His truest nature is simply being revealed, again and again, and he is using his own racism to appeal to the racism in the people who support him.
Blow notes Trump’s primal racism in his latest attack on four Democratic freshman members of the House of Representatives is that: “They aren’t white, and they are women. They are “other” in the framing of the white nationalists. They are descendants of Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.”
The central framing of this kind of thinking is that this is a white country, founded and built by white men, and destined to be maintained as a white country. For anyone to be accepted as truly American they must assimilate and acquiesce to that narrative, to bow to that heritage and bend to those customs.
Start here: because the entire white supremacist ideology and ethos is a lie. America expanded much of its territory through the shedding of blood and breaking of treaties with Native Americans. It established much of its wealth through 250 years of exploiting black bodies for free labor.
And, for the entire history of this country, some degree of anti-blackness has existed. Now, there is an intensifying anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant xenophobia.
America was born with a congenital illness and it has been in need of active rehabilitation ever since, although it has often rejected the curative treatments and regressed.
Challenging America to own its sins and live up to its ideals isn’t a vicious attack, it’s an act of patriotism. As James Baldwin once put it, “I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”
And, who better to lead the charge than four women who represent the future face of America.
But, Trump — and many of his supporters and defenders — spew their racism and tell themselves that it is perfectly acceptable when it is read back to them, in much the same way that a dog will eat its own vomit.
Blow’s anger is understandable. It exists at our home, where my wife is Lebanese. She revels in the fact that she is not white, but “beige” — a pigment shared by millions of Americans.
I love beige. I now despise white.
She sees Trump for what he is — a horrible, hate-spouting white man pig who belches racist swill and hate out of fear and bigotry.
So does Charles Blow. He adds:
There can be no more discussion or debate about whether or not Trump is a racist. He is. There can be no more rhetorical juggling about not knowing what’s in his heart. We see what flows out of it.
White people and whiteness are the center of the Trump presidency. His primary concern is to defend, protect and promote it. All that threatens it must be attacked and assaulted. Trump is bringing the force of the American presidency to the rescue of white supremacy. And, self-identified Republicans absolutely love him for it.
Amen, Mr. Blow. You get no argument from our corner of this nation. Donald Trump got no votes from our house. The majority of Americans who voted in the 2016 presidential election did not vote for him either.
In Virginia, our home, most of our Commonwealth also did not vote for Trump. Our Electoral votes, thankfully, did not go to him. We do not welcome racists into our home or within our midst.
We also welcome Muslims into our home. We dine with them and enjoy companionship and conversation.
The same cannot be said for more than a few so-called “Christians” who we thought were friends but turned out to be racists who espouse violence, misquote the Bible and spread hatred in the name of God.
Our door remains closed to them as long as they espouse the hate and bigotry of Donald John Trump.
Daudert points to Trump’s role in shutting down portions of the federal government over his demand for a $5.7 billion wall between America and Mexico.
“It’s silly. It’s destructive,” says Daudert, who adds that he won’t be supporting Trump in 2020. “I was certainly for the anti-status quo [in 2016]. I’ll be more status quo next time.”
Same for Jeremiah Wilburn, 45, an operating engineer in Michigan.
“I was doing fine with Trump up until this government shutdown. It’s ridiculous. You’re not getting the wall build for $5 billon. Mexico is not paying for it, we all know that, too. Meanwhile, it’s starting to turn people like me away.”
Wilburn’s brother works for the Transportation Safety Administration in Florida and is among the hundreds of thousands of federal workers expected to work each day without pay.
“You can’t expect people to come to work without getting paid. I I were them, I certainly wouldn’t come to work,” he added.
At least 10 percent of the TSA workers failed to come to work this weekend across the country, causing problems for airport operations that are also strained by the government shutdown.
Claudette Anglin. 31, says she and her longtime boyfriend split over disagreements over Trump.
“I voted for Trump and supported him,” she said. “He didn’t. I lost him and now I’ve lost my self-respect for voting for a disaster like Trump. “
Erica McQueen, 38, voted for Trump and says he’s done some of the good things she expected from him.
“But it gets overshadowed by the stunts he pulls,” she says.
The wall and the shutdown are examples.
“The wall is getting out of hand. It’s too much. It’s ridiculous. I sick of seeing it. I’m sick of hearing about it.”
So she probably won’t be voting for Trump again.
“Something miraculous has to happen for me to vote for him again.”
Joey Thomas says he burned his Trump t-shirts and his “Make America Great Again” hat.
“God, I bought into that man’s bulls–t lock, stock and barrel,” says the 28-year-old machinist who lives in Montgomery County, Virginia. “I am gullible fool.”
