On the train in Trump country

July 2, 2023

Dell Franklin, Jewish in California

Editor’s Note: The following series, “Life in Radically Gentrifying Cayucos by the Sea,” to be posted biweekly includes the notes, thoughts, and opinions of an original American voice: author Dell Franklin. 

Franklin’s memoir, “Life On The Mississippi, 1969,” is currently on Amazon.


We are rolling along through the high desert headed for Denver on my second day on the California Zephyr and words cannot describe how soothing it is to sit in the observation coach watching the country flow by, clickety-clack, clickety-clack, a sort of mesmerizing effect unrivaled for whatever ails a human being—restlessness, boredom, a mind-deadening rut bordering on depression.

The world is reawakening before me, like a flower blooming. It is all the same yet different. I am surrounded by people who eschew normal modes of transportation and savor the train.

The land we are burrowing through is the land of the forgotten. We are in the middle of Nowheresville, approaching Grand Junction, Colorado, and I have never observed such an amazing amount of junk along the edges of towns, piles and piles of steel and ancient rusted debris, wind-blasted tractors, various farm equipment and cars, adobe huts in ruins, long-faltered prefabs and trailers, mangled furniture of every type, on and on until we are in Grand Junction.

Slowing down, we pass through dilapidated outskirts of broken fencing and small square nondescript homes with old dusty pickups in back, and into the drab horizontal sprawl of Pilot Gas, John Deere yard and building, Steel Supply, Red Roof, Conoco station, Tractor Supply, Outback, Dairy Queen, Mesa Mall, a bowling alley, Hobby Lobby, Walmart, etc. etc.

And, finally, a small dusty train station.

I think to myself, this place has to be a cultural wasteland in which I’d be bored to tears. What do they do around here, and in the surrounding mini bergs? I envision scowling MAGA boomers—instead of the more sophisticated wall gang in Cayucos of educators, entrepreneurs, artists, a lawyer—ensconced in coffee shops, clad in plaid flannel shirts, ball caps, and baggy Levi’s hitched up over proud pot bellies by suspenders.

What are they talking about? Trump. What else is there in this isolated desolation? He came into their lives in 2015 and has been there for them ever since on their TVs, which have to be on Fox News night after night, nonstop—a jolt of joy, excitement and reaffirmation as their charismatic idol sticks it to the woke, kale-munching coastal elites, those promoting queers and commies and minority mooches and immigrant parasites from shit-hole countries, and wanting their fucking guns!

Every night an anticipation of genuine, enthralling reality TV, and not those goddam Beverly Hills and New York housewife bitches throwing food and expensive wine at each other while their rich entitled husbands cower in fear of a lucrative divorce payoff.

Vote for Trump? Hell yes! Things were so exciting when he was in the sham of a White House goosing and infuriating the precious pussy libs on a daily basis, standing up for the real men, the cops and the soldiers, the hunters and miners, by God, and never appeasing those academic mollycoddles in their ivory towers!

Oh, I could “feel” it as I stood outside among other passengers in Grand Junction savoring a Haagen Dazs bar after visiting a small grocery during a half hour wait. And, truly, I relished what I felt. Why would or should those who live here and work the kind of jobs available, and face the kind of stifling boredom they do, feel any other way, especially when the wife mistakenly turns on MSNBC or, God help them, Trump’s mortal enemy, CNN!

“Turn that shit off, woman!”

Back on the train, rolling out of Grand Junction, I observed a man whom I was sure was Chinese, dashing back and forth across seats from window to window, snapping photo after photo with his phone. Everybody but me—no cell phone—was doing the same, but this smiling man was the swiftest, and I complimented him on his agility and prowess during a lull and asked to view his photos. He laughed and showed me a long reel of beautiful pics, and we began talking.

He’d been a Taiwanese immigrant, now a citizen. He came over in his teens, joined the army, got into intelligence, earned a college degree, retired after 20 years as a major, and now worked in Washington DC in tech. He seemed happier than anybody I’d ever known. His wife, also Taiwanese, smiled and waived. He was intelligent and astute. Itching to inform him of what I “felt” about Grand Junction and the immense flat lands, he listened intently and nodded.

Finally, when I ended my little observation, he said, “Sometimes, my friend, a man can walk down the street and something will come down from the sky and hit him in the head and kill him.” He looked into me, still smiling, as if he was my friend. “Enjoy yourself while you can. Life is good.”

We talked for over an hour, until we hit the Rockies–where the libs populate wholesome ski resorts with gourmet restaurants and health food stores–and my new friend resumed his frantic photo taking.

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Interesting to note, Trump posts a “F**k Biden” flag on the internet to wish us a happy 4th.

Do Trump supporters really expect others to treat them with respect when they support a vulgar immature candidate like Trump?

I know there is some “yuck” on the other side. But YOUR candidate is vulgar and immature and un-American. That he appeals to you shows others YOUR character. You may not like it but this is what we think.

Whether you like it or hate Trump, immediately after he left office, the price of gas, food, cars and other goods increased by 20-50% or more. And home prices in central coast beach cities increased by 50–100% in 2021 alone thanks to the American Rescue Plan handouts to fully employed people, and keeping interest rates at near zero when it wasn’t necessary. That was great for existing homeowners but priced out a lot of the typical beach bums, artists, and non uber wealthy elites who typically bought homes there. Now, it’s becoming a place for mostly rich elites, which will significantly change the fabric of the central coast in the future.

To be fair, the entire world entered into an inflationary environment at the end of 2020. It did get up to 9% under Biden but I would challenge you to find one of his policies that exacerbated it.

Current inflation is a product of shattered supply chains, corporations looking to balance their books after massive pandemic losses and a cut in oil production by OPEC. The “handouts” you reference were actually very effective in pulling many Americans out of poverty, particularly child poverty. I think you may agree that we are better off when fewer of our children grow up hungry or needy.

But, I’m a realist and you are probably right about California. It will become two societies, the affluent who can afford nice houses and vacations and the permanent under class that picks the strawberries and gets packed into government or farmworker housing.

Well, one of his policies had to do with the “chill” he imposed on the US energy sector. Another is the complete breakdown at our southern border. More than seven million undocumented folks now in the country because they were let in by very lax or non existent border enforcement. The impact that influx of people has on the US social safety net and the economy as a whole is difficult to measure but it is part of our new collective reality.

Unfortunately Covid has become the “coat rack” for politicians (Dems and Republicans) to hang all our ills on but the validity of that excuse is waning.

“Immediately after he (Trump) left office”. You just demonstrated the effects of Trump’s presidency. High gas prices, high interest rates, He messed up.

If Trump is such a great leader, how come he got his election “stolen” from him right under his nose, even when he had control of congress the Senate, and was the commander in chief? How lame is that? If he can’t even hold onto his presidency, how can he hold onto democracy?