The Curious Silence

June 24, 2016

And as I drove these thousands of miles, I read bumper stickers, thousands of bumper stickers.

I just returned from a road trip, which involved driving my RV for 17 days, covering 6,000 miles and 20 states, and was highlighted by my daughter’s spectacular wedding in Tennessee. I was reminded of just how diverse, beautiful and large (especially Texas!) this country is. I ate at a couple of dozen different barbecue joints and roadside diners and stopped at another couple of dozen gas stations. Everywhere I went, I struck up conversations with the locals, or other travelers, happy to let them lead the conversation and just enjoy listening to whatever it was they wanted to talk about.

I learned that quite a few parents are proud of the accomplishments of their children, either in sports, school or both. I discovered that quite a few grandparents are spending their kids’ inheritance and know which bands and sports teams are popular in which states.

But not once, did I see a single Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump bumper sticker. I didn’t notice for the first few days, but as I became aware of it, I started to pay attention. Not a single one. Outside of maybe a half dozen Trump yard signs, I never saw their names or heard them come up in conversation. It was as if the election didn’t exist. My travels even included visiting three presidential libraries (Eisenhower, Truman and Lincoln), but still, I never heard their names. I don’t watch television news, haven’t in years, but I do read a couple of daily newspapers and check Facebook a few times a week. Based on that, it would appear that the good people of America have nothing but Clinton/Trump (and a little Sanders) on their minds. So it was striking to find that that is not the case. I wonder if that’s because the candidates are so bad this time around that people are having trouble getting excited about supporting either of them. Or it could be that we’ve just reached the sad conclusion that it doesn’t really matter who sits in the Oval Office — our day-to-day lives continue on just about the same either way. Or maybe, having worked in politics at some level for the past 30 years, I just always figured everyone cared, discussed and debated the political issues and candidates of today. Maybe they don’t. And having taken a 17-day vacation from the sadly repetitive, almost always angry and certainly predictable rhetoric, I find I enjoyed the silence. BTW – congrats on your kid being a star at the local elementary school, and Go Packers!