• Don Lichterman

"Pennsylvania is Philadelphia in the east, Pittsburgh in the west, and Alabama in the middle."

I follow the news. I hear what is said about the divisiveness between people in America. I also hear how President Trump is the one planting that seed by spreading messages that are divisive.

I headed out to the north part of the State of Pennsylvania last week on Thursday. I had been there before, however I am realizing that setting aside the many years in Greely, Pennsylvania at Pine Forest Overnight Camp, I may have only been back to that region for a few hours one night when I attended a show (JRAD) in Stroudsberg that I went to this year.

There is also no doubt I had driven through and around those areas seeing shows growing up. I never really smelled the roses though until this weekend.

When I was up in New Hampshire at the height of Tea Party movement, I noticed a vibe up there that I took to note being in that 'Live Free or Die' state. I went into a general store while filling up gas with a ton of shirts being sold that included that PETA one where they spell out the acronym about People Eating Animals to paraphrase.

It seemed like it was all about that right wing movement against big Government with ideals against spending and with pure conservative values.

One of the first things I noticed when I rolled into the region was one of those pop up tents that gets set up on gas stations properties or in the corner of some lot. Usually, it's about selling things for maybe July 4th (ie: fireworks), or I have seen sales of things like American Flags and cheap paintings and whatnot, however this one had a Trump banner hanging from the top of the tent.

Everything being sold there was Trump merchandise that included things for sale from say lawn banners and signs to shirts and hats that again, had the Trump name on it.

The Republican Party and the far right movement is all about Trump today.

This is the Trump movement. It is NOT about the far right fringe and it is not about a tea party movement.

It is NOT even about the Republican Party.

Everything being done politically today is synonymous to Trump.

I heard Mika Brzezinski from Morning Joe say something perfect last week about what the Democrats need to do as a way to win in the 2020 general Presidential election. Whether it is a female or a male candidate and whether it is someone of color or white, you need to to find some way to just explain what Trump has done for real. At the same time exposing him for what he has done during his Presidency.

And, they must get right at the Trump people. They must appeal to all voters including Trump's people.

However, exposing Trump for real is hard. He just lies and denies anything knowing the Trump followers will listen Jim Jones style.

The Trump voter out in rural America love the idea and that brand of Trump. And, I suppose what he says at rallies is what they follow but there is no way they know about what is happening all around them and to them in particular.

I saw that first hand in action for the first times in my life over this last weekend.

Appealing to everyone is key and the Dem's need to never mention "Medicare for all" again any time soon and the message of giving illegal immigrants free insurance also needs to stop and again, it needs to NOT be talked about by that side of the aisle.

The ONLY things they should be talking about are the low wages out there, healthcare, jobs and building economic opportunities.

The fight against the lies, deception and deflection should NOT even be that hard. Everything Trump had said during the last campaign about healthcare, deficits, Medicare and Social Security are lies.

He lied about him giving out better healthcare. He lied about saying that he would fight against pre-existing conditions. He lied about making people's deductibles lower. He lied about paying off the debt ceiling.

That is now at an all-time high.

Which speaking of this last debt deal, what did the Democrats get out of it in the broad scheme of life?

They have given Trump a free pass through the election and through his term. The Dem's get very little and what is even more incredible is that let's say a Dem gets elected as the POTUS next year. They will now walk into this hot mess or what is a ticking time bomb for any new administration.

And, this message is also not directed at the white whatever class that make up the Trump voter. There are reports that note how African Americans along with white people feel this way. Plus, issues relating to the economy and healthcare were also the top few issues for Latinos.

This is also about immobilizing the Democratic Party's base.

Someone must then reach across the political aisle to give an alternative to Trump.

As for the debt ceiling debacle, this is a libertarian, Tea Party & Conservative nightmare. At least that is what they are supposed to be all about and against or they sure as well were all about that message after the George Bush Jr. years and well into the Barack Obama years. It has been radio silent from the so called Tea Party and Conservative movement when it comes to the debt ceiling hikes.

