Despite the title, this article is not advocating for people to crash into Trump voters’ cars…as tempted as some Americans might be, so they could stop them and finally ask them face-to-face:
No, this is absolutely not about encouraging dangerous and self-destructive behavior, especially since many Trump voters are so much better at that (you’d never win that game of “toppers” against them).
This is about an experience I had that turned my general perception of Trump voters into a more concrete recognition.
Many people have already seen the videos of Trump supporters going mental at Starbucks, Michaels, etc., on an emotional hair trigger and set off by virtually nothing to rant and rave about what victims they are, how they’re being treated with prejudice because they have to wait for their coffee like non-white people or be told by a non-white clerk that the store doesn’t have free bags big enough to hold the large item they’re purchasing. We shall overcome…over spiced pumpkin lattes at Starbucks!
This is kind of like those occurrences but perhaps even a bit more symbolic overall about many who are Trump voters.
Last week, I was driving down my usual street to pick up my daughter from school. It’s a four lane city street (two lanes each way) but not a major artery. I changed lanes from behind an SUV, from the left to the right lane and suddenly saw that there was road construction equipment and workers in my quickly-to-be blocked off lane and it was coming up very fast.
I turned on my blinker and as soon as I did, a pickup truck in the left lane sped up to cut me off. My choice was to slam on my brakes, risk skidding into the construction and workers or possibly skidding into other driving or parked cars or continue changing lanes and hope the speeding pickup would let off the gas and let me over.
The pickup continued it’s speed and as I merged as gradually as I could in the brief time I had, I heard honking and a sudden grinding noise. I had changed lanes and avoided a collision with the construction area but I had just had minor contact with the pickup.
After the very slight impact, in my rear view mirror, I could see him flailing an arm and screaming. As I drove slowly to find a very public area to stop and deal with him, I considered what he did, what had just happened and how disturbed this guy very possibly is.
He had seen that I was headed towards a collision with construction workers and equipment, if my car wasn’t able to stop in time, people could be seriously hurt. My car could have caromed off the road working equipment or skidded if I had to slam on the brakes and I could have smashed into his pickup anyway. What would have avoided any accident was simple common decency and consideration for the lives of other people…and himself and his own property…but none of that, even damaging his own pickup and risking his own injury “trumped” his emotional need to make sure that I didn’t get in front of him and “stole” the road ahead of him that he viewed as his.
The metaphor this represented to me, with Trump voters who voted to risk damage to their own interests to elect Trump, out of resentment towards the minorities, women, gays, educated, etc. who they see as trying to get ahead of them and take their lane of power and supremacy, seemed quite applicable.
Did he have any awareness that he was putting himself at risk? That not only could his pickup be hit if he kept speeding up but the collision could knock him into oncoming traffic and even result in his fatal injury?
Like some Trump voters, I don’t think that at the time, his mind generated the concept of actions producing real and possibly severe consequences. He seemed just to have anger and resentment bubbling inside of him and once he could vent that on someone else, when he could identify “an enemy” who wanted to take something away from him, he had only one reaction, “No fuckin’ way!” (which would make a good motto for the Trump era, in every sense of the phrase).
I pulled over in a parking lot along a very busy street (I wanted witnesses to concern him if he had any inkling of getting physical…or at least be able to prove that I didn’t throw the first punch). As expected, he came out of his pickup screaming in full blown outrage and victimhood. “Are you crazy?! What the fuck is wrong with you! You cut me off, you almost ran me off the road, asshole!”
He was a little shorter than me, with coarse salt and pepper hair and the weathered face of someone who has worked outdoors a good part of his life. The initial assessment I needed to make was completed swiftly once he stepped out of his pickup, I figured that I could probably take him if I needed to. With that conclusion and knowing that someone who did what he did, shouting that he’s been victimized because I didn’t go along with his plan of running me into a bulldozer and workers (who could have been him), I just said to him matter-of-factly, “Do you want to yell or do you want to deal with this?”
He kept ranting like the Trumpsters in the videos, in self-pitying anger. I interjected just a couple of times, “All you had to do was show a little common courtesy and let me in instead of speeding up to cut me off,” which was met with a predictable mocking of the words, “Common courtesy?!” (Yes, this really was his response.)
I met his howling and blame-flipping with a response intended to disorient him, “Look, I’m sorry and I’ll take care of it.” I had already concluded that there was no possibility of reasoning with him and assumed that our insurance companies would never bother to get to the bottom of what really happened, they judge things swiftly in very standard terms, I was the one who changed lanes so I was the one they’d say caused the accident.
His response then caught me by surprise. “You’ll take care of what?” I explained, “The damage to your truck.” I came over with him to look at the front of his truck, there were severe and deep white scrapes on his right front fender all the way up to his hood…my car could never reach that high and all I heard and felt when the cars hit was a small, quick bump.
He said, “You didn’t do that. I’m not an asshole.”
