Confessions Of A Tree-Hugger
I love Trump supporters. I admit it. I even identify as a Conservative Sympathizer and a Trump-Supporter-Supporter, which seems to confuse just about everyone; especially my red hat. I try to identify with anyone who’s treated unfairly or bullied simply because of their views; and being a product of urban-progressive-educated culture, I see these Trumpies treated like shit, and us liberals are from an ideology that preaches tolerance and diversity.
There was a famous book written during segregation in America called “Black Like Me” about a white guy posing as a black guy and how he was treated. Since the middle of 2016, I decided to do a social experiment of my own, and adopt some characteristics of your average Trump supporter and see what happens. It’s been part lifestyle-art and a form of personal activism. My experience is beyond surreal.
For one thing, please understand that I never lied or pretended to be someone else. I mostly just talked and dressed different than urban progressives. I never pretended to vote for Trump, or even tell anyone that I support his administration. I’d post a Facebook profile picture of Mr. Trump smiling, and just that photo made people angry, and nobody in the US looked deep enough to discover what I was doing, why I was doing it, and even what my views actually are. Who wants to visit my personal YouTube channel and see me rant literally for hours about President Trump anyway?
It’s been a ton of knee-jerk reactions based on a fanatical aversion to this political figure that I’ve never experienced in my generation. A relative sent me one of those “Not My President” buttons and I refused to wear it. I’d refer to him as “President” Trump, and take note of people’s reactions. I’d decorate myself in American flags and try to come up with one nice thing to say about the president, and immediately, I was branded as a bigot. It is funny to see how these educated people love to educate when they are clueless about what I actually know.
I’ve lived “on the road” for much of 2018-2019 and this year am officially a full time RV’er, staying in rural areas around the United States. I’ve actually spent more time around Trumpies than I have around fellow liberals, and my overall attitude about these folks is that I prefer their culture over mine, although I prefer the views of tree-huggers over the American Right. I find that I get along with Trumpies better most of the time, especially veterans. (Also, they’re not nearly as offended at my personality.) I find them to be more upfront, and even better to do business with. I was even partnered to a Trumpie for over a year, and we’d talk about this stuff often. The reason why the relationship didn’t succeed had really nothing to do with our political differences. I’ve never met a single person who shares my political views that seems to have a realistic view about what actually makes a Trumpie tick, what goes on in their heads, and not judging them for it. They have a worldview and a lot of explanations about everything that makes a lot of sense to a lot of people. Hang out with enough of them, and you’ll find some super smart people. How can you tell? Sit them down and watch Jeopardy together.
In my experience, having talked to so many of these dear folks, Trumpies are not racists. In my opinion, just because someone doesn’t use all the latest inclusive lingo and stuff like that, doesn’t make them a bigot. Here’s another shocker: I have not gotten any hate speech directed at me because of my sexual orientation. In fact, most of them have no problems with LGBTQ folks. There are many who obviously don’t think it’s cool what I do, and none of them (at least so far during this social experiment) have made me feel unsafe, bullied, or abused in any way directly because of this. (There’s a story here about some of my least favorite Trumpies, but I don’t want to get into that.) When it comes to the transgender community though, that gets sad based on my conversations, however I must say that Trumpies listen to me. Yeah, they do. It’s weird. For instance, I’ll say something like, “what if you woke up one morning in the body of the opposite gender?” They don’t seem to argue about that and other issues if presented in a different way. Maybe because I’m the only democrat who doesn’t flip out at them. Perhaps it’s because I actually listen to them? Perhaps I simply don’t use intellectual intimidation and other left wing methods like trying to correct their grammar and snobby stuff like that. I bet it’s because I like ranting about liberals. I also share a couple of small issues in common that I like to discuss. Seriously, ask them about mental health, you’d be pleasantly surprised at some of their views. If you still insist at hating Trumpies, just ask them to serve you one of their home cooked meals or barbecue. One bite of that tender meat and I bet you’ll fall madly in love with them, even if you’re a vegan.
But, I do find it surreal, that liberals from an educated-centered culture tend to shut me out way more than those who actually oppose my views. It could just be those sweet shorts that I wear. You know, the red, white, and blue hot pants? Or could it be that these dear folks are thinking to themselves, “finally, I get to actually hang out with one of these tree huggers without them yelling at me”? It’s hard to say, although I must say that this whole thing is indeed surreal.
