I’m the librarian for the Augusta school system, and recently, when I was in my office at Cony High School, a senior came in to talk with me. He’s taking an AP Government class and thus was involved in the mock election held at the school a couple of weeks ago. Donald Trump won the student vote, as he did at a statewide mock election for Maine students.

I asked him why he thought Trump was so popular among young people. “I think they’re getting it from their parents,” he said.

“Don’t tell me that!” I replied, staring at him in horror.

I was hoping it was an act of rebellion, that they thought they were voting for the “bad boy.” Perhaps their parents had decried Trump, and they wanted to do just the opposite, in true adolescent fashion.

Truly, I didn’t want to think that so many parents were voting for Trump. After all, the adults’ votes count.

I can’t think beyond next Tuesday’s election. I see Nov. 9 as a black hole, an unknown. Even worse, I have realized that Trump, whether he wins or loses, is having a profound effect on the way Americans think, feel and act.


Lois Kilby-Chesley, president of the Maine Education Association (of which I am a member), recently wrote an e-mail to members describing the “Trump Effect.” Educators have been noticing an increase in bullying across the country, possibly because of “the negative impact hostile and, often, hateful rhetoric is having on kids. …”

I do believe anger is contagious. I was standing in an express line at my local Hannaford supermarket — which I swear is a microcosm of the wider world — when the woman in front of me walked over to the next express lane and snatched an empty carriage that belonged to a customer who was paying for his purchases.

The man standing at the cash register in that line turned around in surprise, prompting the carriage-snatcher to say, “Oh, was this yours?”

He rolled his eyes at her and turned back to the cashier.

“Here, take it,” she said, moving the cart slightly forward, but he refused to look at her.

Returning to her spot in front of me, she said something to another man about the cart just sitting there, and I decided I would be better off in the other line. The way she was going, she was probably going to complain about her bag of rice leaking, and I’d have to wait while an employee ran over to the rice aisle to get her another.


Unfortunately, the man who lost his carriage had asked to have his groceries packed in paper bags. Two of them. As he lifted them, one started to break. The employee asked if he wanted — um — a carriage. I think she was so busy ringing up the order she had missed the little exchange. He shook his head, and as he turned to leave, he looked at the carriage-snatcher and said, “Some people are just rude.”

Now, I had been on his side until then. But really? This woman wasn’t rude — she was clueless and self-absorbed. In fact, he was being rude by calling her rude.

I realize that in a big city, this could have turned ugly, with cursing and, possibly, the use of firearms. But here in Maine, I expect better. I expect people to put down the plastic dowel to separate my order from theirs and to leave my carriage alone. Usually they do.

But when we have a national figure spouting hatred, the bar is lowered. It becomes more acceptable to be rude, or to tell other people they are rude. Another evil has been unleashed from Pandora’s box.

On my next trip to Hannaford, I was headed to an open express aisle when an employee appeared at an aisle I thought was closed. I smiled and put a baguette on the conveyor belt. A customer suddenly appeared behind me and the associate said, “Sorry.”

I immediately knew what had happened. The associate had told the other customer she was opening up, but I got there first.

“No problem,” I said, I placed my baguette in the cart. Both employee and customer demurred, but I was determined to get into another line. I am from the generation that heard Crosby, Stills & Nash tell us to teach our children well. I have to play nice, to do everything I can to counteract the lessons they, and apparently their parents, are learning from Donald Trump.

Liz Soares welcomes e-mail at lsoares@gwi.net.

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