An emerging outline

Yes it’s true that I’ve been happily dwelling in my echo chamber, and I need to step out of it if I want to be a part of the solution, but I will admit that when I read most right-leaning pieces I have a hard time conjuring empathy, or understanding.

I do believe there are two Americas, and that they haven’t been this divided in a long time. I want to understand the other America, but it seems they speak another language and I walk away from interactions with them feeling confused and despondent. The inability to understand plunges me into despair and hopelessness. 

Last night I read the first article that provided an inkling of understanding. Surely it does not paint the whole picture, but for the first time, I can begin to discern the outlines from what before felt like chaos. I’m really glad I came across this piece, and wanted to share it with all of you. 


  1. That article had some good points and I’m glad you were able to hear them. I’m in a weird place because I understand why those who voted for Clinton voted for Clinton and I understand why those who voted for Trump voted for Trump, and I don’t understand extremists on either side who can’t understand why others voted for the opposite candidate. As you might imagine, I don’t fit into political conversations well so I’m mostly keeping my mouth shut…

    1. I understand why a lot of people voted for Trump, but I’ve struggled to understand why people who voted for Obama would vote for a man who wants to undo most of what he accomplished. And I really struggle to understand why people voted for a man who blatantly lies, contradicts himself, refuses to release his tax records and has been quoted as wanting to destroy the entire system so that something better might emerge from the ashes. That just doesn’t seem like a candidate who would benefit anybody.

      1. One thing I’ve learned is that it is not about the facts. Voting is an act of identity. That can explain why someone voted for Obama and then Trump. There are people who benefit from ACA who voted for Trump.

  2. Thanks for the share. I have read several really great articles, and right now I’m falling more into the middle place that Polly describes…where I’m really beginning to understand why people voted how they did, on either side. And its actually really disconcerting. It felt better being righteously indignant! I’m having to step back a bit from the conversation and let it all simmer inside.

  3. I dunno. I can’t find it right now but last week I read an article about surveys of rust belt voters from 1980-now. A lot of the white voters blamed blacks for all the wrongs in their life–e.g. Loss of factory jobs, etc.–and their generally (at least as they believed) declining status bc supposedly money was spent on welfare etc. that they perceived as benefiting blacks (even though more whites are on welfare…). They REALLY believed this crap. So I have a hard time empathizing with that and “seeing their side of it”.

    Did you see this? I’m not on FB and at first I somewhat pooh-poohed the blaming of fake news, but wow.

  4. The article was better than most but I still walk away disagreeing with her assessment that Democrats don’t understand or emphasize enough the economic woes of the WWC. Look at the campaign stops and what they talked about there. In my own (former) home state of Indiana, the Democrats aaaaalways go to Elkhart and talk about jobs – a town where middle class working whites were hit hard and is “wasting away in middle America” *exactly* like the author contends Democrats don’t do. This elitism nonsense is just really effective branding by the opposition. It’s especially effective where the head of the party can make up anything he wants and Dems are left fact-checking and then getting punched for acting elitist. Same with too much emphasis on culture wars. Laws are passed every day by the GOP in the culture wars and then the Democratic are smacked for focusing on them. The GOP plays the game well, better than the Dems, I’ll give you that. And I’ve never lived in the “coastal elite” another insipid phrase. (Clearly I’m still in the anger stage of this election.)

  5. I admire you for trying to understand. I am doing the same thing, and like you said, it’s incredibly difficult and anger-inducing. This article does give a better perspective than most. But understanding is different than accepting. Accepting I just can’t do.

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