From inside the bubble

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I’ll admit it: I did not see it coming.

I always knew a Trump presidency was on the table, even way back at the beginning of primary season. And in the weeks leading up to the election I had some doubts about a Clinton victory. But, though I would have never bet any money on it, I thought up until about 10 p.m. on election night that Hillary was going to have an easy walk into the White House. I didn’t make the final call until about 1 a.m., at which point it got kind of quiet in the TCB newsroom, where Art Director Jorge Maturino and I were sending off the final pages.

And I had to ask myself: Who’s living in a bubble now?

I’m no Democrat — I had no attachment to Clinton as a candidate except that she was not Trump, who I still regard as dangerous and moronic. And Trump, I’ve always known, is no Republican. His allusions on election night to public works projects, frankly, made me question the nature of reality itself, until I realized he was probably talking about a wall.

And I’m not naïve about the makeup of this state — I always figured Trump could take North Carolina because I know what it looks like outside the cities.

That’s how it broke down in the place we call home: Clinton scored big in counties with big cities and universities, some, like Orange County, with margins as high as 50 points. In Guilford Trump got just 38.2 percent of the vote, almost 20 points behind Clinton, who came in at nearly 57.9 percent. She took Forsyth by more than 10 points.

So the question becomes: Do we engage with our rural brothers and sisters, overcome our cultural differences and work together for a better state for all of us, or do we wall ourselves off in our sanctuaries and, like Manhattanites or New Orleanians or Austinites, never venture outside the metro area?

The fact is, our state’s economy is inextricably linked to the health of its cities — that’s where the jobs are, the markets, the amenities, the action. So the burden falls on our country cousins to demonstrate their willingness to play nicely.

A good place to start would be to denounce the acts of hate being perpetrated throughout the state in Trump’s name, including the KKK rally scheduled for Dec. 3 in Pelham, 45 minutes north of Burlington, and Trump’s appointment of Stephen Bannon, who crawled from one of the most toxic cesspools on the entire internet to become a cabinet member.

Unless, of course, that was the plan all along.