So I Guess I'm an Elitist Now.

Take your accusation of elitism and peddle it to someone who's buying.  Please.  I repeatedly hear people stamp some of my friends, my family, and myself as elitist because we did not vote for Donald Trump.  For those of you who consider those who disagree with you to be elitist, I have some hard truths for you.

I grew up in rural Virginia.  I grew up quite comfortably, but that was the product of parents (and aunts and uncles and grandparents and friends of parents) who pulled out every stop to make sure my sisters and I were cared for.  My family never had much money.  I found out Santa Claus wasn’t real when I told my mom that I wanted a Game Boy for Christmas for the millionth time and she tried for the millionth time to make sure I wasn’t disappointed when I got my stocking.  Finally I was told that Mom and Dad were Santa and that Santa didn’t have enough money for that this year.  

My parents made me go to the Baptist church for every Sunday and fellowship every Wednesday.  Youth group when I was old enough and Younglife too.  After Sunday school when I was little, a friend from my baseball team and I would each go to our mothers and ask for a dollar.  Then we’d each go to our fathers and ask for another.  We’d pool our resources and walk across the street to the drug store, stock up on candy, and go sit up in the back row of the balcony for the sermon.  I have a bible on the bookshelf in my apartment that I’ve read cover to cover.  Inside one of those covers is an inscription from my grandparents:  “For your birthday 1998.”

Speaking of which, my grandfather was in law enforcement for most of his life.  His nickname is “Fish” and when asked why he never ran for sheriff his reply is always the same: “you have to shine too many boots and kiss too many asses and I don’t like the taste of shit or shoe polish.”  He didn’t go to college but he reads more than anyone I’ve ever met.  Novels, newspapers, history.  He eats sardines from a can, loves to fish, and yells about Redskins football every Sunday.  He also voted for Hillary Clinton.  And Barack Obama.  And Barack Obama again.

The hard truth is that you’re not justifying your decision by telling people that they’re elitist and implying that they can’t understand you.  You’re just evading.  The hard truth is that I do know you.  I do understand you.  I sat two rows back from you at a high school football game and probably sold you a garden ‘mater one summer.  I might even understand your decision.  But I think it was a bad one and I can’t think of anything that justifies it.

I grew up where you grew up.  I went to the same public school you went to.  I read the same bible you did.  My family worried about some of the same things as yours.  I went to the same church you went to.  I caught frogs when I was little and worked through high school.  I think unsweetened iced tea is bullshit.  But the hard truth is that none of that matters.  Being brought up differently doesn't preclude others from wanting to help or understand you or from wanting the best for you.

Instead of claiming that I’m “an elitist” maybe you should try to make me understand your decision more fully.  Better yet, maybe you should try to understand the immigrants or muslims (or veterans or young women or anyone else) who have spent the better part of two years being berated and demeaned and threatened by the president.  Bring something real to the table instead of evoking an experience that you think no one else can comprehend.  I’m still waiting.  Otherwise maybe it’s time you accept that people who grew up the same way you grew up and believe in the same things you believe in strove to accept and understand their neighbors.  To open their arms instead of closing them.  Your decision was just that.  Not the product of something special and cryptic that I can’t understand.  It was a decision.  Own it, reflect on it, open yourself to others, and make a better one next time.

And for the record; if anyone tried to call my grandaddy an “elitist,” he’d probably stop puffing on his pipe just long enough to cackle, grab his cane, and put a stop to that nonsense with a quick whack across the shins.