I hear from more conservatives than I can respond to, or care to. I hear from some I dare not engage, thus encourage, owing to tone.
But there was a certain conservative woman who interested me, leading to an email conversation over the past week that defined Arkansas politics in a logically flowing narrative.
She began by saying I had no idea how shrill I sounded waxing indignant all the time about Donald Trump. She couldn’t stand Trump, she wrote.
She said that she and her Air Force veteran husband so despised national Democratic liberalism on economic and cultural issues that she’d even vote again for Trump if he was the only general-election option.
“You’re welcome,” she ended, dropping the mic.
I replied that I couldn’t imagine honest policy disagreements being so defining that they’d license a vote for a megalomaniacal insurrectionist who is a threat to democracy.
I referred to a person holding such views as the worst kind of “Trumper,” one that knows better but gets ruled by resentment.
She professed great offense at my saying “Trumper” and said she wasn’t one, and that what I said was as insulting as her calling me a “snowflake.”
I told her I get called a lot worse and that snowflakes were beautiful. She shot back that snowflakes have no substance, which, I must say, was pretty clever.
I told her that I might vote for Mitt Romney or Larry Hogan or Asa Hutchinson over Biden in an attempt to re-forge an American political center that might moderate the currently impractical liberalism and appropriately stigmatize the currently crazed right-wing extremism.
By the way, the best commentary I’ve encountered recently about today’s impractical liberalism came from Bill Maher, who said, sure, Republicans are ridiculous to want to whitewash American history, but that the emerging left-wing view of “presentism,” which holds that we are to blame for the less-evolved sins of our ancestors, is just as nutty.
I recalled a young man interviewing me in a coffee shop for a college paper on race, and him winding up scolding me sternly because I loved and respected my late dad even if he was racist–until he redeemed himself somewhat by evolution of his underpinning decency in pushing for racial integration of his downtown church, which caused the church to break up.
When the young man left, another man in the coffee shop who’d beheld the whole loud thing asked, “How do you like your liberals now?”
But back to my correspondent: She replied that her preferred presidential candidate was Ron DeSantis and that she relished his transporting those asylum-seekers to Martha’s Vineyard.
She said she’d been laughing all morning about that.
I replied that she was revealing herself as a run-of-the-mill resentment conservative who laughs at a grandstand political stunt that dehumanizes people for the self-amusement of trying to embarrass wealthy elite liberals in a place like Martha’s Vineyard.
She replied that she’d like to plop an undocumented immigrant on the porch of every Joe Biden voter.
And that was that. I’d had enough of her and she perhaps enough of me.
She’d taken me on a marvelous revelatory journey, going like this: It’s not about Trump; he’s silly. It’s about hating Democrats over policy disagreements more than we hate sending thugs into the U.S. Capitol to try to feed a madman’s ego and thwart the Constitution. It’s inevitably all about our resentments, including those of persons seeking to come to our country and of smug elitist Democrats whose insulated privilege will be laid bare by having to dirty their hands in forced association with those for whom they profess such hollow compassion from such formerly safe distances.
It’s age-old. Frank White upset Bill Clinton in the governor’s race of 1980 largely by bellowing against Cuban refugees coming to the state. Tommy Robinson gathered up county jail inmates and chained them to the state prison fence.
The more things seem toxic in Arkansas, the more they’re like how they always were, but before Fox News was there to exploit them daily from Berryville to Dermott, Ashdown to Piggott.
Now we have the new poll from Talk Business and Politics and Hendrix College showing Biden’s negative rating in the state to be 62 percent, and Trump’s positive-negative to be 48-48. It shows Sarah Huckabee Sanders getting 51 percent, underperforming in terms of all the anti-Biden votes available to her, but over-performing slightly in terms of Trump’s now wholly wash-out Arkansas standing.
Association with Trump gets her to 48. She gets three points on her own. Ridiculing Biden offers her all the way to 62.
John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers’ Hall of Fame. Email him at [email protected] Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.