Similar support for Trump is slipping among members of America’s military forces. A poll by Military Times find support sliding among active service members. His overall approval has slipped from a high of 46.1 percent to a current low of 43.8 while his overall disapproval has increased 16 points during the same period.
“I’m not proud to say I voted for the SOB in 2016,” says recently retired Navy specialist Ed Harnover. “That is a mistake that I will correct if he ever appears on a ballot again.”
In Washington, lockstep support for Trump is slipping among the Republicans who have backed him without question during most of the first two years of his presidency. GOP members now talk among themselves about whether or not they will support him in 2020. Some talk about finding “a viable Republican” to run against him in the primaries next year.
President Donald Trump is hemorrhaging support amid a political standoff over his proposed border wall that has resulted in the longest government shutdown on record, according to polls.
As the shutdown of about a quarter of the federal government lumbers toward its fifth week, the president even appears to be losing favor with his core constituents, whose support for Trump until this point has been rock-solid since the 2016 campaign.
Cracks even appeared in Trump’s seemingly impenetrable facade of overall Republican support: 83 percent of Republican respondents said they support the president in the most recent poll — down 7 points from the early December poll — while his disapproval in the party rose 3 points.
Trump has long touted the loyalty of his base, once telling supporters during the campaign that “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
But after publicly telling Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that he would be “proud” to shut down the government in pursuit of funds to construct his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump has evidently had trouble selling his subsequent message that Democrats are responsible for the continued negotiating stalemate.
“It appears it might finally be the right time to openly talk about a ‘Dump Trump’ movement within the party,” says a senior aide to a GOP leader in the House. “That decision day is coming and it’s coming at breakneck speed.”
There have to be some people who are so under Trump’s spell that no matter what they hear , even with irrefutable proof more compelling than the Nixon tapes, about things he did or is doing will still support him. These are people who will either deny the evidence or just don’t care because they worship him, or both.
Prosecutors are moving closer and closer to proving in court beyond what a jury would be likely to see as Trump’s being guilty of crimes beyond a reasonable doubt. It is important to be reminded that potential jurors in a normal court can be removed by prosecutorial challenges because they are obviously biased or unable to understand judicial instructions and evidence. If Trump’s fate rests with the Senate, we can assume that his jurors there will be competent to hear and evaluate the evidence.
I couldn’t find a poll that actually asked questions attempting to drill down into whether a Trump supporter would still support him if they knew without a shadow of a doubt that he, to use his own example, saw him shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue (or more likely an anti-Trump protester at a rally) for no particular reason other than he felt like proving a point.
My disturbing sense is that Trump has a core of supporters who see him as a deity, as someone who they would follow to the ends of the earth, and would blindly follow his orders no matter how cruel, or even drink the Kool Aide if he told them it would grant them everlasting life as an honored guest at a Mar-a-Lago in the sky.
In Sept, 2017 Bobby Azarian, Ph.D. wrote “The Psychology Behind Trump’s Unwavering Support” despite what he called his “shocking behavior.” This article and the references it sites have been discussed many times by those trying to understand the “why.”
An Article for the The Atlantic in 2016 asked “Who are Donald Trump Supporters.” This was before he had the primary locked up but one observation is important to consider; It is that the “typical Trump buyer was simple: These were poorly informed voters, swept up by a modern circus act orchestrated by a mass-media-age P. T. Barnum with arguably worse hair.”
However, the “why” and “who” about these supporters aside, just how much can be revealed about Trump’s transgressions, and how far can Trump go in his unhinged behavior and lies, and not have loose members of this core of his base?
Because people don’t want to look bad and they would lie in a traditional poll, it would take a poll where subjects were asked questions about unquestioned worshipful support of and their loyalty to Trump while on truth serum to find out what the percentage of such people were.
If researchers went to a Trump rally and offered, say $500 per randomly selected people to sit down for a sodium pentothal interview, perhaps we could we get an idea of how deep support for Trump went.
In Sioux County, where swine barns interrupt the vast landscape of corn-stubbled fields, exports of meat, grain and machinery fuel the local economy. And there’s a palpable sense of unease that new Chinese tariffs pushed by President Donald Trump — who received more than 80 percent of the vote here in 2016 — could threaten residents’ livelihood.
The grumbling hardly signals a looming leftward lurch in this dominantly Republican region in northwest Iowa. But after standing with Trump through the many trials of his first year, some Sioux County Trump voters say they would be willing to walk away from the president if the fallout from the tariffs causes a lasting downturn in the farm economy.
