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If I had five minutes with him, I would tell him I voted for you. You have left the country down. You have burned this country down. Everything you have said has been for your enrichment, not our country, for the love of God if you care about this country at all. Resign. Having said that, it would go in one ear and out the other. This is a man who is not going to listen to anybody. And people can go, oh, but you're not a doctor.


Listen, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. Hello from the Lincoln Project and welcome back, I'm Ronstadt's. For the last few months, we've been gathering stories from voters around the country about when and why they decided they couldn't vote for Donald Trump in the twenty twenty election. I'm excited to start sharing those stories with you today. I'd like to introduce you to Rita Parker from Round Rock, Texas, in 2016.


Rita voted for Donald Trump, expecting Republicans in Congress to keep him in check. We had a phone call last week, and in our conversation we talked about when she realized voting for Trump was a mistake and her commitment to making sure Joe Biden is elected in November.


Hi, Rita.


Thanks so much for hopping on the phone today. Thank you for having me on. I wanted to talk to you about what led you to voting for Donald Trump in the first place in 2016. That's a good question.


I will admit that I was not paying attention, but I have always been an independent. I've never identified totally with one party or the other. I like being an independent. I'm conservative with some things. I'm liberal on others. And no candidate is perfect. But you try to do the best you can for your country. And my feeling from when I was younger is you elect these people because you're busy and you have a life and they will take care of things.


So through the years I have voted for example, I voted for Ronald Reagan. I voted for George W. Bush. I voted for Bill Clinton. I voted for Barack Obama twice or any of these people. Perfect. Know that. I thought they did as good as they could under the circumstances. Then when we got to 2016, it was Hillary Clinton. I could not vote for Hillary Clinton on this. The thing is, I just stopped paying attention.


Me comes out and he says, hey, we're looking at her emails again and I'm busy with my life. I wasn't retired then. And I thought, oh, wow, what's going on now? I was aware that Republicans had tried to investigate her for what was it over two years for Benghazi and really could not find anything. But I just there was something about her that was a complete turnoff. And the other thing that I really thought was, my God, we've had so many years of Bushes and Clintons.


We had eight years of Clinton. We had four years of H.W. Bush, eight years of Bush. I can't do it again. And as terrible as this sounds, I'm going to admit it. I thought, do I really want Bill Clinton back in the White House? I don't know. And even though I agree with her probably more than Turne, I just my vote for him was more a vote against her. But again, this is on me.


I knew what he was because you'd see these things, but I just thought he was mouthing off. I also felt like that the GOP, the Republicans on the Hill would hold him in check. I thought, OK, maybe we need to try it. Non politician. Yeah, he's he's brags now. He says a lot of stupid things. They're not going to let him get away with this stuff in my mind, stupidly, that they're going to make him presidential.


And I pulled the lever for Trump, worst mistake of my life. And I still wasn't paying a whole lot of attention because he was going on about what Mexico's going to build the wall. And I'm thinking to myself, he said maybe it was this move forward and then Charlottesville happened. And it frightens me and I thought what was going on? You have a white nationalist rally. Is this who we become under him? And then he comes out and he said, well, there were good people on both sides.


Well, there were not good people on both sides. And I thought, OK, I need to start paying attention. I have made maybe a really bad mistake here. Then Republicans just started retiring. Paul Ryan, Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, and then it looks like he is burning off regular Republicans and he's basically getting it down to a base. But the thing that set me on fire and I mean this sincerely is I a mother and I'm an older mother.


I was thirty six when I had my son. And there isn't anything I would do for him when they started taking children from people trying to escape violence and putting them in cages. I was done. I went ahead. I started spending upset so many things to the White House contact. I'm surprised I'm not on a watch list. I started sending things to I live in Texas, so to John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. But let me tell you, these two gentlemen do not care about anything but keeping Trump in power.


And it was a real wake up call. And I hope I have retired then in the summer of 2016. And I spent my days paying attention to what he was saying and what was going on and watching the GOP on the Hill do absolutely nothing. But when he put those babies, those children in cages and when I saw Jeff Sessions get on TV and use Bible verses, Bible verses to justify taking children from their parents, I lost it. I went to my first rally.


It's a heck of a lot when you're in. I was probably sixty nine then on seventy two now. I went to my first rally in Austin, my husband and I, and it was invigorating because we were all there because this was wrong. And I realized that there are people out there that can be an event that triggers you. And from that point forward, I found the moment I take, the moment we gotta love those guys. I joined the Lincoln Project when Rick Wilson came to Austin to all on a book tour.


My husband and I went there. That was the highlight. So every day, Ron, what I do is I read what's going on because I realized I had put my brain in neutral. I thought, what are the United States of America? Doesn't matter whether Republican or Democrat. We all love this country and maybe we have some policy differences, but we all love this country. What I understood, totally understood on the top is love this country.


What he wants is a banana republic that he controls. And I think the biggest shock of my life is that Republicans on the Hill basically capitulated and said, yes, this is what we're going to do to. And that was a total dramatic change for me, and I thought to think God is my judge, I will never get complacent again. I'm going to listen to what politicians say and take them at their word. And God forgive me. Let's work together to get Trump out, because if we don't, he's going to destroy this country.


And that was kind of my political conversion from voter to oh, hell, what have I done? Rita, do you think that your story is similar to other people who voted for Trump in 2016, and do you have friends who've gone through the same process as you?


The interesting thing on this is that actually lost friends and so on, divided people into two groups. There are people that do not want to know what is going on. They were like me. And around 2016, for example, I have a neighbor that has stated very adamantly that Donald Trump is a good neighbor. Well, no, he's not a good man. A good man does not tweet out nasty things about people on a daily basis. He does lie.


