Every year or so I pay a visit to the geography of my formation. I was born in Tolar, lived shortly in Leadville, Colorado, then back to Tolar, where I recorded my first memories. The big move to Granbury came when I was barely six, and I went twelve years through the local schools before heading off to sea. I never moved back.
This being an interesting election year, I figured my class reunion would be a good opportunity to probe the political depths of the people I grew up with. The past few years I have been blogging and swapping Facebook posts with former classmates. An immediate observation has been the rigid political conservatism that permeates the class of 1959. Religiosity, too. And that is something remarkable. Some explanation.
A segment of the Blanton family settled in Granbury from roots in Tolar. One was an uncle, brother of my father. His family was decidedly religious, including the two daughters. But the others, sister of my father and her two daughters plus the son of my father’s (and mother’s) cousin, myself, my brother—we went in a markedly different direction. While all attended church as youngsters, by the time we left high school and entered the real world, we had shucked off the reins of religious doctrine. In short, there is no God.
And that has been about it as far as I can tell. I have yet to locate an additional childhood chum who leans the slightest to the left (or to the upright as we liberals like to think of it). So it was at a Sunday afternoon gathering at Spring Creek Barbecue I went to some effort to quiz my mates. Here is what I found.
First, there is one who previously disclosed her vote for Trump in the primary. I assume she intends to vote for him in the presidential. I did not quiz her on Sunday.
Then there is another. Call him A. A voted for Texas Senator Ted Cruz in the primary. He will now vote for Trump.
Then a husband and wife pair. I attended Granbury schools with this fellow from first grade right up through graduation. Call him B. He and his wife voted for Trump in the primary, and I am guessing they will stick with their choice.
There were other questions. Why not Jeb Bush? I pointed out, as a teaser, Bush was the most electable candidate. The Republican base seemed to shun him from the start. He almost never got out of the single digits. The response: B said he wanted change. Republicans, certainly these mates in Granbury, were tired of the Republican status quo. Bush represents what is unsatisfactory to these people living in small town Texas.
What about Trump’s criminal activities? The ongoing Trump University fraud prosecution came up. A told me that is of no concern. Hillary Clinton’s complicity in the Benghazi debacle far outweighs Trump’s criminal transgressions.
I also received some input regarding what concerns the conservative mind. B talked about the “50%” who lard off the public and pay no taxes. My mind switched back four years, and I recalled only 47%. No matter. I had always been concerned about that 50% (47%). I never checked the references, but I assume the percentage includes all those not working. That would mean retired people and also children. I asked B if he included five-year-old children in his 50%. What was not discussed was the cold fact that even those who pay no income tax (below the minimum) still pay taxes. Pump gasoline, you pay a tax. Purchase a dining room chair, you pay tax. I have also heard it mentioned that people who do not own their homes do not pay property tax. Think again. This was not discussed.
I brought up Donald Trump’s obvious shortcomings. Particularly his many unpresidential statements. When Trump calls women sluts, he’s not talking about all women, I was informed. There was an easy response, and I took it. Yes, Donald Trump was not talking about all women. He was talking about some women in particular. And he named these women, and he called them fat and ugly and sluts. I am guessing any reflection on this is not going to change this person’s mind.
I was left with no doubt, these people will support Donald Trump in the presidential election, no matter what he says or does. That’s Trump’s base, and it will be highly resistant to erosion. Except…
Except B, when pressed, told me he had an alternative that included not voting for Clinton. He might stay home on election day.
And that is what should keep Donald Trump awake nights.