generally think are off-putting but could honestly care less about. I learned to look for the subtle signs of a MAGA in my midst. Anyone not randomly alluding to the American Armageddon in casual conversation, not re-laminating the Stronger Together bumper sticker to the family Prius, or not dressing their kids in old Obama HOPE t-shirts might be a stealth Trump supporter.
One day at the beach, a crew of new friends and my family all suddenly stopped, sensing some ineluctable shift in social electricity. We turned to each other for what seemed an eternity of apprehension – then threw caution to the wind and asked tentatively, "Wait, are you...did you...?"
Maybe it was that there, on the Pacific Coast, with the ocean at our backs like a corner table at an Italian mob restaurant, we felt safe enough to ask the question that could otherwise legitimize shunning in our community. Once we had all unmasked ourselves and had our Come to Donald moment, the freedom to talk was like the euphoria of finding other people when you were young who were really into the same loud, weird, awesome band everyone else hated.
Under the tyranny of California sunshine that weather-shames you into always being outside, we found joy in hammering diaper-wearing lefties, pussy hat hypocrites, the fake news media, Empress Pantsuit, and Barry-O'Trojan Horse to our hearts' content. Thereafter, we would seek each other out on the down-low – always in private – in an effort to find some time to speak freely about our president, Captain Middle Finger. We formed a secret society of sorts, just to be able to talk openly about the president of the United States of America.
But some social casualties were inevitable. I gave up social media as the many blood pressures I was raising caused me to shed my Pollyanna view of respectful dialogue. A friend of decades and his wife stopped inviting me and my family to their annual New Year's Day brunch because of how I voted, and an even older friend was shamed by his wife for inviting me to their home – which I have been doing since Jane Fonda sold exercise videos.
The election of Donald Trump has been a gigantic litmus test for America. It is said that true character is revealed only under duress. If that's so, then this country is filled with a whole lot of people who present well in the day-to-day world when things are going their way. But when the fates don't favor them, they're revealed to be namby-pamby embarrassments, with dubious reasoning skills, largely indefensible positions, hearts full of hypocrisy and hatred, and a dumb-assery that is fast becoming legend. (Here's to you, Joss Whedon, Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, Judd Apatow, Kathy Griffin, Rosie O'Donnell, LeBron James, Eminem, Chelsea Handler, Stephen King, etc.)
But maybe I should really be thanking these folks instead of mocking them. Thank God for the left! (Or maybe: "Thank Science for the left" – in the progressive translation...) After all, but for the north star of the left's virtue, I would surely wander blind in a desolate wasteland of extreme bias, moral rot, and random cruelty to other humans. We all would.
Even so, one wonders how many silent Trump voters exist in the spaces adjacent to the caterwaul of leftist outrage?
How many calls are coming from inside the house?