Craig Dunn: 'The Deplorables' in the hot tub
Thursday, September 22, 2016 9:33 AM
KOKOMO – When you take on the job of a political party chairman, you enter your tenure with visions of political lollipops dancing in your head. You imagine all of the nifty things you’ll accomplish in the name of the cause. You salivate over creating targeted marketing programs, systematic fundraising processes and candidate development. Then, very quickly, perhaps within two or three days, you realize that you are going to be doing things that no one told you about.
Scrubbing toilets at Republican Headquarters, I realized that there might be things that I would be called upon to do that weren’t in the brochures touting the glamorous and exciting lifestyles of a Republican County chairman.
Ten years into my sentence, make that service, as a GOP chair, I’ve done things that I never anticipated doing and seen events that amaze and astound. I’ve done some things they just can’t get laboratory rats to do, all in the service of my party.
Last April, our Republican HQ started being bombarded with telephone calls asking when we would have Donald Trump signs for distribution. The callers were polite but quickly became agitated when told that sign distribution during primaries was largely up to the individual candidates. You just can’t distribute what you don’t have! Many of the callers assumed that our inability to distribute signs was a result of a vast Republican elitist plot to deny Trump the nomination by keeping Nellie Neuschwalister from sticking a political sign in her yard. However, old Nellie just didn’t realize that we don’t do Republican presidential primaries in Indiana, at least not until this year.
By July, the call and demand for Trump yard signs became deafening. Trust me on this one, no one, and I mean no one, was calling in July of 2012 or 2008 asking for Romney or McCain yard signs. Almost daily, my telephone would ring and some Trump acolyte would be on the line demanding a yard sign or my head. The calls were persistent and impatient.
But this wasn’t going to be my first rodeo and I knew that we weren’t likely to be flooded with Trump signs provided by his national campaign. After all, let’s be real about this, if Indiana is in play in the presidential election, the Republican has lost. Tell that to the Donald’s legion of wild-eyed supporters looking for Republican elitists in the weeds. They wanted signs and by golly I was going to get them signs.
The Howard County Republican Party purchased Trump signs and made plans for the distribution of the signs, made more difficult by the fact that our HQ was forced to relocate after a fire in the adjacent building. It is amazing what 450,000 gallons of water will do to an office building. So while we were carting out waterlogged records, documents, furniture and memorabilia, as ceiling tiles fell on our heads, my office phone rang and rang about those darn Trump signs.
With our new headquarters open, we were ready to distribute the yard signs. We set up a work schedule and I took a couple of shifts, meeting and greeting and handing out the Trump signs. So there I was, a guy who has hobnobbed with Rex Early and Mike McDaniel, talking to the torrent of Donald Trump supporters who came in, donated a little money and picked up their yard signs. I got a close look at the good folks who Hillary Clinton derided as the “Deplorables.” Funny thing, I didn’t see any deplorables in either of my four-hour shifts. I did get a great opportunity to meet and speak with Americans who were deeply concerned about the direction and future of their country.
One of the first gentlemen to come into HQ was a local union official. I knew that he was a traditional Democrat. He knew that I knew that he was a traditional Democrat, but he wanted the Trump sign. He told me that he remembered graduating from high school in Kokomo and going to work directly in one of the auto plants in town. There, he entered a skilled trades apprentice program and eventually made it to a great well-paid job as a union pipefitter. He said he was tired of seeing good jobs being sent overseas. Now that is deplorable!
A woman who looked to be in her mid-thirties came in to pick up two signs. I was curious as to why a woman might want a Trump sign since the media would have us believe that 100 percent of all women are backing Hillary Clinton. She told me that she had three children and that she was afraid for their futures. She is afraid when she drops them off at school that something bad will happen to them. She is afraid when they fly on spring break that something bad will happen at the airport. She told me that she finds it sad that last year her six-year-old was patted down by airport security and the two swarthy young men in front of her in the security line were waved on through. She has no problem with the term Islamic extremist. Now that is deplorable!
A young black man came in to the Republican HQ and I thought that I might be in for trouble. After all, Black Lives Matter protests were popping up around the country, professional football players were protesting their terrible lives on television and here I was face to face with this young black man. But, as Gomer Pyle might say, “Surprise, surprise, surprise!” Not only did he want a Trump yard sign, he volunteered to go door to door handing out literature. I just had to know why he was supporting Donald Trump.
This young black man, a student at our local university, amazed me with his answer. He told me that his grandmother and mother were on government assistance. He said his other brothers and sister were on government assistance. He said that it was obvious that what we’ve been doing isn’t working and that he is willing to try anything so that neither he, nor his future children, will ever have to take a single dime from the government.
Wow! All of my days cleaning toilets at HQ, begging for money and trying to get people interested in Republican politics became worth the effort. This young man had his head on straight and he is supporting Donald Trump. Now that is deplorable!
You never know when you get into the hotel hot tub who you’ll meet. I’ve been in the Trump hot tub for a while now and I’ve met some very intelligent, thoughtful and interesting people. Last spring, I would have thought that all Trump supporters were cut from the same mold. What I’ve learned is that I never should make assumptions based on press reports. You need to get into the hot tub and talk with the people to get a real sense of who they are. To assume and react, now that is deplorable!
Dunn is chairman of the Howard County Republican Party.