How Riding My Bike Helped Me Hate Republicans Less
With the Presidential race hot and happening and Trump saying insane things on an almost a daily basis, it’s very easy to feel like a smug, slightly superior liberal. This feeling is compounded if you live in the Bay Area bubble surrounded by lots of people with mostly similar beliefs. Talking about how Republicans are as deranged as Donald Trump’s hairstylist is fun. It brings us together and keeps us warm on foggy nights. Yet all this smugness can’t help but lead us to feel separated from other Americans including Trump lovers, conservative types and others who think differently then us. Smugness burns more calories, but eventually leads to unhappiness and heart attacks. Luckily for all of us I recently figured out a way to connect with conservatives that doesn’t involve traveling to Nebraska.
If you squint hard and don’t look too close, some Republican values make sense: rugged individualism (the Marlboro Man before he needs Medicare for his lung cancer treatment), family values (try and read that with a straight face), God (the one with the white beard and angelic groupies), not too many taxes but a military strong enough to write country anthems about, decent jobs for Americans (only), and patriotism (especially if it involves a pickup truck driving down a dirt road at sunset). And yes, Republican talking heads stick their feet in their mouths more than babies and often say silly/hurtful things, but really they’re just people too (unless they are actually high functioning aliens). Republicans put on their pants, usually dockers or Wranglers I think, one leg at a time just like the rest of us.
Riding my bike in the city has helped me to feel a certain camaraderie with conservative types and when I’m cycling certain of their values start to resonate with me. Perhaps these feelings can help us humanize the grand ole’ people.
Feeling like the underdog
There is no way to ride a bicycle in the city surrounded by cars, trucks and big-ass buses without feeling vulnerable. Their skin is well engineered, reinforced steel, while my skin is well, skin. Sometimes it’s hard not to feel ganged up on and like the world is out to get you. Anonymous forces who happen to be bigger and stronger could easily kill you while trying to catch a Pichachu on their phone. Could even be a pretty good metaphor for powerful global economic forces casually crushing the little guy on their way to endless profits and world domination.
Fuck taxes and the central government
When you’re riding a bike momentum is everything. It’s the physical currency that powers you forward. It’s something you work hard for with sweat, burning quads and intense effort. Coincidentally it’s not something you want to give up easily when you come to a government sponsored stop sign or stoplight. When I’ve climbed a hill (worked) and am enjoying my reward (pay check) giving up that momentum I’ve busted my ass so hard for is almost impossible. I think that’s how Republicans feel about paying taxes.
The social safety net can kiss my ass
A while back I realized that while I don’t ride with a death wish, I don’t ride with a long life wish either. I take a lot of calculated risks and count on my reflexes, instincts and luck to get away with it. In order to ride with this level of intensity I have to puff myself up a bit and feed my ego several shots of espresso and some raw steak. To exist in this world where I am actually very vulnerable I have to not think about being smeared into the pavement like a dozen jelly donuts. I have to block out certain harsh realities and keep moving. This involves weaving my own cloak of strength and invisibility and wrapping myself in it. Sometimes it also helps to get a little mad at cars and think they’re stupid and entitled. Conservatives do this all the time. They like to do it together on Fox News.
Us versus them
I can’t help it. I’m starting to feel superior to people driving cars. I know I shouldn’t and it’s wrong. I know that three months ago I was the person that I’m now hating on. But when you’re busting your ass for every inch you roll and people in cars are sitting pretty while paying half attention to maneuvering their 2,000 pound death machine, it’s hard not to feel different. ‘Car people’ put themselves in glass and metal bubbles, isolating themselves from us and the rest of the world. Even if they’re listening to NPR with fair trade coffee in their cup holders and reusable bags in their trunk. Even then. Even sensitive drivers are traveling in a womb of comfort and privilege taking up most of the road while the little guy sweats it out on the tiny strip allotted him. Damn those limousine liberals!
Biking is my church
Research shows that Republicans (63%) go to church way more than Democrats (37%) and it is true that conservatives are much more likely to be affiliated with an actual church. That being said you don’t always need bibles and donuts to connect to something bigger. When cycling I feel small and insignificant next to buses. Beautiful and powerful flying down hills. Connected to others sitting at stop light with my fellow cyclists. Completely alive when using all my skills and energy to cross the city on another epic adventure. Cycling helps me to transcend the everyday and feel a part of something larger. Isn’t that what church is supposed to do?
Lets all rage together
Riding home from work the other day I screamed, “Get out of the way jerk!” to an Uber driver who turned out to be a 50’ish white guy wearing a tie. He turned his head and looked startled (I think a real cab driver would have been skilled enough to scream back). I felt a little bad ‘cause name calling’s wrong and all and I should have said, “Could you please pull over into one of the many spaces on your right so that you are not blocking the bike lane?” But the screaming wasn’t planned. It came from a visceral place of primal anger inspired by someone usurping my rightful space in the world. Of someone carelessly endangering my safety for their convenience and monetary gain. He believed his needs were more important than mine and he got to be a bully about it because he’s bigger. Feeling like all you want is a teeny, tiny slice of the pie and even that is denied to you due to forces beyond your control: I think a lot of Republicans can relate to that feeling. They feel attacked, ignored and angry and they’re screaming in their own way.
Oh and we all hate Prius drivers. I think everyone, red and blue, can agree on that.
So by now you’re probably wondering what does Trump think about cycling. He recently mocked John Kerry for doing it and said he hasn’t been on a bike since he was 7 or 8 years old. Which is kinda of a shame since he has that built in helmet…