So, it’s been a month, and progressives and Democrats have been hearing a constant refrain–that we need to reach out to Trump supporters, to try to understand the forgotten working-class base in the heartland of America which voted for him.

That is a very good point.  We do need to do that if we want to win the next election.  There is only one problem for me:  I don’t really want to know or understand the Trump voters.

This is not the wisest attitude to have, and I guess it marks me as an elitist of some sort. But I don’t care.  I don’t want to know why people continue to support Trump and overlook all the things he’s already said and done when it comes to women, immigrants and Muslims. When I recently visited a website where the deplorables gather to chat, I saw plenty of caricatures of yarmulkas and hooked noses, and references to Reichsfuhrer Trump. Blaming the Jews for your own economic woes is an age-old tradition.  The Trumpsters clearly feel the need to scapegoat someone for their own miserable situation.  What can I possibly say to them about that?  How would I change their mind?  I could suggest changes to the political and economic system which would make their life better, but these are the same people who thought Obama was a Marxist and the ACA was a government assault on their liberty–and frequently voted against their own health insurance coverage.  What does one do when faced with such ignorance?

Not to mention that in order to reach out to the Trump voters, I would have to find them where they live.  Thing is, I love my urban bubble.  I have little interest in going too far beyond its protective shield.  I’ve lived in the rural world before and I’m grateful to have escaped it.  I have no desire to move to a place where my neighbors give me the side-eye just because I don’t attend the same church they do and behave in ways they don’t consider “normal.”

Again, this does not bode well as a political strategy.  Democrats did get the popular vote in 2016, but the Democratic electorate is clustered in a few major metropolitan areas, mainly on the two coasts, and that’s not the way the American electoral system works. Hence the idea that progressives should transplant themselves to swing states.  If only I could convince myself to be enthusiastic about a midwestern or southern swing state….

The progressive movement certainly needs ambassadors right now to take its message across the country.  Unfortunately, I’m not that person.  And I wonder how many of my fellow liberal bubble-dwellers are willing to do the difficult work of outreach.  And if that work doesn’t get done, what will 2020 look like?

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I hear a lot about the real America. I’m told it’s a very particular kind of place. It’s the heartland with its God-fearing and armed Christians which is the real America. Not the perverted coasts. Not elitist New York or liberal Hollywood.

Problem is, I love the fake America. I’m an immigrant–I know, we’re not quite as fashionable as we used to be–and I definitely didn’t come here for the real America. If I wanted to be surrounded by farms and church-goers, I could’ve stayed in rural Eastern Europe. Those of us around the world who dream of America dream of a glamorous and exciting place. I dreamed of the land of skyscrapers and city skylines, of jazz and rap. I didn’t think of Americans as people who followed conservative tradition, I thought of them as people who outraged their elders by doing inappropriate dances, and doing them with inappropriate dance partners. My parents imitated Americans with jeans and hippie hair and rock’n’roll. When we lived behind the Iron Curtain and we fantasized about the States, we didn’t fantasize about being a televangelist (except maybe for their wealth).

Our patriotic pundits like to remind us that America is exceptional. I agree that it is. But if it looked like they wish it did, it wouldn’t be exceptional at all. There are already plenty of narrow-minded and theocratic places on this planet–there’s no need for more. There’s not nearly enough of the mixed-up and the crazy and the sinful. Those are the parts of America I love the most. And I hope that God or Goddess will continue to bless them for many years to come.

And possibly born into the wrong generation.  (I’m supposed to be either X or Y, don’t remember which letter of the alphabet).  The more I hear about the millennials, the more I see that I agree with their values–which are often portrayed in a negative light.

Millennials don’t think of owning a car as a necessity.  For those raised in our car-centric culture, this seems downright un-American.  I happen to love being a non-driver.  It all depends on what kind of lifestyle you’re looking for.  Living in an urban area where you can take the train–or better yet, walk!–everywhere is a beautiful thing.

Millennials also don’t consider homeownership to be as important as their parents and grandparents did.  Again, this is viewed as a failure of this generation, or as a sign that they are giving up on the American dream.  But maybe the dream is simply changing.  I am a homeowner at the moment, but as time goes on, downsizing to a condo or apartment is looking more and more attractive.  Taking care of a home with a yard is a hassle, and living in the suburbs is a screaming bore.

