Monday, November 14, 2016

Responding to "The Real Bubble is Rural America"

I just read I’m a Coastal Elite From the Midwest: The Real Bubble is Rural America by Patrick Thornton.  Here's my response:

I'm neither coastal nor elite, but a lot of this article rings true to me. I was born in Appalachia, raised to have conservative values, and in high school wanted to be a Southern Baptist minister. I never (knowingly) met a gay person until I was an adult. I never (knowingly) met a Jewish or Muslim person until I was close to 30. At age 18, I voted for Reagan. At 22 I voted for Bush. And at 26 I voted for 3rd party candidate Ross Perot because I had become disillusioned with both major party "establishments" and wanted to "send them a message." My journey took me to college, to managing a gay bar, to seeing the justice system from the inside, and to exploring a number of different denominations and religions before I reached my current status of atheist and thoroughly/proudly liberal. I didn't vote for a Democrat for President until 2004 (when I was 38).

Today, the ascendance of Trump frightens me deeply, and I disagree strongly with his supporters on almost every issue. But because of my experience I do feel I can understand where they're coming from. I was once one of them. I can feel them, even when I believe with everything I am that they're wrong. But I don't feel like they feel me. Indeed in many cases it seems that they don't truly feel anyone outside their bubble. On the other hand, many liberals who've never been otherwise don't always seem to feel those outside their own bubble either. This is part of why I don't defriend or block people who disagree with me politically, even if I find certain things they believe reprehensible. I don't fault others who feel they need to for their own reasons. But I would've never reached this point in my journey if everyone who didn't like me because I was Republican or Baptist or a convict or a Hare Krishna or an atheist or whatever blocked me because they couldn't stand where I stood.

Now I'm 50. Over the years, I've learned and grown much more through connection and communication than through disconnection. And I plan to keep doing so, gratefully.


  1. Nice post. I wish there were a way to get the divergent sides of America to talk with each other without shouting, but I don't know what it is.

  2. Thank you, Geoff!

    Wouldn't that be lovely?