“I wouldn’t sit here today and say I will definitely support him again,” said 60-year-old hog farmer Marv Van Den Top. “This here could be a real negative for him.”
Last week, Trump announced plans to impose tariffs on a range of Chinese goods, a move aimed at punishing Beijing for stealing American technology. The Chinese government responded with a threat to tag U.S. products, including pork and aluminum, with an equal 25 percent charge.
That sent a chill through places like Sioux County, which ranks first among Iowa’s 99 counties in agricultural exports. In 2016, the county sold $350 million in meat, grain, machinery and chemicals overseas. Far closer to the sparsely populated crossroads of South Dakota and Minnesota than Iowa’s bustling Des Moines metro area, Sioux County is home to just 34,000 people, but more than 1 million hogs, 6 million chickens and nearly as impressive numbers of cattle and sheep.
Brad Te Grootenhuis sells about 25,000 hogs a year and could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars if the tariffs spark a backlash from China. He said it’s possible he would abandon Trump if pork’s price decline continues and lasts.
“Any time you’re losing money, nobody’s happy,” the 42-year-old farmer said. “I’ve got payments to make, plain and simple.”
Nationally, opinions on Trump’s tariffs, which were a central part of his campaign pledges to get tough on China, are mixed.
Although GOP congressional leaders have argued tariffs would prompt a trade war and have urged Trump to reverse course, 61 percent of Americans who identify as Republicans nationwide favor a tariff, according to a national poll taken this month by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Still, 39 percent of Republicans say it will lead to a decrease in jobs, according to the poll, compared to 32 percent who think it will lead to an increase. That’s similar to the views of all voters, the survey shows.
Countermeasures by China, which is second only to Canada in importing Iowa products, could cause pain across the American agricultural sector, according to economists. For instance, a pork tariff imposed by China, which spent $42 million on Iowa pork products in 2017, would back up the Iowa market and force prices sharply downward.
“Retaliatory tariffs from China would have a devastating impact on U.S. agricultural exports, especially if they focus on products like soybeans and hogs,” said Adam Kamins, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics. “This puts northwest Iowa and the Great Plains more broadly on the front line in a trade war.”
For hog farmer Tim Schmidt, the fallout of a geopolitical spat with China would force him to hold off on any new construction or maintenance on the decades-old buildings on his family-run farm along the Missouri River.
“There is an uncertainty to exactly what the next two to three years are going to look like,” Schmidt said. A Trump voter in 2016, Schmidt said that if “things are bad and someone better comes along, we’re willing to take a look.”
Sioux County seed dealer Dave Heying echoed a common refrain that any downturn in the farm economy would curb spending throughout the local economy, with direct impact on farm machinery dealers, mechanics and agricultural construction, among other businesses.
“Protecting our U.S. industries is important, but my concern is, at what expense to the farmer?” Heying said of Trump’s trade moves. “It is too early to say whether or not I would support him. These types of decisions give you hesitation.”
As a presidential candidate, Trump was a somewhat awkward fit for Sioux County, where a third of its residents are members of the Dutch Reformed Church of America, which holds strictly conservative social positions. In striking contrast, the bombastic New Yorker has been married three times and shadowed by allegations of sexual harassment and infidelity.
Trump finished fourth in Sioux County in Iowa’s Republican presidential caucus, but carried 81.3 percent of the vote in the general election, his second-highest county share in the state. And a large core of voters in Sioux County, where Franklin Roosevelt was the last Democratic presidential candidate to win, remains with Trump, even if the farm economy suffers as a result of his trade policies.
“You have to have faith in our innovation and entrepreneurialship in this country,” said Ed Westra, a grain cooperative manager and Trump devotee. “You’ve got to think of the big game.”
AP polling director Emily Swanson contributed to this report from Washington.
Follow Thomas Beaumont at http://twitter.com/TomBeaumont
Fearing betrayal on a signature campaign issue, President Donald Trump’s loyalists across the country are lashing out against his proposal to create a path to citizenship for nearly 2 million “Dreamer” immigrants.
Trump-aligned candidates from Nevada and Virginia rejected the notion outright. The president’s most loyal media ally, Breitbart News, attacked him as “Amnesty Don.” And outside groups who cheered the hard-line rhetoric that dominated Trump’s campaign warned of a fierce backlash against the president’s party in November’s midterm elections.
“There’s a real potential for disaster,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the far-right Center for Immigration Studies. “The president hasn’t sold out his voters yet. But I think it’s important that his supporters are making clear to him that they’re keeping an eye on him.”
