I’m a progressive who has recently interviewed people who voted for Donald Trump. An early conversation with my sister, Alicia (see A Family Conversation) and two questions drove me: What were people thinking who voted for Donald Trump, and Is there any common ground left anymore between groups of people who voted differently. This blog is the outcome, starting with profiles of the people whom I interviewed. I’m not sure how this blog will develop from here—it’s an experiment in communication across a divide.

Most of the people I have found to interview so far are middle class or upper middle class white Americans, not rust belt or blue collar voters. Most are mid-life or older. I’d love to interview some people of color and some people who are younger and learn why you voted for Donald Trump. If you are either of those and would like to become part of this project, message me on my Facebook page at MaureenDixon-Writer.

Comments are welcome from any perspective, but only if they are respectful.

Discussion Question — President Trump’s Budget

I’m very curious what you all think of President Trump’s proposed budget. It envisions a very different set of priorities from anything we’ve had in the past. From my perspective it’s a disaster and in it’s current state it threatens the very foundations of our democracy. What do you all see? Is this the kind of budget you were hoping for? Do you think the right people “win” and “lose” in this budget? Are there changes you’d like to see made before a final budget is accepted?

Teri Larkee – Neeah, Wisconsin

Teri Larkee is a 61-year old White male who lives in Neeah, Wisconsin. He retired two years ago, after working 42 years as an electrician. He was a Democrat for many years, as were his parents and his relatives. He went to the Democratic Convention in 1988 as a delegate for Jesse Jackson. Twenty-five years ago he became a born again Christian, and since then many of his views have changed.

Neeah is located along the Fox Valley in northeastern part of the state. The Fox Valley is the third largest metropolitan area, after Milwakee and Madison. The economy is good, with low unemployment. Since the mid-nineteenth century, it was based on the paper and metal machinery industries. With the closing of a dozen paper mills, workers have been absorbed into other manufacturing positions.

Teri voted for Donald Trump because he thought the country was heading in the wrong direction. “He wasn’t my first choice,” he says. “Four years ago my wife and I helped the Huckabee campaign, hanging information on people’s doorknobs.  Last year we didn’t work for any campaign.” He likes a lot of Donald Trump’s ideas. “I think building a wall is a good thing. The immigration laws that we have are not being enforced. I also think if people realize it will be a futile effort to come here, that might help too.”

“I wouldn’t call Donald Trump a real Christian. I think he has some faith but not a strong Evangelical faith. But the Republican party has more going for it on values for me, such as their opposition to abortion. I also think the Democratic party has changed a lot. It used to be for the ‘down and out,’ but it has changed over the years. My wife and I were union members when the unions were for the working guy. They aren’t anymore. Additionally, I’m opposed to the LGBT agenda. They are trying to force their agenda on everyone and aren’t tolerant of anyone who disagrees with them.

The election this year was very close. With just over 50 percent for Trump, Wisconsin was very divided. The Tea Party is not active in Wisconsin, and I think it’s just normal people who voted for him. We’re not the ‘deplorables.’ I thought that was funny.

Did you vote for Donald Trump or against Hillary Clinton?

Probably both. I was against Hillary Clinton because I don’t trust that she’s honest. I think the Clinton Foundation is illegal, and she’ll probably end up in jail if someone will prosecute her. I can’t believe that that FBI under Obama’s administration didn’t indict her. It was amazing.

I hope that Donald Trump and his administration revisit Roe versus Wade and turn that around. I also think that marriage is covenant, a sacred bond, between a man and a woman. I think it’s fine for gays to have a civil union, but not marriage.

Who did you vote for last time?

Republican. This year I voted a straight Republican ticket. In Wisconsin you can vote on either side of the ticket, except in the primary. I’ve gradually been voting for the person I thought was the best person, regardless of party.

Did you vote for Donald Trump because you like him as a person, or you like his policies or both?

I liked his policies. He’s a little crude sometimes. My wife didn’t care for him as a person at all, but it didn’t cause me any hesitation.

What are you hoping will change, and how?

I think they will stop Obamacare and they will replace it with a good plan. That’s a good idea, because it’s just going nuts. I’m in a retired group plan. But there is so much care that is mandated in Obamacare that the cost of the insurance I have has more than doubled. Another thing I’d like to see changed are the judges. I think they are making law from the bench. Judges are supposed to interpret the laws, and Congress and the Senate make the laws.

