Recap from July 2020
US 2020 Election Series: Trump trauma
US 2020 Election Series: Supporting Trump from abroad part 1
US 2020 Election Series: Supporting Trump from abroad part 2
Don’t feel like reading? Listen to me tell the story.
Back in July I spoke with a couple of Americans who were traumatised by Donald Trump’s presidency, Dan and Katie* and a couple of Trump supporters, Gautham and Jeevan* about what they thought about the upcoming United States (US) Presidential Election.
The election is over and Democrat candidate Joe Biden is the President Elect, unless you are Donald Trump and his inner circle who refuse to accept the result, so let’s hear Dan, Katie, Gautham, and Jeevan’s views now it is all (most probably) over.
Dan’s views from the anti-Trump camp
Dan describes himself as centrist, is from Terre Haute, Indiana, has not ruled out voting Republican in the future, but was very concerned about Trump’s behaviour as president. He said the results were as he expected, but he was hoping to be surprised and have a landslide victory for Biden.
“One of the reasons I wanted to see the landslide more than anything, is because I feel like it’s just getting out of control where the Republicans can lose election after election and still get the White House because of this anachronistic setup,” Dan said.
“The Democrats lost ground in Congress, which in a lot of ways I’m happy about, but it doesn’t give us a chance to fix the problem for the Electoral College. That’s too bad.”
Dan didn’t want to see too radical a swing, but is disappointed some of the major reforms to the system will not happen with a Republican Senate majority.
He likes the way Joe Biden has played down Trump’s rhetoric and is not taking the bait.
“Trump, he just thrives on attention, and Biden is just completely refusing to give it to him,” Dan said. “I think that’s good.”
“I think he’s going to be a great president. I spent the last almost six months pretty dedicated to following Joe Biden. Following his campaign website and giving money and things like that.
“The more I’ve gotten to know him, the more I just think he’s just a very good guy. And he’s going to be so much more down to earth than Trump was in so many ways.
“The problem is that the media vacuum is going to still exist though, so no matter what he says, there is still a big chunk of the population that is not going to believe a word of it.
“We’ve got to do something about that. It makes it hard to run a democracy when there’s so many people that just won’t even believe anything they see on the news or TV. It makes it really hard to fix anything so I don’t envy him,” Dan said.
Katie’s views from the anti-Trump camp
Katie, from New Jersey but currently living in Asia, thought the election would be a landslide and was disappointed that many people still voted for Trump. She was horrified as the election count went on, and at times it looked like Trump might win. She was beyond relieved when Biden was announced as President Elect.
“My Mom’s sister’s husband called my Mom a couple of days ago and was crying on the phone with tears of joy. He’s not an emotional man, but he said, ‘I’m just so happy! I’m calling everybody on my phone and just jumping for joy!’ So he was excited,” Katie recalled.
Her husband who is not an American citizen, kept saying to her he couldn’t believe over 70 million people still voted for him.
“I wasn’t surprised about that,” Katie said. “I’ve been back. He hasn’t been back as much as I have. I have been in Walmart and Target. I know who votes for him. It’s so shocking.”
She notes the main damage Donald Trump can do on his way out is pardoning people and firing people, but he can’t make new laws, although he has already appointed another Supreme Court Judge.
“I think Joe Biden will be sort of, a neutral guy,” Katie said. “I heard someone compare him to Jimmy Carter or Gerald Ford. Like right in that period after Nixon where he came in and he was not such a strong guy. It doesn’t matter. He’s not that guy. That’s all that matters.
“I don’t know anyone who is really passionate about Biden, I think most people are just happy that he’s not Trump,” she said.
Gautham from the pro-Trump camp
Gautham, now living in India, but an American citizen who spent 20 years living predominantly in Atlanta, Georgia, wanted Trump to win, but didn’t expect him to given the pandemic. He was actually really surprised at how many votes Trump got and how close he was to Biden.
“The election was not about voting for Biden, it was about getting rid of Trump,” Gautham said, echoing Katie from the other side of the ideological fence.
