not a sport

Number one by Ron Bennetts via flickr

As I made my way down I-26, a white van jerked into my lane. He not only failed to use a turn signal, his lights were off. Both are laws in South Carolina although many drivers treat them as tepid suggestions. The maneuver left so little room I almost scraped the Trump sticker off his bumper. At a younger age I might have opted for an extended horn blast or flashed my lights repeatedly.

In reality, anyone who makes a driving mistake and immediately realizes it will signal regret in some manner. Those involved with their phone, radio, sandwich, makeup, or just preoccupied don’t realize they acted carelessly and will resent any retribution.

I gave my bright lights two quick flashes, just to let the van operator know he had done something questionable, hoping he would pay more attention, at least until I was safely home in the Man Room.

Very quickly an arm appeared from the driver’s window extending as far into the heavens as possible. At the end of that arm was a solitary middle finger. I was shocked that someone could react so quickly and yet be blind to his own actions.

As I passed the van, I looked over. He was white, around forty with a cheesy mustache. His fat face was pressed against the driver’s side glass and a meaty hand again displayed his one-fingered salute. There was a look on his face that puzzled me.

Until recently, most middle-aged white guys driving junky vans were benign in expression, perhaps resigned to their fading place in the working world. This guy looked defiant, as if he’d just been part of a thrilling victory.

Since the first Tuesday last November, I’ve noticed more examples of this behavior; something previously only displayed on Rivalry Weekend in the Fall, or just after the Super Bowl. But we began treating politics like a sports rivalry several years ago and it keeps getting worse.

And in what many hope is as bad as it gets, those folks routinely told to shut up, stop whining, change their actions, and evolve, now feel vindicated. The Angry White Man has returned with a vengeance; vandalizing cemeteries, torching churches, screaming at minorities, and letting everyone else know who won the damn election and things are going to By God be different now.

Not sure how long this continues; what damage will be done to civility, or the planet, or if the trend can be easily reversed. I do know this isn’t just Trump. Republicans have been moving toward this for decades, waiting for someone to lead them they can blame everything on if America revolts at the voting booth.

Our future is uncertain. Clinton lost the election, not because Trump was popular but because she was unpopular. The number of people that stayed home or voted third party easily outdistanced Trump voters in most battleground states.

Liberals have long been good at demonstrations and bad at registering and voting their desires. Conservative politicians know this and have campaigned for fifty years on fear and racism because it is effective.

Sensible people must regain control of America and I’m not sure that can happen. Trump supporters and Republican lifers think we are heading in the right direction. No matter how bad things get, the loyalists are okay.

Until Progressives consider the current situation to be untenable and revolt, this will continue. Was the guy in the van a sign of the future or just some random asshole?

Time will tell.


Image: Number one by Ron Bennetts via flickr and used under a creative commons license.
Mike Cox

Mike Cox

Mike Cox currently writes a weekly column in South Carolina for the Columbia Star called "It's Not a Criticism, It's an Observation." He is trying to grow old as gracefully as possible without condemning the current generation in charge to doom. Each day this task gets harder as the overwhelming evidence mounts. He currently has two published books; Finding Daddy Cox, and October Saturdays. His columns have won three South Carolina Press Association awards since 2003. Mike has three sons and two grandchildren and lives in Irmo, Sc, just outside of Columbia.

One Comment
  1. Jeffry Scott

    Excellent piece Mr. Cox. This line says it all: “Clinton lost the election, not because Trump was popular but because she was unpopular.” That’s tough to accept. I didn’t like Clinton, yet I voted for her because that was the only way to defeat Trump, and she was far and away the best candidate in the field of 4. And I don’t believe all that Benghazi, lock her up, Clinton Foundation hooey, either. I wanted Sanders because I wanted somebody to push harder on the left, force the Democrats to be even more “progressive” and to pursue greater matter beyond bathrooms and gender acceptance, and tackle economic opportunity and how the hell to pay for college. This nation is already socialist; but I just wish Bernie hadn’t call himself that because, straight away, he probably lost 20 or 30 million votes, because they are the uncomprehending. And you’re right, the angry whites are even angrier now that they won. They whine more, too, have you noticed? They want government to take care of them, the great irony, since the Republican party has sold them on the idea half a century that Big Government is the problem, not the solution. But Trump promised government would fix their lives, get them jobs, be accountable where they have not been for themselves. So now they love their “nanny state.” I wrote a riff a few years ago for this publication on hostile driving, called it Southern Hostitality. It was all about shooting birds and winning the daily commute in Atlanta. It was supposed to be a joke. Looks like it’s turned out to be fact.

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