‘Not even my wife knows’: Secret Donald Trump voters come out of the closet
We asked Guardian readers who are voting for Trump why they support him. From firm conservatives to fed-up liberals, their answers were revealing
The Hispanic attorney (29, Florida)
‘He has demonstrated that he is, at heart, a caring person’
On paper, I probably look like a guaranteed Cruz or Rubio vote. I’m a millennial woman, my parents immigrated from Castro’s Cuba, I work as a trial attorney in Miami and I’m a born-again Christian. But I’m voting for Donald Trump, and I’ve convinced all my friends and family to do so as well.
Related: What Trumpism means for democracy
My sister worked for him and has spoken glowingly of him for years, just like everyone else who actually knows the man. I trust her judgment more than any random pundit’s. Actions speak louder than words, and he has demonstrated that he is, at heart, a caring person through his manyrandom acts of kindness . His peers say there are “two Trumps” – the brash character he portrays himself as, and the decent man they know behind closed doors. It’s clearly a strategy; his proclamations have kept him on the front pages for a sustained eight months.
Before he ran, the left’s stranglehold on the national conversation of what is or isn’t tolerable was getting stronger by the minute. It was the year of Caitlyn Jenner. Rachel Dolezal. Black Lives Matter. Anyone who even hinted at disapproval was exiled. Every week, someone would dare to blurt out something un-PC, and the media would absolutely crucify them. It had me thinking this was it. We’ve lost. How on earth can we hope to defeat these people, with their complete domination of the national conversation and relentless narrative of “Progress! Tolerance! Acceptance! Feels!”?
Political correctness is the birthplace of disastrous, un-American policies that will destroy the country in a death by a thousand cuts. But here comes Trump, the first person who didn’t even blink when the machine turns its sights on him.
He didn’t just fight back. He chewed it up and spit it out.
The scientist who likes both Bernie and Donald (48, California)
‘I’m very concerned about radical Muslims’
I moved to San Francisco from the UK in 2000. I’m a citizen now and I voted for Obama. I am a closet Trump supporter and I haven’t told any of my friends or co-workers. They would think of me as a meat-head if they knew.
The funny thing is that I like Trump and Sanders, and there’s no party or politician for me.
I’m pro abortion and pro equal pay for women. I’m pro gay marriage.
I want to increase the minimum wage and I’m prepared to pay higher taxes and higher prices for groceries and fast food to cover it.
I’m pro death penalty, but against the pro gun rights lobby.
I hate the Republicans’ efforts to restrict voting rights for black people and the erosion of The Voting Rights Act, but I’m against affirmative action.
I’m very concerned about radical Muslims, and liked Donald’s idea to stop all Muslim immigration.
I’m also no supporter of Israel and I’m pro the BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] movement.
I’m concerned that some US citizens have a loyalty to their own group over and above their loyalty to America, and will lobby accordingly.
I’m a patriotic socialist, but my strong-borders patriotism wins over my socialism if I have to choose. As Donald says, we either have a country or we don’t.
The Occupy protester turned Trump supporter (24, New York)
‘His candidacy is ripping the soul of America apart – we deserve it’
I work in a liberal arts department. I’ve read the works of Karl Marx, Herbert Marcuse, John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Nietzsche, Plato, Judith Butler, Simone de Beauvoir, Michel Foucault and so on. I am more inclined to listen to what Slavoj Žižek or Noam Chomsky have to say about current affairs than Rachel Maddow or Bill O’Reilly. If one were to take account of my demographics, the smart money would be to peg me for a Bernie Sanders supporter.
My interest in politics did not truly develop into an intellectually mature form until 2011, when Occupy Wall Street broke out as a populist leftist grass roots movement to combat the evils of unrestricted robber baron capitalism.
Early in 2014 I began concealing my political opinions from people, and it was shortly after this time that I began plotting to vote Republican in hopes that the party would send the country so far in the direction of complete unrestricted neoliberalism and libertarian free market superstition that Americans would come to recognize the dangers of these ideologies and eventually reject them.
I don’t find conversations about how morally repugnant Trump is to be interesting when the rest of the candidates seem to also support imperialistic and fascist policies concerning drone strikes, torture and mass surveillance.
I don’t agree with discussions of how Trump is making the national dialogue more base and vulgar when Obama has instated common core standards to gear humanities education in public schooling to be teaching children how to read memos, rather than cultivating critical thinking skills that would allow them to understand subtle arguments.
Do I like Trump’s platform? No, I think most of it is silly and misguided, but at least it is not the same bullshit casserole that has been on the menu in Washington DC for as long as I have been alive.