“(The Democrats) have nothing. I mean, when Trump became president he had a lot of things. He said, I will kick illegals out, and I’m going to bring jobs back in, and he did a lot of that. And have you ever seen… when was the last time an Arab country was nice to Israel? You had three of them in the last two months.”
Gautham predicts Trump will make the transition as difficult as possible, and although it is not “gracious” and he doesn’t approve of it, he wants Trump to fight.
“(Joe Biden) is just a dummy,” he said.
He says Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer run the Democrat party, Biden is a puppet, and they are the puppet masters.
“Nothing much different is going to happen,” Gautham said. “They’re probably going to bring back more regulation. Obama put in a tonne of regulations on businesses including banks. Trump removed some of them. Some of them are going to come back.
“They are going to stop building the wall. I hope they don’t go and try a nuclear deal with Iran and stuff like that which is biased towards Iran.”
He went on to say Trump scrapped a lot of trade deals that weren’t performing so the Democrats will happily take credit for putting those back in place. He said they will talk about the environment and universal healthcare, but nothing will happen. They might introduce some token taxes, but nothing major as rich people fund them so they can’t make them too unhappy.
Jeevan from the pro-Trump camp
Jeevan, also an American now living back in India but who spent most of the 1990s and early 2000s in Chicago, Illinois, thinks the pandemic killed Trumps chances, he did the best he could, and no leader could have withstood this election given its effects. But he wasn’t surprised the vote balance was so close.
“I knew Trump was a shoe in before the pandemic. I was confident that he would win because of the record economy, record unemployment lows, African Americans highest employment rates and everything. But I didn’t expect a big Trump loss,” Jeevan said.
He notes although Biden won by more than five million votes, Trump scored 10 million more votes than he got in 2016.
“I think he should have conceded at the get go and moved on. But I think there is going to be a little bit more drama maybe for a month or so. I don’t know,” Jeevan said.
Jeevan thinks that once the courts come back in even one or two states saying it was all clean and Trump has absolutely no chance of taking the election, there will be a smooth transition.
Regarding Joe Biden, Jeevan thinks he is on drugs.
“I’ve seen enough interviews with Biden in the last year, and it’s a completely different Biden on the debate stage,” Jeevan said. “He was so calm and controlled, spoke very clearly. He shows no sign of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
“I’ve seen my grandma. When you give her the medication she’s fine, until the medication wears out, right? Then that medication over a period of time loses effect and then you start becoming drowsy. You lose consciousness and everything.
“So I think he is on drugs because I’ve seen interviews where he’s completely lost.”
Jeevan doesn’t think the Democrats rigged the votes because they lost seats in both Congress and the House of Representatives. He points out the Republicans had significant gains.
“The truth will come out,” Jeevan said. “Always there is going to be some voter fraud in America because it is a very very complex system.”
He saw a video which claimed in one of the swing states during counting, 150,000 votes came in consecutively for Biden which mathematicians say is highly improbable without some form of fraud.
“Let me put it this way, if I am going to cheat with 150,000 votes, am I stupid enough to cheat with all 150,000 votes swinging one way? I would mix it up a little, you know?” Jeevan said.
“If I get the question paper for my exam, I’m not going to score 100 on 100. They’ll know I cheated! Make a few mistakes here and there, you know? Make it look like I studied hard and tried.”
He doesn’t believe citizens living in the US should be allowed to have mail-in votes.
He is concerned about the potential for voter fraud in the Georgia Senate runoff elections. Because no candidate received more than 50% of the vote, they are having another election to fill two Senate seats. Currently the Republicans have 50 Senate seats and the Democrats have 48 seats. He said if the Democrats win the two seats in Georgia, there will be a tie, but the Vice President gets the tie breaker vote. The Democrats will then have both houses.
He said Democrat Andrew Yang is encouraging Democrat voters from outside Georgia to register as residents to vote there before the deadline in December. Jeevan said this is fraud and senior Democrats should not be encouraging this. He does acknowledge the issue is systemic as the same remedies are available to Republican voters.
Gautham thinks voter fraud was likely.
