As a kind of time capsule regarding democracy in America, I wrote a bunch of posts (6) following the 2016 election. You can revisit them, starting with the first one here.
In advance of next week’s election, I wanted to write about a recent ugly Saturday morning encounter. It fills me with dread for the election, and for whatever comes after.
Last month my family and I drove to a small rural Hill Country Texas for socially-distanced State Park family time.1
During the drive 1.5 hours directly west of San Antonio, of course we saw our fair share of Trump2020 and Trump/Pence signs. That was to be expected.
We live in a downtown San Antonio bubble which, like all of Texas’ cities, bleeds blue. But I know, overall, I live in a one-party state. 2
Saturday morning, 9am, Central Breakfast Taco Time. Hill Country, Texas.
We drove from our AirBnB to the nearest drive-through breakfast place. There were only three places that seemed to be serving breakfast in town, and the first two didn’t appear to have outdoor seating. 3
Getting into the drive-through line required a second pass through, left onto a side road, before circling back and getting line.
The first strange impression on this side road was the line-up of fifty or sixty cars, all parked but with people in them. This was in a very small town, where fifty cars represented a major part of the town’s population. 4
So many people lined up in cars, patiently waiting presented a puzzle at first. But I guessed (correctly, it turned out): Food Bank.
Parked in line for the drive-through tacos window we faced the Food Bank line, half a block away. But that wasn’t the big shock. The big shock happened after the middle aged, white lady in the drive-in window looked up expectantly, to take our order.
Coffee, water, tacos. Normal stuff.
We could see two other wait staff – another middle-aged woman and a younger man – inside bustling around, serving the people seated inside the restaurant.
The blue t-shirts of the two waitresses matched. Maybe a uniform? But no, actually they wore a “TRUMP 2020” t-shirt, printed with large white lettering on dark blue.
That was surprising, as both waitresses wore the same political shirt at a taco place.
But below, under three white stars to offset the TRUMP 2020, was the message, “FUCK YOUR FEELINGS.”
I turned back to my wife in the shotgun position. Had she seen this? Oh yes, she’d seen it. My two daughters in the back seat hadn’t read the shirt yet.
Well. Despite her exhortation to self fornicate, I can say I had a whole bunch of feelings.
Wearing a political t-shirt while serving breakfast is certainly a choice. A rare choice, but one that could only be taken with the knowledge of what the restaurant owner would want. And relatedly, what customers would want. But this was not an ordinary political t-shirt. This was an attack on any customer who didn’t share their sentiment. I don’t share their sentiment.
“Fuck Your Feelings.”
Not: Vote Trump if you enjoy business de-regulation.
Not: Vote Trump if you want lower taxes.
Not: Vote Trump because you believe he’s a useful tool for placing judges who will rule in line with the current Christian-Political-Right.
Rather: Vote Trump, and also, if you have any disagreement with me – or any empathy for people who are different from yourself – go fuck yourself.
That, I felt, told me a lot about what management of this restaurant believed. About customers of the restaurant. About this town. About America in 2020. And, I couldn’t help but think, about their feelings for the fifty or so cars lined up half a block away. Lined up for food.
Something clicked into place for me. More concretely than it has in the past 5 years of the Trump nightmare. His supporters hate the people he hates. His contempt, his attacks, his denigration of others.
His denigration of “The Other.”
As Adam Serwer said long before me: The cruelty is the point.
They don’t care for his policies. (He has no policies.)
They care that he hates the right people.
I couldn’t help but feel that the waitress’ t-shirt was a direct attack on the people lined up a half a block away, trying to get enough food for the week for their families. The people in line for food from the food bank aren’t thriving in Trump’s America. For that matter, the woman serving breakfast tacos to me through a drive in window isn’t thriving in Trump’s America either.
But she seethes with hate. How else to explain “Fuck Your Feelings” as, practically a business slogan? She may have very little power, but she has power over the people in line for the food bank. She derives power from his attacks.
After we paid and she handed us out tacos through the window, she said goodbye with “Have a Blessed Day.” Because of course she did.
“Fuck Your Feelings!” Just like Jesus would say.
Did she notice the rainbow Beto sticker, leftover from his 2018 Senate campaign, on the back of our car?
Sunday morning, 10am Tubing Central Time. Hill Country Texas
The next day on our trip we rented inflatable tubes to go down the Frio River from an outfit that flew a “TRUMP 2020: No More Bullshit” flag. This wasn’t as aggressive as the taco place t-shirt uniform but was further confirmation that:
a) Only expletives properly express Trump supporter views, and
b) Trump, the greatest con artist in history, somehow always manages to make his supporters project Trump’s flaws on to the rest of the world.
I mean, “End The Bullshit?”
The guy is the biggest and most successfully bullshitting bullshit artist who has ever lived. And he has his supporters (I understand, between 40 and 45 percent of my fellow citizens) believing that Trump will “end the bullshit?”
I just. I mean. This is amazing.
Anyway, here’s hoping our Democracy doesn’t end next week.
But if it does, well, Fuck Your Feelings. And do have a blessed day.
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- Garner State Park and Lost Maples State Park. Both beautiful! ↩
- There are no statewide elected Democrats as of October 2020. Maybe that will change on election day November 3 2020, but it still feels probably 4 years too early for a statewide Democratic win. ↩
- Drive-through or outdoor seating is our key criteria for eating out, during COVID times ↩
- The official population of Leakey, TX is 468 people. Fifty cars all lined up at the same time is…a lot ↩