“I have no regrets. If the election happened today, I’d vote for Trump all over again.”
These words from Lorraine Knox, 51, echo a familiar refrain from the folks down here in Bluewell, West Virginia: they still support their president, even if the people who didn’t support him before the election still don’t. I notice a couple seconds have passed, so I ask her again: “How about now?”
“Huh? No. Still no regrets.”
I remind her about all the dumb stuff Trump’s been doing, then hold up some of his tweets on my phone. “I mean, look at this,” I say. “It’s so dumb.” Then I put on my best faux-compassionate journalist affectation and ask again: “How about now?”
“Are you serious? I can’t tell if you’re serious.”
I’ve been down here in Mercer County, West Virginia since one millisecond after the 2016 election to ask voters deep in the heart of coal country if they regret voting for Donald Trump. Then, after they never do, I ask them again seconds later, then keep asking them, then I compile all their responses into an article every single day called something like, “Deep In Trump’s Coal Country, No Voter’s Remorse For These Ol’ Coal Chunkers” with a stock photo of some crusty looking dude leaning on a wire fence and a tractor simultaneously.
But this constant, uniformly unwavering support for Trump begs the question: do these people regret voting for Trump? Has anything changed since my last paragraph?
Have these Trump voters — who weren’t turned off by anything Trump did in the eighteen months leading up to the election, or in the year after, or when I asked them first thing in the morning every day for the past fifteen months by peeling down Main Street at 6 AM screaming, “HOW BOUT NOW???” through a megaphone — abruptly changed their minds? They’re all shaking their heads “no" at me as I’m typing this, I can see them from here. But perhaps they’re shaking their heads “no” ironically? Ok, they just heard me suggest that and are emphatically reiterating that is not the case. Or is it?
To get to the heart of this question, I print out some graphs showing the true economic impact of the GOP tax plan, affix them to a sandwich board I’m wearing, and hide in the shower of one Paul Dorsey, 73. When I frantically spring the information on him and yell, “TRUMP REGRETTER SAYS WHAT???” he flees in terror, unwilling to even consider the possibility that he regrets his vote.
This level of stubbornness is commonplace down here; I encountered similar resistance when I asked if I could implant chips in everyone’s brains to gauge whether or not they’re having dreams about regretting their Trump votes. Instead, I had to wake them up with airhorns, quickly ask if they think Trump’s really doing enough to bring coal jobs back, then gauge whether the garbled noises they made constituted “regret” One guy did say something that sounded like “ehh” once, so I covered that for seven articles. But otherwise, no dice.
One thing is clear: Trump remains their savior, and that will never change. And yet, I can’t help but feel like someone should write this article again? What if we went one day without publishing one of these boilerplate caricatures of Trump voters, and THAT was the day they all suddenly regretted everything? We just can’t risk it.
I compose myself, wait three and a half more seconds, and head back outside — back into the chunky, coaly heart of coal country — determined to google some synonyms so I can call this article something different tomorrow.