Now that New Jersey and Virginia have both elected democratic governors this past week, the talking heads cannot contain their joyful predictions of impending doom for the Trump administration. True, the margins were definitive in both races, but the Trump base, and at least a couple Democrats in middle America, are not giving an inch in support of their leader.
My search for a chatty mix of people to engage in the latest political news led me to Vermilion County, Illinois, where I found the desired greasy spoon wisdom and honest opinions.
The Five Star Family Restaurant was hopping mid-week and mid-morning in the city of Danville. A mix of retired professionals, healthcare workers in scrubs, and the crews of nearby farms dotted several tables. I whipped out my pen and tablet and ordered a coffee – the hallmarks of a journalist ready to write – then made eye contact with the locals (I’m sneaky like that).
An older couple waved as if they knew me, as good an invitation as any, and the conversation began with lifelong Danville residents Hazel and Howard. Interestingly, these two retired school teachers – Democrats, both of them – didn’t jump on the opportunity to rant about how Donald Trump is destroying our nation; but they did take the Republican Party to task. “We’ve never seen anything like this group of Republicans,” Howard said. “They aren’t playing for their own team,” Hazel added. They then groused a bit about loyalty and the “do nothing” attitude in Washington. When pressed for detail on their feelings about Trump, it was clear that they did not like the man. However, both emphatically stated, “He is our president; let the man do his job.”
And as for Hillary, Hazel quickly expressed relief. “Looks like we dodged a bullet with her after all.”
Having eavesdropped on our lively conversation from the table behind Hazel and Howard, two middle-aged men in jeans and sweatshirts joined in.
Mark, 47, and Randy, 39, are local furniture delivery drivers who consider themselves conservatives. They’re both avid hunters and fisherman, and proudly drive American made trucks with Trump/Pence bumper stickers. We discussed the latest political wins by Democrats in Virginia and New Jersey, and I asked what impact this might have on the so-called flyover states.
“That’s east coast. Of course, they vote liberal. Just like Chicago and you see how that’s working,” Mark offered. Randy asked about the make-up of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, prompting the discussion of Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and his current corruption trial. “I don’t care what stupid decisions other states make about local government. Heck, I worry who they send to Congress. Like this Menendez guy, can’t work cause he’s on trial for God’s sake.”
Mark and Randy heatedly discussed local politics for a few minutes, and then laser-focused back to Menendez. “What happens if he is found guilty? Does he have to resign?” And, my friends, that is the million-dollar question; as the case is now in the jury’s potentially incapable hands:
“On their first full day of jury deliberations at the bribery trial of Senator Robert Menendez, a juror asked the judge a basic question: What is a senator?”
Apparently smart people manage to avoid jury duty. On a side note; if Menendez resigns, it would be serendipitous if Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) is still in the mansion and can appoint a Trump-oriented replacement.
The news of a sweeping two-state gubernatorial win may have the pundits gaggling for weeks on end; at least until special elections, appointments, and the 2018 mid-terms begin their Party propaganda wars. We’ll hear it all from Uranium One to Russian collusion and Donna Brazile, the new incarnation of Benedict Arnold for the DNC and number one on the RNC’s Christmas list. But steadfast and loyal, the people of middle America will root for their leader to succeed and disregard the nonsense of those embittered foes who succumb to whatever soundbite is currently fashionable. God bless the silent majority when they do speak.