I had a chance to sit down with a couple in Sioux City who voted differently from one another in this election. Our conversation covered leadership, industry’s importance, and Trump’s appeal. Because the husband is an active duty member of the military, and the conversation covers his voting preferences, I am keeping their identities anonymous. His comments are labeled “G” and hers are “H.”
He views citizenship nationally, whereas she views it locally:
G: I’m a good citizen of the United States. I volunteered to do something for our country that a lot of people don’t do. You could donate your time to the Red Cross here, or in Texas or Puerto Rico. It’s not like being in the Air Force here is different from elsewhere – we’re helping American people just the same.
H: I don’t think I contribute significantly to the community that we’re in right now. Volunteering your time, and making yourself known in the community is good citizenship. I don’t really do that, but that might be because I live in a new community. It’s hard to get a foot in the door. When you don’t really know people, it’s hard to be a good citizen.
On Sioux City’s Challenges:
G: I feel like there needs to be something for people our age.
H: It’s a lack of opportunity.
G: If you’re not willing to work in a packing plant, or a blue-collar job, and work your way up like my dad, who did it by sacrificing his body, (there’s not a ton to do). You’re hoping that by working your ass off for 20 to 30 years, you can have the last fifteen years in an office. But either way, by the time you’re 65, your body is shot.
Their thoughts on people of the opposite political leaning:
H: I would say yes. I don’t think there’s one answer to being a good citizen, a great citizen, and a bad citizen. By my standard, I think it’s probably hit or miss. On each side, there are good citizens and there are bad citizens.
G: I think the majority of people who voted opposite of me are good citizens. There are good and bad on both sides.
He thinks Americans are ungrateful:
G: Being in the military, I feel like a lot of people are ungrateful. There’s a lot of attention thrown at people who are very ungrateful for what we have here. I really started to notice that when I was deployed overseas. Watching what was going on, it makes me realize a lot of people don’t know how good they have it. Pre-2012, I would’ve been like them. Now, I try to have perspective on how bad things could really be.
Why he voted for Trump:
G: As a member of the military, I couldn’t trust Hillary as my commander-in-chief.
I also marvel at World War I and World War II. The backbone of our country was working class people. When I think of Trump and his old school approach, it’s not politically correct most of the time, definitely not, but he wants to get us back to that.
You know how JFK said, “Think not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”? That was my hope voting for Trump. Not just the change, but also an increased appreciation for our old industrial culture.
They think leadership can mean different things:
H: I would like to have a supervisor or boss who would challenge me to grow. I don’t feel that right now in my job. I don’t feel like I’m being utilized. I could contribute more.
G: I don’t consider bosses leaders, necessarily. You could be at a company for twenty years, the guy in front of you retires, and now you’re the boss. Doesn’t make you a leader. I look for two things: Integrity, doing the right thing and doing what you’re gonna say. I also think someone who can empower me.
H: I think a lot of people – maybe it’s just generational or where I’m at – expect to constantly be told they’re doing a good job. “We really appreciate you. You’re so good.”
G: There are people I work with who are much older who still want that pat on the back overtime they do something.
What it means to be an American:
G: If I were on the outside looking in, I’d say Americans are stuck-up and snobby. That being said, on the Fourth of July, I’ll be wearing my flag gear and running around saying America is the greatest.
I know a lot of people will talk about freedom and liberty as “American.” But unless you compare us to Communist Russia, that isn’t even that special! In the UK, they have the same rights we do, except for the right to bare arms. So, I would like to think that being an American holds you at a higher standard than a lot of people who don’t have running water or many other things.
H: I think being an American means you live in the United States. I’m grateful for everything we have here. But people in tons of other countries are just as content as we are here.
How people can be better Americans:
H: I feel like being more knowledgable about things. People have a lot of opinions, but don’t know facts. I think this about myself, too. I think if I took the time to learn more, about the political system, I’d be better able to engage.
G: To piggy back off that, you can’t talk to anyone about politics. It’s not a conversation about politics, but an argument. My dad is case-and-point. We voted for the same guy, and we still can’t talk about stuff! I feel it’s important to look at both sides of issues, and then come to a stance, rather than watch one news source all the time. If I disagree on one thing, my dad attacks me to the point I want to leave. Fox News will bring on someone far left and just attack them. CNN will bring on someone from the far right and just attack them. And we do the same to each other. So people should work on talking to each other.