I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way, but over the past several months, maybe even since early 2017, I’ve found myself batting two contradictory political ideas around in my head.
The first: “I am so f’ing furious at the 38 percent of Americans who voted for Trump. What kind of racist, bigoted, homophobic, backwards people are these, who could overlook so much of the awfulness of Donald Trump and still decide he should be the leader of our great country? To hell with them, forever.”
The second: “I can’t believe so many people voted for this idiot. I want to know more about how these people could do that. I want to hear their justifications, their reasons, why they made this seemingly horrible decision, and how they feel about it now. I need to try to understand this mindset, so I can make sure I and other liberals can go about changing it.”
I have to be honest, most of the time, the first argument wins out. My simple belief that if more apathetic Americans get fired up to vote, and actually show up at the polls every two years, that Democrats will re-take the Presidency, Congress and most governorships. When more people show up, Democrats win, it’s that simple. And so most of the time I think “to hell” with Trump voters and the right-wing, they’re not worth wasting time thinking about.
But I’ve really, really tried to shove that part of my mindset to the background at times, and stories like this amazing one by Stephanie McCrummen in the Washington Post Sunday really blow me away.
And terrify me.
McCrummen, who won a Pulitzer this year for helping expose Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, went down to Luverne, Ala. to spend time at the First Baptist Church, speaking to the pastor, Clay Crum, and many in his congregation.
Like the best reporters always do, McCrummen didn’t pass judgment; she simply listened, observed and reported.
And what she found was both slightly heartening and incredibly terrifying. These are almost all Donald Trump supporters at First Baptist, and the part of the story I found slightly heartening was they almost all acknowledged having a difficult time voting for Trump. You get comments like this from a man in his 30s named Brett Green, who finally got mad at Trump for his infamous comment about America taking immigrants “from shithole countries.”
“Jesus Christ was born in Nazareth, and Nazareth was a shithole at that time,” Brett said. “Someone might say, ‘How could anything good come out of a place like that?’ Well, Jesus came out of a place like that.”
And you get this from a man named Terry Drew, “who sat in the seventh pew on the left side, who knew and agreed with Trump’s position, and knew that supporting him involved a blatant moral compromise.
“I hate it,” he said. “My wife and I talk about it all the time. We rationalize the immoral things away. We don’t like it, but we look at the alternative, and think it could be worse than this.”
So at least, from my point of view, there’s an attempt at reckoning with the hypocrisy they’re undertaking. At least an acknowledgement of how the values they (and their beloved Bible) espouse are completely at odds with the person they voted for.
But oh, there’s also so much terrifying stuff in here. Agreements among the congregation that Trump’s positions are more important than his character. Rationalizations that other Presidents had mistresses, or did bad things.
And then there’s Sheila Butler, the character in the story who will stay with me long after the rest. She’s 67, and a Sunday school teacher. Here’s just one small excerpt from the mind of Sheila:
“To her, this was a moral threat far greater than any character flaw Trump might have, as was what she called “the racial divide,” which she believed was getting worse. The evidence was all the black people protesting about the police, and all the talk about the legacy of slavery, which Sheila never believed was as bad as people said it was. “Slaves were valued,” she said. “They got housing. They got fed. They got medical care.”
Wow. I mean… wow. I cannot recommend strongly enough reading the whole story. The reporting is wonderful, the details terrific, and McCrummen just gets out of the way and lets these churchgoers explain themselves the best way they can.
Look, I don’t think anyone at First Baptist will ever turn against Trump. But listening to them, and at least paying enough attention to be frightened that this is what they really believe, I think is pretty important.
**Next up today, a delightful little video that made me smile. Female employees in the service industry are constantly forced to put up with harassment from moronic men, and usually they just have to deal with it. But it was kinda thrilling to see what happened to 31-year-old idiot Ryan Cherwinski when he decided to pat the ass of waitress Emilia Holden in a restaurant in Savannah, Ga. recently.
Holden felt the tap and immediately grabbed Cherwinski by the shirt and slammed him to the ground, while shouting at him. The police were called, Cherwinski was arrested, and a small blow was struck for working women everywhere.
You go, Emilia!
**Finally today, a little update on one of my favorite topics: the legalization of marijuana. Specifically, the idiocy of professional sports leagues asking their players to be at their best 100-200 nights a year, brutalizing their bodies, but not letting them use a product many, many athletes have said is an immense help: Pot.
The National Hockey League, which is behind the curve on so many issues (CTE and head injuries, for one), appears to be out front on this one. With Canada moving to legalize weed and other U.S. states of course having already done so, the NHL is in talks with the players’ union to make pot legal for its players.
Fabulous. It’s about time. (Also, I have no idea if P.K. Subban, pictured above, is pro-pot, but I just love him and any excuse to run a picture of him.)