WNYC to Washington, D.C. — ‘This is the Real America’

Arun Venegopal, Matt Katz | January 18, 2017 | Politics
WNYC's Matt Katz and Arun Venugopal are taking a road-trip to D.C., talking to voters about the incoming administration

Credit: Arun Venugopal / WNYC
Dave Makkar at his home in Springfield, NJ.
With days to go before Donald Trump becomes president, WNYC’s Matt Katz and Arun Venugopal are taking a road-trip to D.C. and talking to voters about their excitement and worries over the incoming administration. 

First stop: Paterson, New Jersey, home to one of the largest Muslim and Arab populations in the country. There, they met Assad Akhtar, the first Muslim to serve in Passaic County’s Board of Freeholders (the county’s governing body). 

“This street is called Main Street and what’s going on here is the same thing that’s going on across Main Streets across America,” Akhtar said. “Small business owners are trying to relate in commerce. People are coming together.”

Credit: Matt Katz / WNYC
Talking Donald Trump in Paterson with Passaic County Freeholder Assad Akhter, Abdullah Abedrabbo of Nablus Sweets, and Shadi Taha, Akhter's aide.
They ate falafel for breakfast and after a stroll on Main Street, stopped for dessert at Nablus Sweets. “This is the real America,” Alktar said. “America is not just made up of white and blonde. America is made up of all different people of all different religions.”

Then, Matt and Arun headed to Edison, New Jersey, in search of Indian-Americans who supported Trump. The president-elect held a campaign rally there in October, surprising many that he was focusing on a state — and an ethnic group — that tends to vote Democratic. They spoke to Dave Makkar, a two-time Obama voter who’s proud to have chosen Trump, and hopes his check-cashing business will thrive under the new president.

“Bernie was a bad choice. Hillary was a bad choice. Out of the 16 candidates, none of them were promising and all talking politics and maintaining political correctness,” Makkar said. “Mr. Trump outshined all of them and I made up my mind that he’s going to win. I used to tell people and people used to laugh at me.”