On the Road to DC: Austin, Texas — Bob and Julie (by request, not their real names) are an attractive, successful, middle-aged couple living in Austin, Texas. My wife, who knew Bob in high school, suggested we meet. She thought as Trump supporters they’d be good at articulating the conservative viewpoint. They were.
What are your thoughts/feelings about the current political climate?
Bob: I’d have to answer that by backing up a little bit, and say that I had a lot of criticism about Obama’s America. Not about equality movements, or gay marriage, or any of that. I didn’t have any issues around that at all.
I had issues around Obama Care, mainly because I didn’t want the high taxation. I have aging parents, and I would really like to keep as much of my income as possible to care for my aging parents, as opposed to caring for…you know, having an added tax burden to pay healthcare for people I don’t know. I like to be more self-directed.
I [also] had problems with Obama’s America because he vilified people who experienced success in their life. If you were the so-called ‘one-percenters’ you were bad. You weren’t doing your part for America. You had not adequately paid your dues through the tax rolls. I didn’t agree with that…it says that people who succeed are naturally hard at heart.
I didn’t like being referred to as a source of revenue, as the Democrats referred to us as.
I didn’t like Obama’s lack of accountability. When you had Ferguson going on, when you had the police shootings in Dallas, when you had, you know, kinda the apex of ‘Black Lives Matter’, Obama didn’t stand up and say, ‘don’t shoot policemen.’ And that really bothered me, because he just didn’t speak with an accountability.
And then there was a sense that America needed to be marginalized for globalization to be successful. Ok, we all agree we’re in a global economy, but we don’t have to marginalize America and give America away to succeed on a global basis. Shipping jobs overseas, diminishing the American brand… I felt Obama did that.
Julie, are you on same page?
Julie: I definitely feel the same. One of the things that I think we both struggled with is the whole one-percent notion, that the one-percent are bad. People make a blanket judgment about others without knowing their story.
We both grew up without any money. My parents did not have money for groceries sometimes to feed my family. My grandmother would come by with a bag of groceries and that’s how we ate that night. Sometime when we knew it was really bad we’d have waffles for dinner because that was the only thing we had left.
I remember when I needed a pair of shoes and it cost $20. I couldn’t get them because that was too much money. And so I always worked from the time that I was young. I worked in high school, and I supported myself.
I couldn’t go to a fancy college because my parents didn’t have the money. So I went to a state school, and I paid my way. And I worked…I got a job, and I got my second job, and I had my own business, and I did consulting from the time I got married, and I made money. I did it on my own and I saved it.
And when we bought our first house, we pinched our pennies, and the day that we had like $500 left in our checking account after we paid our bills, we were ecstatic! And we had Chinese food that night. You know?
And so, we kept working and we kept saving and the first check that we would write, after we paid our mortgage, was towards savings. And that’s what we did.
And then we had kids, and we very early said we don’t really have the money but we’re going to start putting money away for their college.
Bob: We never went out and bought that Porsche. We never bought that second home. We never did the big grand cruise.
Julie: No! And so for people to say you know, you’re a one-percenter, you’re bad…it’s offensive! It’s just offensive because they don’t know.
Bob: And we took calculated risks in our careers. Working for start-ups. Some succeeded, some failed. And we worked long hours. I worked for this one start up where I’d go in on a Saturday after our son was born, and I’d bring my son with me, and plop him down in his playpen, and I’d work for 6 hours on a Saturday to give Julie a break, because I was working long hours with the start-up.
Julie: And the other thing too is that we’ve had to spend a lot of money on our kids because our daughter has had some issues, and we had to send her to special schools, we had to find special doctors. So we’ve had to spend a tremendous amount of resources on our kids. And we were happy that we were able to do that. But it’s been tough.
And so, for us it’s like, wow, we planned, we sacrificed; we’ve done all of the right things and now we’re finally at a point in our life where we can take a breath and enjoy what we built. So why is that bad? And why do we now have to be responsible for everybody else? Because I thought we were responsible for our family. And for our parents.
Bob: And why should we feel guilty about where we are, which I felt under Obama—and Bernie Sanders, and Hillary and everybody else—we were made to feel because we had, as they termed it, ‘privilege.’
So, how do you feel about Trump?
