One of my favorite TV sitcoms is “Frasier.”
Kelsey Grammer (himself a well-respected conservative in Hollywood) played the nerve-racking Frasier Crane. This character gained compelling notoriety in “Cheers”, then headlined the award-winning spin-off sitcom for eleven more years.
Grammer’s well-educated shrink demonstrated erudition and flair, but still ran into the roadblocks of lives. He also bore a pompous air about him. For all of his education and elite nonchalance, he ended up failing, making mistakes, and just plain messing up—just like the rest of us humans.
There was one particular scene from the sitcom which struck me the most, and still makes me laugh when I think about it.
Frasier, a clumsy guy when it came to the rough-a-day activities like fishing and connecting with regular people, was visiting a coffee shop in a rural town. He reminisced out loud, like a self-absorbed Shakespearean actor, how he wanted to meet with “the locals” and take in the rustic air of the town coffee shop.
Straightaway, he turned to a rough-looking man sitting next to him at the lunch counter: “So tell me, my good man, how is it today? How are things with you?”
The response from this “country bumpkin” was fantastic and spot-on (and I am paraphrasing):
“So you want to learn more about ‘people like me’, do you? Well, guess what? I have thoughts and feelings, and struggles just like other people. I am a complicated, complex person with depth and determination. And I am very offended by your condescending remarks and attitude.”
The gruff man then huffed off from the lunch counter. Frasier backs away, blinking at the sudden, articulate rebuke from an “Average Joe.”
This scene encapsulates why Trump defeated his GOP rivals and the Democrats in the latest election.
The Democratic Party and the Republican Establishment have identified with the limited concerns of a few special interests. As a result, they are completely removed from the fears, needs, and challenges of “Average Joes.” They look down on “We the People”, the ones who actually form this more perfect union called America. They are convinced they know better, and their plans for themselves are better, regardless of the consequences waged against the rest of us.
This conflict surpasses the 99% rhetoric of the Occupy Movement. This conflict is about more than money, but about an arrogant vision of the politically connected chattering classes which everyone else is supposed to pay for.
Recall this plea of the black woman during the second debate from Election 2012. She had voted for “hope and change” for middle class families such as herself. She plainly explained her plight to Obama: “I am exhausted of defending you.” Her family worked hard to achieve a comfortable level of living. The economic downturn, much of which resulted from Obama’s disastrous domestic policies, were forcing her family back to eating beans and hot dogs.
He pushed off her down-home concerns. He tried the same platitudes of most politicians: “I understand your frustration.”
No he didn’t! He helped create it, though. His rambling answer conveyed what many of us figured out sooner: Obama did not care. His proto-socialist utopia was more important. His plans on how the world should work were more important than the upsets of a middle-income mother who was helping veterans for her day job.
Romney was not much better. He talked about “binders full of women,” then remained stiff and unrelatable. The country later learned why when his true sentiments floated out from a private event. He mocked and derided the “47% who will never vote for me” because they get something from the government or blame someone else for their troubles.
Sorry, Mittens, but that’s not me, and that does not describe the widowed mother, the veteran returning from his third tour in Afghanistan, or the minority parents of our broken inner cities. Those remarks exposed the latent arrogance of a political class that blames the peons of Lunch Counter America and ignores the poor national security, a bad economy, and a declining social order.
The men and women who have built—and continue to build—this country are not flat, static characters in a TV sitcom. They are men and women of diverse backgrounds, different skills, and deep concerns. They are not “victims of globalization” or bitter clingers who run to their Bibles and clutch their guns.
We are Americans, and we should be treated with respect, not disdain.
Even the conservative intelligentsia have missed how deep their disconnect has grown with the discontented millions upon millions of American voters. Consider George Will’s off-hand remarks about the illegal alien minors swarming our borders: “We ought to say to these children, ‘Welcome to America, you’re going to go to school and get a job and become Americans.’”
A friend of mine reacted to Will’s arrogance about this wave of illegal immigration: “What an a—hole! He does not have to pay the taxes to provide an education for those illegals!”
My sentiments exactly!
I would further add: “What would you like to tell the parents, and the friends and family members who lost loved ones to illegal aliens, Mr. Will? What would you like to tell them?”
Unlike the GOP-e and the Democrats, Donald Trump connected at a heart-level with the angry and forlorn, vast anti-Establishment conspiracy in this country. His charm connected with working people of Middle America. A solid resume, a convincing grasp of conservative principles, and flashy rhetoric were not enough. Trump responded to the concerns of us “lunch counter Average Joes” and respected us.
And Trump won.
Indeed, Election 2016 was truly a historic election.
A real estate mogul, then reality TV show host connected better with Americans than the most experienced—and even the most conservative—presidential candidates.
And how? Trump did not treat them like second-class oddities whose concerns did not matter.
And yes, he could probably sit at the lunch counter next to them and say “Hi” to show he really cared.