Trump's America, hiding in plain sight

For weeks, one of the main pieces of conventional wisdom about this election was that prosperous, traditional Republicans would, in the end, turn away from Donald Trump. In Clifton, it soon became clear, that was not the case. On Election Day, outside the polling place at Clifton Presbyterian Church, I met Sandra Bittner, a widow who looks younger than her seventy-nine years. She wore patriotic colors—a blue-and-white jacket over a red shirt—and a silver cross hung around her neck. Her late husband of fifty-six years had worked at Apple Computer, which provided financial security; beginning in the seventies, Bittner herself ran a building-and-construction firm. “And I ran it successfully,” she said. “So I understand what it takes.”

She was unmoved by the prospect of Clinton becoming the first woman President. “This woman has lied her way her entire life,” she said. “She and Bill Clinton are the most corrupt couple in politics today.” Her objections are, by now, well known—abortion, Benghazi, e-mail, the Clinton Foundation—but the depth of her antipathy took me aback. If Trump loses, she said, “I think there’s an undercurrent of anger that will be hard to restrain, I really do.”

I asked if she thought there would be unrest, as some Trump supporters have predicted. She paused for a long moment. “I have to be careful about how I answer this. I guess I don’t know, but, in a way, I hope so,” she said. “So, what do I mean by civil unrest? I don’t mean picking up your guns and going out and shooting people. But I mean people who will vocalize. Look at the illegal aliens that Obama said should be able to vote. We are losing our country in this respect. And I’m horrified by it, by what is going on. I’m a pretty old lady, and I won’t live to see the demise of this country, because I won’t live long enough. But I will live long enough to see the slow globalization, the effect of bringing all these Syrian refugees in. I will live long enough to see that, and it will sadden me. But Thomas Jefferson said that when the country gets riled, Katy, bar the door.”