by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Many people on the right have embraced Uber, the company that lets you call a ride from your smartphone instead of standing on the corner with your hand up looking like a statue of Lenin leading the proletariat to the Future, or maybe to that tapas place downtown. This confuses people who regard conservatives as dumb apes who poke Shiny New Things with a stick and screech in alarm. How can they support Uber? It’s a Cool Thing, and they’re all middle-aged dorks in polyester plaid shorts and black socks with sandals who like to “get down” to bands that sing about pickup trucks, or they’re pale evil men who wear three-piece suits to bed and drift off to sleep fantasizing that they’re slapping the birth-control pills out of the hands of poor women. Uber is good, Uber is an app, for heaven’s sake — how can these cretins possibly be on its side? It’s like finding that all the kale in the country is fertilized by Koch products.
Jalopnik, a popular site about cars, explains the reason with a willfully stupid Internet coinage: Uber Is the New GOP Darling Because Freedom.
It helps if you imagine Stephen Colbert saying it, I suppose. Freedom: the word is supposed to make you roll your eyes, just like “liberty” — one of those things we’re supposedly losing Because Liberals. What we’re usually protesting is our inability to be racist, homophobic trolls who think the country started going downhill when the Statue of Liberty wasn’t a white male holding up a rifle instead of a torch. …
… On a trip to L.A. earlier this year I called a cab to get me to the Minneapolis airport. I stood outside the house with a suitcase. I watched the cab drive past; I ran after it waving my arms as if it was the last helicopter out of Erbil. Once inside, I looked around for anything long and sharp that might help squeegee off the cooties. The driver took a route that always backs up at rush hour, and the meter ticked away the escalating price. When we got to the airport I was delighted to find the car had a credit-card reader, but it didn’t work.
From the L.A. hotel to the airport, I finally tried Uber. The dot on my screen showed where the car was. When it arrived, the driver popped the trunk and offered me water. What? Water? The most I ever expected from a cab was a vinegar-soaked rag on a stick. The interior of the car was pristine; I was offered my choice of music selection; I was stunned to find there wasn’t a motorized shoe-shine unit under the seats and a tanning lamp. …
… At the end no money was exchanged. The app did that. No receipt was required. The app did that. I was asked to rate the driver, and gave him the best possible rating. Most excellent cab ride of my life — probably because it wasn’t a cab at all.