Trump voters joyous over win

Kirk Boxleitner kboxleitner@ptleader.com
Posted 1/24/17

As a former Barack Obama supporter, Tim Radliff does not fit the stereotype of a self-described “deplorable” supporter of Donald Trump.

“I’m a brand-new Republican,” Radliff said, as he …

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Trump voters joyous over win

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As a former Barack Obama supporter, Tim Radliff does not fit the stereotype of a self-described “deplorable” supporter of Donald Trump.

“I’m a brand-new Republican,” Radliff said, as he and his wife, Vika, toasted the inauguration of Trump as president of the United States at Port Townsend’s Highway 20 Roadhouse Jan. 20. “I voted for Obama in 2008, and even when I voted for Romney, I was still an independent.”

The Radliffs were not alone, as new and old Republicans alike packed the room rented by the Jefferson County GOP that Friday night.

Gene Farr, former chair of the Jefferson County GOP, noted that Republicans and Trump supporters are more common than people think, even in a “blue state” such as Washington.

“Of the state’s 39 counties, close to 70 percent of them voted for Trump,” Farr said. “The same holds true for the rest of the country, where he won closer to 85 percent of the counties. He won 60 percent of the states. When people say he didn’t win the popular vote, it’s a nonsense point, because if the rules had been different, he would have played the game differently.”

(In Jefferson County, Trump and Michael R. Pence took 6,037 votes while 12,656 votes were cast for Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.)

Farr and Radliff expressed a shared concern about the government’s treatment of businesses under Obama.

CAPITALISM

“There are these people who bad-mouth capitalism, but everyone is a capitalist,” Farr said. “If you don’t have money to invest, you can’t spend money and grow businesses.”

“I’d thought Obama would go more toward the middle, like Bill Clinton did,” Radliff said. “But businesses were afraid of regulations under Obama. Bankers and oilmen kind of felt like they were under attack. Obama used his agencies to punish businesses that were deemed ‘undesirable.’”

Radliff cited Operation Choke Point, a Department of Justice initiative in 2013 that investigated banks’ dealings with companies believed to be at higher risk for fraud and money laundering.

“It was really chilling,” Radliff said.

Steve Crosby, another former chair of the Jefferson County GOP, is happy to have converts like Radliff on board, and deemed it “a beautiful thing” that Trump was able to bring so many voters together.

“Washington wasn’t always this Democratic,” Crosby said, noting that the state broke for Ronald Reagan in 1984. “I hope I can live long enough to see it turn Republican again, although I probably won’t see Port Townsend elect a conservative majority again,” he said, laughing.

Crosby said his biggest disappointments over the past eight years have included the state of border security, as well as what he sees as Obama’s “disrespect for our military and police, directly from the top.”

What Crosby most looks forward to about Trump’s presidency is the appointment of a conservative Supreme Court justice and a focus on restoring American industries.

“There’s no reason to buy something from China when we can make our own here,” Crosby said.

Ross Ritter voiced more existential concerns with the state of the country, which well preceded the Obama administration.

“I remember, when I was a kid, that we didn’t need to lock our doors, and you could stay out after dark without anyone worrying,” said Ritter, who sees the Vietnam War as a turning point for the nation.

“It was a gradual thing, over time, but I think we’d slide down about as far as we could go, and this man,” he said, pointing to the TV screen on which Trump was speaking, “will put a stop to that.”

Ritter expects the Trump administration to be guided more by the intentions of America’s founders, and less by “the rich and powerful.” At the same time, he offered an olive branch to those who don’t share his views.

“This feels good,” Ritter said of the inauguration party, “but we love our neighbors. I hope all of America can participate in making our country better.”

Jon Cooke, current chair of the county GOP, briefly interrupted the DVR recording of Trump’s inauguration ceremony to praise his fellow Republicans for their activism.

“A lot of work went into what you just saw, both across the nation and right here in this county,” Cooke said. “You brought out the hidden Republicans among us.”

Lynn Hisey, county GOP vice chair, showed off a clock that had been set to count down the last hours and minutes of Obama’s presidency, and informed the crowd that Trump had just signed his first executive order in the Oval Office, directing federal agencies to ease the regulatory burdens associated with the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

As the party wound down, Jessica Broders was still wound up with enthusiasm. An 11-year U.S. Army veteran who returned to civilian life in 2014, the Afghanistan vet now wishes she could have stayed in long enough to serve under Trump.

“I’m originally from New Jersey, so I know all about Donald Trump,” said Broders, who was persuaded by her aunt, Bonnie Broders, to become a delegate for Trump. “I had no idea how government worked, beyond what I’d learned in high school, but I’ve learned so much about being an American by taking part in this process. It’s powerful stuff.”

Still a soldier at heart, Jessica Broders wants her country to be safe, and “as soon as I saw him come down that escalator,” she trusted that Trump would make that happen.

“I can hardly describe how I feel right now,” Broders said. “I’m ready to get things done.”

Bonnie Broders has four sons, two of whom have struggled to find employment after graduating as engineers from prestigious schools.

“There are no jobs,” Bonnie Broders said. “We design nothing, and we manufacture nothing. That’s why it infuriated me when Obama made his comment about recruiting talent from other countries.”

While another of her sons has found success as an Alaskan fisherman, she noted that many of his crew members are college graduates who have few other employment options.

“These kids come out of school with no skills,” Broders said.

“I became a delegate myself because I care about the future of my children and grandchildren. I want them to be proud to go to work, but I worry that we might have already lost a generation.”

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