The public scolding was aimed at a president who has changed course under pressure before. Yet Trump has faced no greater test on a more significant issue than this one, which dominated his outsider candidacy and inspired a coalition of working-class voters that fueled his unlikely rise. Now, barely a year into his presidency, Trump can bend either to the will of his fiery base or the pressure to govern and compromise.
His leadership may determine the fate of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants and whether his party can improve its standing among a surging group of Hispanic voters. It may also alienate those who love him most.
“There’s a Trump movement. And It’s not necessarily about Donald Trump,” said Corey Stewart, a Republican Senate candidate in Virginia and a vocal Trump ally. “It’s about the things that Donald Trump campaigned and stood for during his campaign. Ultimately, every elected leader needs to stay true to the message that they ran on, otherwise people will leave them.”
The passionate response underscores the Republican Party’s immigration dilemma in the age of Trump.
Much of the country, including independents and moderate Republicans, favor protections for thousands of young people brought to the country as children illegally and raised here through no fault of their own. But a vocal conservative faction emboldened by Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric will never accept anything viewed as “amnesty.” And many view legal protection for these young immigrants as just that.
Trump’s proposal includes billions for border security and significant changes to legal immigration long sought by hard-liners. Several Democrats and immigration activists rejected it outright. But his supporters’ focus on “amnesty” for Dreamers highlights how dug in the base is and how little room Trump has to maneuver.
The president told reporters this week that he favored a pathway to citizenship for those immigrants, embracing a notion he once specifically rejected. Legal protection for roughly 700,000 immigrants enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, has emerged as the driving priority for Democrats, who forced a government shutdown over this issue last week. The businessman president appears to have set out to cut a deal.
“It is concerning why anyone would attempt to repeat history by granting amnesty,” said Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who is mulling a primary challenge against Republican Sen. Roger Wicker. McDaniel likened the Trump proposal to the “amnesty” granted in 1986 immigration overhaul backed by President Ronald Reagan.
Such a policy, he said, would harm American workers and “invite more illegals,” while emboldening liberals in future debates. Making a deal now would ensure that a future Congress will be “held hostage by open border advocates.”
In Virginia, Stewart said “any amnesty, including an extension of DACA,” would lead to a “humanitarian crisis” at the border and could draw millions of new immigrants into the country illegally.
“I’m not happy about it,” he said.
In Nevada, where Trump loyalty is the centerpiece of Republican Danny Tarkanian’s primary challenge against Sen. Dean Heller, Tarkanian also broke from the president.
“It’s his decision,” Tarkanian said of Trump. “But I don’t believe we should grant citizenship to people who have come to the country illegally.”
He would, however, support permanent legal status for children who entered the country illegally, but said he draws the line at citizenship.
The consequences could be severe for the GOP as it struggles to energize voters heading into the 2018 midterm elections, when Republican majorities in the House and Senate are at stake. Recent Democratic victories in Alabama and Virginia suggest that the GOP has cause for concern — especially as Trump’s approval number hover near record lows.
Protections for more immigration of these young immigrants could trigger wholesale revolt by Trump’s base in November, said Bob Dane, executive director of the conservative Federation for American Immigration Reform.
“There’s widespread fear that if Trump capitulates to the Democrats and fails to deliver on his campaign promises on immigration, there’s not going to be any more campaign promises for the GOP to make in the future, because the base will inflict a scorched-earth policy in midterms,” Dane said, noting that his organization has “a longstanding position of opposing amnesty in any form, including the extension of the DACA protections.”
Some allies hoped Trump comments and the proposal were an early step in negotiations that could change. Trump has zig-zagged on the issue before.
With Congress pushing Trump to clearly state his position, the White House plans to formally unveil a legislative framework next week.
But Trump on Wednesday left little wiggle room in his support for citizenship.
“It’s going to happen, at some point in the future, over a period of 10 to 12 years,” he said.
AP writers Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa and Bill Barrow in Atlanta contributed to this report.
The regulars amble in before dawn and claim their usual table, the one next to an old box television playing the news on mute.
Steven Whitt fires up the coffee pot and flips on the fluorescent sign in the window of the Frosty Freeze, his diner that looks and sounds and smells about the same as it did when it opened a half-century ago. Coffee is 50 cents a cup, refills 25 cents. The pot sits on the counter, and payment is based on the honor system.
People like it that way, he thinks. It reminds them of a time before the world seemed to stray away from them, when coal was king and the values of the nation seemed the same as the values here, in God’s Country, in this small county isolated in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
Everyone in town comes to his diner for nostalgia and homestyle cooking. And, recently, news reporters come from all over the world to puzzle over politics — because Elliott County, a blue-collar union stronghold, voted for the Democrat in each and every presidential election for its 147-year existence.