At the same time, this is the Republican way.

After the finance crises, Obama worked to get it down. Now it's back up to that amount again just two short years after another Republican is in the office. With regard to all discretionary spending, under Obama it was down 3% and now under Trump it is up 4%.

Trump also gave corporations like the one I own a total tax break. That break has never affected the people in rural America.

Domestic spending and defense spending has exploded and again, our deficit today is the biggest ever let alone it is happening during a good economic time.

Like I alluded to above, no one cares. Could you imagine if President Blackenstien would have even remotely tried to pull any of this spending off? If he went over any budget by 4 pennies, all hell would break loose.

It could never happen because the obstructionist Republicans would not let anything through any chamber back then.

Now of course, the deflection by the Republicans and Trump works because incredibly enough the Democratic Party is being branded by the GOP'ers and Trump always as the obstructionists. They blame the Dem's for them not being able to get anything done.

That is the other thing about Trump, if he says anything about anyone else, push comes to shove he is doing it himself.

Every last thing he spewed out about what a Hillary Clinton President would be like with hearings and her constantly being bogged down with investigations and legal issues. When that is all that they have gone through inthe last two years. And, it did not take a genius to see that coming from a mile away. Everything he says about anything else, especially if it's negative, I guarantee it he is doing it. Besides, if you could not see how corrupt and how much he was lying on that campaign trail, is basically what I have not gotten about people.

Deflection is a vital part of the Trump campaign and it is a huge part of the Republican playbook. It is because it is working. The Trump voter and follower believes what they say even though they are the ones executing it right in front of everyone's faces.

Regardless, the debt ceiling limitations is suspended for another few days until the end of the month. It halts automatic spending cuts with the Pentagon's Budget being increased by 22 Billion to 735 Billion in the next fiscal year. Non Defense spending increases another 27 Billion to 362 Billion.

On his campaign trail in 2016, Trump boasted that he would have debt ceiling budgeted in 8 years. It is now at an all time high due to this Administration.

22 Trillion Dollars.

We are literally just reprinting money. Yearly deficits, military and defense, non defense, entitlements have exploded under Trump.

What we have in place today is big Government like we have never seen before and all of this is happening not only with Conservatives and the far right being complicit, Social Security and Medicare are buckling.

"Pennsylvania is Philadelphia in the east, Pittsburgh in the west, and Alabama in the middle."

Political consultant James Carville said some version of this when working on Bob Casey, Sr.’s gubernatorial campaign in 1986 and I have heard him along with other people say it it in the modern years maybe on Morning Joe or on wherever show on TV.

I did a search online for closest places to eat breakfast and basically two places showed up every time. I wanted of course a quintessential breakfast from what I hoped was from locals. And, most of all, I would like to meet locals to get some culture and knowledge about the people in the area where I am staying. I love being in any other culture I am in every day which is working in my own bubble at Sunset / SCA.

I also do NOT get out much.

The two breakfast choices were at a place called Liberty and a place called Lori's Corner Kitchen. I checked out the menus but I decided to do one one day and the other the next day. Besides, the menu did not matter.

At Lori's Corner Kitchen, I knew that I stood out a bit which I tend to when I am travelling in rural areas. However, the people working there were tatted up and they may have had some piercings so I gave it zero thought about what I look like.

I over hear someone saying to someone on his flip cell phone that whomever was telling him to put on his Trump hat. Not for one second did I think he was talking about that moment in time. Especially, since he was saying it as he walked right next to me. I had thought he was telling some old story but regardless, I can care less about how people vote. I feel bad how they vote because they are mostly being duped but I am NOT a preacher to the choir type of a guy unless it's done here in writing.

And again, I can care less how people vote. I have relatives and some of my oldest friends vote with their wallet so to speak. Which is the Republican way no matter whom is running for what office. I respect that and to think I would really care that I was in so called Trump Country is what was throwing me for loop.

