Traveling Through Trump Country

Part 3. From Homestead to Washington, Pa.

“Both parties are dysfunctional,” said Bob Hollick, a former Democratic township supervisor in Washington County. “We need to blow things up. The politicians are just taking people for a ride – and lining their pockets.”

And the man for the job? “Only Trump can shape things up – he may not be the best candidate, but she’s the worst.”

Washington County Courthouse, Washington, Pa.

Washington County Courthouse, Washington, Pa.

“I think Trump will do well here – he’s an attack dog, and people like that,” Hollick said, adding with a smile, “This election would be over of he’d keep his mouth shut.

Democratic County Commissioner Larry Maggi, whom the Clinton people had earlier asked to be a delegate, agreed. “He is busting all the rules of politics. He brings a freshness – and working-class Democrats love that bravado.”

In fact, GOP Trump delegate Tom Uram, who worked is way during the primary from Kasich to Rubio to Trump, seemed the least enthralled with his man.

“You get embarrassed sometimes,” he said of Trump’s tweets. And while “both sides are a bit upset with their choices,” Uram added, “both parties need to be blown up.” Only Trump can do it: “With Hillary you get more of the same.”

Old Main, Washington and Jefferson College, Washington, Pa.

With the demise of steel and coal, and of the unions that made this part of Pennsylvania overwhelmingly Democratic, Uram said, “there’s not a lot of difference between the two parties.”

They agree on the second amendment, which is perhaps the defining issue here. They are pro-life and protectionist on trade. They are fed up with environmental regulations and the ‘war on coal’ and Black Lives Matter.

But what, I ask, about all the things Trump says that just aren’t so?

“He’s not a politician so he gets a pass,” said Cambria County GOP Chair Jackie Kulback. “We’ve all said something stupid.”

Old Main, Washington and Jefferson College, Washington, Pa.

Old Main, Washington and Jefferson College, Washington, Pa.

“Trump gets confused,” said Hollick, “but he doesn’t intentionally lie. She lies.”

Or as Maggi parodied Trump’s over-the-top statements, “I’m lying – but we both know that.”

“People here don’t feel like they are voting Republican,” said Uram. “They are voting for an activist.”

I did find one dissenter, though: “Trump has the stupid vote,” said Park Burroughs, writer and retired editor of the Washington Observer-Reporter, “and there are a lot of stupid people.”

James G. Blaine

About James G. Blaine

Most of us undervalue what seem our tiny contributions to our communities and the world. As a result, we feel powerless, even victimized. But, like the butterfly effect in science, the lives we lead with our families, in our communities, and at work – all the so-called little things we do – collectively change the world. As I grow older, my ambition grows more modest but not less important: to participate fully and to contribute what I can. That’s my goal with this blog.