Until Donald Trump came along and promised to wind back the clock.
“He was the hope we were all waiting on, the guy riding up on the white horse. There was a new energy about everybody here,” says Whitt.
Steven and Chesla Whitt are Democrats who voted for Donald Trump. The restaurant owners helped turn rural Elliott County, Kentucky, red — and still have faith that the president will do them proud. (Dec. 27)
“I still see it.”
Despite the president’s dismal approval ratings and lethargic legislative achievements, he remains profoundly popular here in these mountains, a region so badly battered by the collapse of the coal industry it became the symbolic heart of Trump’s white working-class base.
The frenetic churn of the national news, the ceaseless Twitter taunts, the daily declarations of outrage scroll soundlessly across the bottom of the diner’s television screen, rarely registering. When they do, Trump doesn’t shoulder the blame — because the allegiance of those here is as emotional as it is economic.
It means God, guns, patriotism, saying “Merry Christmas” and not Happy Holidays. It means validation of their indignation about a changing nation: gay marriage and immigration and factories moving overseas. It means tearing down the political system that neglected them again and again in favor of the big cities that feel a world away.
On those counts, they believe Trump has delivered, even if his promised blue-collar renaissance has not yet materialized. He’s punching at all the people who let them down for so long — the presidential embodiment of their own discontent.
“He’s already done enough to get my vote again, without a doubt, no question,” Wes Lewis, a retired pipefitter and one of Whitt’s regulars, declares as he deals the day’s first hand of cards.
He thinks the mines and the factories will soon roar back to life, and if they don’t, he believes they would have if Democrats and Republicans and the media — all “crooked as a barrel of fishhooks” — had gotten out of the way. What Lewis has now that he didn’t have before Trump is a belief that his president is pulling for people like him.
“One thing I hear in here a lot is that nobody’s gonna push him into a corner,” says Whitt, 35. “He’s a fighter. I think they like the bluntness of it.”
He plops down at an empty table next to the card game, drops a stack of mail onto his lap and begins flipping through the envelopes.
“Bill, bill, bill,” he reports to his wife, Chesla, who has arrived to relieve him at the restaurant they run together. He needs to run home and change of out his Frosty Freeze uniform, the first of several work ensembles he wears each day, and put on his second, a suit and tie. He also owns a local funeral home and he’s the county coroner, elected as a Democrat.
The Whitts, like many people here, cobble together a living with a couple jobs each — sometimes working 12 or 15 hours a day — because there aren’t many options better than minimum wage. There’s the school system, and a prison, and that’s pretty much it. Outside of town, population 622, roads wind past rolling farms that used to grow tobacco before that industry crumbled too, then up into the hills of Appalachia, with its spectacular natural beauty and grinding poverty that has come to define this region in the American imagination.
Whitt slides a medical bill across the table.
“Looks like this one is the new helmet,” he says, and his wife tears the envelope open and reports the debt: $3,995. They will add it to a growing pile that’s already surpassed $40,000 since their son was born nine months ago with a rare condition. His skull was shaped like an egg, the bones fused together in places they shouldn’t be. Tommy, their baby boy with big blue eyes, has now outgrown three of the helmets he’s been required to wear after surgery so his bones grow back together like they should.
They pay $800 a month for insurance. But when they took their baby to a surgeon in Cincinnati, they learned it was out of network. In-network hospitals offered only more invasive surgeries, so they opted to pay out of pocket. At the hospital they were told that if they’d been on an insurance program for the poor, it would have all been free.
This represents the cracks in America’s institutions that drove Whitt, a lifelong Democrat, from supporting President Barack Obama to buying a “Make America Great Again” cap that he still keeps on top of the hutch. Many of their welfare-dependent neighbors, he believes, stay trapped in a cycle of handouts and poverty while hardworking taxpayers like him and his wife are stuck with the tab and can’t get ahead.
“Where’s the fairness in that?” he asks.
But Whitt doesn’t blame Trump for the failure this year to repeal the health care law and replace it with something better. He blames the “brick wall” in Washington, the politicians he sees as blocking everything Trump proposes while “small people” like them in small places like this are left again to languish.
A third of people here live in poverty. Just 9 percent of adults have a college degree, but they always made up for that with backbreaking labor that workers traveled dozens of miles to neighboring counties or states to do, and those jobs have gotten harder to find.
