Monday, January 30, 2017

January 30, 2017--Jack Again

"I know you think something terrible's going on with me because, you're right, I hate talking on the phone."

It was Jack calling again.

"I read what you wrote about our last conversation," he said, "which you summarized pretty well. You, of course, made yourself come off better than you I fact did when we spoke." I ignored that.

"So, what's it about this time?"

"Things with Trump are happening so fast that I can't wait to May to talk with you. Who knows, by then, we might be at war with Mexico."

"I know you mean this as a joke but it could really happen. He's on such a rampage."

"Well, you know, I can't stand Democrats--present company excepted--but I find myself interested in trying to think what you guys might do to become more competitive. I prefer winning when challenged and at the moment you and your kind are pathetic. Sunday morning, for example, on TV, while criticizing Trump's new immigration policy, like John Boehner, Chuck Schumer, your minority leader, cried his way though his comments. What a wuss."

"I really appreciate your concern about us," I said, attempting not to sound as sarcastic as I was feeling.

"So I watched some of the left-wing Sunday talk shows. Meet the Press, among others, to see what they were saying. Michael Steele was on. He used to be the head of the Republican National Committee and is a smart and decent guy."

"I saw a bit of that too. I think that . . ."

"I didn't call to find out what you think but to tell you what I think." That's my old friend Jack, I thought and was tempted to hang up on him.

"He and Doris Kearns Goodwin, who was also a guest, were saying that the Democrats are in trouble because they don't have an appealing one-paragraph message of what they stand for and would do for the country if elected."

"That's what they said and I sort of agree with them. With emphasis on the sort of."

"I thought," Jack said, "that that's your problem. You not only don't have a clear message about what you're about but you still don't get the main reason why Trump won the election. Part of the reason was that he had a four-word message--Make America Great Again--and then let the voters fill in the blanks about what he meant by that. Including the nasty dog-whistle stuff."

"I agree with that. It was pretty basic and it's own peverse way brilliant."

"What you're all leaving out is the fact that Trump was not elected by Republicans. Sure, a lot voted for him but so did about the same percentage of Independents and, here's the main point, Democrats. If you exclude African-American Democrats, he got more white Democrats than Hillary. Many of them women. In effect, he was elected by Democrats. So to make any progress, Democrats have to recognize that and deal with it. Ask me why."

"OK, why?"

"Because though he's a billionaire who lives in a gold-leaf triplex on Fifth Avenue and has been married three times, he made people in the middle of the country and in small-towns everywhere, even in all the Blue States--New York and California included--he made average Americans feel like he cared about what they cared about and liked mingling with them. In contrast, these people felt that Liberals flew over their counties on their way from one coast to the other and had disdain for them and their concerns. You know, Hillary's deplorables."

"Oh, that again," I said.

"Ignore this at your peril. But I have something to help you and your fellow travelers."

"What's that?"

"You could play it as a parlor game when you get together with your friends for Chardonnay and Brie."

"You mean like Scrabble?"

"Whatever turns you on. But here's how my game works. It requires people to be honest about themselves. Which might be a problem for Liberals." He liked that jibe and I could hear him chuckling.

"The game is called Who Do You Know? and it requires someone to read a list of types of people and for each participant to keep a list of who knows, say, a lawyer or professor. I mean really knows. Not just hires a lawyer to draw up a will or a contract when buying a house. Or their psychology professor from college."

"You're being snarky because you know most coastal liberals will have lawyer friends."

"I confess I was being snarky. Sorry about that. In the meantime you want to play?"

"I'm game. Shoot."

Here's part of the Who Do You Know? list. Do you know, again really know, a plumber or electrician? An assembly line worker? Someone currently serving in the military? A wounded veteran? A nurse? A cashier? A police or fireman? A farmer? A waitress in a diner, not a fancy restaurant like your Balthazar? A body-and-fender man? A short-order cook? A maid? An X-Ray technician? A bookkeeper? A healthcare aide? A gardener? A Walmart employee? A coal miner? A stay-at-home Mom? A doorman? A fisherman? A painter, and I don't mean an artist? A . . ."

"You can stop," I interrupted, "I get your point and where you're going with this."

"How did you do?"


"I assume you were making your own list."

"Well, I sort of was." Without being specific, I said, "I confess to not doing as well as I'd like."

"Give it a try," Jack said, "The next time you get together with your lawyer and professor friends.  Maybe there is hope for you and them. Even though I'm a confirmed right-winger we need all of you socialists to be part of what we think of as Americans and we need to find ways to talk with each other. Not just across party lines but across occupational and cultural ones as well."

"I like that," I said. "You could be right so between now and May feel free to call again."

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Blogger Gala Girl said...

I actually do know people, some quite well, from each and every one of those categories (except a coal miner). I am lucky. I live in two worlds. Maybe I should run for office ;)

January 30, 2017  
Blogger Steven Zwerling said...

Sounds like a plan!

January 30, 2017  

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