Almost two weeks ago I left my peaceful home in Vancouver, BC, Canada to embark on a month-long road trip across the United States of America. Like most people I know, I’ve been utterly fascinated with the upcoming US presidential election, and I was sure that the timing of my trip would allow me to witness just how divided and politically charged up the country really was.
From the coverage I had been seeing on social media and 24-hour news channels, I was sure that politics would be all anyone was talking about down there. I couldn’t wait to see Trump supporters in the flesh — finally witness the sea of “Make America Great Again” hats and “Hillary for Prison” t-shirts of this unbelievably loud and disenfranchised group of Americans I had heard so much about.
I was sure that within no time at all I would get a real grasp on how most Americans were really feeling about this crazy election.
So what have I found out? Not much at all.
In almost 13 days in the United States, I’ve seen very little to suggest that anything is even going on. Sure, every time I’ve driven 50 miles away from a big city I’ve seen some homemade “Trump 2016” signs but these are at the same residences that already had a collection of confederate flags, so I take their influence with a grain of salt. And, yes when I turn on AM radio, there is an abundance of non-stop talk about Clinton and Trump, but out in public I’ve heard less American political talk then I do up in Canada.
At every single restaurant, every park, every beach, from Washington to Arizona, I haven’t overheard even a whisper about “Donald” or “Hillary” or “a wall” or “a temporary ban” or “e-mail servers”… none of it.
So far, I really haven’t been able to get a sense of the climate of the American people towards this election in the way I expected I would. I mean, I first saw all the PokemonGo stories online and thought they might have been exaggerated, but when I went outside I actually saw the mayhem for myself. I can’t say the same thing about the presidential election.
There’s only one place that I’ve managed to bear witness to any true discussion of the election from regular Americans. So right now, my entire basis for average Americans feelings on Trump vs. Hillary is derived from the guestbook of an exhibit entitled “State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda” that I visited at the Los Angeles Central Public Library. The book said “Your Comments are Appreciated” and boy did visitors vent their, from what I have observed, pent-up political thoughts.
Thanks to this guestbook, here is what I now know about what Americans think about the current state of this election and politics in general:
Donald Trump is using propaganda in a similar manner to the Nazis
But Hillary Clinton is also reminiscent of the Nazis
Fox News, MSNBC and CNN are also bad like Nazis
Trump = Hitler
Hitler = Trump
People really don’t like Trump
People are scared by Trump
Hillary RUINED Libya 2011
NATO is bad
One person is voting for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson
Obama is also like Hitler
Everyone is playing PokemonGo
As you can see, I haven’t really learned anything new about average Americans feelings towards the election. This is really just the pen and paper version of an online comment thread you might see on a post by CNN’s Facebook page. Still, it’s nice to see that some people still get out of the house to engage in flame wars.
I hope I’ll learn more about the election in my remaining time here. I’m headed to Texas soon and something tells me people there might be a little less shy about voicing their opinions.
Full disclosure, I actually have seen one “Make America Great Again” hat. Just one though. It was being worn by an old white man (surprise!) sitting on a bench at Venice Beach, and he was being engaged in what looked like a civilized debate with a black man (on the part of the black guy, I don’t think the ‘great’ hat guy was saying anything).
Also, the LA Library had a great promotional poster to get people to read featuring actor John Leguizamo.
For some reason though, it seems like they had to photoshop the book into the picture.
I might write about this trip again if I find some more free time. Thanks for reading!