By Dave Simpson, Columnist
We keep hearing that “we’re all in this together” in this crisis, (did you remember to wash your hands?), but that doesn’t mean we’re getting along very well.
First, an aside: About 30 years ago, an unhappy column reader invited me to take a dip in the local sewage lagoon. I taped that letter to the wall, a reminder that there are a lot of unhappy campers out there. I was also grudgingly amused by his creativity.
I was new to Illinois at the time, and another unhappy column customer dubbed me “the Big Wind from Wyoming.” One day a local business took $90,000 in annual advertising away from us, in the wake of our coverage of some controversial issues. Ouch. (It didn’t change our reporting.)
Another aside: A longtime friend who is liberal met me at a local bar in Casper, Wyo. – Frosties it was called, and it still exists – a few times back in the 1980s. We had a good time debating politics over pitchers of Coors. We liked each other – still do – even though he saw me as a money-grubbing Republican who would snatch porridge away from starving orphans, and I saw him as a wild-eyed Democrat who would pound hard-earned tax dollars down every crazy liberal rat hole he could find.
We laughed a lot on those occasions. I’m not sure that’s possible anymore. (Recently, when I asked for viewing suggestions, he came up with two Michael Moore movies, but did not include an “lol.” I did not respond with an “lol,” not wanting to press my luck in these contentious times. We do what we have to do to hang onto old friends.)
Which brings us to what I wrote last week in this space. I said that while I often wish Donald Trump would say things differently, avoiding his habit of walking into screaming buzz saw issues with the media and Democrats, I continue to support the job he has done as president. And I included the appraisal of my wife – a well-educated person – that Trump “has our back.”
She predicted, “You’re gonna get some flak over this one,” and once again she was right. (I hate it when she’s right.)
Most readers were supportive, saying they felt exactly the same way. Trump rambles, he blusters, he blowtorches reporters, and he sometimes gets carried away. But we support the results he has gotten, cutting regulations, appointing judges, and until recently, helping take the stock market all the way from 18,000 to almost 30,000. That’s good for our life savings.
The column reached a remarkable 2,549 people on Facebook [Simpson’s personal page], and was re-posted 34 times. Most were in agreement. I hope it’s taped to some refrigerator doors.
About a dozen didn’t like the column at all. While some were polite, asking what Trump had ever done to have my back, there was some amazing name calling. One dubbed me a “synaptic dendrite of the GOP” (smile when you call me that, mister), and called Dick Cheney “a war criminal.” He suggested I might drive one of those “coal roller” pickups that spew smoke. (Not true, Your Honor.)
Another person posted on Facebook that he would rather not respond to my “unbridled idiocy,” but wondered nonetheless why anyone could like Trump. He found my explanation lacking, and called Republicans “mouth breathers.” Another unhappy customer raised the ante, calling Republicans “booger eaters.” (This, from the folks who claim to have a corner on compassion, intellectual superiority, and articulate debate.)
Two called me both stupid and ignorant. I “disgusted” another.
One asked, “Isb you. a (blanking) idiot?” obviously so worked up that he botched the typing.
Answer: No, I isn’t.
Another unhappy column customer (hey, they’re FREE!) offered this: “If you can support him (Trump) and sleep at night, you have no moral compass.” To which my wife responded, “if you support the Democrats who murder full-term babies, I question YOUR moral compass.”
Feisty, ain’t she?
We may all be in this together, like everyone is saying. But don’t look for much love over there on the other side if you like the president.
The name calling is enough to blow your hat in the creek.
Dave Simpson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org