The bubble talks back.

This column is for Bernard Gibson, a good man from the state of Indiana. Late last month, NPR went out to Vigo County there to explain why it flipped from voting for Barack Obama in 2012 to Donald Trump in 2016. Gibson was one of those interviewed, and here is what he said: “These are real people here. These are not New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles. You know, these are real people that live every day from hand to hand, just have to work to make a living and everything else.”


Richard Cohen adduces some facts about his background – not privileged – and says life in the bubble wasn’t just handed to him (unlike a certain son of a certain Queens owner of apartment houses). He says he’s tired of being told he’s not real because he didn’t vote for Trump or because he lives on a coast.

Same here. It’s not the case that everybody who lives in a coastal city (and I guess Chicago counts as a coastal city because of the lake – which means so do Buffalo and Cleveland and Gary and Milwaukee) is unreal because upper class and effete. Cities have a lot of people in them, which means they have a lot of bus drivers and nurses and teachers and truck drivers in them. They have a lot of people who work their asses off and can’t afford to live near their jobs. It’s not all latte-wearing cashmere-sipping millionaires.

After the election, I was repeatedly told that I live in something called a “bubble” and, because of that, I know nothing about my fellow Americans. Well, in the first place, my bubble is bigger than theirs — size ought to matter in this instance — and in the second place, I know plenty. Among the things I know is that Trump voters were played for suckers. After lambasting Clinton as a tool of Wall Street, Trump has so far named four Wall Street figures to his administration — three from Goldman Sachs alone — and an oilman is under consideration. And for the Labor Department, Trump has chosen Andrew Puzder, a fast-food magnate (Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.) who is opposed to a decent minimum wage. This is fast shaping up as a Cabinet of billionaires and, just for leveling, the occasional millionaire.

We always get this. People are repeatedly tricked by the style into ignoring the substance. Trump is a vulgar malevolent asshole, so gullible people somehow decide that means he’s a working stiff, and the fact that he’s made millions by cheating and lying is somehow irrelevant.

Things suck for workers, but that doesn’t mean Trump is going to make them unsuck.

I will not concede that a greater wisdom exists in what is known as “flyover country.” It has voted for a charlatan, a blinged ignoramus who has promised the past as the future. Trump, who lives in a gilded bubble of his own, cannot reverse automation, replace robots with people or blunt American businesses’ compulsive search for the cheapest workforce.

Gibson is one thing. I understand. What I cannot understand is fellow bubble dwellers who tell me, with an air of impeccable condescension, that a vote for Trump was such proof of their own superior wisdom that it eclipsed all doubts about his qualifications, his temperament, his honesty in business and his veracity in speech. These people live in a bubble of their own. It is one that excludes the lesson of history and the demands of common sense. It will burst.

I hope sooner rather than later.

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