Coffee Shop Talk: Presidential Protestors

I’m one of those coffee shop writers. Over the years I have met individuals who have expanded my awareness and become connections for new jobs, events, and experiences, whilst enjoying the caffeinated brews. As a writer with an insatiable curiosity, I decided to use my networking skills to become the Coffee Shop Storyteller of New Orleans. All the stories shared here are from consequential strangers and newfound friends that I meet over a cup of joe. 


I met David at CC’s Coffee in Mid City. David was reading a newspaper and telling one of the coffee house's employees how important it was to have a protest to tell Trump that citizens want his tax returns. In a world of "fake news," the issue of his tax returns was one Republicans have shielded Trump on. I decided to engage in conversation with this impassioned person and make my mind up from there. I was surprised then to learn that David was a last-minute Trump voter. While heading out to vote, David debated — there were a lot of things that could've been concerns about Trump, but felt that Hillary was more compromised.  


Since the election, David tells me that what he values is constantly under attack. “Trump was supposed to go after the corruption in politics and he showed everyone that he didn’t care what they thought leading up to the election," he said. "Now, he has appointed people to head agencies that they want to destroy. Trump has openly nominated people like DeVos — who has no experience, but she donated millions to Trump. People are buying their way into the government to destroy, or alter what benefits themselves. This isn’t draining a swamp of corruption. This is blindly allowing corruption to continue. And we can’t even trust what our own President tells us.” 


David points to an article in the newspaper still in hand about Russia, then to another about Democrats blocking a vote on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. “Trump has made this a reality television program that the media is soaking up. What citizens of this country do not understand is that the protections and supports of what makes the middle of America work is being stripped away. Trump doesn’t care about the poor people making less than him. Republicans aren’t making laws for the common citizen. Right now our country is being hijacked by individuals who are selling their legislative influence to big business.” David was no longer at his own table now as he was explaining this to me. He has sat down right with me as I make notes on what he is saying. David leans in to make sure I am putting down exactly what he says. 


I ask him if there isn’t one thing that Trump has done for the average citizen. David shakes his head and puts the newspaper on the table. “Due to Trump’s influence Republicans are taking more money for fixing things for companies. Verizon, Comcast, and more gave Republicans millions to push a bill that allowed them to sell yours and my web browsing history.” David pauses and takes a deep breath. 


“I’m giving your question a chance here. I’m thinking about it. Everything that Trump has said is bullshit. Roll back EPA for coal jobs with no guarantee that those jobs will appear. The wind and solar industry have more jobs then coal. Right now I want to focus on the conflict of interest that Trump wants to ignore. What’s worse I can’t tell you anything good Trump has done, except get people like me pissed enough that they might vote people helping Trump do this shit out of office.” 


David tells me on Saturday, (4.15) at 3PM, there will be a protest at New Orleans City Hall (1300 Perdido St.) to demand Trump’s tax returns. “We have a President who lines his pockets and is working with his family to maximize the profit of his business through his political appointment,” David told me. "We have to come together and make a stand. We are being shown that unless we pay our way into government our freedoms do not matter. We have to do something, or all of us will be sorry.”  


There is a word that many Americans felt when Trump won. The word freudenschade perfectly describes the lows that many people felt as though Trump’s past behavior was ignored on his path to the Presidency. I learned this word when a woman in her twenties named Amy chimed in to the conversation agreeing with David. Freudenschade, which means feeling sorrow at another person's success. Amy tell me that right now many Americans are watching this all unfold and feeling like they can do little. Amy believes that people are watching Trump’s bad press like it’s a T.V. drama, and until it directly effects them it won’t be real.


It seems to me that Trump has clearly done something good that the media has picked up well. Trump is getting people angry and making them feel like they are on the defensive. That may not affect Trump’s decisions all that much. But it is going to have impact on everyone who is on the bandwagon for his agenda. Amy pointed me to seek out Indivisible NOLA, a local organization that promotes civic and community engagement through non-partisan, grassroots activism that centers on inclusivity and intersectional justice. Amy encouraged me to check out some of their events like Resist Trump Tuesdays, or the tax protest. 


While I found myself taken back a bit by David’s intensity, I agreed with a lot of what he said at CC's. Getting prepared to use our votes and our voice to tell elected officials what we want has to be a priority. That type of vocal political engagement may be a new experience for some people. I am left thinking about Amy’s statement about fearing Pence becoming President from an impeachment of Trump.  


What we have today is a President who threatens those who do not agree with him. Everyday I listen to the news and expect to hear more of what Trump has done to remove protections from people, help businesses make profits, and fan the chaos that his administration makes. That word, chaos, it seems to be the direction things are headed. No different than misdirection from a magician, we won’t be able to see what is ready to go in Trump’s other hand. I need another coffee… 


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The text above is a column and expresses only the opinion of the author, not NOLA Defender or NOLA Defender’s Editorial Board.

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