In our current national political landscape there are what people call “red states” and “blue states”. Red states are those who vote mostly Republican–states who voted for Trump in 2016. Blue States are mostly Democrat–states that voted for Clinton in 2016. Red and blue descriptors also help in showing some of the divide in mindsets and cultures across our country, but only on a very simple, surface level.
Nick and I were both born and raised in red states, Utah and Oklahoma respectively. We both visit our families in their red states about once a year around Christmas. This was our first time to make the trips together as a couple. Our flights landed in Utah and Oklahoma only a few weeks following Trump’s election. We were curious to get a feel for how people were thinking and acting following what could be the most consequential presidential election of our lives.
My family knows how angry I am. And, I’d say most of them lean towards not liking Trump, if not outright hating him. They are part of a very small blue dot in the Oklahoma City area. During our trip we avoided talking politics, in part because I tried not to talk about politics. I wanted a good time with my family. Nick and I had spent the previous weeks worried sick about the coming years. We needed a break.
In both Utah and Oklahoma the overall feeling about the election outcome seems to me different than it does in Seattle. No matter if someone voted for Trump, Clinton, or didn’t vote at all, there’s a sense in Utah and Oklahoma that this may not be so bad as it’s being portrayed.
We heard from Clinton voters who are comfortable continuing to idolize community figures who donated more than $50,000 to the Trump campaign. We heard from people who don’t like Trump at all, but who said, “I’ll take two Trumps over a Clinton anyday!” The people in Oklahoma and Utah we talked to seem to feel somewhat insulated from any possible changes coming.
We love our home states and our families. But, the difference in the vibe between where we live in a West Coast city and where they live in the middle of the country has never felt more pronounced.