Bob: When we went to go vote, Julie’s ahead of me in line, and she turned around and looked at me and said, ‘Are we really going to do this?” And I said, ‘Well what’s our option? It’s either Trump or Hillary. They’re both flawed. But we can’t go, personally, through four more years of Obama type policies, so yeah!’
So even after we voted, we’re walking out, just both feeling so feel about it. But…
Julie: There’s this really great thing on Facebook, the little sticker that says “I voted today,” it actually said “I threw up in my mouth a little bit today.” [laughs]. That’s kinda how I felt. It didn’t feel good, but…
Bob: But it wasn’t a vote for Trump the man. It was a vote for a fairer, more reasonable approach to economic policy and taxation policy, that is more representative across America, versus ‘one percent is bad, underprivileged is good, we’re going to increase entitlements, we’re going to take revenue out of your pocket and we’re going to redistribute it.’
And it was also a desire to not marginalize America. Now you can say Trump himself marginalizes America ’cause he’s you know, people don’t think so well of him, but you have to build that brand of American back. right?
What is the brand that you’re saying needs to be built back up?
Economic power, quality, military power, pride in the nation, accountability. You know the ‘make America great again.’ Wonderful! Wonderful catch phrase. Wonderful slogan. You know, let’s DO make American great again. On many, many different levels. On the things that America is founded upon, which you know is capitalism, is freedom of choice, is empowerment.
Julie, what would you add?
About what I think of Trump? It will be interesting to see what happens. I think what I’m more appalled by right now is the way people are treating each other.
I’ve never in my whole life been afraid to say publicly who I voted for.
People are categorizing people with a blanket statement that if you voted for this person, this is who you are, and that’s wrong…that’s not what our country stands for.
People are being nasty and mean and they’re so stuck in their way, and they think that it’s so clear-cut that this is guy is such an idiot, and if you voted for him, you’re an idiot. And it’s not that way.
There are so many different factors that go into it. I don’t love a lot of what the guys says, I don’t love what he said about women, you know. But everyone makes mistakes.
It’s just very frustrating to me that there’s not this level of respect, that people can’t just sit down and have a conversation and say, ‘this is how I believe and this is why, listen to me.’
I respect people who didn’t vote for him. I mean I’d love to see a female president. There’s nothing more I’d love to see. She just wasn’t the right one for me. And it doesn’t have anything to do with her being a woman…it just really frustrates me.
It’s the so-called “tolerant” people who are being intolerant, and it’s not right. And it’s really sad.
Bob: And it’s almost censorship by bullying.
Julie: It is…it is bullying. When people are afraid to say what they did or what they believe and why…it’s bullying. And it’s not ok.
What would it take to be able to have conversations that are respectful? How can we bridge the divide?
Bob: Some of my friends on social media, who I’ve known for a long time, keep saying the same thing. Trump supporters are racist. They’re this they’re that. Let’s move past that, you know? Let’s actually use some more constructive language about this. We’re not all racist, we’re not all deplorable. I’m actually a pretty good person raising a good family, doing good things, giving to charities.
Julie: Maybe I’m too idealistic, but I feel like, in order to have constructive conversations, we have to stop categorically labeling people. And look at people as people. That all people have value. And that all people have opinions and thoughts and beliefs and that they can be different and that’s okay. And that, if we want to be understood, we have to seek to understand where someone else is coming from.
We just have to have an inherent respect for people and realize that our way is not necessarily the right way. And really understand why someone feels the way that they do, and realize that they’re ok for that. And it’s ok not to agree.
Bob: But also stand back and recognize that there are three parts of government. So think what you may about Trump, but know that there’s going to be a Congress element to it, there’s a Supreme Court element to it. And know that they all kind of eventually balance themselves out, and we will probably end up making less progress, or less backsliding, depending on where you sit on the fence, than we imagine we will in this first week of the Trump administration.
And so it requires that we be patient, patient with people, patient with the process.
But a lot of what we’re experiencing, we’re experiencing because the political process itself only succeeds by being divisive, right? Democrats have to vilify republicans, and republicans have to vilify democrats. And no one in the middle sits back and recognizes that really what is being vilified is the extreme factions of the democrats and the extreme factions of the republicans.
I personally really dislike the conservative Christian coalition, because they give the Republican Party a bad name. I really dislike the really pro-left leanings of the Democratic Party because they give the democrats a bad label. We’re really, most of us, in the middle.