There are no bayonet attacks or cannons firing away into the night, but there are trenches. Take one small town I recently visited in Maryland. “We don’t get invited to any dinner parties, or anything, anymore,” my hostess told me. The street itself is only four short blocks long with no more than twenty houses, but its colonial layout gives it the feel of a small community inside the city, only a street away from downtown. Couples along the block who used to be friends now won’t make eye contact my hostess and her husband as they walk down the street.
The reason, of course, is Donald Trump.
The man of the house, a friend of mine for thirty years, had the temerity to set them right on the downsides of Obamacare. He told me that he had not wanted to say anything, but when one of the ladies at the table expressed with delight — “But isn’t it good that we pay more!” — he couldn’t hold himself back any longer.( Who could?) The mood around the table turned dark, and my friends soon left never again to be invited back.
I’ve stumbled across the same trench many times since the 2016 presidential campaign began — even on my beloved golf courses where I learned some guys just don’t want you to show up if you’re for Donald Trump. I also meet it regularly, of course, in various arts communities which I inhabit regularly, in spite being occassionally “caught out” and left to spend intermission by myself.
Yes, we are in a kind of Civil War, one that has produced trenches stretching across the ground where we live among families, communities, businesses, and institituions; hardly any portion of our lives remains untouched, where we work, where we play, where we worship. Over all these spaces hangs now an air of suspense anticipating the next person or persons to be judged to be living “on a different planet,” at the former president, Barack Obama, described viewers of FoxNews yesterday.
That small town in rural Maryland isn’t the only place where us aliens are no longer welcome