Yesterday on my way to my hotel in New Orleans, the GPS app sent my driver across the Mississippi river - which meant a very long Lyft ride. I asked my driver if I could ask her a personal question (we had been chatting - and she told me a shirt ton about herself already*). I asked her how motivated she felt to vote in 2o2o, and she said not at all.
She is a 60something woman who recently lost her job as a home health nurse when her patient died. She has been a Lyft driver for 6 days bc she needs something to do. She is married, is originally from Mississippi, and is on medicare. It didn’t sound to me like she had kids? She didn’t talk about them, but she is very close to the family of the man she had been caring for. She often takes care of his grandchildren - a 16 year old girl and a 19 year old girl with downs syndrome. Their mother died a few years ago from cancer, so her presence in their lives has been really important. The older girl called her while we were in the car - she calls every day.
She told me that whoever is president has no effect on her because “they are all the same.” I asked if that meant she felt that her life was exactly the same under Obama and Trump (she is Black/African-American)? She said yes.
I tried to figure out some issues that might be important to her. Climate change? No, whatever happens happens and God will look out for her. Healthcare? No, she has medicare and not everyone should get medicare bc people cheat and get medicaid/medicare when they don’t deserve it (I circled back to this later). College debt? Of no concern to her.
I had a sense that healthcare was the in with her. My point was not to talk about any one candidate - or any one party - I just wanted to see what she might care about. I suggested to her that healthcare seemed like it could be a really important issue for her given that she is a home healthcare nurse -and that if we had more funding for healthcare that could create more jobs, and more coverage for long-term care. She thought that was important. I told her that some candidates were supporting medicare for all which would mean that *everyone* would have healthcare coverage. She said that she had been unemployed when she was younger and lost her healthcare and got really depressed. But she said she knew God would get her through it. I suggested that medicare for all would have ensured she was covered. She said it was really hard when she got coverage again and had to change doctors - and I said medicare for all would help that.
The son of the man she cared for is now unemployed - so I mentioned that medicare for all would ensure he — and his daughters — had healthcare consistently as well. She thought that would be good.
It was a challenging conversation - I worked hard to just express curiosity about her beliefs and thoughts and not to push anything. I just wanted to understand and to see if I could figure out *something* she could care about. However, her concerns are just about herself and those very close to her - so if they aren’t affected, it’s not important. So she is unlikely to care about the Ukraine, LGBTQ+ rights, kids in cages, the Muslim ban, etc. She did mention that her husband is *very* concerned about politics. I didn’t ask what his views were.
I feel like these are important conversations to be having to try to get people to care about voting — to see that the personal is political. But how do we pierce people’s arguments that Trump is no better or worse than any other president because they are all the same? That national politics has no effects on them?
* Every time I ride a Lyft outside of NYC, I learn my driver’s entire life story. I find it super interesting and I learn a ton about lives very different from my own — and their stories stick with me. But sometimes (like yesterday bc I am super sick), I just want to relax and watch the scenery. I need to develop a good way of not inviting disclosure.