This is the first of four essays that describe the writer’s Northeast travels between New York, Washington, and New England during spring 2018.
For the most part I keep my distance from Trump’s Boardwalk fascism. Who needs to reminded that the United States, politically anyway, has descended into a reality show? To be sure it is impossible, even when you live in Europe, to escape Trumpism altogether. He shows up at G-7 or NATO summits to lecture European leaders about trade inequality or Putin’s humanism. But living without television and on another continent, I am largely spared Trump’s Babbittry, although any sampling of online newspapers brings his rants into focus. That said, once or twice a year, because I need to remind myself that the United States is a lot more than its village idiocy, I make plans to travel around the country.
In recent years I have biked and bused from Chicago to New York, camped in many states between North Carolina and Oklahoma, roamed the coal hollows of Kentucky and West Virginia, and attended the presidential primary in New Hampshire. It may not make up for my lack of familiarity with Fox & Friends, but at least I now having a working knowledge of where Eugene V. Debs lived in Terre Haute and have visited the house, in Fayetteville, in which lived the late Senator J. William Fulbright (from whom we got the scholarships and much opposition to the Vietnam War).
When seen from Europe, Trump can often become America in its entirety,…