First, second and third, it was pretty clear driving anywhere near that town that it was filled with people that love Trump.

The other irony is how this guy was not only carrying a piece which when I turned to the left side of me, his gun was holstered right in my face.

That I was alarmed by.

I am not sure how many times I have ever seen normal people besides a cop carry a gun in public.

Another sweet woman that had her dog in the place, made a comment about my waffle dish which was that 'it looked too good to eat'. I cracked up as the guy with the gun on his side and with the Trump hat began talking to me after we laughed.

We were talking about my kickboxing habit and I told him how not only is there no easier way to lose weight, that it was also not boring. I went to say that I can't sit on a bike or run in place because it is boring to me. I told him to try kickboxing. He also could NOT believe how much food I ate and honestly, we spoke about me admitting how I had never watched Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest's show which was on inside the Cafe.

Low and behold, on his way out, he gave me a great goodbye while shaking my hand. The woman he was with also gave me a nice departure message.

The people that worked at the Cafe stopped paying attention to me though. I had asked for coffee two more times from the two different wait staff. I was set there waiting to figure out how to pay. I saw them looking at me through a mirror set up under the TV. But again, I gave that no thought until I finally got up to pay at the counter before leaving a monster tip.

I did get a 'Have a nice Day' from the woman cleaning my table, but no more coffee because I sensed they did not want me to linger anymore. I realized that they did NOT want me in that place. I left saying ' you do too' but for one of the first times in my life, I notice the divisiveness.

I have seen many people lash out against the likes of Hillary (Clinton) and Obama, let alone I know a few Trump freaks that no matter what you present to them fact wise, they say whatever Trump tells them to say. Those interactions tend to be in New Jersey where the State will vote blue and so maybe I feel there is not much at stake, however in Pennsylvania, there is a lot at stake.

And, there is not one doubt in my mind right now that there is an us vs them mentality out there. There is also a brand being painted that people from the 'big city' are the ones ruining America.

Getting to the likes of the people at the Lori's Corner Kitchen in the world will be hard at first. There is a standoff mentality and like I said, an us vs them vibe out there. However, after saying one sentence, it was easy to talk about anything if done in concise and nice ways. It is NOT my place to talk about anything I am NOT versed at which is why candidates need to get into these places to spell what is going out to everyone.

When I tell this story to people, the response is 'how scary'. It was NOT scary at all and hell, this guy was carrying a piece. I respect and love all cultures of people so long as you don't harm other people or animals or wildlife. Setting hunting aside when it comes to this region and setting aside that one hand made sign written in black marker nailed onto a tree out front of this house saying 'Order Fresh Butchered Chickens', these people are not hurting others.

The problem is that they are easy dupes. And, it is easy to rile them up with racial overturns that relate to keeping America white.

The thing I hate is that reverse stereotype. It happens with hippies at old Grateful Dead shows and at Phish shows. If you don't look some part, you are looked at as not being a true part of that scene. When ironically, take someone like me with short hair and I have never ever worn a tie dye. I have seen hundreds more shows times three than anyone with that mentality.

Same goes with people in rural America. I did not look that part and yeah, I may have stood out a bit unshowered after being out late at the Peach Festival the night before. However, isn't part of that movement and isn't part of the hippy movement at shows for people to be able to do whatever they want and for people to be able to look however they want without any interference from say Government or judgment by anyone for that matter?

That is the one thing I am not into. If whoever does not want the likes of me to make judgement about their lifestyles, why do it to me then? If people do not want to be looked at in certain ways, than do NOT do it to other people. You never know what is inside that person and what their experiences and beliefs are in life.

But then again, Trump and his people do NOT want that to happen. They do NOT want us to communicate with his people and followers. They do NOT want us to get along with his followers. As a matter of fact, they love this division which is more in your face than I have ever seen in my lifetime (though I was only 1 year through 6 years old in the 60's).

The Dem's must not only make this about the issues that touch into rural America, they also must get at them at places like the Lori's Corner Kitchen.