As a 72-year-old man who turns 73 this year — and a college dropout — I have found myself out of step with senior citizens with the combination of age and educations who voted for Donald Trump for president in 2016.
Maybe my difference in opinion comes from working for two Republican presidents and three GOP members of Congress during our 23 years in Washington, DC. Even though the GOP paid me handsomely during the time I worked for them as neither a Congressional staff member, a presidential operative, or a political operator, I have never been a bona fide member of the party of the elephant.
I’ve always been an independent who votes for the person, not the party, and I’ve voted for Democrats, Libertarians, Independent and, sometimes, Republicans.
Personally, I liked two of the three GOP members of Congress who I served as either a press secretary, chief of staff, or special committee assistant and one of the two presidents but I never really cared for most of their politics.
I was a hired hand.
Over the last four years of watching Donald Trump take control of the passive GOP, plunder the party and the government and create a level of corruption, racism and bigotry that sickens many, I now find it interesting that I am now agreeing with more and more senior citizen colleagues — not because I have changed but because they woke up and realize they’ve been had.
The New York Times, after polls showed a dramatic drop of support among white seniors without college degrees, sent reporting to various spots of the country to interview several and see how they feel about America’s corruptor-in-chief.
Clifford Wagner, an 80-year-old Republican in Tucson, Ariz., calls the Trump presidency “mortifying.”
“I’m a Christian, and I do not believe in the hateful, racist, bigoted speech that the president uses,” Wagner told The Times. “As much as I never thought I’d say this, I hope we get a Democratic president, a Democratic-controlled Senate, and maintain a Democratic-controlled House.”
Former U.S. Representative Carlos Curbelo of Florida, a Republican youngster (only 40), says many seniors he talks to are disturbed by Trump’s record and actions and say they consider presumed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden “a mild and respectable alternative who did not inspire the same antipathy on the right that (Democratic nominee Hillary) Clinton did in 2016.”
“He’s not ever been known to be a radical or an extreme leftist or liberal, so there is certainly a degree of comfort there,” Curbelo told The Times. “This public health crisis is so threatening, especially to seniors, and because the president hasn’t earned high marks in his handling of it, I think that has also been a factor in Biden’s improving numbers.”
Patrick Mallon, 73, a registered Republican and retired information tech specialist in Battle Creek, Mich., says Trump’s “ineffective response” to the coronavirus pandemic weighs heavily in his decision not to vote for Trump in this year’s election.
“The main reason is Donald Trump saying, ‘Don’t wear a mask, this thing is going to go away, we can have large gatherings,’” he said in his interview with The Times. “Everything he says is incorrect and dangerous to the country.”
Gayle Craven, an 80-year-old in High Point, N.C., is 80 and Republican who did not vote for Trump four years ago and sees no reason to do so this year. Biden, she says, looks like “an honest man” while Trump is anything but.
“Trump is the biggest disappointment,” she said. “He has made America look like idiots. I think he’s an embarrassment to my country.”
I see the same feeling among folks my age and older here in Floyd County. In the past, when I’ve written columns critical of Trump, those who follow him in a cultlike manner have flooded our remarks section and social media with threats and criticism.
Now, comments from Trump supporters are few and far between.
A positive sign in these troubled times? We can hope.