What would you like people who did not vote for Donald Trump to understand?

As a country, we will always have differences of opinion. Now it’s changed and things are going in a different direction. I think it’s our turn. I’m on Facebook, and I see so much bitterness. We didn’t riot in the streets when Barack Obama got elected eight years ago. I know that people are worried that this administration will turn their world upside down. Some things will get rolled back, but I don’t think it will be devastating to them.

I think Donald Trump will take the lead, though it’s not just him. It’s more the Senate and the Congress, and they will slow down the changes. This administration will have a level head about governing, and there will be change. I think that’s why people voted for him.

If someone from another party would make the changes you want, would you consider voting for him/her?

Yes, because I’m not tied to the Republication Party at all.

What do you think about the anti-Trump demonstrations that are occurring?

I don t think they should be demonstrating at all. People voted for Donald Trump, and he is our president now. I don’t remember protesting in the streets when Barack Obama got elected.

 Do you think hate crimes have increased? If so, what do you think about that?

I don’t know if there is an increase in hate crimes, but there is an increase in hatred for law enforcement and police. There are bad cops no doubt about that, but ninety-nine percent are good and want to do a good job and do things right. Things have changed over the years; law enforcement officers aren’t respected anymore.

Do you find any common ground with your friends/relatives who voted differently from you?

I’m not making a lot of snide comments like a lot of people are right now. Some people are so bitter and angry. I try to avoid the subject. Hopefully, time will heal this.

I didn’t de-friend people. We are neighbors, we spend time with people, we try to be friends with them. I think our friends will survive this, even though we have a difference of opinion. We will all be successful, because things will turn around. America will be a better place and we can all rejoice in that.




Discussion Question – Betsy DeVos

With the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education we now have someone in office who wants to give parents education vouchers so they can have a choice of schools at the state level, which may include public, private, charter, virtual and religious. What do you think of taxpayer money going to fund this choice, and what do you think will happen to the quality of education for all our children if this is implemented?

Gregory Larson* – Spokane Valley, Washington State

Gregory Larson (not his real name) is an 87-year old white man who lives in the Spokane Valley of Washington State. He is retired after 38 years of military experience—his rank at the time was Colonel. He worked on a family farm prior to his military service. Gregory has what he calls a “volunteer spirit.” Since moving to the Spokane Valley 18 years ago, he has served on a church board, a museum board and on the board of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center. He’s also served on a missionary committee for the Presbyterian church and been a church elder. Additionally, he spent 12 years serving on the Spokane chapter of the Military Officers Association of America. “I held several senior military positions. I had a talent for public speaking. I could also organize and understand financial affairs, so I could do many different things.” He holds a Masters’ Degree in Foreign Affairs, takes college classes in subjects that interest him, which he’s done for ten years, and has a library of 400 books, most of which are in history. He reads constantly and writes essays, which he circulates to friends.

The economy in his part of the country is good, with a lot of small industry and businesses with less than 500 employees. Kaiser Aluminum has a facility in the area that employs about 1,000 workers.

Why did you vote for Donald Trump?

Initially, I favored John Kasich. I thought he was the ideal candidate. But I think Donald Trump was very intelligent in the way he conducted his campaign. He reached people that neither the Democrats or other Republicans reached. I couldn’t accept Hillary Clinton. I didn’t approve of her far left ideas for handling the economy and also the way she handled classified documents. With my military background I handled a lot of classified documents. If I mishandled one of them, I’d end up in prison.

I thought that her foreign policy was fairly good, however. I disagree with Donald Trump on international trade. Eighty-two percent of what we produce in the state of Washington is shipped to foreign countries. One-third of what Boeing manufactures is shipped to China. We also ship nine million boxes of apples to Mexico each year, and nearly half of our cherry crop is shipped by air to China. We also grow soft white wheat here, which is low in protein and perfect for making noodles. It gets shipped to Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

Did you vote for Donald Trump or against Hillary Clinton?

I’ve been a traditional Republican for years, and I even ran for the Washington state legislature when I first retired. I was also a precinct committee member for two years, from ages 21 to 23. During my years in military service, I had to put all of that aside and serve my president even if I disagreed with him. I agree with Donald Trump on some of his policies, but not all of them.

