Tuesday, March 15, 2016

My Experience in the American South (A Follow Up To Why I Can't Support Trump)

Wow. I've been in 15 states over that past 45 days. I've spent so much time totally engrossed in political ground work that I've had little time to write. This post will distill what I've now seen as the greatest threat to my value system in my lifetime. Whether you agree or not is of no consequence to me. I have friends that will attest to the validity of my claims here.

Donald Trump has done something amazingly horrible. He has turned approximately 30% of the primary electorate on the GOP side into zombies(45% if you figure the white populist nationalist herd in the South). He was right when he said he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and he wouldn't lose his supporters. No amount of actual evidence will change the minds of his core group of supporters. What I experienced while working with the Cruz campaign in South Carolina and Georgia was both fascinating and terrifying, all at the same time.

Let me start with the people of the American South. There are some nice folks. There are some good Christian folks. This goes for the ones that aren't those two things. Now, I'm going to be blunt. I don't fit in in the South. I am plain spoken and quite open about why I believe what I believe. Ask anyone that knows me. I hate(strong word, I know) fake niceness. Being polite is great but when you don't mean it, I see right through you. I can normally talk to anyone that has more than a few brain cells to rub together. That wasn't the case in South Carolina and Georgia. Self deprecation is not a trait of most Southerners. Those of us in Iowa and around the Midwest laugh at ourselves all the time(after all, besides cow tipping, what else is there to do in central Nebraska). See what I did there.

While I did have a few doors slammed in my face in Iowa, I equaled the total from 4 months of campaigning in Iowa in my first day of door knocking in the Greenville, SC area. People in the South are incredibly suspicious of those that are different from them while at the same time being insufferably polite to your face while holding you in contempt as soon as you turn your back. It was very hard to gauge a person's actual mood or mindset with just a few minutes of contact. Contrast that to the Midwest. In Iowa, I could talk to almost anyone and gauge whether they were with us or against us in just a few minutes. People in Iowa and the Midwest, in general, are easy to talk to and open about their views. Even the ones that didn't like my choice of candidate would usually talk to you. Many would debate you. I love that. The caucus system in Iowa encourages neighbors to talk openly about their views and the issues that matter to them. I got the sense in South Carolina and Georgia that politics was a private issue and that no matter what, people weren't going to discuss things. And we wonder why the sense of community has died in many towns...

Frankly(there's an inside joke here), I think we should be discussing our political situations with everybody we know. Politics in the US invades every aspect of life, unless you are an off-the-grid mountain man who can make it by hunting and gathering,(not going to lie, that idea does sound appealing from time to time) politics has an impact on your life. If you can't discuss the state of politics in your town, state or country, you are being derelict in your duty as a citizen of these United States.

Another disturbing aspect of the South that I encountered was the still alive climate of racism and bigotry that has long dogged the American South. This doesn't appear as much in the more urban and suburban areas but in the loose communities that dot the countryside in the South, the racist climate is still alive and well. Certain towns are still almost entirely voluntarily(or not) segregated. My heart was broken by what I saw and heard. I was screamed at for supporting someone with a "Cuban" last name. I was called stupid for not supporting Donald Trump multiple times. Confederate flag flying homes, almost 100%, could be counted on as a home of a Combover devotee. His supporters speak like him. They use the same empty words and phrases(all with a southern drawl). "We're going to build a wall", "We'll be so great", "America doesn't win anymore", "He'll make good deals", etc. When pressed to provide more information on why they support the Combed Over One, they started screaming and used foul language.

The final home on the last walkbook I worked in Georgia was a glaring example of this. I was with Elizabeth(she's 12). Her brother was turning the van around, so we both jumped out and as soon as we approached the man in his front yard and introduced ourselves as Cruz supporters, he became visibly angry and told us to get the h*ll off his property. This was in a very well off neighborhood in Cobb County north of Atlanta. If I'd have been alone, I wouldn't have cared so much. I was seething inside because I knew Elizabeth didn't deserve that kind of treatment. Being rude to ladies, no matter the age, really chaps my hide.

What my experience with people in the South illustrated is that the lack of awareness of others has become a glaring hallmark of Trump supporters. They are only looking out for themselves and see no importance in principles that built this nation. Never once did they cite the Constitution as a reason to vote for their figurehead. Some openly said that the Constitution was old and that was Ted's problem. He held too tight to it(I'm not kidding). The support of this man, this demagogue, can only be described as a cult of personality. No amount of factual evidence was able to move the needle with them because they were projecting all of their problems onto one man thinking he was going to assuage their anger and vanquish their demons. A very small few were able to be reached when I started to quote the Bible and by the end of my time down there, the Bible has become my only real defense. Some folks still thought highly enough of the Good Book to listen. Some didn't. They will come crashing to the earth if they ever awake from the trance they are in.

As Ted Cruz says, no one man can make the country great. God made us great by inspiring a people to be free to pursue greatness, all while giving thanks to Him for his divine providence. It is the people, under God and indivisible, that make the country great. We need to work on ourselves and get the government out of the way. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is the most manifest testament to this, directly from the word of God.

Don't get me wrong, I met some good people, as previously stated, but those good people must become more vocal and involved to help salvage what I saw down there. As it stands now, I don't really have a desire to visit the south ever again, unless I was to be called down there for a Christian mission of some sort. The "Bible Belt" is frayed and the buckle is highly tarnished and the people need true spiritual revival. The one saving grace I cling to is Ted Cruz has won the youth vote in every state he's competed in. Maybe the younger generations are turning away from the backwards thinking down South. One can only pray that is the case.

All of the hate and distrust emanating from the people in the South had one glaring effect on me. I turned toward God even more. I found myself praying between homes or between phone calls. My pastor was incredibly helpful in sending me Bible verses to help me get through the days. A friendly call from a friend or two also helped. Working along side of friends made the work fun, even if we did get yelled at a bunch. Knowing people back in Iowa were praying for me also gave me comfort.

I guess you could sum up my experience down South like this. I'm so glad I grew up in Nebraska, lived in Colorado and now live in Iowa. I'm also happy that my sister lives in Kansas. I guess you could say I'm a westerner Midwesterner(think that one through), and I'm glad to be one. #GBR for all of you Husker Twitter followers.

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Jeremiah 29:11   For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 

  Jeremiah 29:12   Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 

  Jeremiah 29:13   And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. 

  Jeremiah 29:14   And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive. 

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