All Eyez on Me

So, the New York Times did this (too) long (so long) story, "The Man Who Knew Too Little," about Erik Hagerman, a "liberal" who lives "alone on a pig farm in southeastern Ohio," and since November 8, has been committed to keeping Trump's America strictly out of his life. He spends his days avoiding all reports and stories about Trump (which can't be separated from American politics and life). He is apparently and comfortably clueless about "James Comey. Russia. Robert Mueller. Las Vegas. The travel ban. 'Alternative facts.' Pussy hats. Scaramucci. Parkland. Big nuclear buttons. Roy Moore."

In a sense, this white liberal—who is 53 years old, once had a posh position at Nike, and has lived in the hippest parts of the US (Brooklyn, San Francisco, Portland)—is much like the famous Dickens character Miss Havisham, the wealthy woman who was jilted at the alter and, at that point, stopped the movement of time around her life. Her mansion is decaying, she is still wearing her wedding dress, the clocks are frozen. Though many describe this story, which is in Great Expectations, as totally fantastic—that reality could never ever produce a Havisham—they fail to consider the most important fact about her temporal paralysis, and one that was obvious to Dickens: She can afford it. Her father was a successful brewer. He left her all of his money. Her means enabled her to make time stand still and live at the same time. Most of us cannot. If time stops for us, we are likely to end up on the streets and, eventually, in a grave.

This is the deep connection between Hagerman and Havisham. The money.

Hagerman, however, is not only comfortable, but—in the context of America and its deeply racial and gendered economic history—white and male. These latter attributes mean he has the luxury of not fearing deportation or having his rights suddenly rescinded. Many of us do not have this luxury. We keep up with Trump all time, not because we are captivated by him. We hate his self-important manner of posturing and speaking. We would all love to block him out of our lives. But we can't. Why? Because our futures are not so certain. Trump isn't an abstract thing; he has real power, and this power has real effects.

But even if we could afford to stop time and live in the past, in wonderful liberal Obama-land, many of us would not do so. The reason for this is pretty obvious. It's because there are so many other people who couldn't enjoy the luxury of a blockade. If most can't do it, then it can't be right. This logic (the highest reason) is fundamental to who are as animals: make me equal to you. Hagerman the liberal is as monstrous as Trump, for the simple fact that his blockade also blocks what is essential to his humanity. Make me equal to you, to all others.