Who did you vote for last time?

Mitt Romney. I thought he was an ideal candidate.

Did you vote for Donald Trump because you like him as a person, or you like his policies or both?

I didn’t like the way Donald Trump campaigned. I’ve followed presidential campaigns since 1940 when I was ten years old and Roosevelt and Wilke were the candidates. My dad and I would listen to Roosevelt’s speeches on the radio. He would cover one topic and issue position papers, so I knew exactly where he stood. Who issued a position paper in this election? Where did the candidates really stand?

What are you hoping will change, and how?

I’m hoping that we start to address the national debt. I hope we come up with a sane policy for medical care for people, and that we come up with sane environmental policies. In the latest policy issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, water, even water on a farm can be controlled by the EPA. We’ve become almost a police state when it comes to regulations. When I was in the Pentagon I learned what happens with regulators—that the regulations begin to dominate us more than the original bill. Many regulations are very restrictive and haven’t improved our quality of life at all.

I’d also like to see us recognize our international responsibilities. When President Roosevelt sent the Great White Fleet around the world in the early 1900s we assumed the mantel of responsibility that had previously belonged to the British Empire. We dropped it after WWI and became isolationist, reducing both the Army and the Navy. With the bombing of Pearl Harbor in WWII we had no choice, and we had to get involved on an international level again. We maintained our role through Vietnam, Iran and Iraq, though those were minor compared to WWII.  Somebody has to arbitrate in the world. Now it will be either us or China.

What would you like people who did not vote for Donald Trump to understand?

First of all, I’d like them to understand that we are a republic. We are fortunate that we have the electoral college, otherwise we’d be ruled by California and New York.

If someone from another party would make the changes you want, would you consider voting for him/her?

No. This is a republic. The founders decided early on that we were going to have two parties. Hamilton was a Federalist and Jefferson advocated for a weaker central government, and our history has followed in that vein until today. Minor parties have started up but never overshadowed the two main parties.

Where do you get your health insurance?

Medicare. I think it’s great, especially at my age. I don’t want it eliminated. Even though I have a good retirement income, I couldn’t afford medical care without it. I spent a few days in the hospital with a terrible flu. My bill was $15,000, but with Medicare my part was less than $5,000, which Medicare covered.

What do you think about the anti-Trump demonstrations that are occurring?

I respect people’s right to demonstrate. In the 1960s I taught courses for the police and the military on how to handle demonstrations without shooting people. One thing I’m amazed at is the people crying over the election. My military friends and I see kids on college campuses crying and having safe rooms, and we wonder how could they fight a war? How could they make tough decisions? I didn’t like it when Barack Obama was elected president, but I didn’t cry about it.

Do you think hate crimes have increased? If so, what do you think about that?

I don’t have any gauge on that at all. There has always been a certain amount of hatred. I think some people commit violent acts against other people out of hatred, some do it because of the notoriety and some do it just because they see it as the thing to do.

Do you find any common ground with your friends/relatives who voted differently from you?

I’m sure I have some relatives who have different political views than I do, but I never discuss politics or religion with relatives.

Christine Norrbom – Wyoming, Michigan

Christine Norrbom is a 69-year old white woman who is married with two adult stepsons. She retired after working in designer women’s apparel and retail for 40 years. Christine lives in Wyoming, Michigan, a village right outside of Grand Rapids. The entire west side of Michigan is conservative “a ten out of ten” she says. The economy there is booming and unemployment is below three percent.

She describes herself as an aware retired businesswoman who is active in her community. She now enjoys having time to research things more thoroughly such as her political leanings and her spiritual leanings, which are metaphysical.

“My husband and I chose to live here,” Christine says. “We lived in Las Vegas for fourteen years, but he had lived in eastern Michigan before, and I fell in love with the seasonal changes and with the community. They are very adamant about their spirituality here and there is a church within every mile. They stand for something, and I was hungry for that. There is an incredible sense of community here. I’m a metaphysician and very spiritual so it’s very interesting for me to have conversations with people about religion and spirituality.”

She voted for Donald Trump primarily because she wanted a businessperson in the White House instead of a politician.

Why did you vote for Donald Trump?