His candidacy is a happy accident that is currently ripping the soul of America apart, which is something that I think we desperately need (and deserve) at this time in our history, for better or for worse. I support whatever strange gods happen to be behind his candidacy, for, as Martin Heidegger proclaimed in his famous Der Speigel interview, although for slightly different reasons, “Only a God can save us.”
The casino supervisor (56, Oklahoma)
‘We are completely tired of government’
I am a Democrat but will vote for Trump, because he is not bought and paid for by anyone. We the American people are tired of politicians owing favors to rich businessmen, bankers, oil companies and stock markets. It should be against the law to have lobbyists involved with government.
Being a businessman, I think our government will have to be run like a business, and Trump has the experience to do it
The middle class and lower class – which I am part of – are completely tired of our government, which treats our veterans like they don’t even exist. These are men and women who have gone to fight for what they think was the right reason, only to see that it was for money or some arms sale that is done behind closed doors. We are also sick and tired of working and paying taxes and then seeing our government send it to other countries to benefit someone else when we have homeless people and vets that need it just as much.
If you noticed, in the Nevada election Trump won 46% of the Hispanic vote and the reason is because the legal Hispanic voters also have to compete with the illegal immigrants for jobs.
Being a businessman, I think our government will have to be run like a business, and Trump has the experience to do it. Trump sees that we have a problem, and he is willing to try and fix it.
The yoga teacher (29, Tennessee)
‘Don’t publish my name. It would ruin my progressive image’
Barack Obama talked about hope and change, but I believe he failed to deliver on his promises. His record with drone strikes and prosecutions of whistleblowers are especially troubling (not to mention he didn’t follow-through with prosecutions of those who caused the financial crisis).
As far as Obamacare goes, I’m not buying it, because it seems ignorant to throw money at a problem and hope it will get better. I’m glad more people are covered, but the plans aren’t worth shit, as many of them don’t kick in until you spend thousands on a co-pay. No thanks.
Bernie is a breath of fresh air, but I’m not sure he can beat Hillary. In a match between Bernie and Donald, I’d vote for the former. In a match between Hillary and Donald, I’d vote for the latter. It isn’t a vote for Trump, but rather a vote against the political establishment (which must be removed from office at any cost – even if it means electing a reality TV star for president). The stakes are too high. Hillary cannot win or the oligarchy will continue unabated.
And please don’t publish my name, it would ruin the whole “progressive” image (and my girlfriend might kill me).
I bet a lot of pragmatic sorts are in the same boat …
The retired biomedical engineer (56, Hawaii)
‘It’s too late for a cure’
Given a chance, I would vote for Bernie. But the only choices will probably be Trump and Clinton. In that case, I will vote for Trump.
I believe that Clinton will continue the Wall Street-style march to oligarchy. With her, the eventual demise of democracy will lead to a fascist plutocracy. It is going on right now, and it will continue to be slow, painful and inevitable.
I believe that it is too late for a conventional cure. So, there is Trump. He is indeed a buffoon and a recipe for disaster. If he were to do half of the horrific things he says he would, he would be a catastrophe. He could be a blend of Hitler and Hirohito.
That’s why I would vote for him. The last time we crossed paths with a Hitler and/or Hirohito, the country woke up and fought. And won! He might supply us with the shock we need in order to wake up and fight.
The gay Arab Muslim student (age not given, Missouri)
‘My parents are horrified’
As a gay muslim, the Republican Party has not been kind to me, to say the least. However the Democrats almost arrogantly expect me to hand my vote to them because of who I am, which insults me.
I am a son of immigrants but we have always followed the law to the letter. Donald Trump’s discussion on immigration is extremely relevant. I even support the temporary ban on Muslims, even though I still have many law abiding family members in Syria who deserve the opportunity to come to the US and escape the horrors of the war. We don’t vet these people properly. To let them in willy nilly is ludicrous.
Ironically enough, Trump may be the best thing for moderate average Muslims
Trump will break the poisonous bonds that hold America and the cult state of Saudi Arabia. Clinton would never do that; she would continue supporting Saudi Arabia while bombing Islamic countries left and right.
My parents are horrified at the thought of a Trump presidency. They say things like “Trump is going to round up all the Muslims and put them in camps.” For all his bombastic remarks, Trump will not attack innocent Muslim countries. Ironically enough, he may be the best thing for moderate average Muslims. He isn’t our enemy, he is the enemy of the globalist Wahhabi cult that has propagated mass violence and murder through out the world.
The anti-PC college professor (50, California)
‘I’m angry at forced diversity’
I’m a liberal-left college professor in the social sciences. I’m going to vote for Trump but I won’t tell hardly anybody.
My main reason is anger at the two-party system and the horrible presidencies of Obama and Bush. But I’m also furious at political correctness on campus and in the media.