How can you spot a Trumpie? Most of the time it’s obvious, like bumper stickers and red hats. Now there’s Trump 2020 cowboy hats, and one helpful snowbird I met last month had a sweet camouflage hunting hat with the campaign logo on it. Nice going, daddy-bear! In my experience, the best way to spot a Trumpie is to find their Facebook page. They all have a Facebook account, even that WWII vet in the nursing home; and these Trump memes are really a blast to look at.
What’s a Trumpie? My definition is probably different than others, but it’s basically someone who votes for, and remains supportive of President Trump. (Also, a Republican isn’t necessarily a Trumpie.) Someone who’s simply a “Trump Voter” might be an American who just had more of an aversion to Hillary than they did for Trump, and may or may not really regret their decision, however doesn’t remain supportive like a Trumpie would. I’m not a Hillary supporter, and I have no regrets having voted for her, for example.
As insulting as the word “Trumpie” is, so far I’ve had no negative feedback about the word from actual Trumpies. Some spell it “Trumpy”. I’d say a nicer term would be a Trumpster. Someone I know calls them Trumpets, but I think that word is used for something else. I’ve been using the phrase “Hug A Trumpie” for a few years now. I painted it on a burnt house. Another long, sad story. Summer of 2018, I painted “HugATrumpie” under my arm to where it continued down my leg. It was for the World Naked Bike Ride in Portland, Oregon, and one of the guys that was at the body painting party happened to be a Trump supporter and he liked it, much to my surprise. So, I do find it strange that this whole thing, so far, only seems to upset the Anti-Trump folks. I just wish instagram would stop taking down my naked HugATrumpie picture.
One of the most surreal things about this experience is when a liberal rants the same question repeatedly and then not listening to anything I say. I’ve had three-plus years of conversations like this: “how could this happen?”, ”I can tell you how it happened”, “how could this happen?”, ”I can tell you how it happened”, “how could this happen?”, ”I can tell you how it happened”… Then another conversation will be like this: “how could anyone support him?”, “I can tell you why people support him”, “how could anyone support him?”, “I can tell you why people support him”, and so on. They work hard at trying to educate me. It is as if they’ve already made up their minds that nothing that I do, say, or think matters to them at all. Perhaps there’s still a lot of denial going on. It’s as creepy as trying to deal with a cult member, and yet these are mostly people from an educated-centered culture. They freak out about “walls” while they are shutting me out. Of corse the irony is that, I actually agree with their views! I can’t imagine how they’d treat me if I was an actual Trumpie.
I really do feel sorry for these folks, especially in urban areas, small artsy fartsy towns, and those who work in industries that are run by predominantly left-wing ideologies (mass media, education, entertainment, healthcare, etc…) or maybe they are the “token republican” in a liberal-centered family like I experienced when I was younger. Bully-democrats are a trip. Also, as much as it is obvious that LGBTQ people are bullied a lot, try asking a Fundy if there’s such a thing as “gay bullies”. Now that is really a trip.
The 2020’s are a really fucked up time to be alive, especially in America. I predict a civil war, and not anything like what we had in the first American Civil War. I have theories about what this decade is going to be like, and I don’t have time to get into all of that now. I will mention the whole “civil war” thing again though to make a fairly important point. Feel free to skip to the end. I’m way too wordy.
As someone who’s been raised to rebel from the mainstream “system”, I’m a product of the sexual revolution. My parent’s generation was big enough, and passionate enough to slowly make counter-culture visible enough to eventually take over pop culture. Fifty-something years ago, youth culture had more of a hold on society than tradition, and with that, just about every token left-wing baby seal and spotted owl became the norm. A lot of this stuff still freaks out the American Right, like the whole gender-restroom-thing, the immigration-thing, the gun-thing, the Muslim-American thing, and many other dividing issues. It’s gotten worse than government funding for kiddie-porn! Remember that? I find it easy to make conservatives uncomfortable, especially Fundies (christian-fundamentalists). I just talk about smoking weed, butt-sex, and a Harry Potter themed cocktail party and watch them squirm. But never before have I seen anyone succeed at freaking out liberals like President Trump. Seriously, in some ways, he’s a genius: Dead birds at wind-farms, little brown kids in cages, rocket-man threats, taco salads, bad hombres, little hands, space warfare… OMG! Trump is taking away our granola! Not only that, apparently he’s orange colored? Congratulations American conservatives, you’ve managed to make the open minded into closed minded, and the tolerant into intolerant. President Trump knows how to push our buttons. He’s also brilliant at not only being empowered by positive attention, he can also use negative attention to gain power and influence as well. He’s a freakin juggernaut. I personally believe that when he speaks to a mixed crowd, like the media, he intentionally and systematically admonishes one group then triggers the other. I actually find it fascinating. He also recovers well from mistakes, and perhaps even intentionally says things to get educated snobs to spew more hatred toward him, while knowing what his supporters will be willing to overlook at the same time. I’d like to psychoanalyze him, but this article is long enough, and us snobs enjoy doing stuff that a little too much.
