Among Donald Trump’s shocking words and behaviour, both Democrat and Republican camps digging for questionable affairs and disgraces to bring their opponent into public disrepute, it is sometimes hard to focus on the essential stake of the 2016 U.S. presidential election: choosing the country’s Head of State for the four years to come. Just like the rest of the world, the American people feel disoriented in this general confusion – Voicing Realities decided to meet American citizens in order to understand better what they are going through. Today, we are meeting up with Tasha in her Brooklyn apartment – her relationship to politics, her track balance of Obama’s era and her expectations for the next presidential mandate… There is a lot to say indeed.
This interview has been edited for clarity purposes.
Voicing Realities (VR): Could you start by introducing yourself?
Tasha (T.): My name is Tasha, I’m 35 years old. I am self-employed. Black American New Yorker. I have been in New York most of my life, raised here, born here, travelled out a couple times to other places and then I’ve always ended up back in New York.
VR: What is your relationship to politics?
T.: I guess I see myself not to be a very political person although I tend to… gather political news in one way or another, I am interested. For example I listen to podcasts, that tend to go in a political standpoints on what they are talking about… Maybe I would consider my politics to be liberal… but I wouldn’t consider myself very political at all.
VR: You said that you have political ideas and opinions, which tend to be liberal – but why would say that you aren’t more committed in this field?
T.: I wouldn’t say I am permeable but… I’m kind of… adjacent to politics (Laughs). I have had lots of friends who are political. I went to a school called Sarah Lawrence College in Bronx, New York, and it’s known for its politics, very local politics, very LGBT-friendly… and I guess I am influenced by that in one way or in the other. So my friends for example on Facebook and other places, they are constantly posting things and they’re very active in lots of local communities so… that is going to influence you to some extent.
VR: Are you registered to vote for the presidential election?
VR: Then what would you say to someone who still hesitate today over registering herself or himself?
T.: I would say this election is definitely so important, those who are watching from anywhere in the world do realize that maybe this is kind of… atypical. It’s not politics as usual, and… I am very disturbed by Donald Trump being on a ticket. So I’m hoping that people who haven’t voted before will contribute because… not participating at all… You are making a choice, whether you realize it or not, you know. It will sway one way or another depending on people who show up at the polls.
VR: Did you watch the three debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?
T.: I did. Watched most of it.
VR: What did you think about that?
VR: There is a lot to say!
T.: Hum, yeah there is way too much to say about it! (Pause) I just… It’s not even that I am completely pro-Hillary, but she is just the best choice… I’m just like… I feel… I was watching Trump talk about Hillary, and the way he speaks to her. You know, I was looking at this woman and thinking: “Man, she has to stand there, take all this…” She is not allowed to say: “Do you see what he is doing here?! You see the way he is speaking to me, would he speak to me like that if I was a man, if I were my husband or some other man?” you know… And I think most of the debates have been taken about all that, she took in her stomach a lot, I really hope she gets there. Because she has earned this at this point. She has more than earned it.
(Hillary Clinton) is not allowed to say: “Do you see what he is doing here?! You see the way he is speaking to me, would he speak to me like that if I was a man, if I were my husband or some other man?”
VR: Do you have a thought, a word, a regret that comes to your mind when you think about the campaign? Especially over the last few weeks?
T.: I don’t know if I’ve been paying attention much to either campaign over the last few weeks. I mean, I’m aware of… what people may be referring to as the “Pussy Gate”. (Laughs) I am clearly aware of the… bringing of Bill Clinton’s sexual past… which I think this is an important conversation, you know. Some of us want Hillary to win so much, we… are willing not to have this conversation, because we don’t want to sway anyone, but this is a very important conversation. Thinking of that… I think Hillary has a lot more money to put towards her campaign, which I’m fine with because I am all for her to win. So he (Donald Trump, Editor’s Note) says the political system here is rigged… I don’t know, I really… It could be, I don’t know! I am not concerned with this election, because it sways in a direction with Obama to go, and that’s terrible. It just takes too much of mental energy than I would want to have in this election. I am really depressed that Obama is leaving.
VR: You consider this presidential election to be ‘atypical’, especially because of the constant, obvious tensions between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. According to you, which animal best represents each candidate over the last few months?
T.: Oh, I don’t have a good one for that! I think the hardest one would be for Hillary, I don’t know. She is so reserved, she kind of wants Trump to put himself in the hole, that’s very tactic with her, you know. So, I’m not sure which animal I would associate with her. And for Trump, I would just say he is a dog.
VR: You evoked the “Pussy Gate”; is there a particular sentence or word from any of the candidates that particularly caught your attention, in a bad or good way?
T.: I think Trump calling Hillary “a nasty woman”. And I’m so sorry that I’m focused on the negative, there has been so much negative that it’s hard to avoid… But yeah, Trump calling Hillary “a nasty woman” and the way he talks about women all over.
