A high school friend of our family recently asked me why the reaction to Trump’s election was so strong on the left as opposed to the basic non-reaction of the right to Obama’s first election. I thought about the changes I have seen just in my lifetime and all I could come up with was a corn pone analogy.
My thought was this:
After WWII, the majority of Americans agreed on where we were going, what America should pursue and become. We were all going to Boise, Idaho.
As the post WWII glow receded and we moved through the the era of racial strife that defined the Civil Rights struggle, we began to diverge on the paths to reach that endpoint and in an effort to find the “best” way, we started building highways – more and different paths to Boise depending on if the traveler wanted scenic and time consuming or bland and fast…but we all were still going to Boise.
In the aftermath of the Civil Rights battle and in the throes of the Vietnam War, there were a vocal minority who began to question whether we really should go to Boise. They thought maybe they would like Los Angeles better, so they started to plot another route that got to Salt Lake City but turned left to go to LA rather than turn right to go to Boise.
In the 80’s there was a cruise director named Ron Reagan who said, “Look – board the Love Boat. It doesn’t matter what route we take, let’s all agree to go to Boise because it is the Shining City on the Hill. We can all chill there because this city is the coolest and everybody has a chance to succeed – not a guarantee but you have a good a shot as anybody. Sound good?”
There were still folks who wanted to go to Cali with two semi-socialist dudes, Jimmuh “Peanuts” Carter and Fritz Mondale. Peanuts and Fritz wanted to go to another place where the Luv Guv handed out government dole like candy to the folks. Luckily these folks were in the minority because Cruise Director Ron had shown the vision of how smokin’ spectacular and free Boise was. You could do and be anything you were capable of being. It was so good that Fritz only won one state in the Electoral College in 1984.
But there were still folks who wanted to rock SoCal with Tupac, Biggie and Snoop and they kept eating away at Boise, talking about how much it snows, there is no beach, how far it is away from the “culture” and “sophistication” of LA and NYC and what a bunch of heartless, unsophisticated, gap -toothed, selfish rednecks lived there…and oh, by the way – they were the cause for all the racism, bigotry and conflict in America because they didn’t want to commune, dude. Who would want to live there, amiright?
Eventually, the Tupac, Biggie and Snoop party convinced 50 +1 percent of America that Compton was happening and Boise was not – plus you could stop in Vegas along the way to LA and gamble with other people’s money – not only that, Vegas was a “shining city” and was close enough to LA to go every weekend and spend other folk’s cheddar, so it’s ALL good. You can’t do that in Twin Falls on the way to Boise, now can you, my nigga?
Eventually America decided not only to take different routes – but to go to completely different destinations. Problem being, when you want to go to the same place but by different routes, there can be a debate about pros and cons and a decision can result. You can even choose your own route if it pleases you and still get there. If you can’t even agree on the destination, there will never be a resolution. You can’t go to Boise and LA at the same time. Eventually, Boise and LA will go to war over what is best and there will be constant friction and conflict – sometimes LA wins, sometimes Boise wins but neither will be happy in either victory OR defeat.
There, in a nutshell, is the divide in America.
The difference in the reaction in 2008, 2012 and 2016 is that Captain Ron’s crew (he was promoted) believe in the Constitution and in the provisions that sometimes allow different people to drive while we still make our case for Boise. The Peanuts team doesn’t. Come hell or high water, they are going to LA and are going to argue, grab the wheel and eventually get out of the car and pout when they don’t get their way.