The other day I saw a t-shirt for sale with the 2016 electoral college map printed on the front. Along the bottom, the map had a key indicating the blue states were "The United States of America," and the red states were a place called "Dumbf---istan."
I live in St. Charles, Missouri, right in the heart of Dumbf---istan. My family and I moved here in 2013. About a year later my mom passed away, and my wife and I needed to leave town and take care of her funeral. Unfortunately, we couldn't afford to bring our kids on such short notice.
Despite knowing very few people in our new community, the entire neighborhood stepped up. Our kids spent a week going from house to house, getting consoled with unlimited mac n' cheese and Netflix.
Dumbf---istan takes care of its own.
I learned that again the following year.
My wife, who was a stay-at-home mom for 12 years, started volunteering at our community's startup incubator. A short while later she was hired to be the incubator manager. Valuing the transferrable skillset of a stay-at-home mom is an extremely progressive, uncommon employment practice, and for our family it happened in a conservative community in one of the reddest states on the map.
The people of Dumbf---istan aren't Neanderthals.
My wife isn't chained to a stove.
My Trump-supporting neighbor doesn't have a welcome mat with a swastika on it.
But we can be just as guilty of thinking of our counterparts in other parts of the country in similarly simplistic terms.
I recently appeared on Patriot Radio, a conservative channel on Sirius XM. During the show the host kept referring to Democrats as "coastal elites."
Granted, "coastal elite" isn't "Dumbf---istan"—but it still lumps literally hundreds of millions of people into one uniform category.
Hearing the host use the term made me think of my very liberal brother. He lives in Seattle, but he is no one's idea of a "coastal elite." He manages an auto parts store and builds hot rods on the side. He attends Seattle Seahawks games with his giant beard dyed neon green. This week he's raising money to deliver Christmas presents to underprivileged kids.