Our reporter, Dawid Krawczyk, flew to the southern American state of Georgia to better understand the people who pushed Trump to the presidency. Who are these people? How do they imagine their future? Is Trump’s America the country of their dreams? And most importantly, what caused pious southerners to vote for a bombastic Northerner?
Explore the answers in the second chapter of this Political Critique series. | Text: Dawid Krawczyk. Illustration: Anna Pluta.
“Poland. Such a wonderful Christian country.”
“Your government told the EU to back off and didn’t let any refugees in. Amazing.”
“And that beautiful campaign. People marched to the borders and surrounded the country with rosaries.”
All this praise for the Polish government comes from three Republican women. We’re in Buckhead, the richest neighbourhood of Atlanta, in Starbucks at North-West Peachtree Road.
I arrived late, because I was driving around the neighbourhood, admiring the perfectly trimmed lawns, hedge sculptures, fancy patterns of multi-coloured paving stone, and massive gates, whose massiveness is skilfully played down by beautiful wrought iron work. And then the huge Southern mansions. Really huge, and really Southern.
I’m here to meet three republican ladies: Camara, Linda, and Lucretia.
Camara has a big friendly smile, and even bigger, friendlier laughter. She smiles a lot, and laughs even more. Probably the most when she praises the Polish prime minister for her anti-refugee policy. Linda loves America and big American cars (she drives a massive Chevrolet, for which she gets loads of criticism from her democratic friends), she also loves art, and she’s an artist herself. What she loves the most is Florence, though it was a hopeless and eventually unrequited love, as Linda couldn’t stay in Italy for good due to immigration laws. Finally, Lucretia, the highlight of the afternoon and most likely the highlight of the upcoming state senate elections. Confident, politically incorrect, her friends call her ‘Trump light’. “I’m Black. I’m Republican. I voted for Trump. And I’m proud of it,” she introduces herself.
I set up this meeting with Lucretia Hughes a couple of weeks ago. I saw an interview she gave to CBS right after what happened in Charlottesville, the small town in central Virigina where , in August 2017, far-right groups from all over the US came to demonstrate their power and unity. Ku Klux Klan members marched hand in hand with other extremists through the streets with tiki torches, proving that they are able to organize beyond internet forums. Antifascists came too, to protest against the white supremacists. After hours of fighting between the groups a Dodge Challenger muscle car accelerated towards the crowd. Several anti-fascist protesters were sent airborne. A far-right terrorist driving the car did it on purpose. He killed one person and wounded many.
Donald Trump didn’t wait long to comment on the events. “You look at both sides. I think there is blame on both sides,” he said. And added: “You had some very bad people in that group. You also had some very fine people on both sides.” Equating saluting neo-Nazis with their opponents caused unprecedented indignation, even among Trump voters.
Lucretia wasn’t indignant. When the CBS reporter asked her if her support for Trump had lessened one bit after Charlottesville, she responded instantly: “Absolutely not”. I came to Starbucks in Buckhead, Atlanta to get to know her other views. Unexpectedly I got to know this unique republican trio.
It turns out that Linda, who loves Florence, has Polish roots, and she visited Jaworzno once (a city in southern Poland, near Katowice). She lived in the outskirts, by the woods. And she has two very clear memories from that visit: a severe winter and dogs barking. She can’t imagine something like this could happen in the US (“If my next door neighbour’s dog is barking at night, somebody would go over there and shoot that dog.”). But there is one thing that bugs her to this day.
“There is nothing out there. What are these dogs barking at? And then my mind starts going, and I’m thinking. Are these dogs barking at the ghosts of the Nazis, the ghosts of the Russians, the ghosts of the Prussians, the ghosts of the Austrians? I mean, who were these dogs barking at? The ghosts of Stalin?” she goes on and on. Unfortunately, I can’t help her with an answer, so I’m happy to change the topic.
None of them technically live in Atlanta. They prefer to stay outside the urban area.
“I live in the country, 60 miles from here, north. Atlanta is too crowded, too many people. If I can’t watch my own back I’m not going. I’m not going to put myself in that danger. Because there is so much animosity towards us,” says Lucretia.
I ask what she means by “us”, and almost immediately I receive a perfectly synchronized answer from the entire trio: “Trump supporters, of course”. What follows is the litany of hardships and humiliations they suffered after Trump got elected.
“The radical left think that if you disagree with them they have a right to use intimidation and violence to suppress your voice, your opinion,” says Linda.
“There is no such thing as free speech, they’re trying to do away with free speech. You can’t have Trump bumper sticker on your car,” echoes Camara.
Lucretia says she was literally afraid to leave her house after the elections. “I didn’t leave for five days. This is how it was outside,” she recalls.
