Faces behind the voices: GOP edition
Behind the voices of a Donald Trump or a Hillary Clinton, behind a Bill O’Reilly or a Chris Matthews, there is the American voter – the individual who, by his or her act of voting and contributing to a democratic society, gives substance and meaning to a media system that has done its best to shed both.
Recently Ryan Kerr and I, producers for RT America’s “Watching the Hawks,” decided to go beyond the voices and contact a variety of supporters for the various GOP candidates. Our goal was to tell the story of the American voter in their own voices.
What we found was a lot more human and interesting than the blithe and sometimes hostile banter of the candidates. Take for example the story of Ross Kaplan, a young businessman and Trump supporter.
Ross supports Trump because of his “transparency” and “negotiation style.” That doesn’t mean he is lockstep in line with all of the Donald’s views, however.
“I wouldn’t want him to ban all Muslims. I have a lot of friends who are Muslims and I want them to come visit me,” Ross says. He supports Trump because “even though Americans don’t agree with every single stance he takes, they still know where he stands.”
Stacie Whisonant, an African American female veteran of the armed services, similarly backs Trump – but for other reasons.
For her, Trump represents a “disruption to politics,” something she supports even though within the African American community she is hesitant to come out as a Trump supporter.
“I almost don’t even raise my hand as a Trump supporter around minorities,” she says. When asked if she knows other African American female supporters of Trump, the answer is a clear “no.”
What about the other candidates? While their supporters aren’t stereotyped as much as Trump’s, the media nonetheless doesn’t give them a fair shake.
Ted Cruz’s supporters are associated with hard-line Tea Partiers, while Marco Rubio is characterized as an establishment figure without much in common with the average Republican voter.
We allow the faces behind the voices to tell another story, however.
Richard Javier kindly invited us into his home and offered a stark contrast between his candidate, Ted Cruz, and the alternatives.
Javier first came to support Cruz over his opposition to Obamacare, an act he regarded as brave and principled. He regards Cruz’s opponents as socialists.
“I think it would be good for our country to have out in front, out in the open the two contrasting philosophies. Socialism vs. freedom. If we choose socialism, then maybe we weren’t meant to keep the country,” Javier says.
Shak Hill, a former candidate for the governorship of Virginia, is also drawn to Ted Cruz. For him, the Constitution stands supreme. The Constitution sets America apart from the rest of the world and Ted Cruz is its defender.
“We don’t hear anyone talking about the ‘European Dream’ or the ‘Indian Dream’, but you hear everyone talking about the American Dream. America is a shining city on a hill. When you violate borders, when you violate the rule of law, when you violate a culture and a language, you no longer have this thing called America,” Hill says.
And what of Marco Rubio? For John Umberger, Rubio is not an establishment goon, but “someone with a clear and appealing vision for what to do with the federal government.” The Florida senator is “interested not only in working in front of the camera, but really behind the lens to generate traction and build support and consensus.”
Interviewing the Faces Behind the Voices of the GOP candidates, Ryan and I learned that supporters of Trump, Cruz and Rubio are a lot more diverse and a lot more complicated than how the mainstream media characterizes the candidates.
Talking to the real American voters is one way of getting beyond the deadlock inherent in our democracy, and to provide a real human face behind each and every vote.
Look for more on Faces Behind the Voices as we set out to interview Sanders and Clinton supporters in the coming week.
Joseph Ricci, RT America