Many here blame global trade agreements and the “war on coal” — environmental regulations designed by Obama’s administration to curb carbon emissions — for the decline of mining and manufacturing jobs. When Trump bemoans the “American carnage” of lost factories and lost faith, it feels like he’s talking to the people in these Appalachian hills. When he scraps dozens of regulations to the horror of environmentalists and says it means jobs are on the way, they embrace him.
Coal has ticked up since Trump took office; mining companies have added 1,200 jobs across the country since his inauguration, more than 180 of them in Kentucky. But industry analysts say that was tied largely to market forces and dismiss Trump’s repeated pledges to resuscitate the coal industry as pie in the sky. Coal has been on the decline for many decades for many reasons outside of regulation: far cheaper natural gas, mechanization, thinning Appalachian seams.
Whitt leans back in his chair and ponders whether his community has so far sensed any relief.
“I don’t think we’re seeing anything yet,” he says, and asks around. “Do you?”
The stock market is surging, one of his regulars at the next table says. The tax reform plan will help them, they hope. The unemployment rate here has dipped slightly to 7.6 percent, still higher than the state and national average but better than it had been.
“With the opposition he’s had, I think he’s pulling the plow pretty good,” offers Wes Lewis from the card table. A few months ago, he says, he saw four brand-new coal rigs going through town. “For the longest time, under Obama, all we saw were trucks being pulled on wreckers, because people turned belly up, they went broke.”
Lewis says he’s heard about friends of friends being called back to work. He’s noticed new trucks in people’s driveways, too, which he takes as evidence that his neighbors are feeling confident about their futures. These tiny signs stack up to him as proof. Lewis fishes the tag out of the bib of his overalls: “Made in Mexico,” it reads.
“Trump’s bringing them back,” he says.
Lewis, a registered Democrat, trusts Trump because he trusts his values. And because of that, he trusts Trump’s other promises — so strongly he can’t think of anything that would shake that faith in him. If the factories and mines don’t come back, he’ll blame the opposition. If there isn’t a wall on the Mexico border, he says, it won’t be because Trump didn’t try. If investigators find his campaign colluded with Russians, it’s because so many people are so determined to bring him down.
He watches all the news stations, he says, toggling back and forth as he performs his own calculations to figure out what he wants to believe. He almost always sides with Fox News and anchors who dismiss allegations of Russian collusion as a “witch hunt” and tout the president’s declarations of accomplishments. The people against Trump are, by extension, against people like him, too, Lewis figures.
“They don’t care if we starve to death out here, because they don’t care the first thing about anybody other than their pockets being full,” he believes. “Donald Trump doesn’t care about that because Donald Trump’s pockets are already full. That’s the reason I’ve stuck with him.”
Lewis leaves the diner like he does every day as the midmorning lull tapers into the lunch rush, and Chesla Whitt scurries from the kitchen to the register to the walk-up window to the ringing phone.
Soup beans are on the menu today, like they are every Wednesday. The daily specials have been the same as long as anyone can remember, cooked by a woman they all call “Nanny” who has worked in the kitchen for 35 years. People here like tradition, says Gwenda Johnson, retired after nearly 40 years in community development.
That’s why the decades-old pinball machines are still in the back room of the Frosty Freeze and ashtrays sit on the tables, because smoking is still allowed.
But Johnson acknowledges one painful and irrevocable change in the region: Coal will never be what it once was, no matter what promises Trump makes to turn back time. Appalachia should be looking for a new path, she says, not the old one.
She rattles off all the things the community stands to lose under this administration: The region relies on programs like the Appalachian Regional Commission and Economic Development Administration that provide federal money for job-training, anti-poverty efforts and beautification initiatives aimed at transitioning to a tourism economy. Trump proposed a budget that wipes out those programs. Many depend on food stamps, disability coverage and health insurance through the Affordable Care Act — all of which could be upended.
“I fear that when they finally realize that Donald Trump is not the savior they thought he was — if they ever come to that realization — the morale in these rural areas will be so low that they will not ever put faith in anyone again,” she says.
Many families here can trace their ancestry back generations on the same land. Almost everyone is white, and almost everyone is Christian. At the Frosty Freeze, a plaque with a Bible verse hangs under the television, from the book of Romans: “Owe no man nothing but to love one another.” Steven Whitt says that most people he knows fret about transgender bathrooms and their Second Amendment rights being snatched away.
Sometimes, people from out of town find themselves in this diner. “They think we’re the most conservative Republicans they ever met,” Whitt says. “And we say, no, we’re all Democrats.”
That’s just the way it’s always been. Until recently, the number of Republicans in the whole county of 7,600 people was listed in the double-digits. Whitt never considered changing his registration. He thinks his own mom and dad wouldn’t vote for him in his next election for county coroner if he were a Republican. He hasn’t had the heart to tell them he’s a Trump supporter.
