98 Days: A Tale of Two Bay Areas
Good morning, Mischevians, I hope your week is off to a fabulous start. Dig in, because this is a long and windy one.
I want to tell you all about a man I met last week while on my way home from Philadelphia. I had somehow snagged the last seat on a the first flight out Friday morning, so when I saw an empty taxi queue at SFO, I praised the travel deities again and climbed in the car.
It will come as a shock to none of you that I am a chatty cab passenger. I quickly struck up a convo with my cab driver, let’s call him Eddie*, which started normally enough, as I professed my happiness at leaving Philadelphia and coming home. He asked me if I had been able to avoid the DNC while in Philly, and I told him that I’d actually been at the DNC itself, for work. Eddie became animated, asking if I’d seen Bill Clinton’s speech. I said that yes, I’d been fortunate enough to be in the room, and that it was amazing. He concurred, said Clinton was so inspiring, and told me he was a registered Democrat.
He then asked me if I was a Hillary supporter. I said yes, I was, still beaming with joy from the week before. He paused, drove a bit further, and then quietly said “I voted for Bernie.” I told him it that was great, that Bernie elevated so many liberal issues. I asked Eddie who he was voting for in the general election. He paused again, and then told me he’d be voting for Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson. Or for Donald Trump.
Just never Hillary.
After deplaning from a Democratic love fest selling Hillary hard (which, I must add, I was 100% into and loved,) I was confused. As someone who knows her policy proposals well, who phone banks and donates and has admired her since I was a kid, I asked him what he didn’t like about her.
He said Hillary was noncommittal. That she had no real ideas, and had never accomplished anything in her career. He said he thought Hillary spoke in generalities, and didn’t have an original thought in her head. That she was a liar. And he said he hated, HATED the sound of her voice. That she shouts all the time, and that he can’t imagine listening to her for four years.
He really wanted me to know he wasn’t a sexist, that he’d rather have any other woman at the top of the ticket “Michelle should run, did you hear that speech?,” but that if it came down to only Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, he’d vote for Donald Trump in a heartbeat.
I asked him what he liked about Trump. Eddie said that he admired how Donald Trump was a businessman with a great career, how we needed more businessmen in politics, and that he appreciated how Donald spoke his mind. That there was two much political correctness, and that Trump called bullshit on political correctness.
At this point, I gently asked Eddie what he thought about Trump’s more inflammatory remarks, specifically the rapists and murderers talking point, and how Trump said he wanted to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. Eddie’s responses took me aback - Eddie thought the comments were “stupid,” but that he didn’t believe that Trump actually meant them. “I don’t think he’s actually a racist,” he said, just that Trump knew how to get attention, and that comments like that were how he did it.
Besides, Eddie said, Trump only attacks if he gets attacked first. “Take, for instance, the image that Cruz tweeted of Trump’s wife…” I interrupted Eddie, stating that while the image of Melania in GQ was shared in completely bad taste, that it was shared by a PAC, not by the candidate himself. And that while I found it repugnant to shame a woman for that, that the difference was that Trump responded personally, on his own, dragging Heidi Cruz’s looks into it. Eddie paused, agreed with me. Said it probably wasn’t the best move. But that Cruz had always attacked first and Trump was just responding, “take his father in that photo with Lee Harvey Oswald, I bet he had nothing to do with JFK, but I’ve done research and the internet says it’s him…” He said look at all of the people “attacking” Trump. “Of course he’s going to hit back. And hit back hard."
Eddie repeated that he liked that Trump spoke his mind, that he was a good businessman with a good career, that it was about time the government was run by a business. “I’m a small business owner,” Eddie told me. “I’ve been driving this cab for decades, and I now take home a third less than I did two years ago.” He said money was really tight, and that it had been a tough few years. He lamented the Ubers and Lyfts of the world, that “they got away with anything and ignored the law,” while he had to pay for insurance, regulation, licensing, medallions, on his cab. “It all costs money. And I don’t know how much longer I can do it."
At this point, we’d arrived at the coffee shop at my destination. I thanked Eddie, tipped him well, told him I hoped he’d check out some of Hillary’s platforms, that I thought she was specific and detailed and fundamentally good, and that I was voting for her because I was a new American, and I believed in this country. I said it was still lovely to talk to him about politics.
As he was getting my bag from the trunk of the cab, he looked me in the eye and thanked me. “No one ever listens to my opinions on this stuff. I’ve lost friends over Trump, good friends, friends I’ve had for decades. They don’t pick up the phone any more. But you listened, even though you’re a Hillary supporter. Thank you for listening to me."
And then he drove away.
*not his real name