So, I read this article:

Heartland Democrats to Washington: You’re Killing Us

In the parking lot, Goodin ran into a man wearing a well-worn cap with a well-known slogan: “Make America Great Again.” Delmis Burns, I would learn later, drives a truck for a living and has known Goodin for more than 40 years and votes for him every time he runs because Burns, despite his preference in the presidential race, is in fact a Democrat. The two men fell into easy banter, and it didn’t take long for Trump to come up. Burns is still pleased with his choice. “They give ’im hell,” he said, “and he gives it back.” At some point, Burns began talking about the time he was asked at work to train a new driver who was Muslim. He refused. “They’re taught to be nice to you,” he told Goodin, “and then they blow you up.” The comment floated uncomfortably between the two men, although maybe it was just me who felt like that — and the gregarious Burns soon was talking instead about his hat, and some guff he had gotten from somebody who wanted to “knock that off your head,” he said. “I told him, ‘Everybody’s gotta be doing somethin’ when the good Lord calls.’” That got a laugh out of Goodin, and before saying goodbye to Burns, Goodin asked about his “grandbabies.”

Here in this not even 10-minute interaction, I thought, was the nub of the Bustos report — and the challenge it presents to party leaders who will be asked to grapple with its primary recommendation that Democrats focus on economic matters and steer clear of confrontation on contentious social issues.

Well, shit. This guy is afraid of being blown up by the Muslim driver he was supposed to train, and just loves him some trump. If I sat down in a diner in his ‘heartland’, what honest message would he have for dark chocolate me?

What would he say about me when I leave the diner?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

I am tired of hearing about the frickin ‘heartland’ — land of Fox true believers — and the identity politics nonsense. All politics have always been identity politics. It’s just that conservatives are in their happy place when that identity is white. Preferably vehemently Christian and Fox watching.

You know what? I could watch Fox for a thousand years, and it would cause me to recoil, and fight even harder to take political power out of their hands.

I am a New Yorker, born and bred in the city. We have our ‘heartlands’ on Long Island, and Staten Island, and upstate New York, and so many other areas where fear of the other rules the political process. Even so, my family’s basic approach to people, and NYC public schools, gave me an admirably diverse upbringing. So I am angry at the heartland people whose casual racism makes them comfortable with trump. Daily, they insist I should indict my culture — hence their continued inane bleating about ‘Chicago’. When do they take responsibility for their own communities?

I intend to do the whole letter writing thing this year, to do my part to reach out to folks around the country to help the likely Democratic leaners to register and to vote. Just like I have been for years as an expat, I’ll use https://www.votefromabroad.org/vote/home.htm

As for the Democratic Party, I think Gov. Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy is a great idea. We should support folks like this Goodin fellow if the people in his district are so blindly conservative that this is the only way to get a Democrat into office. We need the votes on key issues to undo trump and the republicans’ monstrosities.

But make no mistake — I want a reckoning for the heartland. I want a public admission that trickle down is errant reaganite nonsense. I want a clear confession that trump has always been a racist, two-bit scam artist who makes those people comfortable in their racism.

I want people like Delmis to face consequences for his blind, corrosive hatred, whether it comes to that Muslim driver trainee, or proudly chocolate me.


Also published on Medium.