Tuesday Travel : Big Apple bites: politics

It was instant love the first time I visited New York. Seeing that iconic pre 9/11 skyline as we drove into Manhattan is a memory etched gloriously into my brain. Then, over the 10 days I was there, the city worked its way into my blood. New York is a place you feel as much as see. It’s energy was palpable.
I was lucky enough to be shown around on that first visit by friends who lived there. So, I got to know the out of the way places as well as the obvious tourist stops.

Since that first time I’ve returned on many occasions.
Each visit has introduced me to yet another new, exciting experience or part of the city.
There have been many memorable moments; the homeless man who, on hearing my accent, asked me to relay a message to Roger Moore whom he had once met on a film set! The time I partied on the lower east side with one of the Village people (all together now Y M C A) while an artist set fire to a bed – as part of his art. The time I bumped into Hillary Clinton…..

..Well, that was on the trip I made a couple of weeks ago.

This trip was amazing again. ‘Home’ during the visit was a luxurious apartment a few streets down from where the late, great David Bowie had lived. A trip at the weekend to his ‘country’ place meant Hollywood legends as neighbours who just happened to come over for a leisurely lunch by the pool. I was truly spoiled. But it wasn’t all glitz. I made a point of meeting and speaking to a wide range of New York’s inhabitants, trying to gauge the mood of the city that never sleeps in this election year.

Here are some political snapshot impressions; small bites of the big apple, if you like:
Hillary Clinton is said by the mainstream media to be on target to become the first female President. I’m not so sure. However, any win may well be by default. I sensed little passion for her campaign even from avowed supporters. ‘She never says anything,’ was one grumble. ‘She’s so afraid of saying something wrong, she doesn’t say anything of any worth.’

Hillary supporters seemed to reserve all their passion for hating Donald Trump. Negative passion – rarely a good thing. And it doesn’t bode well for the next 4 years if she makes it (back) to the White House. It’s not as if Trump will be the opposition people can rally to or blame when things don’t go as they wish.

I came across Hillary on Broadway. She’d been to a matinee performance of Hamilton, the hot new show that is sold out until 2019. I was passing by. It seemed rude to not take a pic! Even in a small crowd, she was booed by a section.

Bernie Sanders still evokes misty eyed feeling. Would, coulda, shoulda.

Donald Trump evokes ALL the emotions! Raucous support from those who want him to ‘make America great again’, seething hatred from those who think they are better than him so why, oh why is he so popular? And therein lies the problem for the latter group. They never bothered to connect with swathes of the population and the Donald has. And now they’re secretly terrified it may be too late to hold back the tide.
Could Mr Combover actually become president? Don’t bet against it.

Ironically, the only people willing to discuss the possibility openly and honestly were the black, Hispanic and Muslim people I spoke to. Their approach was thoughtful and measured though strong in their desire not to see him come to power. They noted that in some respects he was a good candidate. He is independently wealthy and therefore not at the mercy of lobbyists. That he speaks about the issues ordinary people are worried about; jobs, large scale immigration, terrorism in the name of Islam, America’s identity, instead of the endless ’causes’ the wealthy elite push.

However, they disagreed vehemently with his proposed methods of tackling these issues because they saw them as bigoted. For example, they didn’t agree with stopping immigration from Muslim countries but they did want stricter vetting. So, ultimately Trump wasn’t getting their vote.

By contrast, it was hard to get the white New Yorkers (especially the wealthier ones) I met to discuss Trump beyond their mantra ‘he’s racist.’
Their own terror at being perceived as racist seems to have caused a near paralysis of debate and discussion within this group. It was hard to gauge what issues they cared about or why they would be voting for Hillary other than that she is not Trump.
This attitude is reflected (or shaped?) by sections of the mainstream media which largely deals with Trump by ridiculing him, dismissing his campaign as ‘racist’ thereby ending any debate.

Lack of sensible debate leads to fringe elements taking centre stage and that might explain the frequent answer I got to the question Donald or Hillary’ best summed by one man – ‘Hmm, which side of a crap sandwich do you want me to bite? I think, I’m going with neither. I’m going to withhold my vote.’

If that attitude prevails come November and the turnout is low, it’s anyone’s guess who could win.

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