Monday, August 10, 2020

IN TRUMP COUNTRY, IDEOLOGICAL BUBBLES ARE GOOD

Remember the aftermath of the 2016 election? J.D. Vance told the presumably left-leaning readers of The New York Times that the media's inability to foresee Donald Trump's victory was a sign that the failed prognosticators lived in a "liberal bubble." A former CEO of NPR moved to a right-leaning community and wrote a book called Republican Like Me: How I Left the Liberal Bubble and Learned to Love the Right. A fake ad on Saturday Night Live imagined the creation of a literal liberal bubble.



The liberal bubble is bad! said many liberals. Liberals are terrible for wanting to live in one!

But when the Times sent a reporter to Iowa recently to discover why evangelicals prefer Trump, we learned that in Trump's America, it's good to live in a bubble.
When the Schoutens got home, Caryn, 36, scooped a chip into sour cream dip and plopped into a chair in her living room.

She spoke of her concern about sex trafficking. She had seen posts on Facebook about mothers being followed to their cars if they went shopping at Target in Sioux City, almost an hour away.

“I’m safe when I’m here. I’m not afraid when I’m here,” she said.

They thought about the lives they want for their children, and why they send them to a Christian elementary school. “We hope our kids eventually find a Christian spouse, and that exposes them to other kids of like-mindedness,” her husband said. The two of them met through their rival Christian high schools....

When she was younger, [Caryn] said, she used to say she would leave Sioux County. She remembered the shock of traveling to Europe in high school and seeing “men in full drag” for the first time.

“We have life very easy, it is laid back, it is like-minded people. And it’s just, I like the bubble,” she said. “I like not worrying about sending them outside to play, or whose house they are going to if they are going to the neighbors a few houses down, they might not go to the same church, they might not hold all the same beliefs, but I trust them. I don’t know, maybe that is na├»ve.”
And then you have Rob and Cheryl Driesen.
[Cheryl] remembered how when her mother was a child about 20 miles north, the public school still started the day with prayer. But when she was growing up, it stopped. Her church, Netherlands Reformed, started a private Christian school in Rock Valley, and so she went there instead.

They send their children to that same school, which still has some of the same teachers.

“We don’t know any different,” Mr. Driesen said. “For a lot of people around here, that’s just what you do. You have the same classmates all the way through. And it holds the community together.” His siblings left the area for a while, but then they came back.

They want the Christian education for their children “so we don’t have to have them indoctrinated with all these different things,” he said. “We are free to teach them our values.”

“So far,” Ms. Driesen clarified. “That’s where we see Trump as a key figure to keep that freedom.”

She paused. “It’s almost like it is a reverse intolerance. If you have somebody that’s maybe on the liberal side, they say that we are intolerant of them. But it is inverse intolerant if we can’t live out our faith.”

She worried that the school might be forced to let in students who were not Christian, or hire teachers who were gay.

“Silly things. Just let the boys go in the boys’ bathroom and the girls go in the girls’,” he said. “It’s just something you’d think is never going to happen, and nowadays it could. And it probably will.”

“Just hope nobody turns it upside down,” he said.

“But we feel like we are in a little area where we are protected yet,” she said. “We are afraid of losing that, I guess.”
If you were liberal after Trump's victory, you were supposed to search your soul and ask yourself whether you'd judged a large group of your fellow Americans without getting to know them. But if Joe Biden wins and Democrats take both houses of Congress, will these people question their own narrow focus? Will Rob Driesen, who believes Trump will win because he's popular locally, ask himself how he could have misjudged the country so badly?

Imagine Fox News or Christian radio sending a reporter to Brooklyn or Detroit or a pro-Trump suburb and asking: What bothered you so much about Trump? Why didn't you think he deserved a second term? Did he really seem that bad to you? Imagine this being done not in a spirit of contempt or mockery, but in a sincere effort to understand people who think differently, and to convey their thoughts to an audience that now realizes bubbles are bad.

But it's a ridiculous thought. Nothing like that will happen. Fox will talk about voter fraud and Marxism and black voters who can't escape the "Democrat plantation." Christian radio will say that Satan is powerful and America now faces dark days.

I'm not against questioning the preconceptions you maintain when you live among like-minded people. But a lot of us live among the like-minded, and only some of us have done any rethinking, or ever will.

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