The idea of Hillary and Bill Clinton and their cadre of mafia being in the White House terrified me. On the more positive side, having been a businesswoman and having to live under the glass ceiling, I have an appreciation for men of Donald Trump’s ilk. They are my generation. It was my conviction that we needed a businessperson pulling together a team instead of all the politicians and lobbyists. I want my government held to the same standards that I had to be. Whether I worked for a corporation or when I had my own business if I couldn’t pay my own bills and taxes I would be out of business, and I want my government held to the same standard.

I also had concerns about the Supreme Court. The thought of Hillary and Bill Clinton choosing who would be on the Supreme Court was one of my top reasons for voting for Donald Trump. It never occurred to most people how important that body is, but I think people are more aware after this debacle of an election year. In all the mudslinging and rhetoric, people did come away with a greater awareness of the Supreme Court and its importance in their lives.

I didn’t have to pay attention to this election. Our economy was good, our money was safe and we weren’t afraid. Now after the conversations and rhetoric of this campaign season we have to look at real truth and do some research on our own.

Did you vote for Donald Trump or against Hillary Clinton?

I voted against Hillary Clinton.

Who did you vote for last time?

I voted for Mitt Romney.

Did you vote for Donald Trump because you like him as a person or because you like his policies or both?

I liked his policies. As a person, I think he’s a shrewd ass. I’ve dealt with men like that my entire life. He is no different than the men I reported to. The devil does wear Prada and it’s not always on a woman. I know these boys, but that didn’t turn me off to Donald Trump at all. I was raised by a Marine fighter pilot, a war hero. The way he brought me up was to always have a dime in my pocket for an emergency call home and to use my knee if I needed to. When I was working in designer women’s apparel, we wore very tight skirts, and I ripped my seam out three times having to knee men. My job was never up for grabs after that.

What are you hoping will change, and how?

What I believe will change is that Donald Trump will be able to curtail the lobbyists and curtail the powers that manipulate our government behind the scenes. I strongly believe that there is a cabala, a secret group that includes George Soros who manipulate the lobbyists. I believe Donald Trump can cause our elected officials to get back to work. They haven’t done anything for eight years and were paid quite handsomely. I also believe that our veterans will get more respect now. If anyone should get paid a retirement it is them and not congress. I think that we’re in for a bumpy ride. Barry Goldwater said, “When you push good people too far, and push them against the wall, you’re going to see a revolution unlike anything you’ve ever thought of.” I think we’re there now.

What would you like people who did not vote for Donald trump to understand?

We needed a change, someone who was not a politician, someone who wasn’t manipulated from behind the scenes. I’d like to see them give him a chance. They may be pleasantly surprised. I’m praying for that.

If someone from another party would make the changes you want, would you consider voting for him/her?

From an idealistic standpoint, I’d say yes. But I doubt that even Bernie Sanders would have enough support to make the changes. Donald Trump has support from industry and financial commitments from other countries. I interact with millennials a lot. they have no idea about how much of our economy is partnered with that of other countries, especially China, or how what is going on in Europe affects us. I like it that Donald Trump has international relationships already. And I like that he’s an arrogant ass. He’s just up front about it while others are clandestine.

Where do you get your health insurance? What do you think about how well that is working?

Blue Cross /Blue Shield, provided in part through my husband’s employer.  This saves us out of pocket on the added cost for Medicare.  I personally have a long-term care policy that I pay annual fees of $1750 toward long-term care should I need it.  I’ve carried this policy since I turned 50.  No money back if you don’t use it! I was single until seven years ago, so I did not want to be a burden to my sisters or their children should I require long term care.

What do you think about the anti-Trump demonstrations that are occurring?

These scare me personally since I grew up in the 1960s with the Chicago riots and the Vietnam War protests. I’m sorry that people are losing their lives. I want to discover who is really behind these things. Someone is manipulating these activities and that scares me.

Do you think that hate crimes have increased? If so, what do you think about that?

I believe that they are being funded separately and are being used as a distraction. It is easy fodder for the news to throw out there to entertain us, like the gladiators in Rome. I’m a history buff, and this is history repeating itself. It scares me because I don’t know who is behind it and who is funding it. When I think of hate crimes, I think of group activities. I do believe that the police situations are being fermented by something that I can’t pretend to understand. I don’t believe in coincidence, but I do believe in synchronicity. This is synchronicity driven.

Do you find any common ground with your friends/relatives who voted differently from you?

