Before Donald Trump's election victory, Trump supporters were largely portrayed in the media as creepy fringe-dwellers latching onto an unelectable candidate as a way to bolster their low self-esteem. After his victory, they became emissaries from an America that had been ignored too long, forgotten people who deserved – finally – our attention and respect.
When Balls Deep host Thomas Morton spent some time with Ohio single dad and committed Trump supporter Ralph Case in the run up to Trump’s nomination, he discovered both versions come pretty close to the truth.
Ralph just wants to look after his kids
Ralph’s a single dad with two sons, and he’s worried about them. He’s especially worried about the state of schools in Obama’s America, which is why he’s given his eldest (a twelve year-old) a phone, so if school shooters turn up he can hide in a closet, call his dad, and then “dad could get armed up and save the day.”
So when Ralph says “Trump is our last hope, he’s the last hope for the country, the last hope for our kids future”, he’s getting armed up – with political power.
Ralph concerns are pretty basic
Talk to Ralph about immigrants and you get a blunt message back: “They’re taking our jobs”. It might seem like a cliché, but it was enough to get him calling up Trump’s New York office after he announced his candidacy. When they didn’t get back to him he set up his own electoral office in a former tanning salon, started putting up signs everywhere and when it came time for Ohio to vote in the Republican primary, his corner of the state swung hard for Trump. Finally he’d gained the attention of head office who then started calling on him to head out and help out the next state over.
Trump is the fun candidate
Asked about his first political convention, Ralph says. “It was amazing. It was better than a rock concert.” The big appeal of Trump among Ralph’s friends is that he’s a straight-talking guy who’s a tough dude – he’s the fun candidate. And you know Ralph likes to party: at one point he asks what time it is and when he’s told it’s 4.20, he says “what a number”.
Thomas helpfully explains: “weed”.
Trump supporters are a pretty diverse bunch
Ralph’s partisan posse includes a woman driving a car covered in giant kisses that somehow symbolise Donald Trump’s mouth, a man who volunteers at a haunted house named Dark View where he plays a sinister character known as “El Cid”, and Craig, a former roadie for Lynyrd Skynyrd who survived the plane crash that killed Ronnie Van Zandt. He now spends his time calling up random Swedes and befriending them - then he tells them he’s a Trump supporter and they get enraged and hang up. Any similarities between this behaviour and the way these guys are treating the American electoral process is purely co-incidental.
Even grass roots campaigns are run from the top down
There’s a reason why Thomas started off this episode talking about grass-roots campaigns – and why most Presidential campaigns are pretty much the opposite of that. No sooner does an official Trump representative get a look at the documentary crew following Ralph around than they’re out the door and Ralph is in hot water. In politics there are leaders and then there are followers, and whatever your political beliefs seeing Ralph get reminded hard that he is a follower is not a pleasant sight.
The children are our future
Ralph’s eldest is a lot more interested in his (admittedly awesome) Lego train set-up in the basement than he is with rocking the vote. When asked if there are a lot of Trump kids in his class, he says “Noooo… I got told I was racist for liking Trump.” Not that any of that stops him from making a pretty sweet looking cake with “TRUMP” written across the top.
Thomas can’t even chop an onion
Obviously there’s a point to be made by putting the slender, slightly nerdish, very inner-city Thomas side-by-side with the solid rural folk of Ohio. But when they ask Thomas to chop up an onion and he can’t do it, it’s just plain sad.
Watch Thomas Morton go Balls Deep with a Trump campaigner and struggle with an onion this Wednesday night on SBS VICELAND with a double-episode starting at 8:30pm.