Donald Trump has changed America in his first 100 days. Of this I have no doubt, as I experienced the change firsthand on a recent flight from Los Angeles to Portland, Ore.
The flight was about an hour late leaving L.A. and was full. I was seated in the back in seat 28D on the aisle. Three white males were traveling together in seats 27 A, B, and C. The flight was uneventful. Passengers deplaned in typical fashion, and with a full plane, it was slow going. I was up in the aisle ready to go with a few people including a little girl, about 4 years old, behind me also ready to go.
The three males in row 27 waited until the plane was completely empty in front of us before they even got up. The flight crew was in the front of the plane. As I went past them the man in the aisle seat stood up and blocked my way with his arm actually pushing me back a bit. I must say I was tempted to see if my FBI training, although a bit rusty, would have allowed me to inflict some damage on that arm. Our FBI trainers said you never forget. However, I wanted to go home, as did the people behind me, and that little girl didn’t need to see an altercation. I like the airline and want to continue flying with them, and I like my TSA pre-check status. I also didn’t want to be on the local news or go viral on social media, so restraint was the better part of valor. I did comment on his rudeness, and then it started.
The “dyke/lesbian” taunts. I haven’t heard those in decades, and maybe never in a place like a commercial plane. So I have these three white males in front of me calling me names. I answered, keeping it low-key and civil. Then I heard one of them say, “This is America.” What? When that is said to you it has an impact. What does that imply? This is America and I am lesser than you? I guess so.
I had to respond, and that led to more taunts. By now we were walking down the aisle and onto the Jetway. I heard one of them say, “This is Portland, not San Francisco.” Good thing he knew that, because as soon as we got into the terminal they were lost. I had my last laugh and walked to the exit while they stood there befuddled.
Donald Trump has changed us. In his America, white males can man-handle a woman who dares to step ahead of them. Public taunting of people deemed “other” is fine, because this is America.
This is only the first 100 days of the Trump administration. In those first 100 days we see the same buffoon we saw on the campaign trail. He didn’t change as some hoped he would. But he’s changing us.
We are nervous about North Korea and doubt his and his generals’ ability to keep us from escalation. I live on the West Coast and I’m deeply concerned about war. I worry about the other “nuclear option” that will make our Supreme Court the final leg of a triad completing the right-wing partisan takeover of our government. That next appointment will destroy us if Donald Trump makes it with Mitch McConnell as majority leader in the Senate.
I’m really getting convinced the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton — we need an independent investigation now, not later. I’m pretty sure the Trump family is making money off us. We’ll never see those tax returns. It’s Donald Trump’s world and we just live in it. And it’s only the first 100 days. Don’t forget the wall and health care. He is tearing us apart in ways that will take us decades to repair. I will not see it in my lifetime.
The taxi driver on the way to the Los Angeles airport was a Mexican man in the upper range of middle age. He was an American citizen and was informed about the issues. We had a nice talk. He told me he started a small trucking business when he came here from Mexico and employed 12 people. He takes his daughters with him when he votes so they learn how important it is. I told him I do some political writing. When we got to the airport he got out of the cab and we shook hands. We were both Hillary supporters. This is a tale of two Americas. We know which one is the real America. Now, what are we going to do about it?
SUSAN SURFTONE is a musician and just released the EP Making Waves Again.