My friends who are Democrats are vehemently angry at me. I know them as human beings, and as my friends, so I know we have many common threads in our tapestry, but they aren’t open to having a dialogue and I find that heart-wrenching. I believe the dialogue will be healthier and there will be more openness for discussion after President Obama is out of the White House.

Charlene Quan* – San Francisco Bay Area, California

Charlene Quan  (not her real name) is a 36-year old, Chinese woman who is married with two children. She works as a scientific engineer for a government program in Palo Alto. Charlene lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, in a suburb about thirty minutes away from San Francisco. She describes the economy in her area as mixed, with some people doing very well and others struggling to pay high apartment rents and provide a living for themselves. Prior to moving to California, she lived in the Midwest, which had a much more homogeneous culture than the diverse Bay Area.

Her main reason for voting for Donald Trump is that she doesn’t think that government programs operate in a very effective manner. As a technical person she says she always looks for facts on which to base her decisions, but she doesn’t see her employer operating this way. She is tasked with supporting her agency’s decisions whether they are based on solid facts or not.

Did you vote for Donald Trump or against Hillary Clinton or both?


Who did you vote for last time?

I just recently became a citizen so this is the first time I’ve voted.

Did you vote for Donald Trump because you like him as a person, or because you like his policies or both?

Both. I like his personality because he’s real, he’s not a phony. I believe that he really wants to do something for the country and he’ll do things based on solid facts. I like his polices too. I think American is a great country, and one of the things I like is that the Democrats and Republicans balance each other. Right now I see that he policies are a little too much to the left, so it’s time to balance them to the right.

What are you hoping will change, and how?

Even though I’m Chinese, I feel that policies are too much in favor of minorities now, and it’s not fair to White people. One of my friends’ son can’t get financial aid for college even though he has a high GPA and they struggle financially. I think it’s because he’s White, and that’s not fair. Though Hillary Clinton’s policies favor my group of Chinese people more, and discrimination against minorities is bad, I still think the policy has gone too far to the left and it is time to pull it back a little bit.

I also like that Donald Trump wants more people to get work. I’m middle class. My husband and I work very hard and we pay a lot in taxes to help pay for people who don’t have a job. I don’t think that’s fair either. I think everyone should have a job.

A third important thing to me is same-sex marriage. I’m not against same-sex marriage, but it’s time for that to be balanced, too. Even though I think people should have the freedom to marry who they want, I don’t feel like I have the freedom to dislike same-sex marriage.

What would you like people who did not vote for Donald Trump to understand?

There are different voices in the world. Nobody’s perfect. This time, just by chance, the voice that was for Donald Trump was louder than the voice of people who voted for Hillary Clinton, so he won. If you read the book 1984 you read about a society in which everyone had to have the same opinion or get in trouble. That’s very dangerous. When Peter Thiel, who is gay, supported Donald Trump all the gay people around him hated him. And when Mark Zuckerberg stood up to support Peter Thiel, he was hated, too. It seemed to me that if you are gay then you had to vote for Hillary Clinton, and no one would give you the freedom to choose Donald Trump. I felt that if you were in a particular group you had to like Hillary Clinton, so it’s kind of like I betrayed my group of Chinese because I did not vote for her. I come from a communist country, and this kind of thinking is very scary for me.

If someone from another party would make the changes you want, would you consider voting for him/her?

Sure. I don’t claim to be a Republican. And I don’t think Donald Trump is a typical Republican. He seems more like an Independent leaning toward Republican to me.

What do you think about the anti-Trump demonstrations that are occurring?

Some people have very strong feelings about this election. Some people need to vent and make the world see that they are right, and they have the right to do that. Marching is one way to vent, to express their feelings. I don’t see a problem with that. The problem I see is violence. I don’t like violence. I also don’t think it’s right if they block traffic and affect other people’s lives.

Do you think that hate crimes have increased? If so, what do you think about that?

I think that hate crimes rose during President Obama’s term. I’m a minority person myself and so I don’t have any hostility toward any other minority groups. But because president Obama was a Black person, there were some people who intentionally increased the hatred between the Blacks and the Whites. And every time a police officer accidentally shot a Black man that hatred increased. And in my personal opinion, it was more the Black people hating White people during President Obama’s term.

Do you find any common ground with your friends/relatives who voted differently from you?