“Around here, you hear, ‘The Democrats were for the guys carrying a lunch pail,’” he says. Now, it seems to him, Trump has become the lunch pail party in the minds of many. But not all.
“I damn sure didn’t vote for Trump. I’d rather walk through hell wearing gasoline britches,” barks Terry Stinson, a retired construction worker. He has come to the Frosty Freeze almost every evening for dinner since his wife died.
He can barely bring himself to watch the news because it makes him mad, and he howls with laughter at the idea that the Republican tax cuts to corporations will eventually help the little guys. The country has been sold trickle-down economics before, he says, “And it’s never trickled down to Sandy Hook. Why would it this time?”
Chesla is working the counter alone, running between the ringing phone and the register. Steven had business at the funeral home, so she scrambled together someone to watch Tommy while she stays at the restaurant for the supper crowd.
“I hate rushing,” she says. “It seems like that’s all we ever do.”
She isn’t quite sure how much faith to put in Trump to improve things in her own life. She liked him on “The Apprentice.” She liked that he was funny and knew how to make money, and so she thinks everyone ought to calm down and give him a chance.
Steven didn’t get home until nearly midnight. Then he was back at the diner before sunrise to power up the coffee pot and turn on the open sign and start the whole routine again.
Lewis arrived and headed for his table the next morning, and he said he’d been thinking about whether Trump would pull off his promises.
“Here’s the big thing,” he says, shuffling the deck of cards, “if Trump lies to us, it won’t be anything different than what the rest of them always did.”
AP data journalist Angeliki Kastanis contributed to this report. Follow Claire Galofaro on Twitter at https://twitter.com/clairegalofaro and find the entire Trump Country series here .
Gingrich’s former mistress is now his third wife and Washington insiders wonder who else the former Speaker is sleeping with now. Callista Gingrich was sent to Rome by our current president as Ambassador to the Vatican.
President Donald Trump, whose lies are non-stop, calls anyone who agrees with him “liars” or “wacky” or “crooked” or worse. He publicly calls NFL players “sons of bitches” for kneeling during national anthems and then disrespected the flag at a military ceremony earlier this month.
A growing number of Americans wonder how studio moguls like Harvey Weinstein is now disgraced for his sexual humiliation of women while Trump gets a pass for boasting that he liked “grab em by the pussy” in an audio tape that surfaced during the 2016 election.
In the 1997 Miss Teen USA Pageant, the young contestants scurried for cover when Trump, who owned the pageant, walked into their dressing room unannounced.
Of course he has. First Lady Melania Trump showed it all in a photo layout posing naked on Trump’s private jet. She was a nude model who still likes to strut around in stiletto high heels and skintight attire while showing her ample and surgically enhanced bosom.
Trump’s hardcore “base” of supporters, however, may be the biggest hypocrites of all, flooding discussion areas of any news website that uncovers Trump’s many failures and lies.
They scream “fake news” whenever Trump is caught in one of his many lies. They lace their comments with hate and obscenities in their claims that those who seek the truth are, or course, are driven by hate.
When we noted Trump’s documented failures and what it is doing to the now floundering Republican Party, we received this email from Richard Zuendt of the Chesterfield County GOP in Virginia:
You can blow this article out of your ass. President Trump is rebuilding the Republican Party into something we can be proud of. Unlike you and all of the rest of your kind, we believe in America First, America Last and America Forever. The new Republican Party will guarantee that this republic lives on, forever.
As a former GOP operative who worked for three GOP members of the House of Representatives in the 1980s and helped elect several others in the party, I can say with knowledge that the GOP of Donald Trump nothing like the one that was once known as the “Party of Abraham Lincoln.”
Like its leader, today’s GOP is the party of disgrace and disgust, a chaotic group that puts bigotry and hate before the needs of the nation and the people it swore to serve.
Donald Trump came to office with less than a majority of votes by those who cast their ballots. His three million deficit is the largest in history. Polls, even those by Fox News — the faux news sites that trumpet his every move and tweet — show his job approval at the lowest points in presidential history.
The Republican Congress is disliked and distrusted by more Americans than ever. Gallup’s latest survey shows 80 percent disapprove of what Congress is doing.
Fox News reports Trump’s approval rating stands at 38 percent — highest among polls. Gallup puts it at 36 percent. Some put it at under 30 percent.
These are the folks who claim to represent most Americans?
Not the America I know and love. We’re the majority and it’s time we elected those who represent us instead of the loud, bigoted haters who seized control of our country.
