Almost All My Uber Riders Criticize Trump
Since the beginning of the primary election season, elections have always been a subject of discussion during my Uber trips. I always start the discussion with something like “are you having fun with the elections?”. Many riders have described the elections as “a circus”, “a joke” or “scary” and some have told me that the elections are so upsetting that they don’t want to talk about them.
Almost all the riders I have talked to about the elections (almost 500), criticized Trump and said they would not vote for him. The person who came closest to saying something positive about Trump is a gentleman from Alabama. He said that he was embarrassed that Alabama had voted for Trump but he was quick to make excuses for Alabamans. He said they voted for Trump because he speaks his mind and he is not politically correct. It almost sounded like the rider voted for Trump but he did not want to say it openly to me.
I don’t believe that of all the riders I have talked to, not a single one supports Trump given the overwhelming number of people voting for him in the Republican primary. There are two reasons why some Trump supporters may not want to openly admit it to me.
First, my heavy accent gives away the fact that I am an immigrant from Africa. Given Trump’s tirades against immigrants and Africans, Trump supporters may be unconformable being truthful about their support for him. Trump once said of Africans, “they are lazy fools only good at eating, lovemaking and thuggery”.
Second, some polls have suggested that most Trump supporters are uneducated white blue collar workers. Perhaps some people are concerned that by declaring their support for Trump, they may be assumed to be uneducated.
My own personal take on Trump
They say Trump is a demagogue. I completely agree – he is a very dangerous demagogue. He has the gift of drawing huge crowds to pay attention to his rhetoric, no matter how idiotic the rhetoric is. When Trump says he can shoot people in the streets and people will still vote for him, I believe him. There is a cross section of the American public that is so drawn to Trump that nothing he does or say will turn them away. It is a reality that defies any logic or conventional wisdom.
But so is the nature of demagogues. They seek people’s support by appealing to the most popular needs and prejudices rather than by using coherent and meaningful arguments. There are a number of parallels in Africa.
One of the most dangerous demagogues that has ever roamed the African continent is Idi Amin Dada of Uganda. To many Africans, he came across as a ruthless moron but he successfully employed demagoguery to win the support of a large cross section of the population. He blamed a poor economy on ethnic Indians and he expelled a large number of them from their only country of citizenship. I get to meet some of these ex-Uganda citizens in different parts of the world and listen to harrowing stories of their expulsion from Uganda and can’t help wondering what kind of monster would do that to other humans. It boggles the mind how some Ugandans could support this.
Then there is president Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. He implemented a chaotic land reform program where white commercial farmers were forcibly removed from their farms to resettle landless blacks with no farming skills. Millions of Zimbabweans supported their president on this move. But agriculture almost went to a halt and Zimbabwe went from the breadbasket of Africa to a land of famine. The economy, which used to be sustained by agriculture, went tumbling to a point where the value of the Zimbabwean dollar crushed to a rate of US$1 to billions of Zimbabwean dollars. Mugabe skillfully used demagoguery to blame the USA and Britain for the failing economy and millions of Zimbabweans believe the allegations and still support him.
Coming back to Trump - it is likely that he will continue talking about blocking all Muslims from entering America, building a wall along the Mexican border and expelling 11 million immigrants from America. He will continue insulting Mexicans, Africans, the disabled and women and still enjoy the support of tens of millions of Americans. Without the xenophobic utterances and insults, Trump doesn’t have anything else to offer to sustain his support.