Chicago, Part one
Talk to cabbies in Chicago. It’s an insight into why America was great. Still fierce and furious about the Trump election, I felt my anger over boiling to such a point that I could not restrain myself from engaging taxi cab drivers into chatter about their reactions to the Trump victory. Not surprisingly, all drivers had been immigrants to the States, four from Africa, one from Romania.But unlike most surly or silent drivers here at home, these men were ebullient, thoughtful and critical thinkers, willing to share their thoughts on the election, and to their credit, every single one was willing to hold off judgment, hoping Trump had only manipulated political rhetoric for the sake of election. I could not be as fair in my estimation.These fellows were awaiting the actual behaviours of Trump on the world stage. I was reminded of the fact that people outside of the States and Canada who deem only graduates of colleges and universities as smart and educated are so wrong and biased in their belief that book learning and higher education solely open minds. In fact, on Meet the Press last weekend,Chuck Todd also, apologized saying , my late dad would have kicked my butt” for that arrogance when bypassing populations that were not “educated” in post secondary institutions, deriding the “ rust belt”, etc. We tend to forget that in many places in the world, people do read newspapers and think and discuss in cafes, street corners and in shops, alive and interested in politics. How many people in the US still believe Canadians live in tepees and use dog sleds in Canada, some even thinking Canada is just another state? When studying in Philadelphia, my daughter encountered that mind set continually.
Because we are a country of diversity, I warmed to the stories of these drivers, all working the American Dream. S, arriving from Ethiopian in 1983, has four daughters, one at Harvard, one at Northwestern, the other two still at home.A friendly cab driver loving and respectful of his wife Sheba also contributes to the country where his children have grown up and was very willing to express cogent views on the election.Still somewhat baffled by the results, he explained he left his country at 20 where his mum and seven siblings still reside because of the political scene. Another man from Nigeria just back from a visit home, also with a teen age son, has been driving a cab for more than twenty years. He relates that his boy believes Hillary did not win because she is a woman. Worried about the demise of Obamacare, he explains that even paying 20% of premiums for his wife’s cancer treatments has been a huge struggle. One other piloting our ride, lauded a friendship with a Syrian guy who “ was the best man” ever. The outright pride, humility but confidence of each man was visible in their speech, asserting strong values of family, church and friendships made me think they could represent the poster boys of immigration.
Another driver explained how he had supported Bernie Sanders because as he refuted his friends, “ Bernie’s not just for blacks…he’s for every one”. This particular man also imparted that a friend of his had worked on Trump’s condo, being given $30,000 to purchase materials; however, the invoice for the rest,$70,000 was unattended to. The man confronted Trump, following him into a restaurant and demanding the remainder.Trump refused, saying, “You can use my name for advertisement”. According to our driver, his friend sued and won. This was not an unfamiliar story. For the umpteenth time I pondered how could farmers and shop keepers and the poor of the country actually think that they would be treated better than the people stiffed by Trump personally. How could their lives be made better, “America made great “by someone unwilling to pay his own workmen, his taxes or shuffle wives like cards? Shouldn’t private and public be aligned?
Only the Romanian appeared to be a Trump supporter, reading my mind , when he said, “ People ( mea culpa) who call the Trump voters ‘ stupid’ are no better than Trump calling Mexicans ‘ rapists’”. Perhaps, but I cannot accept that any thinking person ( like my Africans) would buy that a homophobe, racist, thin skinned , misogamist would make life better for them.
In blaming the press, Trump should include them in his victory, for in giving him ( too much on air ) time, taking him seriously, and even critiquing him, they put him on the airwaves and fanned people’s discontent of snobbery towards the working classes? Had the press ignored his rants, turned down the volume, they would have helped to silence his voice and forgone elevated ratings. That Trump may refuse media access now or tone them down is in deed ironic : they built him a stage from which he pontificated and grabbed the ears of the malcontents.
The women, the blacks, the Hispanics who voted Trump: I truly don’t get it. Nor the democrats who stayed home.What can be said? All drivers were aghast that here in America, people were marching in the streets. Unbelievable.And so very tragic.