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8 Aug, 2016 20:39

Amish for Trump: How a brash billionaire appeals to modest country voters

Amish for Trump: How a brash billionaire appeals to modest country voters

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has a pocket of supporters in the unlikely area of Pennsylvania’s Amish country.

The Amish, a group of people who embrace a traditionalist lifestyle largely segregated from the rest of society, have voiced their support for the billionaire businessman, despite many of his personal choices being starkly at odds with Amish beliefs.

Although modesty is a central component of Amish life, many will vote for the brash Republican over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. It’s not Clinton’s ties to Wall Street or hawkish record that the Amish reject, it’s her gender.

"No Amish is going to vote for Hillary," a Pennsylvania Amish man told CBC. "No one wants a woman president. ... What does Bill think about his wife running for president?"

While Clinton’s gender is enough to turn the Amish to Trump, his vanity, divorces and bankruptcies appear to be okay, although the Amish community’s shunning of modern devices including the internet, television and radio could mean they are unaware of these aspects of his personality.

The Amish are largely conservative, and tend to be against abortion, gay rights and women’s rights. One man interviewed by CBC credited women getting the vote to everything going “belly-up” as birth control, abortion and gay rights then became an issue.

Pennsylvania and Ohio have an Amish population of close on 70,000, a valuable chunk of voters in two swing states, but the Amish are not big voters. Only 5 percent voted in the last election, CBC reports.

The reason for their indifference is that voting is not a priority to the isolated community. The Amish church doesn’t encourage voting in presidential elections because they are supposed to reject war and violence. Choosing a commander in chief is seen as hypocrisy.

That, and the Amish belief that the end of the world could come at any moment puts voting into perspective.

Despite the group’s low voter record, one PAC, the Amish PAC, is targeting the Amish with newspaper and billboard advertisements that highlight Trump’s selling points, his hard work and sobriety.

“The purpose of Amish PAC’s Plain Voter Project is to beat Hillary Clinton in 2016 by turning out a deeply conservative and often forgotten block of voters concentrated in two key swing states [Ohio and Pennsylvania] — the Amish.” the PAC’s website reads.

Co-founder Ben Walters is a former fundraiser for Ben Carson’s PAC and boasts the PAC’s modest takings of about $25,000 have come from “Bernie-esque” small individual donations, from non-Amish conservatives who see the potential in harnessing new voters.

“Imagine you’ve never read his tweets, you don’t know about his Megyn Kelly feud, you haven’t watched The Apprentice – you just don’t know a lot about him,” Walters said. “We’re still in the phase of introducing Amish people to Donald Trump.”

When one woman was given a taste of Trump’s personality through a reporter’s impression, she was not impressed. “That's a little too much bragging," she said. "Usually when people think too much of themselves, that's when it all goes downhill."

So long as the Amish aren’t exposed to aspects of Trump’s record and personality, he may be able to secure the Amish vote come November.