One of my friends is Chinese, middle class and a working mom like me. She didn’t understand why I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton. Another friend was talking about a girl who is an illegal immigrant here, and she asked ‘Don’t you think this girl deserves to stay in the United States?’ I heard what she said. I think people just need to have an open mind. It’s not just one policy that is absolutely right. For example, Obamacare. I think it’s great, and it provides care for many people, but at the same time it’s creating debt. Everything has two sides. I think that if people can keep an open mind then both sides can come together. Donald Trump’s plans are not perfect, but I want to see if they will work. The Democrats went a little too far to the left and now Donald Trump will balance them out to the right a little bit. If he goes too far, then people can vote against him, and in four or eight years the government can come back Democratic again. That’s the American system.

John Thompson* – Denver Colorado

John Thompson (not his real name) is a 63-year old white male living in Denver, Colorado who works as a purchasing agent for a car dealership. He is married with three adult children—a son who lives in a suburb of Denver and two daughters who, with their husbands and children, live in Washington state.

John describes himself as a person who used to be upper middle class, but after some hard financial times, is not even middle class. “My wife and I are quite literally the poorest we’ve ever been in our 38 years of marriage,” he says. We lost two homes that we lived in, have no retirement savings at all now, and even have to borrow money occasionally.”

Denver, he says, is an area with fairly low unemployment and a good amount of building going on. After two to three years of steadily rising apartment rates, there are signs that the increase is softening a bit.

John is a Catholic, who although he doesn’t go to church on Sundays, still professes his faith and prays every day. He is a straight-shooter who doesn’t “lie, exaggerate or bullshit people.” Two tenets govern his life: The Golden Rule – I treat everyone the way I expect to be treated – and that in every cloud there is a silver lining. “I firmly believe that behind every negative event in one’s life, there is a silver lining. And even if it takes years to discover what that is, it’s there. Maybe this is hope, maybe it’s religion, but it’s how I run my life, and something I believe in very deeply.”

His main reason for voting for Donald Trump—change! John believes that at least with Donald Trump there is a possibility that there can be a change. A vote for Hillary Clinton, in his opinion would have been a vote for the status quo. And he absolutely refused to give a stamp of approval to the status quo.
He also wants to see balance on the Supreme Court. “I believe it’s important that Justice Scalia’s conservative position be maintained. Having said that, I don’t want to see the court turn overly conservative or liberal, which it will become if we have seven or more justices on either side.”

Did you vote for Donald Trump or against Hillary Clinton?

“I voted fifty-one percent for Donald Trump, and forty-nine percent against Hillary Clinton. I do believe that she is a crook. I strongly believe that the Clinton Foundation is ‘pay for play’ and I think that should be investigated. So for me to pull the lever for her would blow my mind. She’s a liar and a crook, and not to be trusted. I was afraid of how she’d screw things up. I don’t know if Donald Trump is also a liar, but there’s a chance that he’s not.”

Who did you vote for last time?

“It kills me to admit it, but I voted for Mitt Romney. I did not vote for Barack Obama either time. The only time I voted for a non-Republican was when Ross Perot ran, and it was for much the same reason—change. The gridlock in our government cannot be allowed to continue. Regretfully, that’s been the status quo of both parties.”

Did you vote for Donald Trump because you like him as a person, or you like his policies or both?

“He is hopefully an agent of change. I think he’s probably a pretty personable guy. In the business world he tends to be an asshole. I don’t know if he and I would necessarily like each other. What will be critical to find out in the next twelve months is whether or not he’s a leader.

This country has been on the wrong track for the past ten to twenty years, with the lack of true growth. President Obama’s two terms saw the weakest economic recovery in decades, and the national debt just keeps growing. The debt could be the downfall of this country. Things have to be different.
We also need progress on infrastructure. There is a chance that as president Donald Trump can have influence in that area. So, my three top reasons to vote for Donald Trump are change, breaking the gridlock, and being a leader. Donald Trump has leadership in the palm of his hand. God knows if he’ll be able to make something of it or not.”

What are you hoping will change, and how?

