What a Gay, Muslim, Pakistani-American Immigrant Learned Traveling to Rural Alaska the Week Before the Election

Dear 59,668,724 Disappointed Americans,

I know this is a devastating day. Considering the toxic levels of hatred and division unleashed over the past few years of campaigning, either outcome was going to be a bitter pill for HALF of our nation to swallow. Like all forms of mourning, it will take time to heal as we mourn the loss of our version of the next four years.

But notice I said OUR version. Because there is another one. And that one not only has a lot of supporters, but has legally and definitively asserted it’s right to be heard. It’s a perspective I didn’t know a lot about until recently.

A few months ago I sat down with Glenn Beck for an intense chat about hate in America. At some point he questioned why I lumped all “White Americans” together when expressing a particular point of view. I thought about that a lot.

RELATED: Riaz Patel: I Am Really Frustrated With Liberals Right Now

So, the next day I decided I needed to understand the election from a perspective other than my own. On my drive to work I found a Conservative radio station. The morning after, I found another. And ever since, thanks to the power of satellite radio, I’ve been crisscrossing the country, popping in to listen to local call-in shows.

Here’s what I learned by listening. Listening. Not waiting to speak. Not waiting to disagree or refute.

There exists a HUGE population in America who are desperately struggling to feed their families.

They feel their needs are not authentically represented within this huge government.

They feel their concerns are not being voiced by any major news outlet.

They are tired of being called “dumb,” “bigoted” and “racist.”

And, based on the shocked expressions of every anchor last night that all their polling data was off, apparently they aren’t even really counted.

I was feeling such a groundswell of their frustration and unhappiness – and even the strong possibility of a Trump victory – that I decided last-minute to travel with my husband and our six-month old daughter to Ketchikan, Alaska the weekend before the election.

Why? Because I wanted to meet these people. And I wanted them to meet me. Before we had a “Winner.” How else would we understand each other beyond the “black” and “white” which we BOTH have been painted, non-stop, in this vicious election cycle.

So, I went to breakfast at The Landing on Tongass Avenue and discussed the stakes of the election with third-generation fisherman and learned that their whole life’s work was at stake based on potential Clinton fishing regulations. I talked somewhat fervently about the cancer that is radical Islam with Nicole & Jim, who ran the Black Bear Inn and discussed how we all feel unsafe these days. And I chatted with Paula, the 30-year bar manager, who explained that almost all of Alaska is owned by the federal government so each vote in this community is REALLY about their ability to support their families.

Over the course of two days, I met lovely people. Some I agreed with and some I didn’t. Some of them had met a Muslim before and others hadn't. But all asked me earnest questions about my background, and I asked about theirs. No question was offensive because the intention was non-judgmental.

On my flight back, I realized that for many of us supporting Hillary, this election was about incredibly important social issues. It was a moral election for us. To most of the people I met on my trip, it was about survival. Literally.

So when I read Facebook/Twitter posts this morning vilifying 50% of the country for being dumb or racist, I remember Nicole, Jim & Paula and I know that’s not true.

But how would I know that if I didn’t meet them and talk to them with an open mind? Only by pulling up a few chairs to PERSONIFY the people we think we hate, will we move beyond “black” and “white” to the way the world really is: grey. Grey is the only way.

As I walk around my office today, people are in shock. It’s no surprise people are surprised by the results when they refused to let an opposing viewpoint in. What did most of my Hillary supporting friends do when someone disagreed with their politics on Facebook? They “Unfriended” them. And when even Jake Tapper on CNN makes the mistake of saying “we” instead of “she” as he refers to winning Connecticut, we have to realize we are in one giant echo chamber that extends to almost everyone we speak to and almost every place we get information.

This morning, I am not surprised by the result. But I am slightly impressed by the notion that all the celebrity power and campaign money in the nation was not enough to continue to mute these Americans. They simply went to the polls and voted for what was best for their family. Just as we all do. And they won. Fairly.

Now, before the chat threads blow up below this article, I am not denying that some Trump supporters are racist. Of course. But some Muslims are terrorists.

The point is NOT ALL.

