We should have seen it coming. In hindsight, we could have read Donald Trump's astonishing and deeply troubling victory in the tea leaves left behind after Beyoncé and the Dixie Chicks' polarizing performance at last week's CMA Awards. The immediate backlash embodied a nation divided and illuminated, in harsh ugly bar light, the us vs. them sentiment that ultimately denied Hillary Clinton the presidency on Tuesday night.
Onstage at the most apolitical and white-bread of awards shows was a powerful, independent woman of color aligning herself with three equally strong women. To many, the appearance of Beyoncé and the Chicks felt like an intrusion, a gang of outspoken, politically subversive interlopers bringing not only elitist views to the stage, but foreign and supposedly "better" music as well. While Bey or Natalie Maines – who would later taunt the CMA with "I used them to fulfill my dream of singing with Bey. (On their dime;)" when replying to a Twitter follower – didn't come right out and spit on Merle Haggard's grave, many viewed their attitude-heavy performance of Beyoncé's "Daddy Lessons" as nothing short of that. To that part of the audience, it was one more attempt by the politically-correct left to force-feed them something they didn't ask for – as well as an affront to the safety and sanctity of Middle America.
Whether it was the CMAs organizers' intention or not, the pairing transcended entertainment to land like political napalm on fans who feel there's very little left of the lives they used to know. Or imagine they knew.
Just read the comments directed at Beyoncé and the Dixie Chicks on social media, which are in lockstep with what was thought and said – however untrue – about Clinton during her campaign:
"Next time lets not invite artist who support racist organizations and are anti-police."
"cam awards [sic] Beyonce and Dixie Chicks? They are all anti American and trying to make statement. Had no business being there."
"This did not belong at the cmas. Beyoncé stands for nothing good, what a horrible choice."
"Looks like us white peoples lives don't care since the black people think we are pigs!!!"
We should have seen it coming. That undeniable fear, anger and, in some cases, hatred and racism were the perfect indicator of what was to manifest itself in polling stations on November 8th. White, primarily rural folk were fed up with having their way of life encroached upon and, even more so, minimized. And they did something about it on the one stage that really matters: the voting booth.
Tired of being marginalized, sick of being told their candidate was destined to lose and furiously angry at being underestimated, millions of Americans voted for Trump.
It was an anger that some of them first let fly a week early – albeit directed toward a different strong woman.
Watch Beyonce and the Dixie Chicks combine forces for their performance at the 50th annual CMA Awards.