My Happy Trump Story: What I Learned About Demonizing Those Who Disagree With Me
So I've been thinking a lot about all the millions of people who voted for Trump, and for months I demonized them. If they could vote for a guy I believed I knew, from my own experience, was a truly dangerous man, then anyone who voted for him had to be the same.
But over the past week, I've found myself thinking that the people who voted for Trump were channelling their own fears and hopes through him, as I dealt with my fears by so vociferously opposing him.
I've also been thinking that the demonizing -- me of them, them of people like me -- isn't doing anyone any good and it's only creating more division and anger and fear.
This morning I was driving to NYC during the morning rush hour, to give a talk to several hundred people committed to service to others in their work. It was raining intensely, and the traffic was stopped dead. I was afraid I was going to be late, and without going into the details, I drove like a madman over a barrier, totally illegally and unsafely, to get onto the highway and out of traffic that otherwise seemed inescapable.
I was also looking at my phone to find a better route when all of a sudden I realized I was about to hit the car in front of me and I jammed on my brakes. I could hear contact, but it wasn't big, and when I looked at the back of the car, I didn't see any damage. I pulled up next to the driver, opened my window, and told him as much.
"I'm not going to take your word for it," he said, understandably, "Pull over."
I did, and I got out of my car, and he got out of his, and I realized that his was a big guy it was clear I didn't want to mess with. He told me that he was a retired detective for the NYPD, and I wasn't surprised. He asked me what the hell I was doing driving over a barrier to get on the highway and then ramming into him. I explained about my talk, and being late, and I apologized profusely.
There was one clear ding on the back of his bumper. He asked me for my license. I thought "Oh God I'm going to be here for a half hour and I'll definitely miss my talk."
"How about if I just pay you right now for getting it repaired?"
He said "How much are you thinking?"
I said "How about $200?" I couldn't imagine it would cost that much, but it was a BMW he was driving, and who knew?
He said "Ok" and that was that. Almost as an afterthought, he asked me my name, and I told him.
An hour ago -- around 5 pm -- my cell phone rang. It was the detective whose car I'd hit earlier in the day. Turns out he is now a private investigator, which is how he got my cell phone.
He just wanted to tell me that he had taken his car into his BMW dealer to show him the ding, and the BMW guy said to him "Hey Mike, you already that ding." So Mike was calling to say he didn't want to keep my $200.
I was incredibly touched. "Look, I said, why don't you take the $200 and contribute it to a cause you really care about?"
"Well, that would be the Christopher Reeve Foundation," he said. "Because my son is a quadriplegic as a result of a diving accident he had 20 years ago."
"That sounds just right," I said. "Do it."
"So you wrote The Art of the Deal with Trump huh?" he said.
"I did," I said.
"And you had a lot to say about him."
"I did,"I said. "Were you for Trump?"
"I thought they were both terrible choices," he told me. "But I thought Trump was the lesser of evils. But Jesus, I wish there had been other choices."
"We should have a drink," I said.
"Yea, we should," he replied. "You're a good guy. I'll send you an email and we'll get together."