Clin­ton should go coun­try

To court Trump fans, the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee should look to their mu­sic

Baltimore Sun - - COMMENTARY - By Nancy Langer Nancy Langer, a Bal­ti­more na­tive and com­mu­ni­ca­tions strate­gist, has worked for UN­HCR, Lutheran Refugee and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vice, Lambda Le­gal De­fense and Ed­u­ca­tion Fund, Planned Par­ent­hood and the ACLU. Her email is

Iam the only per­son I know who has slept with a Don­ald Trump sup­porter. Ad­mit­tedly, it was years ago, but I still know her and count her as a friend.

Although, I have worked within elite pol­icy cir­cles in New York City, Los An­ge­les and Wash­ing­ton, D.C., I also have deep ties to Trump na­tion. That’s why, when I open Face­book, I see ur­gent ap­peals to read “This is How Fas­cism Comes to Amer­ica” and then am bom­barded with ads for bumper stick­ers say­ing things like “I Wish Hil­lary Had Mar­ried OJ.”

Myfriends in Hol­ly­wood and on the East Coast look at non-col­lege-ed­u­cated work­ing-class whites and see a bas­ket of de­plorables. I see po­ten­tial Clin­ton sup­port­ers.

Burn­ing within Trump na­tion are two ide­olo­gies, not one, though the first is get­ting the most press. Fa­mously hi­jacked by the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee, the first goes like this: Global elites con­trol both par­ties and only serve face­less Big Brother cor­po­ra­tions; mi­nori­ties and im­mi­grants are feted with spe­cial priv­i­leges while white work­ing-class and mid­dle-class Amer­i­cans get pink slips, fore­clo­sures and un­end­ing ridicule.

But there’s an­other ide­ol­ogy that bat­tles for the hearts and minds of this de­mo­graphic — which is far more coun­try than city — one that sounds aw­fully HRC: Amer­ica is the great­est na­tion on earth made stronger by its melt­ing pot; trade with the world is ex­cit­ing; it’s time for women to rise up and fight op­pres­sive males; and Latino women are pretty damn won­der­ful.

Don’t be­lieve me? Check out the lyrics to some coun­try megahits, like this one, by singer Brad Pais­ley: “She’s got Brazil­ian leather boots on the pedal of her Ger­man car. Lis­ten to the Bea­tles singing ‘Back in the U.S.S.R.’ Yeah she’s go­ing’ around the world tonight but she isn’t leavin’ here. She’s just gonna meet her boyfriend down at the street fair. It’s a French kiss, Ital­ian ice. Span­ish moss in the moonlight. Just an­other Amer­i­can Satur­day night.”

The song is an ex­u­ber­ant cel­e­bra­tion of global trade and mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism.

Then there’s this paean to im­mi­grants from Tim McGraw: “Said her name was a hand-me-down name, from the side of the fam­ily that long ago came, over here on a boat from some­where in Spain. Sounded to me just a lit­tle bit strange, I guess. But I have to ad­mit, it felt good on my lips … She tipped the DJ to play her fa­vorite song. A Span­ish lit­tle num­ber that was rockin’ on strong … By the sec­ond cho­rus I was singing right along with it. I don’t know what it meant, but if felt good on my lips.”

The song ro­man­ti­cizes the lit­eral em­brace of Latino women and Latino cul­ture, call­ing them “sweet” and “good.” There is no men­tion of Mex­i­can rapists or Miss Uni­verse con­tes­tants.

And for those of you who ex­co­ri­ate Trump sup­port­ers for their kin­ship with rape cul­ture, I can show you scores of their Valkyrie bat­tle hymns they all know by heart, like this Top 10 Bill­board hit: “I’m goin’ home, gonna load my shot­gun. Wait by the door and light a cig­a­rette. If he wants a fight, well now he’s got one. And he ain’t seen me crazy yet. He slapped my face and he shook me like a rag doll. Don’t that sound like a real man? I’m gonna show him what lit­tle girls are made of — gun­pow­der and lead!”

This Mi­randa Lam­bert song went plat­inum and has over 1 mil­lion dig­i­tal down­loads.

Caught in the hur­ri­cane of glob­al­iza­tion, the church-go­ing cit­i­zens of Trum­p­land si­mul­ta­ne­ously yearn for the days of steady fac­tory work and sub­servient roles for women and blacks, even as they mar­vel at the ad­vances of a global econ­omy and feel the al­lure of dif­fer­ent cul­tures, new im­mi­grants and sex­ual lib­er­a­tion. These two con­flict­ing ide­olo­gies are not just co­ex­is­tent in Trump strongholds, they of­ten co­ex­ist within the minds of Mr. Trump’s sup­port­ers, and it’s that side Democrats should tar­get.

The way to reach out to this alien­ated and eco­nom­i­cally chal­lenged con­stituency is not to den­i­grate them, but to use sur­ro­gates they know and trust, peo­ple who can speak their lan­guage — those fa­mil­iar and beloved voices who con­tinue to chal­lenge sex­ism and sup­port such val­ues as ac­cep­tance of strangers.

In the words of a new coun­try hit, “Al­ways stay hum­ble and kind.”


Brad Pais­ley’s song, “Amer­i­can Satur­day Night,” is a cel­e­bra­tion of the coun­try’s di­ver­sity.

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