"If Trump announced that the color yellow was actually the color blue and that the media and the schools system had hoodwinked us all, then the color yellow would become blue to every Trump voter. I'm convinced of that." - Jerry D. Kenosha, WI.

I've been talking to voters here in Kenosha, Wisconsin for about ten days now. The conversations have been wide-ranging and deeply informative. I've always worn a face mask during these conversations and always maintained proper social distancing.

I have learned a lot.

And while the data is purely anecdotal, I believe that Donald Trump has an uphill battle to climb here in the state of Wisconsin if he hopes to repeat 2016.

While his support here is still strong, he has lost many former disciples. And this group is sizable.

These former supporters are now angry, deeply embarrassed, and, most claim, far more informed than the were in 2016. Many, particularly the women i spoke to, are guilt ridden For not having given Hillary Clinton more of a chance.

Their choice haunts them.

"I knew better," Cora, a small framed woman who seemed like she had been waiting to say this to somebody, told me "I don't know what I was thinking. I honestly think I hate myself now for it, but I can't go back and fix it. I was an idiot. "

Ultimately, she let her husband convince her that Trump would be better for their family business, which had been struggling.

Afterwards, she says ruefully, I" could barely look my daughter in the face."

Her husband still supports Trump and theirs is a house deeply divided.

That is rarer here than it was in 2016. My guess is that those relationships that survived the Clinton / Trump divide of 2016 might not have survived its aftermath or if they did, might have folded under the weight of pandemic lockdown.

Not so rare here, in the state where more advertising dollars per voter are being spent than any other, are divided streets and neighborhoods.

In Kenosha, along the city's affluent lake front, these divisions have given birth to some astonishing political visuals.

There are streets where almost every house has political signs. One house Biden. The neighbor Trump. The next house Biden.

While Trump supporters tend to build bigger, more garish displays, Biden supporters are often more personal, creative, and, even subversive.

One handmade sign in Racine, a city just north of Kenosha, read something like "All are welcome here, but probably not here or there." There were arrows pointing to the house at each side.

Probably not many coffee klatches going on between the three houses me thinks.

I shake my head & sigh.

I'm talking to a 60 something woman who never gave me her name, despite my asking several times, and despite her demanding to know mine many more times. I told her everytime.

It was probably the most confounding conversation I've had this year.

Confounding because the very kind and reasonable woman before seemed to lose her mind when she spoke of Trump.

Three people in her house currently have Covid-19 infections, including her husband. She's staying at her sisters in Somers.

My look is bewildered.

She acknowledges, for instance, that Trump's handling of the crisis has been "uneven and troubling." She also acknowledges that his approach to the pandemic absolutely influenced how her own family responded; EVEN that her family might have taken it more seriously if he had.

But, and here's the big but...

"It would have been so much worse under Clinton. She would have had BLM soldiers posted on every driveway and given Bill Gates the keys to everything."

I search her face for some sign that she's joking, but it is not there.

I don't know where to begin. Or even if I should at this point.

With all due respect, everything you think is wrong. First of all, the #BlackLivesMatter movement does not have an army. And even if it represented every black citizen in this county were part of it...

"You do realize that math makes what you're arguing impossible, right? There are simply not enough black folk to do that for one day, let alone nonstop shift work, indefintely.."

She would always come back with the perfect Trumpian response: "There's more than you think."

SHE says things like that a lot in this conversation. Things that imply so much and yet say nothing at the same time.

I want to scream.
I really, really want to scream.

"WHAT does that even mean?" I ask, the exasperation clear in my voice. Even I can hear it.

17/ – bei The Nook
The woman has her walls built thick. So thick they are probably inpeneratrable. She treats every fact I give her like something she should pity, not take seriously. For her, facts can and do change, and "the only things sacred are the Bible, family, and Trump's America."

We are standing outside the Sam's Club here in Kenosha and her sisterrolls up beside her and says it is time to go. The breath almost goes of me as I look up to see the woman, her sister, has two teenagers with her, both clearly mixed race. They call the woman "Granny "

I look at the woman I have been talking to and want to say so many things, but she won't even make eye contact with me now. She has turned pale, clearly ashamed. And she nods to me and mutters something about trying to find my book as goes away.

I wonder what shamed her.

Was it the children? I mean their actual existence?

Or was it that some part of her knew how wrong she was about so many things? And those kids are one of the few mirrors you could hold up to her that forced her to look at herself?

I'll never know.

"We really fear for everything now. I look at our children and think that if I had known ten years ago what I know now whether we would have even had them. That's a horrible feeling.

I just think that there's not been a single moment of real joy since he came to office."

Laura was talking about the election with another woman at the Starbucks in the local Meijer store. They were not being shy about their views and it was making some people visibly uncomfortable.

They were happy to talk with me even if I supported "him."

I asked Laura how she talks with her children about Trump.

"Usually with a knot in my stomach. Look it's really impossible if you're a parent today. How do you raise your kids to have faith in government or the rule of law when you have this as the example to teach from?"

