A Trump in Any Other Accent is Still a Trump
“I just cain’t staaand that man. How he talks. I cain’t staaand that Yankee accent.
“Doesn’t matter. He won’t get elected anyway.”
“What makes you say that?”
“Haven’t you looked at him? You want to see him on your TV every day forever? I’m sorry, but he’s just not good looking enough to get elected. He’s. Just. Not.”
“Well, I hope you’re right. I just cain’t look at that yellah hay-er. I. just. Want. to cut. It. OFF.”
I thought it was funny. It was also disturbing. Do Americans really vote on gender, looks, accents, and hair color? Come ON!
I study people. It’s a habit writers have. (That’s why my tee shirt warns you might end up in a novel.) I’ve been fortunate to have lived in various parts of our country and visited even beyond that, studying accents and local customs, idioms, colloquialisms. And I can tell you something about Donald Trump’s accent.
I first encountered New York accents in the dormitory at Michigan State University. I could soon differentiate between NYC, boroughs, New Jersey, and Philly. They are all very similar, but unique. I was fascinated. I was also fascinated by how freely they could insult one another and not be insulted. I had difficulty judging moods, because they often sounded annoyed when they weren’t. I had to learn to listen to the nuances of the accent; what they said; not how it sounded. It sounds…tough.
When I left MSU with my husband, our first move was to New York. His first job was with IBM. It was the beginning of the Golden Age for Corporate America, and much of it was headquartered in NYC. During the next 34 years we met many business men who became friends and were not unlike Donald Trump. Loud. Brash. Self-confident. No tolerance for stupidity. Sarcastic. Jokers.
New Yorkers have thick skins. They assume that’s normal; that everyone else does too. NY humor is caustic and sarcastic, insulting. (Think about Rodney Dangerfield and Don Rickles.) But at the end of the show, they wrap an arm around their victim and look them in the eye, and speak the truth. “I care about you. That was just a joke.” No apology, just an explanation. I don’t care for either of those comedians, but I’ve learned to understand their humor. New Yorkers joke a lot; their genre of choice is sarcasm.
There’s a phrase I hear Trump use. “I mean that.” He may use sarcasm or state things awkwardly, but when he says, “I really mean that,” he’s putting his listener on notice. This part, is not a joke. Trump isn’t a scholar, theologian or lawyer, doesn’t have degrees, and doesn’t have the polished tongue of practiced oratory we are used to from politicians. He’s not a politician. He’s a business man. A very smart and successful one at that. He speaks in basic fundamentals that everyone can understand. And he cares about our country.
It would be good to get over how he sounds to your regional ear and hear what he’s saying. He’s brash, he’s hard to “like.” He doesn’t care whether you like him or not. That’s the best part of him. Unlike a politician who garners favors by saying what special interest groups want to hear, he just says it like it is. Telling straight forward truth can be unpopular. His other problem seems to be that he says it like a “typical, stereotypical New Yorker,” in that accent.
I’ve learned other things about those brassy New York business men, too. They are big- hearted and generous. They sound like braggards, but the thing is, they come through! They are caring. They believe in family unity. If you watch Blue Bloods on TV, you see the big family of the police commissioner having Sunday dinner every week. That’s not a caricature. It’s not for TV entertainment. That’s the truth of New Yorkers. They stay close to home and look out for family. When they say they’re behind you, they are. As abrasive as they sound, they are good Americans.
I’m not covering for Trump or making excuses for his improprieties. But to write him off because of the way he sounds, the way he looks, his yellah hair, or his gender, is not the way America should vote. Not the American Way, ladies and gentlemen. It’s immature.