I’ve seen the clips of bigoted slurs being thrown out at Trump rallies. But, as a TV producer, when I watch the footage aired, there aren’t a tons of incidents. It’s a couple each time, played many, many times over. But if a group of twenty idiotic Trump supporters yell ethnic slurs, is the entire stadium “racist” by association? No. If a Black Lives Matters supporter says it’s “open season on whites” is that a true representation of the movement? No. Should I be viewed with suspicion because I am a Muslim and some are terrorists? No.

The worst outcome of the election is that we have each been reduced to a series of broad labels that no longer reflect who we are. Mexican. White. Republican. Immigrant. Muslim. We may try to look at people as “labels” but we’ll never truly see them because THEY do not look at their own lives & families as labels. If, in the misery of this morning’s election hangover, we choose to continue to refer to Trump supporters as one collective “Them” I think that is as offensive as anything else I’ve heard in this election cycle and as ungracious as anything we feared from Trump supporters in the defeat we assumed would be theirs.

I think a key part of beginning to heal is realizing Trump is not his supporters. Who he is and how he campaigned are truly distasteful to me. But his supporters are not him. They voted for a variety of reasons that are important and personal to them. And when I was with them this past weekend, everyone I came across showed me kindness & humanity. I hope, for their sake, the quality of their life improves. And that they are able to continue to work and provide their families with a safe and loving home.

A home into which I hope to be invited.

Would Glenn make a better bounty hunter or a Jedi? You'll have to find out in a new episode of the Beltway Banthas Podcast, where Glenn goes deep on Star Wars with host Stephen Kent. In this 45 minute discussion, Stephen and Glenn explore the political themes of the Star Wars franchise, Darth Vader's redemption from Return of the Jedi, Glenn's earliest memories of seeing the films and even debate elements of the latest Star Wars films.

If you enjoy the pop culture and nerdy discussions that Glenn, Pat and Stu get into on the radio show, you'll love this! After you're through, you can also check out Stu Burguiere's appearance on Beltway Banthas to talk Star Wars. You can find that here.


It's never too early to start your Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa shopping. Or even birthday gift shopping. Especially if that special someone in your life is a Democrat. Because at last count, pretty much all the Democrats are now running for president. And that means there has never been a wider selection of official candidate merchandise to choose from. Whether you're into environmentalism, feminism, classism, socialism, or just plain love, there is a smorgasbord of classy items that you and yours will treasure forever... or at least until the next presidential election.

We have browsed each of the candidates' online stores, so you don't have to (it only took us three months). We have curated only the finest items from each of the Democrats running for president of the United States of America. Without further ado, here is your handy progressive gift guide – or maybe your what-not-to-gift guide.

First, the bargain basement options. Hurry! Time is running out to grab your Beto bandana, or your Delaney pack of golf balls, because at this point Stu has as much of a chance as these guys of getting the nomination.

Tom Steyer, for example – is he still in the race?


https://shop.tomsteyer.com/collections/frontpage/products/tom-2020-pattern-tee


There's way too much Tom here. That shirt's got more Toms than a Caucasian dentists' convention.

For the slightly more moderate Democrat in your life, perhaps they'd like to join the "Yang Gang"…

https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/bumper-stickers/products/yanggang-decal


Andrew Yang is a lock for Math Club president…


https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/apparel/products/math-hat


But for actual president? Well, I wouldn't make plans for how you're going to spend your $1,000-per-month Yang allowance just yet.

If you happen to be shopping for your dog, may I suggest this lovely "Dogs for Delaney" dog collar…


https://store.johndelaney.com/products/dogs-for-delaney-collar


John Delaney's definitely going to secure the canine vote with this kind of outreach. As for any human votes, that's another question entirely.

How 'bout this tastefully understated "Natural Canvas" Michael Bennet tote to remind you he's also still here?...


https://store.michaelbennet.com/michael-bennet-for-america-natural-canvas-tote/


Then again, it's a tote. So, it'll end up on the floor of your closet and you won't have it with you until that one random moment when you're out somewhere and you really need a tote bag. Just like Democrats will really wish they had a moderate when we're in the middle of the socialist nightmare of their creation.

