I’m still trying to make sense of that weird ass presidential election. I understand the reasons why people voted the way they did, but I still don’t understand how being concerned about the economy, worrying about national security, being fed up with government bullshit, not liking Hillary Clinton, or feeling like the nation is leaving you behind translates into “I have to vote for the unstable orange scumbag with zero political experience who’s spent his entire life fucking over the little guy.” I can see the dots, but I can’t connect them. I want to, so I think about it a lot.
(And no, that doesn’t mean I think all of his voters are stupid and/or racist, because that is flat out not true.)
One of the things I keep coming back to is the idea that coastal elites like yours truly don’t understand the way Middle America voted because we live in a bubble. It’s bothering me. Let me tell you something right now, Middle America: you’re right. We coastal elites do live in a bubble. So do you. Every single one of us lives in his or her own bubble. We’ve got a sphere of influence and a sphere of influencers, and where those overlap—boom, bubble. The sizes of our bubbles are limited by tangible factors like distance, time, and available soap (that’s only kind of a joke—no one wants to be in your bubble if you fucking smell). We can only process so much information in a given day. Our bubbles are, essentially, our experiences, and they’re necessarily limited because none of us can do everything or be everywhere at all times. Our bubbles absolutely influence our votes, because our bubbles are us.
“But Scott Colby!” you say. “Enough half-assed philosophy! My bubble is full of real Americans!” Oh. Oh, wait. Shit. Welp, ya got me. I don’t know what I was thinking. Was I even thinking? Now I’m not sure. How could I have been so shortsighted? College really didn’t teach me anything, now did it? Poopies.
Insert an eye roll emoji here. Assuming there is one. There aren’t a ton of emojis in my bubble.
Any time someone claims to be a “real” whatever it’s due to a deep insecurity about their place in the pecking order of that whatever. Real Americans. Real men. Real women. Hell, I only think of myself as a real Red Sox fan because SERIOUSLY CUT THE SHIT WITH THIS WALLY GARBAGE AND GARY STREIWSDSKAIY TALKING ABOUT HIS SHOES AND SHOW SOME BASEBALL YOU’RE LEAVING ME BEHIND NESN GOD DAMN IT!!! The whole real Americans thing is absolutely due to feelings of being ignored and marginalized. “Real” is a defense mechanism, not a meaningful category.
As I wrote before in a post outlining my cockamamie scheme to rethink the states, urban life and rural life are very different from each other and both need to be represented in our government. Flat out. We’re all in this together, and the combination of our two experiences should result in a better everything for everybody.
Which means we—and by “we,” I mean both sides of the aisle—need to stop relying on bullshit like “they live in a bubble!” The biggest tragedy of this election (if you remove my personal biases) is the way big important issues were constantly reduced to useless bullshit soundbites repeated ad nauseam in the media and in daily conversation. Russia didn’t “hack the election;” they infiltrated the computer systems of one of the political parties involved and exposed damaging information about that party to the world at large via a series of shady go-betweens with the end goal of influencing American voters. Look at how much more useful and informative and interesting that is! Look at how it gets us to a place where we can start examining and thinking about both what happened and what the repercussions are going forward! Look at how it sets us up to better judge the impact of those events. Jeez, that’s nice. Fucking sweet.
So cut the shit with the bubble talk. We’ve all got one, and using “you live in a bubble!” to explain the culture divide in either direction does no justice to just how different our experiences are. We’ll never get anywhere if we keep relying on that sort of bullshit to prove points and end arguments.