This arrived on my Facebook timeline this morning and its clarity, beauty and kindness helped me today. Many thanks for permission to post it here, Alisa.– Marian
by Alisa Valdes
The guy at the East Albuquerque used car dealership from which I rented a U-Haul truck yesterday (in order to empty out a storage unit into my house) wanted to talk politics. He was young, maybe 23 or 24, nicely dressed, likely a light-skinned Hispanic with an easy manner and smile.
“What do you think of what’s going on?” he asked.
I told him.
He looked surprised. “Really? But he’s just making America safe again. He’s just putting America first.”
Off we went, to the races. He’d been downing the Fox News/Sean Hannity Kool Aid. Immigrants taking over, muslim terrorists everywhere, bring our jobs home, blah blah blah.
I listened and tried to be respectful. I tried to understand why he thought as he did. “I’m a political junkie,” he said. “I like to know both sides. But not CNN. They’re propaganda.”
So I came back when I returned the truck today, armed with information. Facts. Statistics. Printouts, sources. I was kind and friendly and we talked for a good half hour. I used Socratic questioning to get him to consider the truth of what he was saying. More than once, he blushed, and said something like, “Oh, yeah, huh? Wow. Damn.”
For instance, when he complained that “illegals” were coming droves, I showed him information from the Census Bureau to show that net immigration from Mexico is actually way down.
“But their kids are still using our schools.”
And so I asked him how schools are funded.
“Taxes!” he cried.
“I don’t know.”
“Real estate taxes,” I said, following with, “where do these ‘illegal’ kids’ parents live? In tents?”
“No. Apartments, I guess.”
“And to whom do they give their rent money?”
“And unless that person is really stupid, don’t you think they include their real estate taxes in the rental fee?” ….
“Oh, yeah, huh? Wow. Damn.”
He then cited “anchor babies” as a drain on the healthcare system, and we looked at how the cost of “The Wall” would actually be triple the entire cost of every “anchor baby” born to undocumented women alive in the United States right now.
“No, but that’s okay,” he said.
“Wait, you just said the problem was that they’re an economic drain on the system, but you’re willing to spend three times more just to keep them out, on a wall that won’t be very effective and which will likely enrich the president personally?”
“Yes. Because they shouldn’t be getting free what we pay taxes for.”
“Do we pay taxes for health care? That would be universal health care, wouldn’t it?”
He then told me his wife had her baby on Medicaid. I told him many people think his wife is a freeloader then. He said she wasn’t because he paid taxes. I then showed him a statistic showing that undocumented immigrants with fake social security numbers contribute about $13 billion to the federal government in income taxes every year and only get back $1 billion because most such returns go unclaimed. I reminded him that many Americans don’t work at all, pay no taxes, and also get to have babies “for free” at the E.R. — which, by the way, is a shitty fucking place to have a baby.
“Oh, yeah, huh?”
He did not think net migration was down, however, because, he said, “I sell cars to undocumented guys all day long. They come here every day. It’s so bad the banks are lending money to them!”
“And you want them out of the country….why, exactly? You just said you and the banks are making money off them. So which is it, they’re a huge drain, or they’re paying your salary? It can’t be both.”
“Oh, yeah, huh?”
He asked me who I supported in the election and I told him Bernie.
“Me too,” he said, “Until he wasn’t allowed to run anymore. All I wanted was change.”
I gave a him a list of real news sources. He thanked me and said he’d look into it. He said he doesn’t want to be lied to or used or manipulated.
I think I got through to him. He’s a good guy, just a misinformed guy. He wasn’t hateful, just brainwashed to think he had something to be afraid of and angry about. Mammals are pretty predictable. We operate on a paradigm of “fair or not fair.” That’s it. The right wing has been very good at convincing their people that something is unfair and that they are going to do something about it, while, of course, none of that is true in actuality.
Education, education, education. Get out and talk to people who disagree with you. Be kind to them. Listen to their concerns and let them know you hear, you care, you understand, and then offer them FACTS.
This is how it will be done. One person at a time.
Alisa is the NM-based, NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of 13 novels and 2 memoirs, including The Dirty Girls Social Club (currently in development with Staz)and The Temptation of Demetrio Vigil. With more than 2 million books in print in 11 languages around the world, Alisa has also written and sold TV scripts to Nickelodeon, Lifetime TV and NBC.
Alisa is a widely published journalist, a prize-winning former staff writer with both the Boston Globe and the LA Times, where she was thrice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in features and where she was named the top newspaper magazine essayist in the nation before the age of 30. Alisa is also an Emmy-winning broadcast journalist formerly with WHDH-TV in Boston.