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Among The Hillary Haters In Philadelphia

I had a meeting this morning and I was running late. I realized I had missed the bus and there were no cabs to be found. I started walking towards Center City all while hoping I’d miraculously run into a … Read More

By / April 18, 2008

I had a meeting this morning and I was running late. I realized I had missed the bus and there were no cabs to be found. I started walking towards Center City all while hoping I’d miraculously run into a lost cabbie. Didn’t happen. I stopped at a busy intersection, pulled out a five dollar bill and started approaching cars.

“Five bucks if you drop me at Market Street.”

After suffering glares from a couple of old people and making a couple of frightened girls zoom off – I shouldn’t have had my hood up – I found an African-American guy in an Explorer, listening to Ne-Yo, pulled up and let me in.

“I’m in a good mood today,” he said.

I got in. After a brief lull in conversation I reminded him that later in the day Obama
would be holding a major rally near the Liberty Bell.

“You gonna vote?” I asked.

“Hell yeah,” he said.

“Who for?”

“Obama!”

“Why?” I asked.

“I don’t trust a woman to be President,” he said.

I was shocked. Here was a black guy not voting for Obama because the junior senator references Jay-Z in his speeches.

That was sarcasm, by the way.

I egged him in a little bit and found that he didn’t particularly have a reason for supporting Obama aside from the fact that Hillary was a woman.

“Well, also because that’s what my Church wants me to vote,” he said.

I probably should have stopped and inquired whether it was his Church that was feeding him the line about Hillary’s gender. But I had reached my stop. I paid him and scampered off.

(Yes, I did make my meeting on time).

***

I found my morning encounter interesting because of another experience involving Obama and Hillary.

One night, three of us – me, one Princeton graduated white guy in Big Pharma, and a middle class Indian lawyer – got in a cab being driven by an African immigrant. He heard us talking about politics and asked us who we were voting for.

“I’m leaning towards Obama,” I said.

My Indian friend – a former Republican – said he was totally for Obama, while the white guy said that he would support anyone who didn’t raise his taxes.

“So two Obama and one McCain?” the cabbie confirmed. “Why not Hillary?”

Before I could answer, he answered his own question.

“I tell you why, man! She lies about every policy. Voted for war, says she’s against it. Says she’s for little guy, is in bed with corporations.”

“So you’ll vote for Obama, then?” I asked.

“No man, I can’t vote,” he replied. He wasn’t yet a citizen. However, he assured the three of us that every passenger he picked up he would try to convert them away from Hillary.

“Even McCain is better than her,” said the cabbie who can’tvote.

***

A few days earlier, I was taking a trip out to the sub-urbs to see one of my friends. I went to 30th Street train station and waited for my train to arrive. In the meantime, I saw a couple of Obama activists approaching the travelers. To pass the time, my friend and I went up to them.

“Pretend to be a Hillary supporter,” I told him.

He went up (naturally) to the cute girl and started peppering her with questions about Obama as well as dropping positive commentary about Hillary.

She argued with him fervently. Ultimately, though, her argument could be summed up in one line: “How can you trust Hillary? She’s just not trust-worthy.”

Not wanting to be left out of talking to the cute girl I chimed in: “That’s an interesting accent you got there. Where are you from?”

“Oxford University,” she said. “I’m a visiting student at Penn.”

When the train arrived, we walked away. As we left, the girl who couldn’t vote in the elections reminded us again that Hillary was untrustworthy.

*** Hillary hate is pretty high in Philadelphia. It’s not just the Churches, and the cabbies, and the rich Penn kids. It also infects the right-wing anti-abortion activists.

When I was returning from the aforementioned meeting earlier I got on a bus that went past the historic City Hall.

At a distance, hanging between two light-poles, right next to the Masonic Temple, were two tremendous signs.

The letters were in black, except for the word ‘Jezebel’, in parentheses.

“HILLARY (Jezebel) KILLS BABIES” read the first sign. The second one featured a gruesome picture of a dismembered fetus.

After I pushed down the bile in my throat, I asked myself why the sign didn’t say anything about Obama. After all, he, like Hillary, is also pro-Choice.

***

It was at that point that the germs for this article began coming to my head. It appeared that no one had particular reasons for their Obamamania other than the fact that they hated Hillary.

I also begin asking myself. If Obama’s support in Philadelphia – a relatively well-educated and progressive city – is premised on such irrationality, then can’t it be the case that in other parts of the country, support for Hillary or McCain or even Bush, is also premised on irrationality and closed-mindedness? If so, what does it really say about politics in America? Is it really the case that our leaders are bankrupt or is it that our leaders are a reflection of ourselves; even, dare I say, Obama? 

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