“The ones that have this COEXIST sticker on the back of their car are the worst,” Linda shrieks.
They’re all in no doubt that racial tensions in American society are nothing more than an invention of the mainstream media, the left, and the democrats. All these shenanigans are supposedly funded by George Soros (Linda refers to him as ‘Doctor Evil’), who just wants to see more and more divisions in society. Black Lives Matter? Worse than the Nazis. Lucretia’s step-father was a founding member of the Black Panther Party in New York City, and one of her sons was shot dead on the street. The idea of supporting Black Lives Matter, though, would never cross her mind.
“More divisions, that’s the only thing they want”, she says.
“When I moved down here, my friends told me ‘you better check the demographics in your neighbourhood, so people don’t hate you.’ I picked the house. And I’ve got everybody in my neighbourhood, Brazilians, Thai, Black, Chinese. I’ve even got people from Florida next to me,” Linda jokes. “Everybody gets along. Everybody’s kids hang out with each other. Nobody needs identity politics perpetrated by the media and Democrats.”
Not so long ago they were voting democrats. Lucretia voted for Obama in 2008. Linda cast a vote for him as well, but only in the primaries. She changed her mind before the general election. Why? She read that as an Illinois senator Barack Obama voted for legislation that would allow suffocation of a new-born child right after the labour, if on the early stage of pregnancy it went through the unsuccessful abortion procedure. “When a woman has an abortion and the baby comes out and it’s not dead, they put the baby on a little silver pan and put it on the windowsill to let it choke to death or whatever it does. Gasps for breath and dies,” Linda tells me. A quick Google search and I get the article from the Washington Post, which step by step explains the false accusations suggesting that Obama is some kind of a toddler killer. Linda told me she watches Fox News and listens to Rush Limbaugh, so she may not have had a chance to come across this piece.
“He wouldn’t even wear a flag pin”, Camara chips in.
“Why is anybody surprised? He didn’t come to America until he was 18 years old, that’s the first time he set foot in mainland America. He was a wimp,” Lucretia says. “Just look at Putin. He just rode a horse bareback. That’s a man’s man. He ain’t putting on little pads or anything. Like he was just sitting there and wrestling bears and tigers and stuff. Obama? Oh, give me a break. And by the way we’re still waiting to see his birth certificate.”
“Yeah, we still want to see it,” adds Linda.
Just to be clear, the birth certificate has been available on the White House website since 2008, the scan of the whole document (Certificate of Live Birth) since 2011. Not surprisingly this didn’t stop those who wanted to delegitimize Obama’s presidency. One of the leading forces of the Birther Movement (as those who demanded Obama to reveal “the real birth certificate” are called) was Donald Trump.
As they put it, Obama woke them up, and Hillary infuriated them. With what exactly? With everything. She lies and lies, and above all she’s a murderess. “I forgot what the body count is. Something around 110. And they all committed suicide? Yeah, right,” asks Linda, rhetorically.
From the vast catalogue of Trump’s election promises they believe limiting immigration is the most important one. “Trump is a bad guy. I mean it in good way. You do have to deal with immigration, nobody wants to do it, but it has to be done for the good of the country. It’s not popular, not likeable, but it’s for the salvation of our country,” Camara points out.
“Wait a sec,” I interrupt her, because I need to make a couple of things clear. Hasn’t Trump build up his whole popularity, which ultimately allowed him to become president, exactly on his ideas about immigration? We sit in that Starbucks and talk for almost two hours and I feel like I’m interviewing some underground guerrilla cell, not the supporters of the current government. Their cars are destroyed, they have to hide in their homes, and white Trump supporters cannot even go into downtown Atlanta. “I was expecting you’d be in a more celebratory mood, to be honest. You won the elections, didn’t you? Your candidate is now in the oval office and is basically ruling the world. Don’t you feel like you won?”
“We should feel that way. But they don’t let us.”
“The establishment. Media.”
I’m packing up my stuff and am about to leave when I remember the final question I put down in my notepad.
“OK, last one. What do you think about Kanye West running for president in 2020?”
“It’s a joke, obviously. And doesn’t Kanye support Trump? I think he does,” Camara answers. “But I’ll tell you what we should be afraid of. Oprah! Oprah Winfrey! If she ran for the Democrats it could be tough. Oprah! Mark my words.”
On my way to the car I type “Oprah Winfrey 2020” in my phone’s Google search bar. Not much of a buzz. A couple of tweets. A few serious articles, but still no substantial political declaration. I can’t dive deeper in that political fiction, because my phone starts vibrating, and the browser window is covered by an image of a ringing telephone.
To be continued…