I am 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."
My friends 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 co-existent 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."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.