‘I love Trump. He’s doing what he said.’ President’s supporters keep the faith

Women’s Marches and widespread criticism of the ‘Muslim ban’ have not dented the loyalty of Trump voters

By David Smith  in Hagerstown, Maryland / The Observer / February 4, 2017


Cast-iron hooks, children’s vinyl records, classic food packages, tobacco baskets, vintage-style olive buckets and a rotary-dial telephone fill the shelves at James and Jess’ House of Goods. The antiques store opened two years ago, styling itself as “rustic, hipster, chic” with a twee strapline: “Mostly old with a little new.”

If the House of Goods was in Washington DC, it would be a decent demographic bet that its owners voted for Hillary Clinton. But it is 75 miles away in Washington County, which Donald Trump won handily. And while the capital city has been roiled by protests since Trump moved into the White House, from where James and Jess are sitting he is doing just fine.

“I love Trump,” James Zawatski said. “I give him credit for doing what he said he was going to do; a lot of politicians don’t. I’m 47 and I never voted in my life but I did this year. We needed someone with a set of balls to do what needs to be done. I’m tired of those liberals.”

Trump’s asteroid-like impact on Washington DC has caused bewilderment, consternation, disorientation, puzzlement and anger. Democratic politicians have been knocked off balance by a brash adversary while Republicans are struggling to adapt to an unpredictable ally. The media have rained criticism. Residents of DC – where Clinton beat Trump by 90.9% of the vote to 4.1% – express their mortification and fears. And last month’s Women’s March on the capital was a dramatic statement of anti-Trump resistance.

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But across the frontline of America’s increasingly tribal politics in Hagerstown, Washington County, Maryland, the perspective is turned on its head. Whereas critics see Trump’s travel bans as “un-American” and sowing chaos at airports, supporters see him as keeping them safe; where critics see him blowing up foreign policy as he spars with Australia and slaps sanctions on Iran, supporters see him getting tough; where critics see him firing the acting attorney general and trampling on the constitution, supporters see him boldly smashing the old order. And where activists protest, columnists fulminate and millions recoil in fear of a world spinning towards catastrophe, s