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Ex-resident puzzled by Trump support

To the Editor:

News reports and messages from friends still living in the Ohio Valley have been disturbing. A hum (or scream) of intimidation or fear of reproach has people looking down at their shoes, careful not to express dissent or criticize our current president in any way. I don’t recall people there being mean-spirited and anxious to assign blame to others for their perceived challenges in life.

I’ve been gone for decades now, so the passion for Trump and his conduct baffles me. I try to imagine living there as a liberal, a moderate, a Democrat or a conservative Republican who no longer recognizes their party. I imagine being one of the people Trump casts aside. A minority. An immigrant. A non-Christian. A liberal. I imagine biting my tongue till it bleeds.

I grew up admiring the strong, kind, hard-working, fun-loving people of the valley. And, sure, I also remember it as a place where people aren’t afraid to throw a punch, or risk receiving one if the circumstances call for it. But, today, some seem to have found meaning in thuggery, self-victimization, blame, ignorance and goon worship. The people I knew embodied the opposite of these things.

For those who do support the president, all I have are questions. Are you sure he’s your kind of leader? Because kindness, honesty and self-reliance are traits I associate with the valley. He possesses none of those. Zero. Have you ever disagreed with any of his orders? Not just his style, but his policy decisions? Ever? Because that kind of synchronicity would be mind-blowing. If he were gone tomorrow, who would you put in his place? Can you feel the same passion for another candidate? If so, who? If not, is your first allegiance to the country or to him? And if he loses, will you accept it? And would you want a Democratic party that operates the same way he does? And if you think they will, would you consider that, just maybe, you’re being lied to?

If you live in the valley and either don’t support President Trump or are adamantly opposed to him, I feel your pain and bewilderment. I share your disappointment. I know your fear, and I have dined on the same courses of anger, bitterness and disbelief as you. I believe as fervently as some people believe in Jesus that our democracy is under threat, that it can very well end, and we cannot let it. That’s a jackboot genie whose overfed frame we will not easily shove back into the bottle. I just want you to know, for whatever cold comfort it may bring, I’m with you.

Good luck to you, Ohio Valley. Good luck to all of us. But mostly, I’m rooting for compassion. We are going to need all we can muster.

William Thomas Hagy

West Chester, Pa.

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