How do I find a Trump supporter

The President of the United States has had tumultuous times since the beginning of his presidency. That doesn't make him any less popular with his followers - on the contrary. The fans go to great lengths to defend their idol.

United States

by Friedemann Diederichs

New York / Washington - Monica Pompeo did not want to put on her bright red "Make America Great Again" baseball cap, which would have clearly identified her as a Trump supporter, for the meeting in a pizzeria. Instead, a small badge with the US flag hangs on her jacket. You have to be careful in these times, says the 55-year-old publisher. Because times are not easy for those citizens who continue to publicly support the US president, who is currently under attack. Talking - many do not want that at all.

There are many baskets when looking for people who are willing to talk. Like Judy, who initially only wants to reveal her first name and then cancels an appointment. She must have been too frivolous, she apologizes. "In this climate, I can't risk revealing myself as a Trump voter."

In the politically deeply divided America of 2018, however, Monica Pompeo is not to be impressed by the prospect of social ostracism. She thinks, lives and loves Trump - and embodies those hardcore fans who find an explanation for every negative headline that keeps their idol looking good. Over a slice of salami and pineapple pizza, the 55-year-old reports on the time of the election campaign, which she hardened against all hostility.

She was a Trump campaign volunteer like thousands upon thousands across the country. And even then she sensed what it means to be for a candidate whose positions - from building the wall on the border with Mexico to economic isolation - have a maximum excitement factor.

“At university, students tore my Trump advertising slips out of my hands, burned the papers and then buried them. Professors had the middle finger, ”she recalls. In front of an organic grocery store, her signs were shredded by an employee who threatened her: “I'll hit your face bloody.” And at a crossroads, a driver threw a full cup in her face as she drove past.

Aggression and social isolation are not uncommon for Donald Trump supporters who want to talk. Monica Pompeo's family turned away from her when she defended the harsh immigration policy and stated that the controversial separation of migrant families after the illegal border crossing had already existed under Barack Obama. Or when she stated: "If necessary, I would build the wall myself."

The mother of two sees herself as a practicing Christian. Anyone who asks her about the humanitarian aspect of the immigration debate gets the explanation: “Why should we help all Mexicans?” She wants to vote for Trump again in 2020, despite the recent “guilty” proceedings against former Trump aides Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort - and the possibly illegal hush money payments that Trump is said to have commissioned. His personal deficits such as his behavior towards women are nothing new, she says, after all Trump delivers results and not just promises. Like on the job market. Or with his initiative against North Korea. "It hasn't been for far too long that America came first," says Pompeo.

But precisely this is a thorn in the side of declared Trump opponents like Rox Aguilar. A single mother with a 10-year-old son lives in conservative Texas, where the president still has many supporters. The lawyer from San Antonio fears above all the Trump effect: "We could end up as an isolated country that has no more allies worldwide."

Anyone who, like his supporters, always only looks at the unemployment rate or the international burden sharing, simply does not see the big picture. For her, a typical indication of the deep rift in the country is when friends who support Trump openly advise her: If you don't like him, leave the country. "Why should I go," the woman asks, "just because I'm against the president?"

Change of scene from Texas to liberal New York. In the “Big Apple”, 38-year-old university employee Neil Gouveia should actually be the Trump opponent par excellence. He is dark-skinned and comes from the South American Guyana. He is a migrant who his parents brought to the United States when he was seven. “In a legal way,” as he emphasizes. He works in the university education system, where it is frowned upon to be anything but liberal. And he's gay.

And yet he is one of those almost 62 million US citizens who voted for Trump in 2016, who was also from New York - and who, despite all the scandal headlines, wants to do it again. Because he makes no secret of his conservative sympathies, most of his liberal friends have turned their backs on him too. It hurt him, but it didn't convert him.

Neil Gouveia wants to know the reason why the debate about the president is so bitter and why the rift between the camps has become so deep: "Many people are only against Trump because the mainstream media tells them to," says he. Gouveia even speaks of “brainwashing” - and people's unwillingness to see facts.

For example in terms of the economic situation. There is currently the lowest unemployment rate among blacks and Latinos in the history of the country, "but nobody talks about it." Or the immigration debate. The separation of adults and children was a necessary step for Gouveia. He explains it this way: It was a precautionary measure to prevent people smuggling. Because many migrants would turn up at the border without valid papers that could prove that the children belong to them. In addition, the children are treated well. “Many see a dentist for the first time. They get clothes, food and video games. ”Like Monica Pompeo, Neil Gouveia points out that the family separation began in the Obama era - but was not noticed at the time because it did not fit into the political agenda.

These are arguments deeply ingrained among Republicans, who, according to a survey, are still nearly 90 percent satisfied with the president's job and guided by the hope that he is "draining the swamp" of Washington like him it promised. The fact that Trump is being demonized, that the opposition is assuming that he is closely collaborating with Russia in the run-up to the last election, is due, in Gouveia's view, to the anger of the Democrats over the unpredictable defeat of Hillary Clinton. "Millions of citizens voted for Trump, and the Russians didn't force them to do so," he says. And he also believes: the investigation would end with a success for the president.

Gouveia does not blame Trump for the debate in the two rival political camps, which is currently accompanied by so much hatred. “America was as divided under Obama as it is now,” he believes. Again, this is a prevalent view among loyal Trump fans. "The Democrats drove the split because they lost," said Nichole Lea, a US Forest Service official in California. And, she adds: “The left is so full of hatred for traditional America that it is tearing itself apart. And Trump is the lightning rod for them. "