CPAC 2024: An Informal Survey of Uber Drivers

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CPAC 2024 has been quite an experience. We have heard some great speakers; in the evenings I was on several occasions able to sit and gas with people that I’ve been wanting to meet in person for some time. There are few things cooler than running into someone in a crowd and being able to say, “Hey, I’ve always wanted to meet you!” 

But on reflection, one of the more striking things to emerge from this was something that happened on my morning and evening Uber rides between my Arlington hotel and the CPAC venue. 

Why? Here’s why, and I’m going to tell you:

Cameroon. Chad. Uganda. Nigeria. Ethiopia. Those were some of the locations my Uber drivers were from. They all have several things in common, and those things they have in common speak eloquently to what America has been, what it still is, and what it hopefully will remain.

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These things are:

  • Perspective. The one comment I heard expressed most forcefully was in response to the question, “Will you ever go back?” The answer was always a resounding “No.” Comments included, “No, I love America; I came here to be American, to be a success.” (Cameroon.) “America is like no place else. In my country, you can never have success. In America, if you work, you succeed.” (Uganda.)
  • Work Ethic. My Uber driver from Chad works a full-time job and drives Uber on evenings and weekends. “I want to buy a house,” he told me. “In one year, I will have my down payment. In Chad, I never would have dreamed of buying a house. In America, I can.”
  • A desire to be American. I didn’t want to ask directly about the immigration status of any of these fine people, but through some roundabout questioning and some interlocution, I had the impression that all were in the States legally; my Cameroon driver said he was in the country on a work visa and wanted to become a citizen.
  • Respect. My driver from Ethiopia, a woman (I’m guessing) in her forties, was very animated in describing how she was trying to fit into American society. “I learned English,” she told me in accented but perfect English. “I came to America because I want to be an American. I now dress like an American and work like an American.”
  • Patriotism. Yes, these people are becoming American patriots. Every one I spoke to told me how much they love it in America; they love the opportunities offered, the fact that anyone willing to work hard can achieve success, and the fact that they live so much better here — “In my country, my family lived in a house with a dirt floor,” one of them (Cameroon) told me. “We cooked over a fire. Here, I have an apartment, it’s warm at night, I cook on a stove, I drive Uber, and it pays for my good car. No place else in the world is like this.” He had come to America via Germany, which he described as not having anywhere near the opportunity that America offers.

Of all the speechifying I heard at CPAC, after all the great discussions I had with great people, these conversations were one of the most edifying experiences I have had on this excursion. Living as I do out in the Alaskan woods, I’m not often exposed to hard-working, legal immigrants like these folks; I was pleased and, yes, honored to talk to them, and my parting statement to all of them was, “Thanks for talking to me, and welcome to America; I’m glad you’re here.” We get so caught up in the open sore on our southern border, with illegal immigrants here in their millions, that we forget the few people who come here to work, to become American, to take advantage of all America has to offer the hard-working and the law-abiding.

The United States is still the greatest country in the world. We have our issues, and we have our enemies — some of whom are from within — but the potential of America remains. These people came to America because they saw that potential. Now, they are here and working to make their dreams happen.

To be perfectly frank, plenty of young Americans could learn a thing or two from their example.

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