• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

zaterdag 19 november 2016

Political Divide Splits Land of the Free. Home of the Brave

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Election signs at a house in Erie, Pa. The city found itself in a “sign war” during the divisive election campaign. CreditHilary Swift for The New York Times 
WASHINGTON — Matthew Horn, a software engineer from Boulder, Colo., canceled Christmas plans with his family in Texas. Nancy Sundin, a social worker in Spokane, Wash., has called off Thanksgiving with her mother and brother. Ruth Dorancy, a software designer in Chicago, decided to move her wedding so that her fiancé’s grandmother and aunt, strong Trump supporters from Florida, could not attend.
The election is over, but the repercussions in people’s lives may be just beginning as families across the United States contemplate uncomfortable holidays — or decide to bypass them — and relationships among friends, relatives and spouses are tested across the political divide.
Democrats have dug in their heels, and in some cases are refusing to sit across the table from relatives who voted for President-elect Donald J. Trump, a man they say stands for things they abhor. Many who voted for Mr. Trump say it is the liberals who are to blame for discord, unfairly tarring them with the odious label of “racist” just because they voted for someone else.
“It’s all one big giant contradiction in my eyes,” said Laura Smith, 30, a small-business owner in Massachusetts who was attacked on Facebook by a relative for voting for Mr. Trump. “She’s saying to spread the love,” Ms. Smith said. “But then you’re throwing this feeling of hate toward me, your own family member.”
Many Democrats harbor their own feelings of being under siege.
“It felt like a rejection of everyone who looks like me,” said Ms. Dorancy, 29, a naturalized American who immigrated from Ghana about a decade ago. “It was a message to me that ‘You are not equal in our eyes. You do not deserve a place in our country.’”
So she and her fiancé looked at their guest list and decided to hold their wedding in Italy, a distance too far for the relatives to travel. “I just don’t want them around me on the most important day of my life,” she said.
Some relationships remain intact, of course.
Kate Kingery, a Republican in Denver who sells sporting goods, has kept good relations with her Democratic friends, despite their despondence over the election. One is coming to spend a few days in the mountains with her this week. Ms. Kingery, who grew up on a farm in rural Minnesota, said she sympathized with her Democratic friends’ worries.
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A Trump flag on Election Day in Merrimack, N.H. CreditIan Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist for The New York Times 
“I understand people’s fears, I really do,” she said. She would not say whom she had voted for. She added: “I really don’t think it’s going to be that bad. I don’t think they are going to change gay rights, women’s rights or other people’s rights.”
Conversations on those and other delicate issues can be both important and painful, but the reality of American life is that they are happening ever more rarely. Over the past several decades, the United States has become increasingly segregated by class, with college-educated people marrying, living and socializing apart from less-educated Americans. The result has been that Americans have lost touch with one another, sociologists say, and helps explain why each side is so baffled by the other.
“If you went to Thanksgiving dinner 50 years ago, you’d be very likely to have dinner with people from a different walk of life,” said Robert D. Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard and the author of “Our Kids,” an investigation of class divisions in America. “Today, there are far fewer people who are different from us around that table.”
For upper-middle-class families like his own, “every single person will have a college degree or currently be in college,” he said. “That class homogeneity was not true of my family a generation ago.”
As the cultural divide becomes deeper, fewer Americans cross it.
Misty Bastian, 61, an anthropologist at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., is originally from rural Tennessee. Since serving in the Air Force in the 1970s, she has lived all over the world and earned her Ph.D., two milestones that have set her apart from most of her extended family.
She said that she had sensed a “parting of the political ways” from her family for a long time, but that her support for Hillary Clinton seemed to be “the last nail in the coffin.”
The other day, a cousin who had “Trump proclivities” put a post on Facebook that she described as “all about Trump triumphalism.”
She felt that the post was directed at her and that its message was: “You’re a liberal elitist and I don’t have to pretend now that I have to listen to you.”
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Nancy Sundin and Caiden, her son, in their home in Spokane, Wash. She says the election has left her feeling alienated from her family and her country. CreditRajah Bose for The New York Times 
Ms. Bastian added: “I feel like I’ve been living with a lot of people wearing masks, who have been hiding their true selves, and now with this vote, their true selves are more apparent.”
She has kept up visits to Tennessee, but now says she has no desire to go back.
“I don’t want to be part of the grand narrative that the ‘liberal elite’ doesn’t get the working class,” she said. “I am from the working class. I’m now pretty solidly middle class. But to my relatives, I’m elite, over-educated and too well read, an alien.”
She added: “I used to feel like I was building community, but now I feel like I’m taking part in the dissolution of it. I feel like a stranger in a strange land.”
Colin Woodard, the author of “American Nations,” a history of cultural divides in the United States, says that “we are seeing a profound disagreement about what kind of America we should be creating.” Some believe society should be organized with an emphasis on individual rights, he said, while others feel the focus should be on maintaining the common good, which requires checks on individuals. Many feel the multiculturalism so prized by liberals has made their communities harder to understand and identify with.
Patricia Adams, 69, an artist and retired nurse in Spokane, Wash., said she had voted for Mr. Trump in hopes that he would protect “our heritage.” She fondly recalls singing patriotic songs as a child in school and saying the Pledge of Allegiance.
“It was a different kind of world that we were raised in,” she said. “I know young people need to have this world now, but it’s hard. When you get old and you are looking at your will, things become more important. You hate to see your basics, your Constitution, not given the attention it deserves.”
She compared the current national argument to the one over the Vietnam War that divided Americans along generation and class lines.
“This is very reminiscent of the Vietnam time,” she said. “They want freedom. They want flowers in their hair. They want all of this, but they don’t understand what they are giving up.”
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A window in downtown Phoenix, Ariz., last week with a Hillary Clinton poster that reads “Don’t build walls, break down barriers.” CreditCaitlin O'Hara for The New York Times 
As for racism and Mr. Trump, she said, “I don’t think there’s any proof of that.” She added: “I will say that, in his generation, those old guys, most of them kind of lean towards,” and then she paused. “It was a white world.”
Her daughter, Ms. Sundin, the social worker who voted for Mrs. Clinton, said the election had left her feeling alienated from her family and her country. She said her liberal arts education and her life as a social worker, which began in 1998, had taught her tolerance and the value of being flexible, something she has passed on to her children.
She said she had recently asked her mother to stop talking to her children about politics, after an episode in which she said her mother was discussing Mr. Trump’s immigration ideas.
“I just need her to not have those conversations in front of my kids,” she said.
Ms. Adams says her daughter is just as stubborn when it comes to politics. “Nancy puts up a wall,” she said. “If you don’t vote the way she does, you’re voting wrong.” She added: “Democrats are always trying to talk you out of your ideas.”
On the day after the election, Ms. Sundin asked her brother, a firefighter who voted for Mr. Trump, to stop texting her.
“I told him I was trying to explain to my children ‘why hate wins,’” she said. “His response back was, ‘I get to explain to my children why their opinion matters.’” She has not talked to him since.
“I think I’ll give that one some time,” she said.
Ms. Sundin and her mother recently talked. They met for coffee in a Target, as is their habit. Still, Ms. Sundin has decided to spend Thanksgiving with a few friends and her husband and children, not with her extended family.
Her mother is taking it in stride.
“It doesn’t matter,” she said. “I love her to pieces. I don’t want to change anything with my Nancy. I want her to be just the way she is.”
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