Captain Planet himself, Jay Inslee recently dropped out of the race, but don't let that stop you from picking up what may be the greatest single item sold by anyone in this race…


https://store.jayinslee.com/elvis-the-elves-the-mystery-of-the-melting-snow-by-jay-inslee/


A children's book called Elvis & the Elves: the Mystery of the Melting Snow. Written and illustrated by Governor Jay Inslee. Talk about a whodunnit – how could that snow possibly be melting? Spoiler alert: it's because of evil, white, patriarchal capitalism. And Donald Trump.

Then there's the candidate who thinks you're a moron that can't pronounce his last name: Steve Bullock...


https://shop.stevebullock.com/collections/apparel/products/emoji-t-shirt


Get it? Bull. Lock. Oh, so that's how you say the name that sounds exactly how it's spelled.

There's another candidate who also thinks you need help pronouncing his last name…


https://store.peteforamerica.com/collections/apparel/products/boot-edge-edge-t-shirt


And he is definitely right about that. So, thank you, Pete "Boot Edge Edge." That helps.

Just outside the bargain bin section, but just barely, are candidates like Julian Castro and his "El Presidente" t-shirt…


https://store.julianforthefuture.com/julian-castro-loteria-card-white-tee/


When your last name's Castro, do you really want to go with a weird drawing of yourself as if you're a classic Latin American dictator on a postage stamp?

If you prefer a little "dark psychic forces" battling in your candidates, you'll love Marianne Williamson's "Turn Love Into a Political Force" rally sign…


https://store.marianne2020.com/collections/signs/products/love-rally-sign


"Turn Love Into a Political Force" would be an even better title for a Marianne Williamson album of 80s cover songs. And if you think I'm joking, then you haven't heard Bernie Sanders' classic 1987 folk album, We Shall Overcome. That's not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but it's also a very real thing.

Now, just a quick pause to consider the peculiar baby-wear that way too many candidates are selling…

…including Elizabeth Warren's trans-pride flag onesie. Let me get this straight – we can't force any gender on a child, because that's just cruel. But we can force a political advertisement on a baby? How do we know that baby is actually a Biden or Warren fan? The child may not even be a Democrat or a Socialist at all. That baby might self-identify as a Libertarian, or Republican, or even worse – a moderate Democrat.

Now to the premium items from the premium candidates. Elizabeth Warren – the candidate with the most honesty in her advertising…


https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/apparel/products/impolite-arrogant-women-make-history-unisex-t-shirt

-AND-

https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/drinkware/products/strong-american-unions-mug


Warren's merchandise reflects the woman herself – cold and humorless (watch her "This isn't funny" clip from the last debate here at the 4:27 mark). I'm sure she's really fun once you get to know her. Then again, maybe not.

Speaking of serious women, Kamala Harris wants to be president very badly for you, the people, as you can tell from her "For the People" poster…


https://store.kamalaharris.org/poster-for-the-people/


At $29.99 though, she's sure not charging "people's" prices. Of course, she might be having to pay royalties to a certain someone for riffing on their poster. Just saying.

For the race's number one socialist, there's a whole lot of capitalism going on in Bernie Sanders' campaign. He sells so many delightful items that it's hard to choose. But we did anyway. The most random item is this hundred-dollar, black, "Art of a Political Revolution – Artists for Bernie Sanders Coaches Jacket"…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/artists-for-bernie-coaches-jacket


Coaches across the land will be clamoring for this one. You know, since coaches are such a strong Bernie-socialist demographic.

If that's a little over your budget you might consider a "Feel the Bern" fanny pack, to help store all those government freebies you'll get from Bernie…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/feel-the-bern-fanny-pack


This is the only context in which you'll ever want to hear "feel the burn" and "fanny" in the same sentence.

And finally, from front-runner Joe Biden, we have this fine "Women's Fitted Biden Polo." Which is just about the best polo description ever…


https://store.joebiden.com/collections/apparel/products/biden-polo-womens-fit


It promises the kind of snug approach that Biden loves to provide women. Even when they don't ask.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.