I found the one Republican couple in Northern California and had to bite my tongue to avoid getting caught in the quagmire of their self-delusion.
I had fair warning.
As I stood in the little office of HI Pigeon Point Hostel waiting for the manager to finish his cigarette and re-open, I foolishly smiled at a young Korean mother, thinking her to be a visitor from abroad. My smile encouraged her to ask from where I came, in a disturbingly American accent.
“Kansas City,” I admitted.
“Oh, that’s amazing,” she cried. “Have you heard of IHOP? Not the restaurant but the Church? It is my LIFE-LONG DREAM to go there! If I could go there, I would fulfill the number one item on my bucket list!”
My smile dimmed, but I remained valiant. We chatted a little more (about which I have elsewhere blogged), and when Michael returned, I let her go first. I didn’t even snicker when she insisted that she herself could not sign the register, a task she deemed suitable only for men, an idea that Michael certainly didn’t endorse but which her husband apparently also held.
See? Fair warning, indeed. One, International House of Prayer. Two, Men Sign Registers. Three — well, to understand the third element of my fair warning, see my blog entry from Friday. And no, I’m not linking to the International House of Prayer. I don’t want to be complicit in their mission by sending anyone to their website.
I didn’t see the Korean lady and her husband again until Saturday. I sat on the back patio of my dorm, innocently eating tofu and carrots, pretending that I had not been embarrassed by setting off the smoke alarm. The two of them abandoned their own back patio to sit on our deck chairs. I had just apologized to a young lady from France for the political climate which she had found on arriving in the US. I invited her to return again in four years. “Or maybe eight, if we’re not lucky,” I cautioned.
“Oh yes,” said the Korean woman. “Our country has been in such bad shape but now it will get better.”
Didn’t I tell you that I had been warned? But did I remain silent? Of course not. “How do you figure it has been in bad shape?” asked I.
“In 2016 the unemployment rate was at an all-time high!” she exclaimed. I shook my head. “2008, you mean,” I corrected her.
“No, no, 2016 under that criminal man, that Muslim Obama!” My stomach lurched. “But now Mr. Trump will save us!” she continued.
“You’re confused,” I tried again. “The Obama years brought the country back from the Great Recession. We made a recovery and the economists say the recovery will continue, slow but steady, depending on the policies of the new administration of course.”
She shook her head and her husband, who had been silent the entire time, let out a belly-laugh. The woman said, “You are absolutely 100% wrong. I lost my job in 2009 and have not been able to find a new one. None of my friends have jobs. The economy has slowly gone down hill under Obama. Thank God we got rid of him.”
By this time, my tofu had gone cold and my stomach had twisted into a knot. But I persisted. “I think you should try getting your news from another source,” I suggested. “Fox won’t give you the truth.” She scoffed. “It’s the only real news,” she maintained. “I don’t watch fake news.” And she lifted her baby from her husband’s arms and trounced away.
I saw a woman with whom I had previously chatted come out of the next-door house. I stood, making my way to the table at which she sat.
“May I join you,” I asked. She gestured to the bench beside her.
“I couldn’t stay over there,” I admitted. “Apparently, the one Trump supporter in Northern California thinks that Obama wasn’t born in the US, is Muslim, and caused her to lose her job.”
The woman laughed. “We’re not all like that,” she assured me. “Don’t worry. Some of us out here in NORCAL are sane.”
We fell silent, watching the sun set, while I plotted my revenge on a certain lady, of Korean descent, who apparently has no idea that she’s been deluded by alternative facts.