“There are postal employees who have said they have seen a lot of fraud happening,” Gautham said. “There are election people, election workers who have come and said a lot of fraud is happening, and now they are being investigated. I mean once Biden takes power, then he’s going to stop all of these investigations.”
At work in Paris, Illinois in the heart of Trump country, Dan sits in a medium sized open plan office with about a hundred desks in it. One team near him were particularly upset about the election and equally sure about voter fraud.
Dan listened to their boss, who he thinks is a pretty smart guy.
“Well I’ve got the inside track; the arrests are going to start happening,” the boss said. “They’ve got some really good evidence on some of these people.”
Dan watched the news and searched online waiting to hear about the arrests these guys were sure were going to happen, but there was nothing.
“There was no sign of it anywhere, but they all sounded so sure. The thing that that shows is they are not living in the same ecosystem at all as the rest of us. There’s no sign of any of this stuff in the mainstream media. So where are they getting their information?
“They live in their own little world, they don’t consume the same information, they don’t consume the same media. And this is all new. It was just a few years ago, these are all people that I agreed with on a lot of stuff. And now they are operating in their own little cultish little world and they’re not operating on the same information. Where are they getting all their information? How can we live in such completely different worlds?”
If Facebook and Twitter sensor you, try Parler
Katie has a couple of friends who left Facebook and moved to a new social media platform called Parler which doesn’t fact check, sensor people, or “remove content based on politics or ideology.”
“Karen has removed herself and put herself on the Parler where she can only see what other people are posting that are just like her,” Katie said. “I think that’s a little bit scary. All the conservatives think that Facebook is completely against them and anything they post. But the reason they had to remove stuff is because Trump was just telling boldface lies.
“He was trying to announce that he won the election and he was lying. And all the major networks said, ‘I’m sorry but we can’t continue to broadcast this. What he is doing is illegal.’”
On Vice President Elect Kamala Harris
Dan said he thinks Vice President Elect Kamala Harris would make a good president.
“She doesn’t worry me. I also like her policy on marijuana decriminialisation. At the same time I’m not committed to voting for her if she runs. There is still some chance that I might actually vote Republican again someday if there is a better candidate.”
Katie has been reading and hearing more about Kamala Harris than Joe Biden, and thinks she is infinitely more interesting. She intends to learn more about her and notes Mike Pence as Vice President is like a “robotic creep.”
“I feel like she’s the Obama of the group and I feel like a lot of Obama’s administration is going to get right back in there, and that’s good,” Katie said.
Gautham is not as enthusiastic.
“I think people in India are so excited about her Indian roots and stuff like that,” Gautham said. “I’m sure she doesn’t give a shit about her Indian roots. She’s a bit too progressive, left leaning.”
Jeevan is similarly not a fan.
“She does not come across as being genuine at all,” Jeevan said. “She comes out as being extremely patronising and fake. There are different times where she has been aggressive as a hawk in attacking criminals, putting them behind bars.
“And now she’s posing as a left liberal who doesn’t want anybody to be prosecuted. She’s extremely two faced. I don’t trust her at all.”
Trump country for an anti-Trumper
While there is a lot in the media about Black Lives Matter and Defund the Police protests in the cities, Dan wanted to explain the other side of what is happening in Trump country.
“It is just as scary for a Democrat or a moderate in the countryside as anything you’ve seen going on in the city,” Dan said. “And these guys have these huge trucks; you see them all the time. But they are all over, these massive trucks with Trump flags on the back and guns in the back. And they are loud, and they are in your face, and they are racing all over the place.
“And especially in Paris, where I work, which is just like the heart of Trump country. They rage up and down the roads, with their flags waiving and blasting exhaust. And it is so in your face, and it feels very fascist, and it feels very intolerant, and I don’t like it at all.
“It’s pretty scary living in the middle of Trump country. And I just don’t think that some people see that. They see the Black Lives Matter protests and they see the strife in the cities, but it’s terrifying in the country right now in the other direction because they are just everywhere and they’re so obnoxious.”
Dan encourages us to look at the footage of the trucks that tried to drive the Biden buses off the road in South Florida. He says they are that intimidating, aggressive, and loud all the time.
