Four years ago at this time

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Photo: JH.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020. The weather yesterday in New York was mild, sometimes sunny and with temps in the lo- to mid-60s. It stayed that way well into the evening of Election Day. The forecast now is for even warmer days. Okay; we’ll see. The weather is now like everything else; you don’t know what to expect. Nevertheless it was pleasant.

Meanwhile, Election Day. The city was quiet and exceptionally quiet after dark.  It had to do with the election most likely, and all the imagined/forecast violence that would occur on Election night. Like everything else these days, people had reason to be afraid, or careful, or quiet. And so it was. Many of the restaurants in my area were either closed or very quiet. I write this at 10:30 p.m., having come in from dinner. The city remains very quiet. I have no idea how the election polls are going, nor am I anxious to know. We’ll all know soon enough.

Four years ago at this time, I went to dinner at Sette Mezzo with Kathy Sloane, who also happens to be a friend of Hillary. She and Hillary go way back to Arkansas when Kathy’s husband Harvey Sloane was Mayor of Louisville and then Congressman in the seat that is now occupied by Mitch McConnell. Kathy today is a real estate broker with Brown Harris Stevens and her clientele takes her all over the world with business interests. 

So that night in November 2016, Kathy and I had an early dinner because she was going off to the Victory Party for Hillary Clinton  at the Historical Society before 9.  She and I talk about elections and politics because we’re both registered Democrats. We didn’t discuss my thoughts about the race.

I wasn’t invited to the Victory Party nor was I active in that campaign. I’ve worked in seven different campaigns over the years from city councilman to president, as a volunteer — knocking on doors, etc. But that was then. On this night, I wasn’t so sure Kathy was going to be going to a “Victory” party, although we didn’t discuss it and I didn’t want to rain on her parade. But I had a gut feeling that Trump was going to take it. I had no reason other than personal instinct.

Although I’m not a TV watcher (at all), I had turned it on back  in early 2016 to watch the “Debates” just to see Donald Trump go up against the seven or ten other Republican candidates. My curiosity was amused, but only briefly. I know from years of observation that Mr. Trump is a serious businessman and entrepreneur. But I was surprised at how easily he took over the debates with the other Republicans. And he did it the old-fashioned-way, the way we used to campaign by knocking on doors and talking to the voters about what they needed  from a candidate.

I knew then that he’d beat out all the other potential Repub candidates because they were talking another language — the language of Washington and Federal Government. Most have long-forgotten that there are millions and millions of us out here who are thinking about the rent and the food on our table and the roof over our heads, and how are we gonna keep it. We do not have guaranteed pensions and lifelong healthcare on the house, as do our Public Servants. We have, instead, the worry.  We vote with the hope that someone will help us with our personal issues, mainly financial. The whole idea of President is someone who is holding us together prosperously and safely in this great big world.

With my curiosity piqued by Trump’s first “performance” with the other candidates, I watched a few minutes of the first debate between him and Hillary. I had been a long-time Hillary fan. She always reminded me of the smartest kid in the class who had her hand up first. She was heads above those Republican guys who lost out to Trump. But for some reason, when Trump went into his campaign spiel with her, about “the people need this, the people need that …”, Hillary’s response reminded me of Audrey Meadows playing Alice Kramden in Jackie Gleason’s The Honeymooners.”  Oh-there-he-goes-again!

Turning it off, I could only think: “he’s gonna beat her …” That did not seem like a practical, sensible or even conceivable result at the time. But it seemed obvious. He’s fulfilling a need for many Americans bereft of optimism about our future. From what I have seen over the decades our political leadership has got further and further away from the needs of the working men and women of America. There are lots of reasons for that including the great prosperity of the last half of the 20th century. And it’s a different world thanks to that progress, particularly the technology.

So last night, Kathy and I had another Election night dinner, at Sette Mezzo. Which was very quiet for a Tuesday night in New York. Few tables inside and out. Same with next door and the restaurant on the corner. Martha Stewart called Kathy when we were at table. Martha was up at her house in Bedford with the TV on, waiting to see “Results.”

I have no expectations of the results at this point of finishing this Diary. The results are not in. Four years later, Donald Trump faces a different electorate because of the state of our world. Ultimately it will be whatever it will be. In my now long life I see that we have been successful as Americans because we’ve taken advantage of our freedoms to make possible a good life for ourselves and our loved ones.

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