"I never imagined that I would have to talk to my children about what fascism is or dictators are, not here. And if you think I sound pessimistic you should talk to my husband. His office is filled to the raters with Trumpers and we joke the Covid saved his career."

"What's the worst thing he has done do you think?" I ask seriously.

They're both quiet. The question seems overwhelming. Laura is looking at her paper cup and the other woman looks away.

"He's made me despise people who I had loved my entire life." the woman answers.

"Well, that's it isn't it?" Laura answers. "The worst thing he has done is that he has made it impossible to even name that thing. The bombardment has been absolute and unrelenting. It all feels so fucking wrong but so fucking normal."

"My dad says that he still can't believe that fascism walked in and all we did was shrug. He thinks Trump has already won the election and it's all programmed into the voting machines. It sounds just impossible enough to be exactly right. " she adds.

I leave Laura and her friend and head back home. They yell Biden 2020 as I reach the door. There are pockets of cheers / cries of support from all over the front part of the store. Far more than the few boos that come.

That gives me hope..

(More to come.)

Hope is that thing that moves us through what we think we can't even tolerate let alone survive. And it's in chronic short supply of late so I take it where I can get it. And
It can be hard ito find here in the aftermath of the Blake shooting, but it is here.

You just have to look.

It's hard not to get caught up in the undertow of my own opressive darkness nowadays. So recognizing hope can be a challenge, even when it is a bright shining light standing in front of me.

Depression has a way of extinguishing even the brightest.

"I know when you look at this street." the woman says to me," you probably see a sea of blue Trumpers w1signs, but I live here and this is where I find my hope. In 2016 there were only two Clinton signs and one Sanders. Now look."

There are many Biden signs.

It's now two days after the notorious debate and Trump has still not yet revealed his coronavirus status, but, she says, some ground has shifted in the past 48 hours. At least two people in her block have taken down their Trump signs, and "those that remain never will."

"They'll still vote for the bastard," she warns, "that debate just made it too damn embarrassing for them to admit it publicly."

She is a semi-retired professor and has lived in and around this neighbourhood for 35 years. She knows many of these people well so I trust her.

I ask her about Clinton and 2016. I have tried not to, but my own history and the forced re-emergence of the email story make it impossible for me.

"Part of me wants to slowclap in these people's faces everytime this man says something stupid or does something dangerous."

"If you look at Clinton's history she always rose to the occasion when challenged professionally. She would have done so again. But people have shown themselves willing to believe anything to justify their otherwise inexplicable hatred of her. Look at Q Anon."

"I find it terrifying and terribly sad that so many people will buy into something so Illogical and frankly dangerous. Please, someone tell these people that nerdy, politically conscious, Methodist girls from the Midwest don't grow up to become baby eating molesters."

My professor friend winks at me "but rich, entitled sociopaths with a documented man crush on Adolph Hitler who grew up under the thumb of q distant and abusive father probably do. Like you said yourself young man 'with Trump every accusation is an admission. "

Part Two:

The cognitive dissonance is breathtaking. The difference between what Donald Trump actually says, does, and represents compared to what his supporters hear, see, and experience compared again against what the rest of the worls does is truly frightening.

No other issue has better highlighted this than the Coronavirus pandemic.

The rollercoaster ride has been so discomfiting to some that they are no longer able to independently articulate whatever Trump's current iteration is on the subject.

It would be funny, except no.

Where 85th street dead-ends into Green Bay road in Kenosha sit a group of three or four houses where Trump signs seem to swallow up the landscape. I have driven by these houses dozens and more times and have always felt a tinge of uneasiness.

I was feeling it again.

I walked the 1.5 mile stretch between Cooper and Green Bay roads last week and found myself approaching these houses in the early evening. A pleasant day was giving way to a chillier evening. It was perfect yard work weather and I encountered several rakers along the route.

Among them was the presumed owner of one the houses on the north side of the street.

"Nice night for it." I said.

"Not at my age." the man answered smiling. He stopped raking and rested his forearm on the top of rake.

I was nervous and almost let that be the end.

But then I heard myself ask/declare "So, you're a Trump supporter.?"

"Yes, and proudly. "

"May I ask why?"

"May I ask why you're asking?"

"Research," I answer honestly.

"You a reporter?"

"Of sorts. But I guess anyone is who researches and intends to share their data."

"Then I will have to say no."

It was rather abrupt I thought. So I plowed forward and took a different approach. "Is Covid-19 real?" I ask.

"Clearly it's real. But I think much of it has been exaggerated. That's why I appreciate the president's approach."

"Appreciate?" I ask.

He's worked to balance out the alarmists and chicken littles in the crowd. People need to feed their families and to do that they have to work. Out in the world. Most people don't work in offices. They work in factories, stores, and restaurants.

"But those kinds of environments are where the virus is most easily spread," I offer. "Sick or dead people can't feed anyone and many of Trump's own supporters work in these places too. Isn't he endangering his own movement by publicly telling them this isn't real?"

He sighed. "Have a nice evening young man."

The man grabbed his rake and headed back through his yard. Our conversation was over, but my uneasiness remained.

These houses sit at the border between the city of Kenosha and the more affluent Pleasant Prarie to its south.

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