“The gridlock in the country is number one. I believe it is crippling the country. Donald Trump has a herculean task in front of him, especially as it relates to gridlock and economic growth. And even though I’m a recipient of Obamacare, I think that needs to change. Overall, with one small exception, it is working great for my me. My wife and I receive a large subsidy, but I’m still not a proponent of government mandated and controlled insurance. I see the end-run of President Obama to make insurance government-run and to eliminate competition. I’d like to see more competition between insurance companies. Healthy competition is good for America.

The greatest president in my lifetime has been Ronald Regan. He was a real leader, a unifier. I could care less whether he was a Republican or a Democrat. Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton were neither of those things. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” That’s what’s good for America. We need to get behind things that are good for this country, and it’s my wish and prayer that we do.

The first twelve months of Donald Trump’s presidency will be critical. In two years there will be congressional elections, and both parties will start running in a year. So this first year of his term is incredibly important.

I do think that Donald Trump is quick to fly off the handle, and it bothers me that he tweets instead of using good old press conferences. The uproar over his tweet that people who burn the flag should get a year in jail or lose their citizenship was deserved. This is protected by the right of free speech. It doesn’t appear to me that he has a trusted advisor before he acts impetuously.
Another important issue is abortion. My position on abortion is two-fold. I am absolutely pro-life, but more so than that—and to my very core—I feel it’s ultimately a woman’s right to choose. If Donald Trump tries to change Roe vs. Wade I would not like it one bit.”

What would you like people who did not vote for Donald Trump to understand?

“I would like them to understand that there is a chance he can be a change agent, even if he is a jerk sometimes. ‘Do you like the way things are going in this country,’ I want to ask them. There is a lot of hope that Donald Trump can be different. I think it’s that hope that caused him to win the election.”

If someone from another party would make the changes you want, would you consider voting for him/her?

“Yes. I don’t think Donald Trump is a true Republican. The party was just the magic carpet ride of choice that he used to get him to this point. I’ve already said I voted for Ross Perot for the same reasons I voted for Donald Trump. I would look at a third party, but I’d also look to see if I thought that party had a chance to win. I didn’t think he had a chance at the start, but as time progressed I began to see that maybe he did.”

Where do you get your health insurance? And what do you think about how well that is working?

My wife and I have health insurance through Kaiser with Obamacare. We are heavily subsidized. We used to pay $100 a month for both of us; this year it’s gone up to $300 a month. Neither one of us cares much for Kaiser, we’d prefer a smaller family practice, but we couldn’t afford the premiums for those plans.
One unforeseen problem with the subsidy is that it caused problems with the IRS, which thinks we are being over-subsidized, and is after us to repay a huge amount of money to them. So even though Obamacare has benefited my wife and I, we aren’t big fans of it.

What do you think about the anti-Trump demonstrations that are occurring?

“I’m very negative about them. There weren’t any demonstrations when Barack Obama won. I’ve heard about schools providing grief counseling, and I think that’s crap. Your person lost and our person won. The demonstrations are very immature. You are blocking highways and in some cases vandalizing property. Go see someone and learn how to grow up and get over it. Your disappointment doesn’t give you the right to act inappropriately.”

Do you think hate crimes have increased? If so, what do you think about that?

“I don’t know. My guess is probably. Hate crime is absolutely repugnant to me. If anything we should have learned by now is that we all need to get along with everyone. Hate crime cannot be endorsed, and incredibly strong sentences should be imposed.”

Do you find any common ground with your friends/relatives who voted differently from you?

“Yes, the common ground is that the person I voted for is in office and the person you voted for is not in office, and what do you want to do next? Accept it. I’ve heard that families didn’t spend Christmas together because of this. That’s ridiculous. I have no problem that you voted for Hillary Clinton, though I will admit scratching my head a little wondering why.”

A Family Conversation

I was visiting my family in Los Angeles over the summer when my sister Alicia said, “I’m voting for Donald Trump.” That didn’t surprise me; everyone in the family except me is conservative. My mother was a John Birch Society devotee for more than 30 years. The whole household was influenced by Mom’s distrust of government and almost allergic reaction to taxes. My father, six brothers and sisters and I adapted, each in our own way. Now, living near San Francisco as I have for more than 25 years, and very pleased to be part of the liberal Bay Area, I’m accustomed to being an outlier in my family. Still, it was what my sister said next that surprised me. “I know his heart. He really wants to do something good for the American people. I liked him for years, way before he ran for president. I’ve seen a lot of good qualities in him.” I listened with my mouth slightly agape. She continued, “I respected the way Donald Trump built his company, the way he raised his children. I used to watch Celebrity Apprentice. To people who would lose he’d say, ‘I’m going to give a donation to your charity.’” The more she talked, the more surprised I became. The man she was voting for was a prince.

