Last week I wrote about the positive reactions to my “Make America Great Again” hat as I walked the Big Apple’s streets. Since then, wearing the hat has produced even more pleased responses, many from Democrats one might call closeted Trump supporters.
“Hillary has a body count, man,” said a black bellhop at the City Club Hotel on New York City’s historic and charming 44th Street after seeing the red hat in my hand. “She is dishonest and Trump is straightforward,” he explained after I inquired about his reason for supporting Trump. Are you, I asked, a Democrat? “Yes,” he said.
For the hell of it, I wore the red hat while strolling through one of the most posh stores in New York City, Bergdorf-Goodman. “You look like a man on a mission,” said a salesman on its seventh floor. Judging by the man’s speech pattern and flamboyant manners, the salesman appeared gay. I girded myself for a gibe or two but none came. “I love Trump,” the man. “He is a leader at a time when no one is leading.” A colleague of his, a black woman standing nearby, chipped in that she “liked Trump’s beautiful family” and his ethic of success. Do you, I asked them both, typically vote Republican? No, they replied. They both agreed that Hillary was too awful to support and that Trump’s business acumen, big personality, and refreshing directness rendered him an acceptable Republican in their eyes. The black woman made it clear that she aspired to the level of success that Trump enjoys. By the end of our conversation, she was resolved to head later that afternoon to Trump Tower to pick up a red “Make America Great Again” hat.
“I have a feeling Trump is going to win,” an Uber driver from a country in Africa opined to me. He too contrasted Trump’s candor with Hillary’s slipperiness.
On the night of one of the worst snowstorms in New York City’s history, I had to scramble for dining options. Most restaurant owners closed early and sent their workers home so that they could catch the subways to the boroughs before a city decree stopped them in the afternoon. One of the few places open was the Blue Bar at the Hotel Algonquin, so I ate there. It just so happened that I was sitting next to one of the most accomplished architects in the country. I won’t violate his privacy and name him, but we had a pleasant conversation which touched upon the presidential race. It turns out that the architect is a Trump supporter. “The guy is a natural leader,” the architect commented, noting that Trump’s rivals appeared wan by comparison. The country needs a “decisive” president, he continued.
Many of the black women who work the counters at Trump Tower are Democrats and are under no obligation to support Trump’s politics. I often go into Trump Tower and chat with them. Most of them say they will vote against their party for Trump. A black waiter, seeing my hat, made a special point of coming over to me to discuss politics. He was dismayed by the chattering class’s enthusiasm for a Bloomberg run and enthused about Trump. “I have worked here for twenty years. He is a great guy to work for,” he said.
A few people have joked with me about the hat. “Uh oh, let’s call security,” a black man at a deli said upon seeing my hat. Yet even he had to acknowledge that Trump is amusing and shrewd. Another man, who looked like a hobo (yet turned out to be the son of an Upper East Side pro-abortion doyenne; his ancestry amazingly checked out after I did a google search on him) burst out in laughter when he saw my hat. “You are wearing that on the Upper East Side?” he asked jocularly. But he didn’t particularly dislike Trump either and wanted to e-mail me some “short stories” he has been secretly producing. His literary work, he said, made his hobo-like existence tolerable to his rich mum.
The only unambiguously negative response came from a man who was walking out of 30 Rock. He saw my hat and started sputtering. “You racist, misogynist pig,” he said. I caught up with him and asked, “Are you an NBC employee?” He wheeled on me and for a second I thought he was going to throw a punch at me. I asked him again if he was an NBC employee. He again declined to answer, leading me to suspect that he probably is one. A few days earlier, a Today Show security official asked me to take the cap off because it is “political.” I of course didn’t and can be seen on last Friday’s show donning it behind Al Roker and Savannah Guthrie, as well as a guest giving viewers tips on how to shovel snow properly.
Were the candidate different, such a demand would spark a story about bias at the Today Show. But “NBC to Trump Sympathizer: Take Off Your ‘Make America Great Again’ Hat” doesn’t constitute a newsworthy headline for the mainstream media, which is in the tank for Hillary and trembling at the prospect of a Trump presidency. Al Roker gave me a good long look after seeing my cap. He looked a bit concerned. The sight may have even moved his infamous bowels.
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