My 72-Hour Safari in Clinton Country


n a recent March morning, as a nor’easter walloped an idyllic Brooklyn street with snow, members of the Park Slope Food Coop ambled inside, shopping for bargains on broccolini and organic wheatgrass. I was here under somewhat false pretenses, as a reporter from out of state to tour the co-op—the truth, but not the whole truth.

At the door, a young blond woman told me I wasn’t welcome to roam a single organic-mango punctuated aisle unless under the supervision of a co-op member. She instructed me to take an elevator upstairs, where I would find a customer service desk. There, I met several members. I told them I had traveled here to take the political temperature of Clinton Country. This place, I explained, seemed to be the epicenter of liberal consensus.

The Park Slope Food Coop—a 17,000-member-owned and operated food store with a vaguely communist-sounding name—is a Sam’s Club Republican’s fever dream of where card-carrying members of the East Coast elite shop for groceries. For starters, I could locate no industrial-sized containers of ranch dressing. All the food comes from no farther than 500 miles away, most of it from small farms. And the politics of the co-op’s members are decidedly progressive, in case you missed the front-page story of the Linewaiters’ Gazette, which is sort of like the co-op’s Pravda: “Immigrant Rights and Local Farms,” a piece that traces just how pivotal immigrants are to the PSFC’s food supply chain. One member I met estimated that, during the 2016 primary, 60 percent of the co-op’s members threw their support to Clinton and the other 40 percent supported Bernie Sanders. Not to mention that the co-op is situated in one of the toniest parts of Brooklyn, the site of Clinton’s campaign headquarters, and a borough that she won by 61 percent.

Inside, I met Elie Venezky, a 45-year math educator and entrepreneur who described himself as “upper middle class.” Venezky was here to put in his monthly 2 hours and 45 minutes in exchange for the privilege of accessing some of the city’s cheapest food prices. For the first few minutes of his shift, the Clinton voter laid out a relatively straightforward, if improbable, way Donald Trump could gain his support.

“If he came out in tears and admitted his whole life was a lie, and that he’s changing all of his policies, and that he’s going to fight for the people, and that maybe Putin isn’t such a great guy, sure, he could win me over that way,” the card-carrying member of the coastal elite told me. “But the chances of that happening are pretty slim.”

Why didn’t Venezky regret voting for Clinton, what with the stock market rallying and jobs aplenty, with people wishing one another Merry Christmas again, and with North Korea reportedly coming back to the diplomatic table to talk denuclearization?

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