Early in the evening, a protester about my age asked me, “Where’s your sheet?” Seeing my confusion, he regrouped. “If you’re a Trump supporter, I mean.” Later, I saw him again, shouting to the police that they were all “pigs.” Still smarting over his Klan crack, I asked how he could hold a sign claiming that hate doesn’t work while calling a group of people he didn’t know “pigs.” “They are pigs,” he said. “Every one of them.” His wife was murdered a few years ago, he added, and they did nothing about it.
So there you go. Welcome to America.
The night was sad. The center failed to hold. Did I blame the rioting kids? I did. Did I blame Trump? I did. This, Mr. Trump, I thought, is why we practice civility. This is why, before we say exactly what is on our minds, we run it past ourselves, to see if it makes sense, is true, is fair, has a flavor of kindness, and won’t hurt someone or make someone’s difficult life more difficult. Because there are, among us, in every political camp, limited, angry, violent, and/or damaged people, waiting for any excuse to throw off the tethers of restraint and get after it. After which it falls to the rest of us, right and left, to clean up the mess.
Another entry in the burgeoning Smart Liberals Publicly Trying To Understand How This Trump Thing Actually Happened genre, this time from one of my favorite authors. I read it in the dark, in bed, at 1 in the morning, and while I didn’t really come away with any answers (I just don’t think the answer is as simple as we need to speak more kindly to one another), I was left wondering where all this pent-up energy will go once November comes and Trump loses. Do these millions of disaffected Americans just fade into the backdrop again, waiting to bark and snarl again in another four years?