12 hours ago
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
The Real Bubble...
I've lived in Red States very nearly all my life. I was born just outside Seattle, in a trailer park, but we left there when I was three to move to New Orleans, to another trailer park.
Graduate school in Arkansas. First job in Idaho. Second job in North Carolina. Third job -- this job -- back in Arkansas.
I've never been more than middle-class, and very often I've been poor. (My parents are doing quite well these days, but that money doesn't often make its way to my pockets.)
My point, and I do have one: As Historiann notes in her post here, it's a fashion lately to claim that liberals and progressives know nothing about Real Americans (TM). We live in a Blue State Bubble, this theory goes, apparently in Big Coastal Cities. We only meet other Rich White Progressive Liberals Like Ourselves. So we have no idea what Real Americans (TM) are like, and therefore we have no idea why they would vote for Trump.
This bullshit isn't really new. Charles Murray touted something like it, with his ridiculous quiz back in 2012, in which we discovered that if you go fishing or drive a pickup you're working class and a Real American (rather than just a Southern person of any class).
But as someone who lives in Red States, among Red State voters, and who has lived in a Big City as well (sort of a coastal one also, though not the coast most people mean), I'm here to tell you that while people living in Bubbles is a phenomenon, it's not the Bubble those who spout this theory usually mean.
Let me tell you a story about one of my young students. This student wrote an essay for my freshman comp class -- off-topic, which meant they didn't fulfill the assignment, but it was an instructive essay nonetheless. The essay was narrative, a story about how this student and their cousin saved up their money for two years, in order to go get an apartment in Little Rock (Little Rock!) and find jobs and go to school there. But in the end they didn't go, because their grandmother talked them out of it. Little Rock was a big city, and big cities are too dangerous.
That was how they ended up going to school at my university, and living at home.
Now there's nothing wrong with my university, mind you. But who is living in more of a Bubble -- people who leave home to go live in Little Rock, or (heaven forbid!) New York, Chicago, San Francisco, or Seattle -- or people who stay home with their families, and never live more than a few miles away from those families? Who never travel further than a few hundred miles from home? Who tell me what their church says about a certain political subject, rather than what the evidence says?
When I first came to Arkansas, I taught a literature class in Diverse Cultures. One of the cultures I chose was Jewish Literature, and I had students in there who sincerely believed that Jews didn't exist anymore -- that they were only in the Bible.
But someone who lives in New York City, where just walking down the street you will meet people from a dozen different cultures and religions, countries and ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations and genders and professions, speaking ten different languages, yes, that person is living in a Bubble.
And me! teaching in a university, where half the professors are conservatives, and from various religions as well as a number of countries; where my students are returning adults, veterans, Evangelical Christians, Asians, Muslims, immigrants -- where I spend my days discussing and evaluating ideas, and teaching others to evaluate ideas -- I'm living in a bubble.
Not the militantly ignorant jackholes who haven't read a book or evaluated their positions on one single thing since -- well, fucking ever, so far as I can tell.
Who elected Donald Trump because, apparently, they didn't know that the ACA was in fact the same thing as Obamacare, and because they sincerely believe the bullshit lies Trump tells and because they sincerely believe that Christians are persecuted in America and that immigrants are taking their jobs and who when you point out the problems with their positions retreat into whining demands for special treatment -- how dare we question their behavior? Why, they're the Real Americans!