BELL VIEW-I have a conservative friend from my old neighborhood. Let’s call her Jane (not her real name). She lives in a comfortable suburb of Chicago, has a couple kids who graduated college, and voted for Donald Trump. Even though she herself graduated college, she voted the same as forty-four percent of college-educated white women.
I don’t believe Jane is evil. She doesn’t understand her privilege, or even really try to understand it. But, that’s how privilege works. You don’t really have to deal with it if you don’t want to. Although Jane would never admit to being an outright racist, she holds a lot of opinions she might want to keep to herself at a typical Silver Lake garden party. She’s just not politically correct.
I have to admit, I spend an inordinate amount of my time thinking about Jane and her opinions. Her opinions bother me. It feels as if she represents something aboutmethat I hate: some aspect of my past I’d like to confront. So I confront Jane often on Facebook. Virtually everything she posts prompts some comment from me. Some desperate yawp into the void.
I know … why? Why do it? Why connect with these peopleat all?
Well … Jane actually cares about a lot of the same things I care about. She cares about animals. (She cares more about animals than I do, actually. Not that I don’t care, but…Jane reallycares. You might even think she cares more about animals than she does about people, but … I digress.) She cares about the environment … kind of. She doesn’t like pollution and she’s pissed off about all the plastic floating in the ocean. She doesn’t think we should spray poison on our food. She cares about education. She sent her kids to public schools and on to public colleges. She has daughters, so she cares about women’s rights. (She mustcare about women’s rights. Right?)
I’ll admit the connection between Jane’s point of view and mine is a thin reed. According to Jane, I am “wrong about everything.” Everything. But eventually we have to recognize that we either nurture these thin reeds, these spider-web connections with each other, or we give up on the whole experiment. We can’t go on living together as enemies. A shifting fifty-one percent majority (or a Gerrymandered forty-eight percent) is no foundation on which to build a future.
I’ve heard that college-educated white women are turning against Trump. What exactly does that mean? Will they get out and vote for Democrats? I can’t picture Jane voting for a Democrat. Of course, the Republican running for Congress in her district is an actual Nazi. So, maybe. Roy Moore lost in Alabama. Don Blankenship went down in West Virginia. Could Illinois Nazis be a bridge too far for Jane and her friends?
If Jane votes for a Democrat, it’ll be good for America. If Jane stays home on election day, that’s fine too. Let’s hope she doesn’t do the wrong thing.
(David Bell is a writer, attorney, former president of the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council and writes for CityWatch.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.