When I asked the women if they intended to vote, Van Deginste clarified that she was born in Belgium, so she can’t. Her American friend did plan to vote, but was reluctant to talk about it. “I'm not gonna hate you,” Van Deginste reassured. If you want to vote Trump, vote Trump. I think it would be dumb, but my opinion is, like, whatever.”
The Trump voter chose a candidate by trying to forget that Trump and Clinton were running, Googling their issues, and backing the one whose platform struck her as better. She liked that the Republican nominee promised to repeal Obamacare.
“I hate Obamacare,” she said. “Insurance rates have gone up. The premiums are huge. My aunt and uncle say ever since that went through, their premiums skyrocketed.”
“But he wants to build a wall!” Van Deginste said, turning the conversation to immigration. “I didn't leave Belgium because there was bad stuff happening,” she said. “But some people that try to immigrate here don't have a place to go. Say you're neighbor's house is burning down. They're asking for shelter. And you tell them no? You're neighbor could be a criminal. He might try to steal your stuff. But his house is burning down and you're not going to help? And since we do background checks, some can't even come because they have some distant affiliation with someone who is part of a group––so it is really rigorous. I don't see why you'd want to leave someone where it's not safe. What if it was the other way around?”
Said her friend, “Yeah, but is Trump actually going to do half the stuff he says?” She felt, for example, that if elected, Trump obviously won’t be able to build a wall. She didn’t agreed with Trump on immigration, but assumed he was all bark, no bite.
Perhaps most striking was their exchange on foreign policy:
Trump voter: Well, I don't know if this is true, but from what I hear, Clinton wants to cut military spending, which I think is really dumb, because we need a military... Trump’s foreign policy, he probably doesn't know what he's gonna do. That will be interesting, to hear how he handles diplomatic issues. But see, I don't think he's going to be able to do anything because Congress doesn't like him. He won't be able to get away with any of it.
Van Deginste: Then what's the point of putting him in the presidency?
Trump voter: Because Clinton is scary and she can get what she wants done.
Van Deginste: But she actually has experience––
Trump voter: It's not good experience!
Van Deginste: But okay, cutting the military spending, if you just cut a little bit, it won't make that big of a deal. Do you know that the United States spends the most on the military than I don't know how many countries combined?
Trump voter: But we kind of need it. People hate us.
Van Deginste: Yeah, you know why? Because we put our nose in everybody else's business!
Trump voter: Exactly.
Van Deginste: People don't like that.
Trump voter: We need to defend ourselves.
Van Deginste: Yeah, you know how we defend ourselves? By minding our own business.
Trump voter: But that's not going to happen.
Van Deginste: Why not?
Trump voter: Because that's not how the U.S. works, obvi. It hasn't been that way since, like, forever.
Van Deginste: That's terrible. But if it was me, I would make cuts to the military because we are spending a lot. We spend less on education. And you need people to be educated so that we don't have Clinton and Trump to choose from because people are smarter and give us better options than this.
Before a clock tower chimed, sending them off to class together, they walked away laughing, friendship intact, despite their contrary perspectives on almost everything, because if you’re 21, chatting on a sunny day with a close friend about politics, it would seem absurd to let Trump or Clinton come between you, especially if you basically agree that one is “a giant douchebag” and the other is “a turd sandwich.” If Arizona doesn’t turn blue this year, one reason will be that the Democratic Party nominated a candidate who is disliked by so much of the electorate, and so widely perceived as corrupt, that even folks who think she should win, if only to spare the country Trump, can’t bring themselves to really sell her.