Some of you may be familiar with the Washington DC phenomena of “slugging.” For those that are not I will give you a quick description. Traffic is horrendous during the rush hours. This has led to an informal arrangement between drivers and riders (slugs) to allow the driver of the vehicle to get into the HOV lanes, particularly on I-95 and I-395, and get across the bridges into DC in a faster manner. During the morning commute drivers will arrive at park and rides and will see a long line of commuters. The driver announces his destination and the first two people in line going to that destination get in the car. In the evenings there are prearranged pick up points for the destinations back to the commuter’s vehicles. Since I am travelling to the Springfield area the two park and ride destinations are known as “Bob’s” and “Rolling Valley.” Here is an interesting part of this description. The “Bob’s” destination is in reference to a Bob’s Big Boy hamburger restaurant that was in this location over 30 years ago. It has long since closed but in slug lines everyone still refers to the destination as “Bob’s.” I am sure new people must wonder who this Bob is.
Last night I picked up two slugs for the ride home. One was an African-American gentleman who worked at HUD. The other was a gentleman of Indian descent who worked at the FAA. During the 35-minute ride to the Rolling Valley parking lot we had an interesting discussion. The recent election came up and both shared some opinions that I found surprising.
The African American man told me that he normally voted Democrat but voted for Trump this time around. His reason was he felt the Democrat party spent to much of its time and effort on social issues and he was uncomfortable with some of their emphasis. Specifically he said that he had a 15 and 13 year old daughters and he did not want “some dude waking up one morning and deciding that he was a girl and walking into their bathroom at school.” Obviously this was an over generalization of the issue and perhaps not characterized correctly but it resonated with him and he was of the opinion that these social issues were the only thing Democrat candidates cared about. Nobody seemed to care about the cost of living and good jobs.
This prompted the Indian American man to pipe in and say that he had voted for Trump as well. His reason was immigration. He said that his parents came to the United States and they did it legally, applying for immigration and obeying all the rules. It bothered him when he heard politicians start to defend those that just walk across the border or get her by other means and basically ignore the laws and rules about coming to this country.
I found this surprising only because I was guilty of assuming these two men would vote for the Democrat in an election based on racial or ethnic stereotyping. I allowed myself to forget that the American public, no matter what group we try to place them in, share a lot of common concerns about issues that some politicians fail to recognize as ones they would be concerned about. I think this is true of both sides of the political spectrum where Republicans write off many in minority communities assuming they will vote for the Democrat no matter what and Democrats make an equally faulty assumption that these people will support them without really addressing issues that might be important to them as average Americans.