This is no simple column. It has sad parts and unexpected happy turns. That’s how life is: a twisted mess of humanity filled with unforeseen dark times and remarkably joyful moments. Some days are awful, others are awesome, and nothing is set in stone.

There was the small Humboldt County logging town where I grew up, a place filled with eerily ordinary people, marginalized families, and grinding poverty. There was my mother who worked nights at the lumber mill, standing beside the screaming planer knives, feeding rough planks into the machine. There were mountains that surrounded our town, lurching straight up from the pastures where dairy cattle regarded you with large, liquid eyes. There was a remote impenetrable wilderness and a river, a place where trees gave way to the gentle ripple of the water and I sometimes found peace. There was a school where teachers obsessively taught to the test and students learned nothing but busywork and proper form completion. There were people who showed me that not everyone who criticizes you is your enemy, and not all who praise you are your friends.

There was wisdom in our little town, but you had to know how to find it.

There was my friend, Raymond, a 12-year-old Hawaiian boy who taught me the importance of defending myself, of hitting hard and stinging fast. There was his father, a man with a Wagnerian temper who operated on a notable short fuse. There were rawboned loggers crushed by falling trees, and mill employees who dreamed only of quitting time and a warm bed. There were drunk drivers on their way to the grave in the passing lane. There was a neighbor with no moral bottom who molested his daughter and went to church the following Sunday to be forgiven for his sins.

There were young men with uncertain futures who were sent to war and died in the jungles of Vietnam.

There was a nearby university where educators knew little of the real world, yet were quick to indoctrinate students into a progressive ideology. There were greedy administrators involved not in teaching, but in manipulating students into paying exorbitant fees and tuition. They were spoiled and lazy and under no obligation to balance a budget or save a football team. There were people in this college town who were victims of the hive mind, convinced that the enemy was anyone who did not share their political beliefs. There were vacuous students who needed a safe space to discuss history and national issues, and for whom honest debate caused them to stomp their feet and shout “capitalism is elitism” every few seconds, like a child with Tourette’s syndrome.

There were other towns, not far away, where sanctuary cities, political correctness, and social restructuring were not at the top of anyone’s priority list. These people believed in a strong work ethic and did not want their country to become a dumping ground for other nations. Common sense told them success would come from their own efforts. They understood that freedom was not passed on to their children through the bloodstream; it had to be fought for and defended with every generation.

These same people asked why legal citizens like themselves were labeled “racists” and “Nazis,” but those sneaking across our borders were called “dreamers.” They questioned why our culture offended so many people, including those who wore their anti-Americanism like a badge of honor. They wondered why those who came here to escape persecution proudly waved the flag of a different country, yet considered it a punishment to be sent back there.

These Humboldt County residents taught me how to salvage grand themes from the disorder of everyday life and explain working class political beliefs in a common language.

There were countless other towns across the nation where Americans were shocked to discover that white men were inherently evil and there was an unbridled hatred for all things patriotic. People banded together and sought change from years of mind control and the politically correct, anti-free speech policies of corrupt elected officials and social justice extremists. The country was barreling toward impending doom; it needed a liberal purge. These individuals voted for a president who would bring about positive change and put America first.

There were older people who felt like giving up but couldn’t let life go without the ending. The radical left was descending into inarguable madness. Karma was coming like a freight train. There was hope on the horizon, and a return to common sense. Middle of the road America could sleep soundly tonight.

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