We Are All Americans

Published: August 8, 2023

By Jim Lichtman
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Photo: Joe Anuta/POLITICO

Last week’s arraignment of former President Donald Trump was unprecedented in many ways. I contacted retired journalist Bob Wilson to interview some of the individuals who waited in a long line, many overnight. Here’s how that conversation went.

“Jim, I’m outside the E. Barrett Prettyman courthouse in downtown DC and the line of people waiting outside is something one only sees for concert tickets for rock stars. For die hard Trump supporters, however, the former president is a rock star. Let me see if I can talk to a few. Excuse me, what is your name, sir?”

“Victor Navorsky.”

“And what time did you come down to wait in line?”

“About 5:30 this morning.”

“Are you worried about missing work?”

“I own a McDonald’s franchise in Bedminster, New Jersey, right next to Mr. Trump’s golf club.”

“Do you think the former president is guilty of the charge of trying to overthrow the election?”

“I don’t know. All I know is that he’s a great customer and I came down to support him.”

“Let me try another.Excuse me, can I ask why you’re standing in such a long line.”

“I’m a professional line sitter.”

“You’re kidding? Who are you sitting for?

“Sean Hannity. He’s having breakfast across the street. I had to get down here about 4:00 am to get this spot, but it’s great money.”

“Hey, Bob, can you move on down the line?”

“Sure. Excuse me, what brought you out so early in the morning to stand in line here?”

“I happened to be jogging downtown when I saw the line and just decided to find out why people are so interested in the arraignment of a shameful man who’s been the focus of so much media attention.”

“May I ask your name?”

“Jeff Smith.”

“Well, Mr. Smith what do you think . . .

“I’ve been a Republican all my life; voted for Gerry Ford and Ronald Reagan. Republicans used to stand for something: law and order; fiscal responsibility; low taxes. Look at them, now. Most of them in the House are a disgrace. And some of the Republicans in the Senate aren’t much better cow-towing to a schemer and liar while others silently sit on the sidelines too cowardly to speak up.

“We had heroes in both houses. John Quincy Adams, a Federalist, who served in the House after he was president; Lincoln served before he was president. Margaret Chase Smith, the Republican senator from Maine spoke out against the tyranny of Sen. Joseph McCarthy. And there were many more.

“What has happened to my country; a country of hope, help, and freedom for all? We used to have the passion and purpose to work together. Despite having different goals, we had a strong set of principles: democracy, fairness, respectability.

“The man who’s being indicted for what is the most horrific attack on our Capitol in the history of the country will remain a stain on the fabric of Republicanism for all time. And supporters want this man to be their president, again? I don’t see the sense in it.”

“Do you think these indictments will make a difference?”

“Sadly, not for a lot of Republican friends of mine who refuse to see the obvious.”

“Do you think the Republican Party can turn it around, come back to their roots, stand for the country, again, as you said?”

“I hope so. But hoping so doesn’t make it so. All of us have got to stop calling each other names, remember that we’re all Americans who salute the same flag, fought for liberty for ourselves and others. Look at the people of Ukraine. Now that’s a country that’s unified.”

“Are we still a country with high ideals, Mr. Smith?”

“We all came from different countries: farmers, shopkeepers, honest businessmen with the ideas and the ideals that made this country great. We need to revisit our past to make a better future for all of us. That’s my hope, anyway.”

“Well said and thank you. Let’s end with one more interview, Jim, all the way at the end of the line. Excuse me, you seem a little excited. Are you that interested in seeing the charges against former President Trump?”

“Trump? I thought I was in line to get Taylor Swift tickets for my daughter.”


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