Jon: Mass Transit Politics and the Homeless…



The other day I was riding the train to work in the morning. Sitting down and reading the new David Sedaris book, I was suddenly startled by an angry commotion. I snuck a peek over the pages of my book and saw that the rabble was coming from two homeless men who had worked each other up into a passionate political discussion. I began to secretly eavesdrop:

Hobo1: This country is going right down the crapper!

Hobo2: It sure is! Those republicans are ruining everything!

Hobo1: Yeah! Ever since Bush was elected, everything has gotten fucked up!

Hobo2: Shit yeah!

Hobo1: Fucking shit !

Hobo2: I just registered to vote. My opinion will be heard this fall!

Hobo1: Me too! Watch out Washington, the democrats are coming!

Hobo2: Republicans need to crawl back under whatever fucking rock they came from!

Hobo1: That Republican son of a bitch Obama it gonna get what’s coming too him!

Hobo2: Mccain and the rest of the Demorcrats sure will turn this country around! 

Hobo1: Vote Democratic! Vote McCain!

Hobo2: Down with that Republican Obama!


I was in shock. How could a person possibly be so worked up about something that they clearly knew absolutely nothing about? Should I correct them? Or just hope that some one else clues them in before they throw away their vote this fall?

In the end, I followed the usual public transit social order and didn’t make eye contact or talk to anyone…


3 Responses to “Jon: Mass Transit Politics and the Homeless…”

  1. 1 erin
    June 22, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    I wonder if I were homeless, dealing with the multitude of ways that makes daily living more challenging, if I would have the time, resources, and privilege to be educated and knowledgeable about politics? Maybe I would, and obviously many homeless folks and people living in poverty ARE really articulate about how the state of our country leaves very little room for all people to get their needs met. Plenty of people without homes, and/or the working poor, are engaged in the political process. And many cannot be, because when you’re struggling with daily survival it can be tough to participate in “democracy.”

    I love gaycondo, and I’ll keep reading. But, I feel like this post is hurtful — and a really cheap shot. I’m far more interested in how homeless folks are disenfranchised by basically being treated like garbage, like disposable people who are seen by most Americans, certainly the media, as worthless. That discussion seems more intelligent and interesting than making fun of homeless folks. They’re deemed worthless because they don’t participate in the same capitalist structure that ensures some people remain poor and homeless.

    As a queer, I don’t see how homophobia is so far removed from classism. All forms of oppression need each other to keep on thriving. Is the issue really that “hobos” are morons, or is that they are human beings who’s needs are not being met on a fundamental level — which may make it hard to be educated about things that seem simple and obvious to people who do have what they need? I’m pretty sure that neither the Obama or McCain campaigns have rallied to get the homeless vote, nor that the Democratic or Republican parties give a shit about homeless issues. Maybe, then, Obama and McCain aren’t so different to some people? To me, as a person with a fair amount of privileges, of course. I can’t speak for the two men you heard on the train, and I also know that they don’t speak FOR ALL HOMELESS PEOPLE.

    And, p.s., why is it still okay to call people “hobos?” If you had a family member who were homeless, would you refer to them as a “hobo?” As someone who has been denied her full and complex humanity by being reduced to stereo-types about gay people, fat people, women, etc., I think it’s pretty important not to reduce any group of people to a joke. It’s also just kind of stupid and boring. You can be way more funny than this. I know it.

  2. 2 gaycondo
    June 23, 2008 at 12:01 am

    I am sorry that I offended in my use of the word hobo. And I didn’t mean to use my descriptiuon of these two individuals as a representation of all homeless people. Most non menetally disabled homeless folk would of course be aware of at least the bare minimum of political information (i.e. which presidential nominee is a member of which party). What i found humorous is that these two individual men were so worked up about the election without being aware of this fact. I, as an individual, get most of my political news from the numerous free local papers (mostly the Tribune and The Mercury, both of which I read religously). Regardless of social and economic standing, this information is readily available to all citizens. I refuse to give the homeless or anyone else a break on such an enormous non-monetarily related character flaw (ie choosing to not be educated on such a basic political fact). Anyone who chooses to not be aware of this information should not exercise the privilege to vote, homeless or otherwise. Hence the hilarity….,.

  3. 3 gaycondo
    June 23, 2008 at 12:08 am

    PS: I’m glad you are stil going to read our blog. We spend an absurd amount of time on it, and it would be almost impossible to not eventually offend someone…
    I love you Erin!
    I wish we had more readers like you who actually took the time to leave a comment or opinion…

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