Anger in America


“Angry” is the word used to characterize Trump’s base. Collectively, these voters had long been fed up with feeling marginalized, left behind, left out, and laid off. Then Trump rose up to give voice to their anger, pointing fingers of blame all over the place (but especially at “the Dems” and “Crooked Hillary”). There’s a funny New Yorker piece called “Don’t Blame Yourself,” enumerating all the things that are no one’s fault (but especially not the fault of the guileless “you” in the piece): “Your teeth were fine until that dentist said you had a bunch of cavities,” and so on.

When Hillary Clinton played into Trump’s narrative with her regrettable “basket of deplorables” remark, she further evoked the ire of the angry populace who, during campaign season, had been given permission to be angry and loudly so. No longer do they have to suffer in silence. The reaction is parallel to that of the stereotypical redneck who now feels emboldened to mock people who are educated. Or bigots who now feel it is OK to disparage “liberals” as “PC.” America no longer has a prevailing “live and let live” or “agree to disagree” culture. People are dug into their anger, hardened by their grudges, and, seemingly, would rather see their country fall apart than make progress toward a shared goal. Because the divide between Trump and his supporters and everyone else is too great. We don’t, actually, share anything. We don’t have anything in common, or so it seems.

I am thinking of this on the train, where I find myself sighing overly loudly in the direction of a woman on her cell phone, loudly conversing about this and that. When I catch her eye she gives me the finger.

Anger in America.

And, finally, I’m remembering a little incident at a recent Zara sale. The cashiers’ line was long and slow. A woman asks, loudly, if she might go to the front of the line because she is illegally parked outside and needs to return clothing right away because the 30-day return window ends today. No one speaks up. I say “I’m sorry, I’ve got to say ‘no,’ to that. We’ve all been waiting at least for 20 minutes.” The woman grumbles something like: “Well that’s a New Yorker for you.” I say, “Well you did ask. And it’s not like it’s a medical emergency.” To which she says: “Not everything’s a medical emergency, lady.” Which is a stupid retort and I stupidly replied “can’t argue with that.”

Anger in America.

I wrote all this before Anthony Scaramucci unloaded onto The New Yorker an expletive-laced tirade against Reince Priebus. It’s getting worse.



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