As the calendar goes, this is a time of peace on Earth and goodwill to all men. Then, there’s the recent, hotly contested, downright coarse presidential election and its aftermath that, if nothing else (and there was plenty more), proved unequivocally that we’re living in a bubble here on the Left Coast. With what is essentially a 50/50 split in the electorate, you might have to go back all the way to the Civil War to find a more divisive time — geographically and politically — in the U.S.A.
California is home to the largest state economy in the United States and, in fact, the sixth largest economy in the world last year at roughly $2.5 trillion. But, for all our wealth and a preponderance of One-Percenters who would benefit from tax breaks promised by the Republican side, the state was a resolute Democrat blue on Election Day, and San Francisco and Los Angeles — my very own sanctuary cities, so to speak — led the charge. Meanwhile, in the heartland where hardship can be found in droves, the numbers tilted in the other direction and the favored color was red. In the Northeast and the West, the Party was essentially Democratic, two slices of the country with a giant slab of Republicans in the middle. It’s a sandwich that neither side finds easy to swallow.
THE SWEET SMELL OF SECESSION
This tumultuous election has actually reawakened talk (some in jest and some in seriousness) of the three West Coast states seceding from the union. The sovereign nation of Cal-Ore-Ton does have a nice ring to it. Thoughts of secession aside, I do frequently drive the 5 to and from S.F. and L.A., and over the past few months of travel on that highway and the 101, I have seen more than a few political placards extolling the virtues of the electoral-college victor, a businessman/showman from the often-banal and celebrity-driven world of reality TV. (Since the office of the President deserves respect, I try not to refer to that particular demagogue as the Trumpa-Loompa, Trumpanzee, Trumpkin, or TrumpleOrangeSkin… but it’s difficult.)
The evidence of support for Mr. Trump is most visible along those long swaths of land that grow the agricultural bounty of the Central Coast and further inland and provide grazing pastures for herds of livestock. That produce is one of our state’s greatest assets, and it’s exceptional. (Quick affirmation here: Praise be to Cali citrus, avocados, artichokes, and garlic — staples of my diet.) So we need to be cognizant and respectful of those who toil on behalf of our nourishment, and should try to understand and honor their valid needs and their beliefs — as long as the respect is mutual. Farmers and ranchers are important to everyone’s well-being.
BUBBLES WITHIN A BUBBLE
Those Trump signs — even if they are not prevalent in San Francisco and Los Angeles — speak volumes. Despite California being largely a Democratic stronghold with all that it entails on cultural, philosophical, and civic fronts, the middle of the state and parts south of L.A. and north of the Bay Area have their Republican adherents. I live and work in what I believe to be two sophisticated, enlightened urban enclaves, but they may be two bubbles within a larger bubble. And to be sensible, we can’t imagine that each and every resident of S.F. and L.A. voted for Hillary Clinton. There were Republican voters in both cities — albeit in the minority. Honestly, there are a few movie and TV stars who were and are in Trump’s corner, and I don’t mean minor names such as Scott Baio. I have a feeling that the former mayor of Carmel, a certain Clint Eastwood, probably pulled the lever for the entire Republican ticket, The Donald included. The Hollywood elite isn’t as all-pervasive as was thought.
I guess what I’m saying is that Cal-Ore-Ton — if it materializes down the line — might have a liberal majority, but it will also have its share of right-wingers. If we want to eat, we might want to try to get along with them and make sure they’re getting a fair shake, regardless of party affiliation. Can you imagine a government-protesting agri-strike? I don’t know anyone who would a welcome an avocado shortage. Life without guacamole would be almost unlivable — even in a Democratic utopia like Cal-Ore-Ton.