The driver really wants to talk, I can tell, but I’m just not up for it. I watch him in the rearview though. The way he looks at the world through the windows, seems like he sees more good than bad in it. We’re listening to the radio, he and I, and eventually it rolls around to Trump. So I ask.
“What do you think of him?”
“What do I think of Trump. Well, I can talk on that for hours, well past getting you home.”
“I’m listening!” There's a cold moment. Politics is risky. And I could easily have made a poor bet.
“All right. Trump. It’s not even him that shocks me now. It’s that these are real people, millions of people who are voting for this divisiveness, this hatred. You can’t come here, and you can’t go there. It’s like the past years we all fought so hard, all that progress we made. Like it never happened. No civil rights, no women’s rights, no gay rights. It just makes me sad.”
He shakes his head, first at this sadness and then at a few jaywalkers who cross him as he takes a hard turn. “Some ways it doesn’t matter who gets the chair, because this is how people feel and they’re saying it. They yelling it. This is the world my children, my grandchildren going to have to live in. This is what we made for them. You know what I’m saying.”
What I didn’t expect when I asked the question was that he would move me to tears. The traffic gets momentarily complex and I pinch the tip of my thumb hard, the pain rolls back the tears. I want him to keep talking, and I hope he doesn’t hear my throat catch when I ask what he thinks about the democrats.
“Now Bernie, he got good ideas. Sure, I want to live in that world. But I live in the real world. None of that going to get done. You would have to undo years and years of legislation and policy and power structure. This is just classism. It’s all about class and that’s not going away. We got ‘all men are created equal’ and the the pursuit of happiness. That’s what this country is supposed to be. That’s what the promise is. But you know, that only goes so far.” He slices a level hand chest-high through the air. “You can get this much happiness and that’s all you get.”
“You said it.” I’ve got my voice back now. “There’s the rhetoric and there’s the reality.”
He turns around with his arm bent over the seat and his fist curled. “That’s right.” He’s laughing. “We can bump on that. Yes we can.”
It feels like solidarity he’s offering. Or maybe that’s me wishing. He’s working and I’m tipping. That can’t be gotten around.