Trump voter vs Hillary voter: ‘I want to live in a tolerant society’

2016-11-13 06:00
Pete Buchanan outside his barber shop. Picture: Carien du Plessis

Pete Buchanan outside his barber shop. Picture: Carien du Plessis

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Trump voter: Pete Buchanan (70)

On the main drag in the tiny rural town of Boonsboro in Maryland, 90 minutes away from Washington, DC, is Pete Buchanan’s barber shop, where clients can get a trim for $11 (R158).

A few months ago, he put up a banner at his shop next to the town hall:

“We want our country back.”

At first, people paid no attention. Now that the elections are over, everyone is remarking on it, Buchanan says.

On Tuesday, he voted Republican for the first time, as did most people in this community. Donald Trump’s support base came from older white voters like him.

“I have been independent all my life. I am an independent businessman,” says Buchanan.

But when no independent was standing, he opted for Trump. “I got tired of lying lawyers running our country. I wanted someone who was either a military man or a businessman.”

Trump’s promises to limit the terms of congressmen appealed to him.

“Politics wasn’t intended to be a career,” he says.

On the back wall of his shop is a framed piece of text in fancy writing.

It is the Mayflower Compact of 1620, a document signed by settlers on the ship Mayflower.

Known as the founding fathers, they travelled to the US from Britain, Ireland and France to advance Christian values in their new land. Buchanan defines these values as “you work, you save, you obey the laws”.

“That has always been our foundation to keep us together. Now they have changed that and say it’s for personal interpretation. It has never been like this for me.

"People are moving away from the original faith.”

He says Muslims do not adhere to the same principles, and changing from the Christian foundation would mean the country would stop working – “just like if you changed an engine over the years from its original form”.

Buchanan, whose wife died three years ago, has a married son and three grandchildren. He has done missionary work in Uganda, Kenya and Puerto Rico, but his dream is to go to Scotland to find his roots.

He claims to be a descendant of the 15th US president, James Buchanan.

Did reports about Trump’s bad behaviour towards women bother him?

“I think it was true, it is everywhere,” he says.

“Trump said being famous meant women allowed you to do these things – and then they say it is sexual harassment. Much of it happened 11 years ago and it’s unfair to hold Trump to that.”

Buchanan believes Trump treats the women in his family and in his businesses as equals.

His daughter-in-law, who works for him, chips in from behind a client:

“Over in West Virginia, there are strip clubs. It is part of society – women who take their clothes off for money.”

Did he have a problem with Trump not paying taxes?

“Tax reduction is the law. If I could get one, I would take it too!” he says.

What will life be like under Trump?

“I don’t know, but we survived eight years with Obama, who is a Muslim in a Christian country,” he says.

He does not intend retiring soon.

“I really don’t know how to do anything else. I enjoy working. In the old days it used to be you work, you retire, everything is stable – with no drastic changes like in the past few years,” he says.

Hillary voter: Rachel Horning (26)

Helicopters and police sirens outside her apartment in downtown Los Angeles mark yet another of a number of protests against Trump in California, which is Democrat blue.

Fresh from an evening spinning class – “it helps me cope” – Rachel Horning is itching to go and join them.

Two days after the election, she is still dejected. She has cried a lot – like many of the 60 million Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton.

Clinton wasn’t even her first choice. “If you’re under the age of 35, you were rooting for Bernie Sanders in the primaries.”

She has been a fan of Clinton too, but Sanders was seen as the candidate who could reinvigorate the Democratic Party.

Horning is a communications and policy editor for the Los Angeles County Business Federation. She also has her own tech business.

She is one of an army of young, university-educated people who voted for Clinton.

Trump’s plans to withdraw from international trade agreements would make the US a “much more closed-off, nativist, insular country, without more jobs being created”, she says.

Silicon Valley is no fan of Trump, and its residents wanted California to secede from the US if he became president.

Horning, whose Jewish parents also voted Democrat, served on the elected student body of the University of California, Berkeley.

She was also involved in the Occupy movement against global social and economic inequality.

Trump’s win has spurred her to become involved in politics again, and maybe even run for office one day.

“I feel like my DNA changed last night. I feel like I’m questioning my entire American identity. I just don’t understand Trump voters, but I want to,” she says.

She blames her lack of insight on geographic, technological and social divisions in the US, adding that the media, social media and the internet has only made divisions worse.

“We’re not trying to understand each other any more. People are so quick to write each other off,” she says.

“Trump supporters have been described as idiots and ignorant Midwest scumbags who don’t even understand creationism versus science. And although I’m not seeing it, they are probably talking about us ‘elite urbanites’ too.

“There was a need for change, clearly, and almost half of America has agreed to that. And here we are; we elected someone with zero experience. My whole reality has been flipped upside down, inside out.”

Horning says many of her dreams for the US “have come crashing down” after the elections.

“I want to live in a very inclusive and tolerant society, but Trump’s rhetoric has been the opposite.”

She wants the US to be part of a globalised world, but Trump is inward-looking.

She hopes Trump will “watch his mouth”, especially regarding comments about women’s bodies, “as this could encourage other men to follow suit”.

“The upside of a Trump presidency could be the reforms he is promising to bring to Congress, such as term limits for congressmen.

“When it comes to government transparency, I’m on board for that.”

Read more on:    donald trump  |  hillary clinton  |  us 2016 elections

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