steve ivory (2014)

Steven Ivory

*Yesterday I had breakfast in a Los Angeles restaurant. It being Labor Day, lots of people were off work and kids were out of school, so the place was packed.

From my seat, I looked around. Huge, cavernous place. All the tables and booths in my dining area and in the rooms I could see into from where I sat, were occupied.

Then I paid particular attention to the people themselves. Young, old and everyone in between. In my area was a group consisting of five parents chaperoning a gaggle of happy, giggling pre-teen girls and boys; a club or a class of some kind.

There were families, taking up three and four tables pushed together to accommodate them all. There were couples—-straight and those obviously Gay and Lesbian—in their 20s on into what looked to be ‘70s.

However, what struck me most about the customers was the racial make-up. Talk about a rainbow. Black with white; Hispanics with Asians; brown people, yellow people, distinctive noses, eyes and lips. Some of them I couldn’t even guess their ancestry. Samoan? Native American? Eurasian?

What all had in common—-aside from humanity—-is that they all seemed happy. And obliviously tolerant. Indeed, looking around, curious about who and what these people were, I noticed that I was the only one looking around wondering who and what these people were.

And then it occurred to me: Donald Trump cannot be president for these people. He just can’t. To him, they don’t exist, not even the white ones (the restaurant is located in a “white” middle class neighborhood). He doesn’t know or understand these kinds of people, and from all indication, doesn’t want to know them.

Perusing the place, my animosity for Trump, at least temporarily, morphed into sympathy for him. Despite his money and access, Trump–and others who share his hateful, myopic view—is missing out on one of the most wonderful aspects of this great country: its extraordinary mélange of inhabitants. Everything that we all bring to this mighty, boisterous party–our culture, our traditions–is the wonderful gift that keeps on giving.

A most delightful, enriching detail of my own life is that I know and love all kinds of people, of different races and backgrounds. Last week I had lunch with one of them, a man I’ve known for many years. He is white, his wife, black.

While sharing with their beautiful, brilliant 10 year-old son some of the realities of this life, my friend said he recently explained to the child that some people treat those who don’t share their skin color, differently–as in not kind. His son, he said, was quiet for a second. He looked quizzically at his father and then asked, “You’re teasing…right?”

What an innocent boy interpreted as a joke—-one he didn’t quite get—-has for centuries been America’s enduring nightmare.

In any case, the capacity of that restaurant, in an American city on an American holiday, was but a microcosm of what we call the United States. This—-brown, red, yellow, white and black—-is what America looks like.

To Donald Trump, these people are not people at all. They are merely possible poll numbers. But they are also votes—votes that Trump will never have. Because an emotionally ugly, bigoted man cannot govern beautiful people.

Steven Ivory, veteran journalist, essayist and author, writes about popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio, TV and the Internet. Respond to him via [email protected]