Before I get to my credentials about the subject, I’ll start with this: having been on both sides of the fence, I’ve seen a lifetime of the left and right wing giving two opposing perspectives of just about every issue there is. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case any more. I’ve heard a preacher talk about seeing a mountain from two sides – although it looks different, it’s the same mountain. These days, it’s not about a different view – it’s an entirely different mountain! How many people really were at the inauguration? It’s not so much about a different view, it’s a whole other story! Much of what I gather from the liberal and conservative media are weird isolated stories, and things taken out of context. Also, I’ve noticed, probably as a result of information overload and social media, people don’t seem to dig deep into things like they did before; which is funny because these days most of your fact-checking can be done from your cheap old Obama-phone.
One facebook user will post a very non-typical sensational story about an ugly regretful trans-woman, while another will post a story of a Rambo-style doomsday prep fanatic flag-waver in a swamp. You’d think with access to all perspectives we’d get a clearer view on various subjects, but what I see, especially with social media, we are indoctrinating each other. We no longer need Big Brother for our rhetoric – we just need that popular-internet-socialite to make an ignorant meme that everyone and your grandma shares on their pages, along with those fantastic recipes for lemon squares. Yum, lemon squares.
Funny that my parent’s generation of the youth-culture-takeover, saw themselves as “rebels”. I see the American Right Wing as today’s rebels. They even have a flag for it! It’s called the Rebel Flag, have you seen it? There’s one over there – oops, my bad, it got taken down… Anyway, when it comes to dividing issues, I see the mainstream media as left-centered. But I’ve also noticed that many liberals call themselves conservative because they often compare themselves to others who are more extreme to one side, or maybe their peers note that they are “so conservative” because they hang an American flag on certain holidays. I also see a lot of this vice versa. People like to argue with me about what a liberal and a conservative is.
I can’t find any public predictions online by anyone popular who supported and voted for democrats in 2016 that predicted Trump winning the election, posted before the mid-term election. You can find my prediction, and explanation posted winter of 2016, and I was quite disliked for it. It was easy for me to see. I actually talked to people outside my comfy bubble of like-minded lefties and saw how the other half lived. I was very surprised and what I discovered, and nobody wanted to listen to me, but after all, I am crazy. I met homeless Trumpies, nudist Trumpies, stoner Trumpies, and a lot of gay Trumpies too. I think I even met a few Trumpie Deadheads as well. There were Trumpies of color, brown ones, black ones, and wearing their beloved red hats. If people couldn’t order a big Trump 2016 sign, they’d build them! Trump had twice the followers than Bernie had on Facebook. You didn’t have to go too far from Bohemia to see Trump-fever had overtaken our nation, even in the Blue-voting Pacific Northwest. Then, the young people came. Wow, they really got harassed. They were bold enough to demonstrate in places like downtown Portland, Oregon. I don’t have to agree with people to admire them, but these kids were fearless. Educated, uneducated, rich and poor, businessmen and hippies, Independents and even Democrats; and yes, a ton of women were also showing their support of this grumpy elderly celebrity billionaire.
So, why is it I, the artist known as Fake Zappa that is doing all this nonsense? For one thing, I’m willing to risk my reputation, and I admit it, because of my illness and some other issues, I didn’t have much of a good reputation anyway, at least posing as a Trumpie gave people a reason to hate me. The big reason is because of my life experience. There are very few of us who have had a wholehearted paradigm shift more than once in their life. It was bigger than Frodo’s “There and Back Again”. I was raised with a heavy counterculture influence within the educated-progressive-urban-west-coast-think-tank, and I’m glad for it. It’s the best place for a crazy, queer, hyper-creative kid to be raised in, minus all the fucking-with-my-head a lot of us kids had to endure in the 1970’s. Because of my conversion to Bible-based Christianity, I found my second family, and with that, I found it refreshing to embrace all that there was to behold when it comes to the Republican Party, emphasis on strong families, and various freedoms and traditional ideas that still actually work.