Millennials believe in a work/life balance, and they’re right about this one as well.  We exist with the delusion that our lives will be better if we sacrifice them on the altar of work.  But what’s the point of making the money if you don’t ever have the time to sit back and enjoy what you’ve earned?

They are also socially liberal and accepting of diversity.  I’ve always thought this was a no-brainer, but unfortunately, recent events in the news show us that it isn’t.  Maybe this new generation will finally get it.  And they tend to be spiritual rather than religious.  Religion adds structure to spiritual practice, which can be useful, but spirituality is where the true connection with God is found. So it seems the young have their priorities straight.

There is only one area in which I will have to part ways with the millennials–they are disillusioned when it comes to politics, and mostly not engaged in political activism or even voting.  I can’t blame them for feeling this way, considering the way our political system works these days.  But I still believe that it’s crucial to be active.  No matter how cynical you may be about it–and I am–it’s best to be alert and involved with your lawmakers, otherwise the day may come when your lawmakers decide to become involved with your life in ways you didn’t expect.

So I guess if nothing else, I’m younger in spirit than I am in body.  Now where’s my latest time-bending invention?  I have to make sure to be born in the correct year this time.

He’s not a Communist.  I get so sick and tired of hearing this bullshit.  I grew up in a Communist state.  In fact, my family and I were political refugees from Eastern Europe due to our opposition to Communism.  We know what Communism is like.  If Obama is trying to be a Communist, he’s a failure at it.

For one thing, big business is flourishing under his administration.  The stock market is going up and companies are making huge profits.  In Communist society, big business didn’t exist.  All industries were supposed to be owned by the working class–which, in reality, amounted to them being owned by the government.  Yeah, business and the government have gotten uncomfortably close, and people are upset that certain companies are getting perks and breaks from the government.  I don’t like that either, but that’s not Communism.  In Communism, businessmen and profiteers were enemies of the government, not its friends.  What we’ve got can be more accurately defined as crony capitalism.  And Obama isn’t even very good at being a progressive President, otherwise more of those profits and perks enjoyed by the wealthy elites would get shared with the rest of us.  They aren’t, and he doesn’t seem to be taking any kind of radical action to make it happen.

The Communist state also doesn’t accept any free expression of views that are opposed to its ideology, and quashes all dissent.  For all the talk of Obama being a dictator, if there’s anything we’ve had plenty of since he became President, it’s been loud criticism of his administration.  And calling it “criticism” is putting it mildly–how about vitriol, fuming hatred, extreme name calling (see “Obama’s a Communist”).  I haven’t seen any of the incessant hateful speech about the President getting censored–nor should it be.  The talking heads who spend the most time on the airwaves yelling about how oppressive the Obama “regime” is would be in jail or off the radio a long time ago if they lived under a truly oppressive regime.  But they have no idea what that’s actually like, and it’s their job to yell, not to think.

A lot of people bring up Obamacare or government health care as an example of the “Communism” in question.  But there are many countries like Germany or Holland or Sweden that have government health care and are not Communist at all.  They are a mix of capitalism with a welfare state.  I realize there are some for whom any political system which is not unrestrained capitalim is automatically bad, but one should at least try to make distinctions.  I can say from personal experience that the difference between living in Communist Eastern Europe and Western Europe was like night and day.

And that’s the point.  If you dislike Obama–for any reason–fine.  But it does you no good in presenting your argument if you do so using exaggerated and incorrect terms.  If anything, Obama is a President who attempts to implement moderate Republican policies like Romneycare, and does so in a bumbling way.  I realize that doesn’t quite have the zing of “Communist!” to it, but reality seldom gives us that exciting zing.

Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in the details of my daily life–or the details of the latest political PR stunt–that I forget I’m fortunate enough to live in very interesting times.  Well, fortunate or cursed, I’m not sure which one.  What I do know is that this is not a peaceful era in our country’s history.  As Grumpy Cat might say, “Good.”

