It's Real People Now

By Marc Dion

February 6, 2017 4 min read

I know a guy. I don't know how he votes because I was raised not to ask, but I know he is the first generation of his family to be born an American citizen.

From time to time, we go out for a beer, but never more than two or three because he is married with a six-month-old daughter, and I am tremendously afraid of displeasing my wife. By the time he is over 50, any man who wants at least one crying woman at his funeral ought to be afraid of displeasing his wife.

We go to one of those veteran's clubs that has a bar. We go there because you can smoke in the bar, because domestic beer is $1.75 a draft, and because he is a veteran. It's quiet and the television is always tuned to either Fox News or a ballgame. He likes ballgames, we are both newspaper reporters, and neither one of us likes Fox News.

And we sit in a cloud of my cigar smoke, and we talk.

He has an old aunt who came here quite a few decades ago, and who found her bit of the American Dream in a garment factory. She stitched and her husband worked in some other kind of factory, and they paid rent, and raised children.

And her husband died, and she is old now, no longer strong-eyed or quick-fingered enough to sew, and who works when they're 80 anyway? You'll sometimes meet an 80-year-old librarian in some sleepy small town library, and lawyers sometimes go on that long, but if you are bent over a machine or if you are working on the foundation crew, you don't last that long.

She gets her Social Security. She also gets food stamps and government help with her heating bill in the winter.

She is a legal immigrant, and a citizen.

"I don't think they'd do anything to her," he said to me the other night as the TV blared Donald Trump's speaking. "She's completely legal. But she's an immigrant, and she's on government assistance."

His aunt is lucky. She is legal, of course, but she is also white and Christian, two things that become more of a test of our fitness to live every day.

So, she'll probably be fine.

Unless some white guy nearly her age, some new bigot who's oiled his way into government's back door, decides that she will not be all right.

After all, he'll tell us, can you really expect to come to this country, even legally, with no skills and wind up eating off the taxpayer's dime? Why didn't she have a BETTER job, this old woman? Why didn't she take night classes, and better herself, go to college and then to law school? Why did she just work her little stupid job all those years, and then start begging the successful Americans for food? If this is why these people come here, to fail and then leech off the system, then maybe they should be kicked outta the system.

I bought the third and last round, because he has that new baby at home. We drank it while Fox News trumpeted the triumph of the Trumpanzee.

"It's like it's about real people now," he said to me.

"Yeah," I said. "It's not Facebook memes or stick figures anymore. It's people."

Which is what history will remember Americans saying on that last night before the hammer fell.

To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion an read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Dion's latest book, "King of The World on $14 an Hour," a collection of his best 2014 columns, is available for Nook and Kindle.

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