the washington post actually did it, man, they beat the NYT at their own diner story game. this piece is great. https://t.co/l419vLd3vQ
— GOLIKEHELLMACHINE (@golikehellmachi) December 22, 2022
Cody Johnson is the man J.D. Vance pretended to be. If you use the link below, this should be a ‘gift’ (no paywall) story:
BEULAH, Ga. — As he pulled into the parking lot of Beulahland Baptist Church on Election Day last month, nearly everything about Cody Johnson suggested he would vote a certain way.
He was White. He was 33. He was an electrician with no college degree. He had a beard and a used pickup with 151,000 miles, and he was angry at what the country was becoming. Most of all, he was from northwest Georgia, a swath of rural America where people who looked like him had voted in large majorities to send Donald Trump to the White House and Marjorie Taylor Greene to Congress, many of them swept up in the emotional appeal at the heart of the Trump movement, which Greene now deployed in her own rallies…
Now he took a last inhale on his vape, walked into the polling place and voted against all of that. He voted against Greene, whom he called “an embarrassment.” He voted against the Trump-backed U.S. Senate candidate, Herschel Walker, because he didn’t want “some stupid s— to happen.” He voted against every single Republican on the ballot for the same reason he supported Joe Biden in 2020, which had been the first time he voted in his life.
“I don’t want extremists in office,” he said, walking back to his truck. “And I have some small glimmer of hope that maybe things aren’t as screwed up as I think they are.”
All across the country, a similar uprising was underway as an unexpected tide of people showed up for midterm elections, turning what was supposed to be a rout for the Republican Party into a repudiation of Trumpism. In Arizona, voters rejected candidates who embraced white nationalist ideas and conspiracy theories about election fraud. In Pennsylvania, they rejected a candidate who said America is a Christian nation. Similar results had rolled in from New Mexico, Nevada, Virginia and other states including Georgia, where Walker would lose in a runoff earlier this month. Even in the deep-red 14th Congressional District, Greene saw her winning margin from 2020 slip by 10 percentage points, and one reason was Cody Johnson…
[When Johnson first left home] He was 15. He spent weeks on this floor or that couch in the homes of friends. He spent as much time as he could in the library, where one day he came upon a pocket-size book whose broken binding, dog-eared pages and rows of checkout stamps made him think it must be as important as any Bible, and so he began reading the essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American philosopher of self-reliance.
“I remember he said something about the great men of history are no greater than you,” he said…
He graduated from high school. He told the librarian he wanted to keep the Emerson essays, and she did not resist. He enlisted in the Army and got posted to South Korea, where he remembers how it felt telling fellow soldiers about his life for the first time, and looking out his window at the vast city of Daegu, thinking, “I could be on the side of the mountain right now, and I’m glad to be where I am.”
He returned home to northwest Georgia and started a life in which he tried to live according to his own moral compass. He got married. He had a daughter. He tried to help his mom out with money when he could. He became a union electrician and mentored apprentices. He avoided church, which he came to see as a death cult. He avoided politics, too, because he did not want to take part in a system that had only two parties, both of which he saw as geared toward helping the powerful instead of regular people like him and everyone he grew up around, from Jasper to Fairmount to Rydal. “There’s so much that could be done to help people,” he said. But after Trump was elected, and then Greene, politics became almost impossible to ignore…[W]hat was most insulting to him of all was the assumption that he would go along with all of it because of how he looked and where he lived. He started to feel like a spy. He had neighbors who made him aware of a bar near his house that was supposedly a gathering place for people in the white nationalist movement. He got a Facebook invitation to join some militia group, which he blocked. He had White co-workers who flagrantly used the n-word and made racist comments to him, and he came to enjoy their shock when he told them to cut it out.
“It was disgusting that people might think I was okay with that,” he said. “I decided I wasn’t going to just let it slide. Because if you let it slide, you become complicit, and complicity turns into guilt, and guilt turns into shame, and shame turns into fear, and I don’t want to live in fear.”…
Sometimes he and his wife discussed how the Trump movement had ever taken root in this place they loved, and sometimes hated, and nonetheless had chosen to make their home.
“The hardest part is the juxtaposition of knowing these are good, kind, loving, caring people here,” Johnson’s wife would say. “It’s like they put their morality in a box.”
To Johnson, though, it was less about other people and more about the kind of person he wanted to be. And so when it was time to vote again — this time in Georgia’s Dec. 6 runoff for the U.S. Senate — he got into his pickup truck and headed to Beulahland Baptist Church one more time.
He walked across the parking lot, past other pickup trucks and cars with Trump stickers, and through the door. And then a 33-year-old White man from northwest Georgia voted for the third time in his life.
He voted against the Trump-backed candidate, and as he saw it, he voted against all the politics of Trumpism that had been expected to work on somebody like him — white nationalism, grievance, bitterness, bullying and, perhaps most of all, fear of a changing world.
“I have relatives who retreated rather than adapted,” he said, thinking of the life he left behind. “I think of it as, I left the mountain to come into the world, to go out into the world. It’s something I’m kind of proud of.”
this is the future liberals want pic.twitter.com/RksYcvdKQn
— GOLIKEHELLMACHINE (@golikehellmachi) December 22, 2022