That was interesting. Running another driver into construction workers and equipment because they would have gotten in front of you was one thing but blaming that driver for damage to your pickup they didn’t do, only an asshole would do that.
I know that bad guys don’t think they’re bad (“The blacks love me”) and assholes don’t think they’re assholes (“The Mexicans love me”), they “know” they’re justified in throwing tantrums and causing car accidents over imagined ownership of sections of public roads. He may cause accidents, he may show total disregard for the safety of everyone around him and even his own property and well being…but come on, he’s not an asshole.
It does show however that he still had a sense of right and wrong, as conditional as it had become. And that is what Trump should (but won’t) worry about, that eventually, after Trump has wronged and exploited his supporters long enough, it will finally cross a line for them.
From seeing the damage to the front of his pickup, it was clear to me that this wasn’t the first time he’d caused an accident. If that damage had been another driver’s fault, he would have been able to have it repaired with their insurance paying for it. Since it wasn’t repaired, he was likely responsible for that accident too. Reminiscent of some Trump supporters, he’s his own worst enemy when it comes to the condition of what he relies on most in his life.
Trump voters feel like they’ve been screwed in life, I get it. Many of us feel that things have happened in our lives that are unfair and just plain fucked up. But many Trump voters, like this pickup driver, are so unaware as to how they steer themselves into one scrape after another while constantly blaming others for their predicaments.
It absolutely does suck that so many high paying manufacturing jobs have evaporated from the country. What most of these Trump voters don’t understand though is that the workers who have replaced them are not mostly Mexican or Chinese, they are robots, machines and computers that don’t take sick days or lunch hours, don’t need pensions or health insurance and don’t take two week vacations to EPCOT. Those jobs are gone. Full stop. They are never coming back, they are waiting in line behind the typewriter repairman and abacus salesmen to come back. The present state of technology is not an elite liberal policy that Trump can wave a magic wand and reverse, time passes, change happens and the Earth keeps turning in the same direction no matter how Trump may guarantee that he can make it spin backwards (how ridiculous, only Superman can do that).
THE ONLY WAY TRUMP CAN BRING BACK MANUFACTURING JOBS
Instead of believing that Trump is a Time Lord who can take them all back to the 1950’s before business was globalized and robotics were widespread, what Trump voters should have been and should be demanding is training for newer industries that need workers.
Sorry, coal jobs are not coming back because it just doesn’t make economic sense anymore, just like hoping that the whale oil market picks back up is a little “overly optimistic”. For energy companies, unfortunately, fracking is far easier, cheaper and more profitable than coal mining and the cost of coal for energy isn’t competitive in today’s energy marketplace. Coal companies have been closing down left and right, not due primarily to the EPA or pollution restrictions, it’s simple economics, it’s not as profitable a business as it used to be.
All these bogus promises by Trump on jobs are so obviously cynical and seem doomed to eventually bury him with these voters in the end. However, Trump voters should not have been hypocritically expecting the government they demonize as useless and the problem, to somehow make all their jobs return under Trump. They voted for the con man who has lied to them that spilt milk can be easily returned into its pitcher as long as he is President. Instead, they should have shown the self-sufficiency they claim to believe in and changed their path on their own towards careers and jobs that already exist and are growing.
When I was young, I was taught about defensive driving, that whether driving or picking a parking spot, avoid being close to cars with damage, the odds are higher that those drivers are more careless and accident-prone.
Some Trump voters, because they act more on emotion than reason, are prone to making choices that gratify themselves in the short term at the cost of their own and others’ well being in the long run. They act against their own interests out of emotion. For example, many of them rely on Obamacare for their medical insurance and care but in voting for Trump, they support it being repealed because it was passed and signed by Obama and benefits people of color too. Yet now, many Trump voters are realizing that preventing others from having healthcare by killing Obamacare, means they could lose their Obamacare insurance as well. It’s spite towards others first, reality about how it affects them a distant second.
The pickup driver came over to look at my car with me, I was puzzled by this appearance of concern and even more so by the fact that we didn’t see any damage. “I don’t see anything,” he said, “You got lucky!”
I suppose that in an instance where someone intentionally causes an accident in trying to deny another driver the ability to escape a serious collision and that driver’s car somehow escapes both the collision and damage to their car and the other car, that is lucky. Never getting into that situation in the first place would have been much luckier though I’d have never have known how lucky I was to avoid that situation because it never would have happened.
This is the same kind of luck that I think we need to embrace over the next four years. We can’t prevent Trump from trying to cut us off and drive us into disaster but we can keep our resolve, keep our hands on the wheel and steer back in the direction that we need to go to protect ourselves. There will be plenty of blame thrown at us for the resulting friction and lots of lies and outrage but Trump and the Republican politicians supporting him will be the ones who end up driving away four years from now in a vehicle that is severely damaged and warns to others to steer very clear of them in the future.