Affluent Trump backers speak out: ‘I’m hoping for some amazing things’

Much attention has focused on the lower-income voters who helped elect the president but Trumps supporters are more financially secure than many believe

How to explain Donald Trumps ascendancy? If you follow the standard election analysis, his victory was largely spurred by the financial pain and fears of poor and rural Americans. But if you look closer, Trump voters are more financially secure than a lot of us thought.

As a recent immigrant to the US, Ive been fascinated by Trumps incredible rise. But its the motivations of well-off Trump backers which fascinate me the most. Id heard much about the working class or dwindling middle class credited with bringing the real estate mogul victory. But what about those who described themselves as affluent?

I started to look for voters who would fit this bill, and hope to follow them throughout the next four years to chart whether their support will wane or strengthen over time.

Of those I interviewed, many feared backlash if they talked openly. All said admitting backing Trump marked you as racist, sexist and possibly stupid. Some, such as a Los Angeles private jet entrepreneur and a Miami hotelier, agreed to interviews and then reneged, wary of hurting their livelihoods. But those who participated justified their ballot choice passionately and defiantly.

Here are some of their views, in their own words.

I expect him to build that wall

Cathy ODell Town, notary, Orange County, California

Cathy ODell Town at home with her pet cat. Photograph: Jo Jarvis

The level of hatred out there is unprecedented. She [Hillary Clinton] called us terrible names. She attacked Trumps supporters. But we took it as a badge of honor. We became that basket of deplorables. I said: Im deplorable and proud of it. When he won, I tweeted to my followers, thank you for being brave. It took courage to vote for him.

I have the right as an American citizen to support whomever I want I can support Satan if I want. The thing is, I respect you for your opinion but you must respect me for mine. People said to me, Whats the matter with you? Youre a racist, youre a hater, how can you support him? Then they start getting emotional and shouting and going in directions that make no sense. And I just say, I can support whomever I please. Im an American.

Trump has been saying things that Ive been yelling about since 2000, the main one being illegal immigration. I resent illegals. We are negatively impacted by them taking our tax dollars. We are impacted by the two cultures Mexican and Asian and they dont assimilate. Once Trump opened his mouth, it was like a trumpet sounding. A call to arms. It was like a banner. He woke people up.

I thought Obama was sincerely going to make a change I voted for him in 2008. I was extremely disappointed that when he was first elected, he didnt address illegal immigration. With Donald Trump, Im sure that there could be a little more polish, Im sure that he could have pulled back a little bit. But Im not expecting him to be perfect. Im expecting him to roll up his sleeves and go to work for us.

I expect him to build that wall. I expect him to start the process of getting the legislation in place to stop birther rights [the rights of children born in the US to an undocumented immigrant receiving automatic citizenship]. I dont want people to come over here and drop out of their mother and theyre automatically a citizen.

I will measure Trump by this question: did he get those illegals out? Particularly the criminals. Did he get the birther rights revoked? Did he inspire businesses to quit crossing the ocean and going somewhere else? Did he get the trade agreements in places we are respected? Thats what I will be measuring him by.

Trump has a vision

Mike Miele, executive, Princeton and Monmouth Beach, New Jersey

Mike Miele at home with his wife, Bea. Photograph: Jo Jarvis

This is a crapshoot. We dont know what will happen, but Im prepared to take a shot. I want to bring this to a head. Im not sure if hell take us in the right direction, but we cant lose with Trump because at least he will force the issue. If he takes us down the wrong path, at least well have to deal with it.

I dont know whether hes the nicest man in the world or the meanest SOB in the world. I dont think that has a single thing to do with his attributes as president. I mean, who is nicer than President Obama? Hes the greatest guy ever, Id like to meet him one day. Does that make him a great leader? Does that make him able to run the country? I dont think so.

I voted for Trump not against Hillary. I thought she had management competence, but he had a vision. My key hope is that there will once again be a high degree of business startup, that he will create confidence. He already is look how the stock market has responded. I own office buildings, Im a rich guy, but I need newly formed businesses for my buildings in New Jersey.

Ninety percent of the men I know who voted for Trump are too ashamed to admit it. But Im not. My friends usually stay out of politics but when we do get into it the subject is Who did you vote for? I could just tell that they did not want to come out and say that they voted for Trump. They gave some long-winded answer, and I said: Its OK, if you voted for Trump, its not something you should be ashamed of. And theyd say: Were sort of keeping it on the down low. So, thats my Republican friends who voted for Trump.

The ones who voted for Hillary attacked me for my decision. I dont understand where that is coming from. They say: How could you be so stupid, how could you vote for a racist? There were just incredible, heated arguments. Thats not healthy for any of us to take such a hardline view of what other people think. I always thought the Democratic party was more open-minded about other peoples thinking. I find it ironic that theyre so judgmental.

I want to see him taking it back to basics

Ileana Garcia, communications specialist, founder of Latinas for Trump, Miami, Florida

Ileana Garcia in Miami. Photograph: Jo Jarvis

Right now in America we need strength, we need discipline, accountability, a prosperous economy and thats what Trump represents. Thats why he got a whole movement behind him.