VR: What kind of image do you think these debates show to the rest of the world?
T.: I do know a feeling, is that actually people from all over the world, many people think that… American are already idiots. And I do think the education system is behind in a lot of ways, so I think we can’t ignore that… But with all the things that happen I just feel… I don’t know if the word is “embarrassed”, not embarrassed about who I am or from where I come from, but I am aware that other people in other countries are watching this and thinking “what the heck is going on there?”. It makes absolutely no sense and… to me, it speaks to the intelligence of the people who are swaying to vote.
VR: Do you understand that even today some people are still uncertain of who they are going to vote for?
T.: Yes. It’s possible that some people are confused by Trump’s past. I mean… He was a Democrat for many years… I actually used to work for this place, and they would put on those huge expos, one or two expos and conventions in the U.S., and he was the speaker who was supposed to be there for the weekend. And I remember this was before Trump University, and I kind of feel that he got some of his inspirations for Trump University based on those conventions. But… You know for a long time he was just some pompous New York guy, and he did The Celebrity Apprentice and then people got to know him a little bit more but… As much as things he said can be racist, you definitely didn’t associate him with the people who he races for right now. So maybe there is just a lot of people who are confused about that… and take him to The Celebrity Apprentice in his past… That’s the only thing that I can say about that. And I think when you’re putting that in all of the things that he said, it may be pushing forward your policies… It’s really hard to ignore that much.
You know for a long time he was just some pompous New York guy…
VR: Do you think it is normal that all political sensibilities are not fully represented in this election, despite the presence of Green Party and independent candidates?
T.: No, absolutely not. I try to be practical and I realize I have to vote for someone who is on a ticket, but it’s horrible. I was still waiting to see what Bernie was going to do, you know. And I am probably in the majority when it comes to people I know, some who were into Bernie, I don’t know if he could have done all the things he talked about… And in that way it does seem biased, rigged in some ways. And I do feel like it needs to change. I actually feel hopeful that it will…. I was really curious to see what Bernie was able to do. Maybe some people feel discouraged because the candidature of Bernie comes out of what people believe could happen because of Obama – you know, voters don’t forget about that.
VR: So, do you personally feel fully represented in the political tendencies today?
VR: Does it apply both on national and local levels?
T.: Yes. (At the local level, Editor’s Note), we have councilmen… But this is where my politics fails, because I am not really involved in… I go and vote and then I am not really involved in how local politics work. I do wanna be more educated about local politics, because I do think understanding how these politics work influences the course of the elections by voting. I am a little bit fortunate because I am from a very local town so I have been unengaged, I feel like it tends to be swaying in a direction that it is supportive of the reflects that I would vote for. But yeah… I feel I’m a little lazy about that… I am more like a lazy-political.
VR: To conclude on the current election: if you had to choose a sentence to sum up your mind on the 2016 presidential election in its entirety, what would it be and why?
(This sentence, Editor’s Note) impresses me, it makes me think of people who are attacked or… oppressed and rise to the occasion of being challenged in a way that’s graceful. Maybe even classy. I think (Michelle Obama, Editor’s Note) is classy.
VR: In January, Obama will end his second and last mandate; what track balance are you making of his 8 years as President of the U.S.?
T.: I guess that’s a mixed report for Obama. I probably was more thrilled to have him because of the social elements, things that I saw changing in popular culture for Black people, having his wife present… I did feel slight changes but… everything always falls into politics as usual for me, and we inherit such a terrible budget… There are certain things he couldn’t do, he wasn’t the Black President… physically I mean he is the first Black President but he couldn’t only care about the needs of Black people, he was President of all the people so… All along I was impressed by the way that he handled himself in lots of situations, but in terms of policies… He did some pretty moving policies, but I have… the sense that they put the President as a talking head, that’s how the system goes unfortunately… I feel that he was not able to affect or influence the requirements of people that he brings into office with him, there is probably just so much that we don’t understand, that goes on behind the scenes, but… Maybe it’s because I am skeptical but I didn’t expect a huge amount of change.
VR: What expectations do you have for the next President, whoever she or he is going to be?
T.: Well probably because I am a Black woman, I am very aware of what’s going on with the police violence. I would like to see someone come in, and put policies in place that protect people who are vulnerable… Obviously not all policemen are bad. But I would like to see someone come in and make some track on down the place, with all the stuff that is happening… That’s probably really important to me. As well as probably social programs.
VR: If you had any message for the next President, what would it be?
T.: Maybe something like… Stay human, stay with your people, listen to us. Read our letters, engage with us on a regular basis and… don’t forget people who put you in. Stay connected to them.
Featured image: “Vote Your Conscience!” – New York, August 2016, © Jeanne Daucé