I have been spending some time in New York City. Last week, as the temperature plunged into the teens, I broke down and bought some headgear in a bid to retain whatever heat my head is generating these days. I went over to Trump Tower and spent $25 or so on a red “Make America Great Again” cap. The pleasant black lady at the counter informed me that the purchase would make me a “Trump donor.” She supplied me with a campaign finance form, which I filled out in a minute or so. Her manner was simple and transparent.
In the subsequent days, I walked through a host of diverse neighborhoods in New York City, from Wall Street to Spanish Harlem to Times Square to the Upper East Side. I didn’t set out to perform a political experiment but one happened. Just from largely benign or even positive reactions to my hat, I learned that the dominant media’s claim of supposed widespread hostility to Donald Trump is hollow.
“I like your hat,” said a bellhop to me at a boutique luxury hotel a block or so off Times Square. I had taken the hat off inside the hotel but placed it next to me on a seat. The bellhop, who described himself as “half Italian, half Hispanic,” made a point of walking over and complimenting me on my Trump hat. “I have never voted Republican in my life,” the bellhop said to me. “But I am going to vote for Trump.” The bellhop didn’t have any illusions about Trump. He knows that he shoots his mouth off too much and that he is flawed, but he also recognized his “ability to get things done” and that he “isn’t the typical politician.” Eager to talk, the bellhop told me about his “uncles” who are also supporting Trump despite never having voted Republican before.
I may be the only person on the island of Manhattan wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. At least, I have never seen anyone else wearing one. It is possible many New Yorkers don’t yet associate the slogan with Trump. I don’t know. But those who do didn’t seem to mind my wearing it. “I like your hat,” said a distinguished-looking banker on Wall Street.
Some unsavory New Yorkers have also complimented me on the hat. “A lot of people have those hats at home,” a man at a cigar store said to me, before adding, apropos of nothing, that at the store “we don’t talk about politics but about p-ssy.” In between telling me about an “Asian f—k joint where you can get full service for only $180,” he offered his essential reason for supporting Trump: “He tells it like it is.” This open lecher, who looked like he belonged to the cast of The Sopranos, politely wished me well and then turned back to his buddies to resume a conversation about the efficacy of “buttplugs” during his long sessions with “call girls.”
To my surprise, no one has hissed at me for wearing the hat. Walking around Spanish Harlem, which looks like Night of the Living Dead after dark, people looked up at my hat but didn’t seem to care. At the Hotel St. Regis, one woman, heavily laden with the marks of plastic surgery, gave me a benign and amused smile upon seeing the hat.
If anything, the hat is a useful conversation starter. It even resulted in a possible television interview on German television. A correspondent, with her cameraman in tow, saw my hat and asked if I would submit to some questions. Who knows if she will use the interview. But she seemed thrilled to have stopped me and peppered me with questions for a good five minutes or so.
Last Sunday I wandered over to 30 Rock and walked up to the window behind the Weekend Today show. Careful watchers of the show would have seen me hovering behind meteorologist Dylan Dreyer while donning the cap.
From all of this, you might conclude that I will be voting for Trump in the primary. I won’t be. I will be voting for Cruz. But Cruz is going to lose and Trump will win the nomination, at which point I will support Trump for the simple reason that he is a hell of a lot better than Hillary. Trump is wrong on some issues; Hillary is wrong on all issues.
My hope is that Trump will select Cruz as his running mate. Together they would be a devastating duo against Hillary. Should that happen, which seems improbable at the moment given their recent squabbling, Trump will poach disgruntled white Democrats and even some middle-class minority Democrats (like the bellhop I mentioned above) from Hillary while Cruz would inspire conservatives, many of whom sat on their hands in 2012 out of feelings of ambivalence toward Romney, to show up at the polls.
Come January 2017, if I am still in New York City, I can safely predict that I won’t be the only one wearing a red hat.
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