I’m angry at forced diversity and constant, frequently unjustified complaints about racism/sexism/homophobia/lack of trans rights. I’m particularly angry at social justice warriors and my main reason to vote Trump is to see the looks on your faces when he wins.
It’s not that I like Trump. It’s that I hate those who can’t stand him. I want them to suffer the shock of knowing all their torrents of blog posts and Tumblr bitch-fests and “I just can’t …” and accusations of mansplaining didn’t actually matter. That they’re still losing. And that things are not getting better for them. They’re getting worse.
The evangelical pastor (51, Tennessee)
‘I’m not electing someone to fight for my soul’
Yes, I admit it. I support Trump, but it’s a secret.
My reason for keeping it secret is that I’m an evangelical pastor and have to hold my nose at some of the things that Trump says, as far as being tasteless and brutish. This language and attitude flies in the face of my faith.
But I’m not electing someone to fight for my soul, I’m looking for someone to fight for my country. While his attitude could use some polish, his strong stand against all things DC is appealing. I’m weary of going into a voting booth and casting a ballot only to see “more of the same”.
I minister to Hispanic people (most of which disapprove of Trump and some are illegal aliens) and see great contributions that they bring to our particular community. They are great people for the most part. But the rule of law must be followed.
The white male early retiree (62, Delaware)
‘Trump is a wake up call’
I am highly educated (PhD, MBA, JD) and a licensed attorney. I am British by birth and naturalized American. I grew up in England appreciating the free medical care and education that I received, and in that sense you could say I understand the position of Bernie Sanders. All my life, I voted Democrat.
The tension between my liberal politics and the real world has become too much to live with
I am also “unemployed” (forced early retirement) and unable to get a job because, in my perception, I am too old, male and white. You may think that discrimination over these factors is illegal and therefore not practiced here. I can tell from my experience as a hiring manager that you would be wrong. There is not even any point in me showing up for an interview now. If I try to hide my age and race on my resume, it becomes clear when you meet me in person. For the first time in my life, I feel disadvantaged by factors over which I have no control.
The tension between my liberal politics and the real world has become too much to live with. Your publication and others have endlessly described the demographics of a Trump supporter; people look at me and assume I think a certain way. I am tired of being looked at with these assumptions in mind. I may as well join the Trump bandwagon simply because that is how I look and am treated.
Trump is a wake up call. A president Trump could be as bad as Hitler, but if he shocks some good people in both the Republican and Democratic parties into realizing that they are ignoring legitimate concerns of a seizable minority, then let him have his four years.
The manager (52, South Carolina)
‘People would realize democracy is messy’
Not even my wife knows.
I’m fairly well educated – masters degrees from Harvard and University of South Carolina. Income in the upper 10%. Trump is the only candidate that gets it.
Do I believe that the US is “losing”, or that illegal immigration is destroying the economy? No.
What Trump gets is that a significant number of voters can be stirred up with a few catch phrases. Whether he actually believes he can do any of the things he has promised is beside the point. He has hit on a formula to get people motivated to do what he wants – acclaim him and vote for him.
I voted for Trump with the faint hope that his election would actually be good for the country. If he were elected, it would perhaps teach more to the country than all the high school civics lessons in the our nation’s brief history.
If elected, Trump would accomplish very little to none of his vacuous agenda. His congressional agenda would be as dead on arrival as that of Bernie Sanders’s. So what good could result? Perhaps more people would begin to realize that members of Congress, governors, mayors, and members of the state houses have the real power. That the framers of the Constitution created this wonderfully balanced system in which no one person holds the kind of power that Trump claims he could wield. That democracy is messy and frustrating. That change involves more hard work than just voting for somebody who says the right things.
Foolish hope, I know.
The Indian-American attorney who is part of the 1% (50, Illinois)
‘It’s a very economics-driven decision’
I’m an Indian-American male and moved to the US with my parents when I was three in 1968. I’m presently an attorney with an engineering background and am in the top 0.5-0.6% of income earners and top 1% in terms of assets.
A Trump presidency would mean to me a return to a US where immigrants came to this country in measured amounts, and who could substantially contribute to the economy and to society. There was no chain immigration, so those who came were well qualified, earned as much as their American counterparts, and lived in a much better ordered society.
Cheap immigrant/HB1 visa labor is killing the standard of living for Americans, leading to general unhappiness and dissatisfaction. It’s a very economics-driven decision for me. For my parents, who are in their 70s and 80s, it is as well. They were Democrats until now. Even though we are all well off, we see that the loss in standard of living is dragging down the entire country. Money may not cure all ills, but it certainly helps.
• Emails have been edited for length and clarity