Thursday, January 12, 2017

Margaret in Trumpland

Someone said that Pennsylvania can be described as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with Alabama in between. On a recent road trip from New York to Ohio I drove through the Alabama portion of the state. It is not a comfortable place for a black person.

I was with one of my sisters and we stopped for gas and for dinner. A sign outside of the restaurant said, "Hunt safely." I was ready to walk out if I felt uncomfortable but there were two black people dining and I relaxed somewhat.

The waitresses were friendly, one customer was a little too friendly and wouldn't go away. We talked about the Pittsburgh Steelers of course. The other customers wore camouflage jackets and shirts, one had a cap which read Deer Hunter. I would say that half of the people I encountered were missing teeth. There were military t-shirts on sale and caps that read Vietnam Veteran and Purple Heart Veteran. The photo above shows a mural on the wall of the restaurant.

I looked online and as I assumed this county voted for Donald Trump overwhelmingly. They gave him 70% of their votes. Mitt Romney got a mere 55% of votes in 2012.

I admit that I remembered the people I met in this town and elsewhere in Pennsylvania who had missing teeth. That is quite simply a sign of poverty. It is tempting to look down on poor, white republican voters and ask why they vote "against their own interests." But I don't know how they see their interests.

Maybe they just want white people in office who assert their whiteness. Maybe they know that voting for democrats won't get them out of poverty. Maybe they don't see themselves as being poor. I suspect these are all factors but I'm just guessing.

When I think back about some of the people I voted for I just cringe. Mario Cuomo was a democratic governor of New York and he constantly bragged about building prisons but I voted for him. Bill Clinton ended the right to public assistance and put more black people in prison and I voted for him when he ran for reelection. I don't vote for anyone like them anymore but I have to admit I spent most of my life voting against my own interests too.