“But it is definitely also really fuelled by these conspiracy theories too,” Dan said. “They don’t believe in a thing you do about the most ordinary things, like what the purpose of our government is, and what the purpose of newspapers are, and these grand conspiracy theories.
“It is very annoying and intimidating and unpleasant to be in the middle of. It is not just the cities that are going nuts. And they are going nuts in the other way.”
Both Gautham and Jeevan said they believe the left wingers are far more alarmist and disruptive than Trump supporters, citing the response to Trump winning the 2016 US Election, and Black Lives Matter protests in cities across the US as examples.
Trump supporters and abortion
Dan took his family to Washington DC just before the election, from October 12 to 15. There was a big Trump rally that weekend and Dan’s hotel was full of them. But the streets of Washington were filled with Biden supporters, protestors, and protest artwork as it is clearly a Democratic majority city.
“People were just flying in from all over the place to just come and get mad,” Dan said.
He spent time talking to Trump supporters in his hotel, and adding that to his experience in Trump country, he made an interesting observation about these loyalists.
“It’s pretty hard to understate the importance of abortion to the Trump movement,” Dan explained. “It’s like the one issue they think is so absolute that they don’t even care that Trump is all of the things people say. They honestly believe abortion is murder, and they believe they have been fighting this battle for 40 years back to Roe vs. Wade.
“And they’ve been working and working and working to get people on the Supreme Court to try and overturn Roe vs. Wade, and when you go up to them and say, ‘Well, Trump isn’t a good guy,’ but they see him packing the Supreme Court, it’s like you’re telling them there’s this battle that you’ve been fighting for 40 years, that you’ve got victory in sight, but the rest of us don’t think you should get your victory because we picked a bad guy.
“They’re saying we’ve been fighting for 40 years to get this Supreme Court, we finally got it, and we don’t care. We don’t care what he says, we don’t care what he does. There’s even this belief among some evangelicals that the fact that he is such a bad guy just makes his story that much more inspiring.
“Like, God can work through a person like Trump to save the country from abortion, and that is it. I’ve talked to them, and I’ve talked to them, and I’ve talked to them; they feel disrespected. There’s a lot of stuff they are not happy about, but it is so hard to talk to any of them. And it is so hard to get the discussion past abortion.
“It really is for the Trump voter, it really is the main issue by miles. Miles. And to the left, or to the centre like me, it is not the main issue at all. It’s just one issue among many. Maybe we have opinions one way or another, but none of us on the left or the centre… I just don’t think that the left has anybody, at least not as many people, that vote only on one political issue every year.
“And they don’t care. They will, and if they have to believe this ridiculous stuff so they can vote pro-choice, they will willingly convince themselves that the world is flat. As long as it means that they get to vote pro-life.
“The reason I found the abortion thing to be helpful to me, is it does help me to see that they are rational. They are not irrational voters. And they are looking at it from this 40 year view, and if you’ve got to drop an atom bomb at the end of the war to win, you do it.
“They have that view. This is like the culmination of decades of fighting over abortion, and they will take anything because that’s just how they see it. And that is also a part of why they are so shocked, because they really believe God had a hand in this because God was so angry about abortion, and somehow Trump lost…
“If I think about it that way, at least I can see the logic of it a little bit more. It’s not that they don’t care about damage or democracy, or care about people not believing in anything anymore, and the general sense of paranoia that has affected our politics; they just think that those are the casualties of war.
“And they can handle an amazing amount of damage because it’s a single issue war.”
This likely concludes the US 2020 Election Series. I learned a lot about different perspectives from either side of the Trump support spectrum. Undoubtably there are many more different opinions and cross sections of people whose views are not represented here. This was never intended to be a fully balanced review of US society in relation to Donald Trump and this election, rather an in depth look at how four Americans from either side of the ‘Trump Train’ felt about the state of affairs.
I want to thank Dan, Katie, Gautham and Jeevan for being so generous with their time and opinions, and for their honesty. It can be confronting to put your political views out there for others to see, particularly at the time when the US is so divided.
* Names were changed for privacy reasons.
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Until next time!