In Gloria Steinem's book, My Life on the Road, she writes that you can always anticipate the outcome of an election by talking to cab drivers in the weeks leading up to it. This week I was speaking at events in Manchester and Cincinnati and took the time to ask the cab drivers their thoughts about the midterms. Bottom line: We have a lot of work to do in the next eleven days.
Two of my drivers (both white, one a woman) had voted for Barack Obama and were now Trump supporters. The most surreal part of my conversations with them was that they were perfectly comfortable sharing this with me, a black woman who by that point in the conversation they knew lived in Harlem. As they spoke passionately about how the President is "bringing back jobs," "not taking crap from other countries," "protecting us from terrorists and illegals," and "putting America first," there was no caveat, hesitation, shame, or even confrontation. They truly believe what he is telling them and trust the media outlets that disseminate his propaganda and bolster his agenda. They were not persuaded by any of the sound facts I offered to counter the false narratives.
I sat in the back seat thinking to myself, this is what the normalization of hate looks like. It's not the angry mobs at a rally or a stampede of tiki torches in Charlottesville. It's good, decent people who have been artfully manipulated into undermining their own self interest and blaming their pain on vulnerable people they should be in solidarity with. It was clear to me that we've lost the hearts and minds of some of our fellow citizens. Which is why we must win at the polls. Please vote on November 6th, encourage everyone you know to do so, and join efforts to recruit people to vote, too. You can get more information about creating a #VotingSquad, hosting a voting party, or campaigning for your local official by visiting When We All Vote, an initiative spearheaded by Michelle Obama.
At one point in my taxi conversations, I noticed that my female driver was wearing a hand brace. She said the pain was getting worse but she doesn't have health insurance. When we arrived at the airport I insisted on taking out my own suitcase because I didn't want her to injure the hand any further. When she opened the trunk I noticed two bags of groceries and a pink toddler car seat.
"Do you have a daughter?" I asked.
"Yeah, she's my world," she said, beaming.
I beamed back. "That's how I feel about my daughter, too."