This is a map of the population of the United States. The areas shaded in blue contain as many American citizens as the areas shaded in gray.
Crazy, right? Here’s a link to that map data so you can see for yourself.
Note, not all of the areas shaded in blue vote democrat, although many do. This is just to visually represent how the population is spread out. And urban centers (where more people live) tend to skew more liberal/progressive/democratic. I’m not here to argue why, I’ll leave that to the “experts.” Anyway, here’s another map showing how the nation voted in the 2016 election:
I am not affiliated with any party, but skew Independent. I’ve lived in the biggest cities in the United States, and in places so remote that they don’t even have cable. And while it’s a popular notion to lump people together I can tell you that it’s been my experience that not all Democrats are elitists, and not all Republicans are dumb. I personally feel like this time around the Republicans got had by a candidate who told them some pretty great lies and relied on the embedded dogma that exists (on both sides) to generate enough disdain for his opponent to convince good people to vote for a bad man–but that’s not why I’m writing this post.
The election happened. It is what it is. We all have to face the consequences and hopefully it won’t turn out as bad as it seems like it could. Only time will tell.
It’s been said that Clinton neglected working-class white Americans focusing instead on densely populated urban centers during this election while Trump went out to meet people in the country. Regardless of all the “what ifs” is the fact that we live in a divided nation. And beyond all the easy things to point at as as different between us, as the map at the top shows, we’re mostly divided by where we live.
And that’s where we need to focus efforts to bridge the gaps between us. Not on new strategies to embolden a party base, but in literally reaching across the line to get to know each other.
It’s time we got out of our comfort zones.
Because no matter how badly the politicians want to split us up into two groups with nothing in common, we actually have a LOT more in common than we have differences.
We’re Americans. All of us. Whether you like the fact that people who don’t look like you, worship like you, and earn like you, are citizens of this country or not, they are.
We are a nation of mutts. A great experiment in pluralism. And right now we don’t like each other very much and I believe that’s because we don’t know each other.
How else do you explain the shock from more than half the nation that Trump won this election?
We have a problem and we need to deal with it at its core. And I believe we can.
Currently, both parties spend a lot of money on resources designed to mobilize people around their agendas, messages, and candidates. Mostly these tactics are designed to divide us into buckets–republican/democrat, black/white, female/male, straight/gay, conservative/liberal, christian/non-christian. But what if we came together to spend some of that money on ways for us to actually get to know each other?
Granted, it’s not likely that either major party would do anything so out-of-the-ordinary with such little direct ROI, but who knows. Maybe one of them will step up.
My idea is for us to spend the next four years getting to know each other via bake sales across the nation.
Ok, get your laugh out. Sure. Whatever. Are you done? Thanks. Allow me to continue.
For the sake of making this point, I’m going to use the Democratic party as the group that embraces this idea, which goes something like this:
We discover places in the country where people from the left and right can meet up and come together. Maybe these places are farms, schools, or churches in rural areas. We gather the resources to bake goods. Really good baked goods. Irresistible baked goods. Apple pies, cherry pies, upside down cakes, cookies, brownies, cupcakes. Then we mobilize people from all walks of life who live in the urban areas and send them out to these places in the country where they can set up shop on a Saturday, man different tables of baked goods, and extend a handshake or hug to anyone willing to drop by. We also give all proceeds from these events to the most centrally focused organizations possible so that there’s no qualms between party lines. Like Veterans organizations, for example. We also send communications resources to these events to document and spread this good news. At the end of the day if we can establish dialogue between us (as Americans who happen to live in different places) then we can begin to bridge the divide between us. And then maybe, just maybe, when we go to the voting booths in the future, we’ll vote for more than just “against the enemy party.”
Sure, this is a pipe dream. And sure, civil war could break out over the babka table. But I don’t think so. Not if we approach this solution with the deepest respect for each other. And the very act of reaching out this way would be an act of respect.
Because we have to do something.
After President Obama was elected in 2008, the Republicans declared that nothing would get done under their watch. And little did. We stayed stagnant as a nation without much progress. Now that President-elect Trump is about to take office, you’re hearing the same rhetoric from the Democrats.
Us v. Them is stupid when WE ARE ALL AMERICANS.
But you know what all Americans like? Pie. Let’s start there. Let’s let pie bridge the gap between us so we can take our country back again and have a government that SERVES us, not divides us.
Meeting neighbors over the premise of pie. It doesn’t get any more American than that.
Here’s a link to a Google doc where maybe we can collaborate on how to pull this off. We need ideas and action. This is my humble attempt to get the ball rolling. This nation means too much to me to sit by and point fingers.