I want to see him taking it back to basics: less government in all your decisions, less social programs. I know people who need social programs who cant get them, and others who dont need it, who take advantage of it. I dont think people should be able to walk into this country without ever giving anything to it and having any type of benefits. You need to work your way into it.

Its challenging to come out as a Trump supporter. People were scared. Thats why I founded Latinas for Trump. It was the first time in my life that I had been concerned. We had a Coming Out Trump party here in Miami for people who were scared to say they supported him. I mean, you were fired, you were ostracized, I received death threats, it was crazy and this is a country with the first amendment. We all have rights, even if you are undocumented you have rights, so how does that work? The Democrats did a better job of closeting Trump supporters than the LGBT community ever did of getting people out of the closet.

Im afraid of the tolerant left

Kasey, businesswoman and Karen, attorney. Los Angeles, California. Asked not to use their real names

Kasey, right, with Karen, left, and their two daughters. Photograph: Jo Jarvis

Kasey: Im so full of hope that the reward will be bigger for those who go out there and work hard and create, and that what were going to see is an unleashing of an incredible business explosion and jobs for people and not stagnation.

Im a bit more critical of him on a personal level than I am of him on a policy or business perspective. Trumps a pig, but hes the first Republican that hasnt given me heartburn. Theres no doubt he is kind of a pig. The question is, does it bother you enough to not vote for him? The answer is no because Bill Clinton, whom I voted for, is equally as much of a pig but in a nicer way. It makes no difference to me. I vote for a person based on their policies.

Im attracted to Trump because hes not a politician. Most of them have never done anything but be one. I would like you if you were a Democrat if you had actually started a business and if youve actually created a job. Donald Trump is extremely attractive to me because hes been so successful, and the man has created a lot of jobs.

Im not concerned about anyone knowing I voted for Donald Trump, except for the tolerant left. Im afraid of the tolerant left. They are really the intolerant left. I am concerned that Ive got customers who are part of this intolerant left, and because I have a company and I voted for Trump, Im concerned that if they knew, they would not be my customers any more. I think it is very sad.

Hope against hypocrisy as Trump joins the swamp

Karen: I think hes capable because he weathered the most unbelievable intense storm of malarkey that Ive ever seen anybody go through. To get something done and achieve some of the changes in the polarized society that we live in right now, you need someone who can take hits and not fold. Making the type of changes that need to happen in the US today is not going to be an easy task and what we know for certain is this is a person who can weather a storm.

If you are a leader who is a bit unpredictable and who has said to the world Im willing to be aggressive, how willing are you? then at a very minimum the bad guy [the hostile nation] whos going to steal your stuff will stop and think, perhaps there may be consequences for what Im doing. The US is not currently instilling that thought in anyones mind. And I dont mean, go ahead, march us into another wasteful war. I just want to see some strength.

My views are more about the security and financial stability of the US than about racism or wall building. The left look at folks in West Virginia as uneducated, ignorant people and say thats everybody that voted for Trump. What youre saying about those people is extremely pejorative and you cant have a conversation in this country if youre going to insult others.

We need to reverse course on extreme political correctness

Mark Hoff, family medical doctor, Lodi, California

Mark Hoff in front of his church in Lodi. Photograph: Jo Jarvis

Im a born-again Christian and we suffered through eight years of Obama, who was an elitist academic. He made people more afraid of conservative Christians than of Muslims. Obama paved the way for Trump.

Im hoping for some amazing things from Trump. I hope we have a more vibrant society. Thousands of factories have closed. He will reverse it. Hes not just talking. He says he will revitalize the ghetto areas. Hillary was anti-conservative, anti-Christian. She is the embodiment of evil. The Democrat party is an anti-God organization.

As a born-again Christian, Id like to see Trump reverse course on this extreme political correctness. Its been an oppressive feeling that I have had, being afraid of stepping on somebodys toes and being slammed by the media, by Hollywood. Those people are as oppressive as any sort of oppressive society youd want to be in. Im hoping that the values I hold will not feel as out of place if I talk about them, now that Donald Trump has influence.

Im not expecting Donald Trump to be perfect. Im not saying hes a born-again person. I dont even know whether hell become born again. But I think, with the tremendous responsibility he has, hell begin relying more on God in helping him be president and well see an evolution in his approach to the people of this country, maybe becoming a little more traditional, the rough edges coming off a little bit. But what we want is somebody who is going to be honest with us. He tells you like it is and he is genuinely concerned about our country.

Just being a Christian doesnt mean youre perfect. So, for me to cast aspersions against Donald Trump for what he has done is not right. You should instead look to see if a person is changing, if he is evolving. While he was not necessarily young when he did some of these things, I think hes a person that will evolve.

This election is the first one Ive felt part of. I watched probably every one of his speeches. I wore a Donald Trump pin on my lapel at work. Ive had two patients attack me, but most were fine.

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