Few issues have animated President Donald Trump’s ardent supporters more than his pledge to build a wall along the nation’s Southern border. Now, Trump’s decision to put that promise aside — at least temporarily — while he pursues a deal with Democrats to protect young immigrants brought to the country illegally may test the limits of that loyalty.
Some avid Trump backers praised the president as a pragmatist trying to make deals with whomever he can. But others recoiled at the prospect of Trump joining forces with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on immigration, and seeming to get little in return.
“Many supporters of the president wonder whether our king has been captured and (White House chief of staff John) Kelly and a clique of generals and their globalist friends are now governing,” said Roger Stone, a longtime informal adviser to Trump. His comments reflected the growing concern among some Trump backers about the diminished presence of nationalist advisers in the West Wing.
Amy Kremer, who founded the group Women Vote Trump, likened the president’s deal-making with Democrats to one of history’s most notorious political flip-flops: President George H.W. Bush’s broken campaign-trail vow that he wouldn’t raise taxes.
“If the wall doesn’t get done and he gives amnesty, he’ll lose the base,” Kremer said. “You’re going to see an absolute revolt.”
The worries were sparked by Trump’s startling efforts to forge consensus with Schumer and Pelosi — “Chuck and Nancy,” as the president has cozily referred to the Democratic duo — over the fate of nearly 800,000 people brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Trump, Schumer and Pelosi discussed the matter at a private White House dinner Wednesday night.
On Thursday morning, the president — a former Democrat himself — and the minority leaders appeared largely aligned. Trump said an agreement to allow the young immigrants to stay in the country would have to include “massive border security.” But he pointedly said a border wall, which is staunchly opposed by Democrats, could come later. He’s outlined no specific path for ultimately making that happen.
While allowing young people who came to the U.S. illegally to stay in the country is broadly popular, immigration hardliners consider it amnesty. As a candidate, Trump vowed to repeal the executive action signed by President Barack Obama allowing the young people to stay. But he’s struggled with the issue as president, often speaking sympathetically about the young immigrants. Earlier this month, he announced that he would rescind their protections in March, but said he wanted Congress to pass legislation protecting them from deportation.
Trump has tested the limits of his supporters’ loyalty before, often to find that they were unshaken by his policy reversals. He failed to fulfill his pledge to repeal Obama’s signature health care law. He’s backed off his tough talk on China, declining to label Beijing a currency manipulator. The United States is still a party to the Iran nuclear deal, despite Trump’s promise to rip up the agreement.
But immigration, and the border wall in particular, hold special resonance with Trump supporters. Some of Trump’s appeal to the white, working-class voters who formed the basis of his voting bloc stemmed from his promises to crack down on illegal immigration. At his raucous campaign rallies, voters often broke out into chants of “build that wall.”
Once in the White House, Trump’s nationalist-minded advisers, particularly strategist Steve Bannon, often pressed the president on the particular importance of fulfilling his promise on the border wall. But Bannon, who kept a tally of Trump’s campaign promises in his West Wing office, was pushed out this summer as part of Kelly’s takeover of the White House.
The headlines Thursday on Breitbart News, where Bannon returned after leaving the administration, were unforgiving. One panned the president as “Amnesty Don.” Another said Trump got “rolled” by the Democrats.
With his poll numbers sagging, Trump has spent recent weeks alternating between being deeply worried about disappointing his base and deeply frustrated with Republican lawmakers’ struggles to pass significant legislation. The GOP’s failure to pass an Obamacare overhaul in particular soured Trump’s view of Republican congressional leaders, according to advisers, and opened him up to the prospect of partnering with Democrats instead.
Some of Trump’s supporters praised the president for what they see as pragmatism.
“He’s to the point he needs to get something done. The Republican Party has failed him miserably,” said Jeff Jorgensen, the GOP chairman in western Iowa’s conservative Pottawattamie County. “Hats off to him. If you need to cross the aisle to get things done, then cross the aisle.”
There’s no guarantee that the common ground Trump found this week with Democrats on immigration will result in legislation. Republicans still control which legislation comes up for votes, and neither Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell nor House Speaker Paul Ryan appeared eager to sign on. The scope of the border security measures that would be included in an eventual bill could also undercut Democratic support.
Trump, trying to tamp down criticism that he was acquiescing to his political opponents, insisted he would eventually make good on his promises to his base.
“Ultimately, we have to have the wall,” he said. “If we don’t get the wall we’re not doing anything.”
Peoples reported from New York. Associated Press writer Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.
Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC and Steve Peoples at http://twitter.com/sppeoples