I had a completely different take on Donald Trump. What I saw was a man who had just made terrible comments about Mexico sending us rapists, made fun of a disabled person and tweeted all sorts of misogynistic comments. Eventually he would call for a registry of Muslims, promise he would build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and threaten to deport all the illegal immigrants. My sister had been active in the theater for many years, and she has a wide array of friends. I consider her accepting and open-minded about people. Alicia continued, “I watched his rallies and saw Latinos and Blacks come up and say, ‘He’s the best boss I ever had.’ I think he’s gotten a bad rap. Even if he made some comments during the campaign that he shouldn’t have, I still feel he’ll do a good job in boosting the economy, bringing jobs and lowering taxes. He works so hard with his companies. I think he’ll work hard to try to create good things for our country.” It was then that I began to suspect that people in the U.S. might be looking at the candidate Donald J. Trump through very different lenses.

What My Sister Hoped For

An improved health care plan was one thing my sister hoped for under a Trump presidency. “This insurance situation has gotten out of hand,” she said. “During the past several years I’ve seen my salary lowered by several hundred dollars a month, several thousand a year. My boss had to cancel the insurance policy for the company because as a small business he couldn’t afford it. I also saw the insurance companies taking advantage of people by raising the premiums by a large percentage every year. The Obama plan was not good insurance. I didn’t want to have it. People I know said it was a terrible plan. Doctors refused to take it, and my friends would have to wait months to see a physician. Donald Trump says he’s going to work hard to give us a better plan. I want to see what he’s going to do. I’m hoping for the best.”
Alicia was hoping for the best, while I was fearing the worst. My colleagues and friends all believed that Hillary Clinton had the election in the bag. She was experienced, she was smart, and she was highly-connected in Washington and around the globe. In my opinion she didn’t run the best campaign she could have. She spent a lot of time portraying herself as the “not Trump” candidate. I thought she could have focused more on her plans for improving the lives of the American people. But she did state her top policy objectives—an economy that works for everyone; debt-free college; preservation of Social Security and Medicare; LGBT rights and equality; gun violence prevention; racial justice; and a fair tax system with the wealthy paying more—and she looked way more presidential in her bearing than the petulant, looming figure that hovered over her during the debates. Both campaigns were negative, though, almost vicious. “This was a campaign of hatred,” said PBS commentator David Brooks.

So imagine my astonishment as my husband and I watched the returns on the evening of November 8th. As the evening wore on and it became clear that Donald Trump had won we both felt like someone had kicked us in the stomach. We went to bed deeply disappointed and slightly dazed.
The next morning I woke up feeling as if everyone I had ever known and loved had died. I felt a profound sense of grief. The world as I knew it had just died, and what would take its place? All of the fears that I had internalized as the child of a conspiracy-theorist mother arose. Would we become like Nazi Germany, I feared? Would my husband and all the liberals I know lose their jobs, put out by those who were now solidly in power? What would happen to my Afghan friend, to my friends of color, to women, to all those people whom the president-elect so roundly insulted and mocked? On days two and three after the election I walked around in a profound state of fear. I asked my husband and a couple of friends, “Could Donald Trump turn himself into a dictator?” “No, we have too many safeguards in place for that to happen,” they all answered. My female friends who had been sexually assaulted were also experiencing their own deep fears—that of being physically and psychologically violated by men who spoke as Donald Trump had about just taking what they wanted from women. The news of hate crimes against gays and people of color began to rise. Things were getting ugly.

I Couldn’t Live in Anger, Fear and Hatred

On day four something shifted. I couldn’t live the next four years in anger, fear and hatred of “the other” — those people who had elected this man. And they all couldn’t be horrible people. Surely some of them were like Alicia who looked at Donald Trump through a different lens. What were they thinking I began to wonder? What did they see? What did they hope for? I like people; I wanted to continue to like people. I didn’t want to live in one camp or tribe, hating or fearing the other. It was then that I decided to go to the source—to interview people who had voted for Donald Trump and see what I could learn.