I ended the first month of Trump the way I started it: by rallying downtown with a group of like-minded Los Angelenos who don’t believe Trump has any business in the office he occupies and needs to vacate it as soon as possible. There were lots of chants and signs, both witty and moving. My favorite of the funny signs was “IKEA makes better Fake Cabinets,” and the runner-up “Build a wall around Donald Trump and I’ll pay for it. ”
The occasion for today’s rally – there’s an anti-Trump rally every day somewhere, sometimes lots of somewheres – was President’s Day and the theme was “Not My President.” He’s sure not mine. Trump isn’t even a President, really. When he’s asked questions about national policy, he answers with stories about himself. He signs things without reading them. He pretty much goes where he wants to …. New York, Melbourne, Florida, Mar-a-Lago … which isn’t usually the White House. Although Trump does enjoy spending time in the Oval Office. He likes looking at the pictures.
On the way into the rally, I met a man named Mike. He is a Latino American, a Los Angeles native, and a self-proclaimed “Mexican for Trump.” He was at the southwest corner of City Hall, brandishing a sign announcing his support of Trump and yelling stuff, although Mike has a light voice and no one behind him or in the passing cars could clearly hear what he said. They could read the sign, though, and see his red Make American Great Again cap, and people were pissed. As I was passing Mike, a short Latina in her forties was yelling at him – red-faced – cursing Mike in Spanish. At least I think she was cursing him. I’m pretty sure “Chinga tu Madre” is not a compliment.
I felt like cursing Mike, too, and almost did. But he has a mild manner and I didn’t feel angry (or betrayed as I suspect the Latina felt betrayed). I just felt confused. What happened to Mike? What the hell happens to all Trump supporters, who are voting against their own interests? Who are getting conned?
I stopped and asked Mike why he liked Trump. He said it wasn’t about Trump personally, he liked his policies. He said Trump would create jobs. I told him he wouldn’t create jobs and told him why I thought that was true. I asked MIke if he was a Christian and if his religion was a factor in his support. MIke said he was a Christian but not much of one and I said, good, Trump isn’t either. Mike laughed. Then went on to say that Islam was a dangerous religion and killed people and that was the thing that most concerned him, why we had to keep them all out. Even the ones who helped us fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who will die if they can’t leave? I asked Mike. He said no, we should let them in. On a case by case basis. I asked him about Putin. Mike said he hated him. And the connection with Trump bothered him, but you can’t believe everything you read. I asked Mike what his number one reason for supporting Trump was and he said borders. He wants a wall between himself and the country from whence his parents immigrated, illegally, years ago. And he seemed to think all the homeless people downtown were somehow the result of lax immigration. I told Mike that more than 70% of L.A.’s homeless were black or white and that the percentage of Latinos was small and far less than their percentage in the general population. Mike hadn’t known that.
I asked him his name, told him mine, shook hands, and turned to leave. Mike thanked me for talking to him and said he respected me and my views. I said okay, man, have a good one. I didn’t respect his views, so I couldn’t say that, but I should have told Mike I respected him. It was small of me not to give him that. He’s a nice man – polite in the face of outrage – and it takes cohones to stand alone on that corner with his sign.