Say what you will about the Obama administration’s achievements, his has not been a boring presidency.  He has been a Messiah to some–as we’ve found out this week–and an Antichrist to others.  I have yet to meet someone with a neutral opinion of Obama.  And that in itself is a good sign–if you’re not hated by anyone, you’re doing something wrong.

The country is not a neutral mood, either.  The Tea Party is trying to organize a constitutional convention–a meeting of the states to protest the direction of this government and to propose amendments to the Constitution.  State legislatures in two-thirds of the states would have to vote for this convention to happen, so who knows if this is something that will ever get off the ground.  Still, conflict and secession are in the air, as they have been pretty much since January 2009.

I wonder how we’ll look back upon this time decades from now.  If health care reform turns out to be beneficial to Americans, will Obama be remembered as the heroic President who made it happen?  Will we erase all the controversy and name-calling, the way we’ve done with JFK, and be left only with pictures of the new Camelot, of the glamorous First Family?  Will progressives do to Obama what conservatives did to Ronald Reagan when they wiped away all the wrinkles of his presidency and turned him into their Messiah?  Or will we continue to remember this as a contentious time, perhaps as the first rumblings of a deeper split in this country, or–if the threatening noises from Russia and China are any indication–the prelude to another global war?

I will be the first to admit that I don’t have the answers to any of the above questions.  Whatever the case, I’m excited to be here to witness all this and to write about it, however inadequately.  Despite the Chinese curse, I never did want to live in bland times.

It seems I need to go over the basics again, as too many out there in Interwebz land still don’t get it–

Just because someone has a different political point of view from you, it doesn’t mean that person is:

Asleep.  This one drives me crazy–it’s the belief that someone “wakes up” only when they come to agree with you.  It’s entirely possible that people who have been very awake all their lives have simply been awake to different ideas and experiences than you have, especially if they come from a different culture.  In fact, our interaction with each other may be a way for both of us to wake up to thoughts we didn’t know about.  Speaking of which, don’t make the assumption that the person who disagrees with you is…

Ignorant/uninformed.  I ingest news and analysis from a wide variety of sources, spanning all sides of the political spectrum–everything from the BBC to conservative talk radio to my pitiful addiction to C-Span.  I have met many well-informed and intelligent individuals who just happen to draw differing conclusions from the information they learn.  The world is a complicated place–none of us see the complete picture.

Mentally ill.  I know, I know–it’s everybody else who’s insane, right?

Less than human.  There is a long list of names used to accomplish this–sheeple, zombies, robots.  The goal is always the same–to dismiss those who disagree with you as not quite human.  Are you really that afraid of people with other opinions, so afraid that you can’t acknowledge they exist?  That speaks to insecurity in your own views, not confidence.

Evil.  True evil is done in our world, and the word should be reserved for those situations, otherwise the very concept is cheapened.  You may think the person who supports government health care is misguided, but they are likely not evil.  On the other hand, when you allow yourself to think of other people in dehumanizing ways (see above), doing evil can become easier.  After all, you’re not imprisoning or killing humans–just rats, zombies, etc….

So those are a couple of pointers to keep in mind as we debate each other.  When you debate, make a logical argument about the issue, which will make your side of the debate stronger anyway.  Name calling will always detract from what you have to say. 

And remember that what you’re thinking of the person you’re debating–that caricature you’ve formed of them in your mind–it isn’t true.

Whenever I end up feeling like a jaded and discouraged old (or at least middle-aged) woman, hearing about the Millennials gives me hope.  Thank God for young people.  This new generation is more racially diverse than ever.  They don’t see gay marriage as a problem.  They’re used to women having influential positions and successful careers.  They’re more likely to be skeptical of religious institutions, and to be spiritual rather than religious.  They’re more likely to be vegan or vegetarian than people of other generations–I’m not vegetarian myself, but deeply admire the motivations which lead a person to make that choice.

They will also probably become more conservative as they get older, just as every other generation does.  But that is the essence of the life process–by the time the Millennials get too old and crusty, new kids and new ideas will enter the scene.  All I know is that the last thing I want is to get stuck in some static version of “the good old days”.  Let my faded nostalgia get washed away by the flow of life, as it deserves to be, and in with the new.