Fast forward from age 20 to my 30’s and because of issues with my sexuality and other things, I then wholeheartedly (although slowly and quite reluctantly) became a liberal again. I’ve met a lot of ex-liberals, and ex-conservatives; and they try to relate to me but honestly, they can’t. I was introduced to the American Right as an adult and willfully adopted those values for several years of my life and I have no regrets about it. (Well, there’s one.) There are a handful of us who have had a sort of political “sandwich” like this, but I can count on one finger how many I’ve met. Kinda like a walking swing-state. I also have a quadruple PHD in political science, sociology, American history, and, and, actually I’m lying about that part. I don’t hold a degree in anything, or am I recognized by anything or anybody significant in the States at this time.
I voted for Hillary. If our dear Hillary was the head of a hen, and that head got cut off, than people like me ran around, like the old expression, “a chicken with its head cut off”. Yeah, I admit it, I had a moment of my freaking out, but it changed when I stopped hanging around the “not-my-president” club. (Another funny story.) After all, that club had a lot of unwritten, unspoken rules. One of the biggest problems I see with my fellow granola-crunchers, is that we are still headless, and flopping around uncontrollably every time we hear the voice of our president. I wish we, as a whole, would admit that we failed. They failed me. They failed us. In fact, I think it started happening about the time we won. Woodstock, in my opinion actually succeeded at being “peace and love”, while just later that same year, Altamont was quite the opposite. A headless hen won’t listen, it just flops around thinking its still alive; but we lost, and if we would admit that, maybe us blue-voters can start healing?
So, what about these big old Duck Dynasty style Trumpies with shiny firearms and overly-sized beards? Well, that’s another bunch of confessions I don’t want to get into. I hug these people because they are fellow Americans. Some of them are just plain sexy. But the main reason, besides challenging the dominant views of population centers, is to find creative ways to undermine the potential of some kind of reboot of the American Civil War. Perhaps the war has already begun, it could just occur in other ways besides battlefields.
There are still other reasons why I hug Trumpies, but I’ll totally change the subject for a sec. If you see a lot of art, music, and theater going on, chances are you’re going to find a lot of faggots like me behind the scenes. Ya gotta love gays, after all, that fabulous dress you got your wife was probably designed by one of us. Oh snap! In the same way, if you travel overseas, and ask random foreigners to name classic American cultural stuff (besides Micky Mouse) chances are they will mention things like cowboy hats, country music, rodeos, and classic westerns. Therefore, if you find yourself anywhere in the United States that has things like cowboy hats, country music, rodeos (excluding screenings of Brokeback Mountain) you’ll find Trumpies!
They are, in many ways, more “American” than I am. “Sad” (to quote our beloved president). I’d say that even though I’m a hillbilly at heart, there’s way too much Eurocentric and urban mindsets in me to accurately call myself an authentic American. See a bunch of fishing boats, RVs, race cars, vet-related-stuff, and things that are red-white-and-blue, you’ll see Trumpies! Now try yelling at them. See what happens. I saw so much hate speech online from my peers that I began to wonder, “do we really want to fight these people?” I’ve spoken publicly from Alaska to Tennessee about the harm that conversion therapy does, and in my own experiences; and thus, exposing some of the harm that a lot of American conservatives might advocate for (like our beloved Vice President?). But what happens when my current peers are also going crazy? Harm is harm, no matter what our views are. I also like to identify as an equal opportunity offender.
Here’s another thing we don’t like to think about: besides representing iconic American culture, these are the people that inhabit more geography than the urban-centered American left! Do we really want to fight these folks? When it comes to those who vote red and those who vote blue, it’s obvious who owns more firearms. But that’s not the reason why not to fight them. Our nation is in crisis. There is a LOT of crazy going on (and to quote our beloved president once again, “on both sides”). The more energy we waste on all this conflict means less resources for those who suffer, and if you venture into what I call the Real America, you’ll see a lot more suffering in recent years. A stuffed-shirt on PBS a few years ago said that both sides of the political divide really just want the same things. Although I agreed with that, I found it funny that he totally failed at communicating with American Conservatives, and only cited guys like Baba Ram Dass and Carl Jung. Snore.
As much as I love Trump Supporters, I personally would rather not see so many of them in politics. (I also am having a tough time finding any Democrats I’d like to get behind). With that being said though, I will say that I trust Trumpies with my truck, my trailer, my dinner, my music, my money, my mental and physical health – I trust them as friends, lovers, and in my home. These are some of the finest Americans I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting, and they deserve my respect. Thank y’all, and I am sorry at how we treat you.