I’ve been having a lot of political conversations lately. And not just with my mother. I have been talking to people at the VA, UPS drivers, people waiting for the bus, the bus driver, the guy who roasted a sack of green chile for me at the corner of Broadway and Mountain, and most recently, the guy who sold me a camper shell for my Tacoma. The camper shell is white and the truck is black, so I got the Yin Yang thing going on now. He had a very unusual name that guy. So unusual I have already forgotten it. The shell, lined with fabric, was super dusty, since it had been sitting out in the yard forever. He had it up on cinder blocks and was using it to keep the weather off his yard tools: a rake and a shovel.
I broke the ice with a redneck joke, which is a regular approach for me. I figure if they get riled up, I got to tread extra careful, because I’m likely face to face with a Trump supporter. But if they have a chuckle, I can move into denouncing Citizens United. And if they guffaw, I can breathe easy, because clearly they’ve already applied for and received their “License to Bern!”
“So what’s the difference between a good ol’ boy and a redneck”, I asked him. He didn’t seem put out, so I kept on. “A good ol’ boy throws his empties in the bed of the truck, a redneck throws ‘em out the window.” I got a polite chuckle so I knew I was okay. Granted, it’s not much of a joke. It’s mainly to get the conversation started.
Now I’m not saying shy away from Trump supporters. There is common ground to be found, even with them. I usually ask what kind of work they’re in. Then I ask them for the qualifications they would like to see in a person at the pinnacle of that work, and they tell me, and it almost always has something to do with the work itself, and then I ask them this: Take being President, that’s the highest job in all the land, and it’s about protecting and looking after the whole country, right? Why would you ever elect someone who only knows how to put themselves first, help themselves first, look out for themselves first, into the premiere position that requires thinking of other people, and looking after an entire country filled with other people? There’s only one person fighting the billionaires and corporations intent on controlling and corrupting our politics through big money. And it’s not Trump.
When I’m asked why I’m so excited about Bernie, I point to the horizon. Look out there, I say. Do you see anything at all approaching, anything at all that remotely resembles the candidate I just described to you? No. No you don’t.
I’m telling everybody we have to be like ants. Ants for Bernie. When I was a kid I was terrible to ants. I burned them, blew them up with firecrackers, poured gasoline down their holes. Lit the holes on fire. This is something I am remorseful over, of course. I think it was largely due to lack of supervision. I was a latchkey kid and there were several hours in the day I could indulge these sorts of delinquent impulses.
But now we have to be like ants. Working to save the colony and protect the young. The horizon is empty. Nobody else is coming. We’re it.