He doesn't attack them going calling people names. No, he's not a good man. But I can swear to you on this woman will be on Trump boat until it goes down singing his praises. Now, I have another friend who said, look, I don't like him. I guess I know what he is. But, gosh, I just don't know if I can vote for Biden. Well, Lord, I would vote for a doorknob before I would vote for Trump again.


And I think some people in the second group there are more into the party. They would sort of like this. They've been Baptiste's their whole life. They're not sure that they can switch and be a Presbyterian. Does that make sense? Yeah, it does. And it's kind of like that. And then I have other people that go, oh, my God, I'm never going to admit that I voted for this man. Oh, this is terrible.


I will do whatever I can. So I think there's an answer to your question. Yes, I think there are more people like me. But to I think there are some people that just he is always going to keep his base regardless of what happened, what he does or anything like this is the darndest thing. But I also think I used to wonder how people could support Adolf Hitler when children, husbands and wives were being taking off in train cars.


Well, now I know they just focus on what they like and everything else is shut out. There really are cults. And I believe that the true base of Donald Trump is a cult. I really I don't say that lightly, but I really believe that.


Yeah. When when you begin to change your mind, did you feel like you were alone?


Yes, my husband and I both felt that way. And it was kind of jarring because we've been married for forty two years. And when you have friends, that in politics has never been part of it. We didn't care if somebody was Democratic or Republican, didn't care whether you were an atheist or a Baptist. You know, we're just people as human beings. This was a big change because we found ourselves pulling away from people that were. Radical people.


Isn't he a great president? Look how wonderful he's taken care of our country. Although I mean, really. And we thought it was us that started changing. And then we did. We felt very alone to the point that I told my husband, I said, well, we've made a major mistake because apparently we've only made Republican friends, which he found funny. But then when we went to Rick's book signing, it was a large, large gathering of people.


And I don't know if if Rick was surprised by our age group because the group was predominantly older Americans, I would say at least 60 and over. And I think there's a misconception that everybody who's white, 65, is a voter, and that's just not true. And it was like being given water when you've been on the desert. And it was invigorating to the point that we have commented. We we don't we still want to be independent. But, gosh, maybe we should go with some democratic things just so we could get some like minded people.


But I want to tell you how excited people get. We were interviewing this woman. We rescued a little dog. And so we were interviewing this woman to be like a baby sitter if we were not home. And the first thing she said to us is, you're my kind of people. And I said, why would you say that? She said, because of your bumper sticker. My bumper sticker says, any functioning adult, 20, 20.


And so she started talking enthusiastically about how we all have to get out and about how she can't understand anybody supports Trump and when she's late. And she was like, I think I should take my rather and vice versa. I think there are more of us out there. But there's also a line where you're not trying to you're trying to find out whether people are without creating an issue.


Yeah. What advice would you have for people like you, voters who have come to the same conclusion that they have to do whatever they can to help influence this election and vote him out of office, but who don't know how to talk to people who they think might be open to talking about that? You would dig in their heels very easily and as you've experienced, it can be very nasty very quickly. How would you counsel other voters who are in a similar position?


Well, actually, my my counsel would be not so much to reach out to other people, but first and foremost, put your country above your politics. Pay attention. I have people, friends, intelligent, college educated, these people say to me, women and men, I can't watch TV, I get too nervous. Well, if you can't watch TV, can take them over. Go ahead and become members of the Lincoln Project. Go ahead and listen to the Republican voters against Trump.


I think in some ways people will give you signals. But one of the things that stuck with me with Rick Wilson was do not engage Trump voters because there is nothing you can say or you can do that's going to go ahead and change them. So I feel like for me, I'm not going to I put the bumper sticker on the vehicle. I get a lot of response to that from different age groups, different races, which is a very positive thing.


I haven't gotten one negative thing. Some things sometimes conversations happen organically, like the lady who came to our house. But I think mostly I hope people are still looking at their tribe or that they always pull the ah, go ahead and look at the country. If you have children, is this the country you want your children to inherit if you have grandchildren? Is this the country that you want your children to inhabit? I've had a woman that I've been very close with, but is one of these that I just can't handle it.


I just I can't talk about it. You can always tell. For example, I have a cousin who lives in Houston. It's a hot spot for covid right now. I sent her a text. I hope you are doing well and all of this. And she sent a text, but I don't know who to believe anymore. Well, Ron, if somebody tells you they don't know how to believe there are trouble because he's already told them don't believe anybody, but they don't believe your ears, don't believe your eyes.


And I sent a text back and I said, I'll tell you who you do believe. You believe the scientist. If you have a broken leg, you don't go to the grocery store clerk and go, what do I do about this? You go to a doctor. I stood covid is very real. I said, you listen to the scientist, you listen to Dr. Foushee. You don't listen to politicians. You follow the biology, you follow the science.


And I also said put on a damn mask. And I said, somebody who wants to make a mask, a political statement is an idiot. We wear seatbelts. We don't run through red lights because it's safe. Stop. And she set me back a very wonderful text. I hear you with me. So I felt like I was planting seeds. And there will be organic moments that you can plant those seeds. Then I believe that they're going to grow.


I don't think you're ever going to change the base voter. I don't think my neighbor will ever be changed. She's made up her mind. The truth doesn't matter to her, but she's not going to care about the things that are happening in this country right now for like all the federal troops into Portland is just you can't reach those people. But I can plant seeds. And I would tell other men and women, you can plant seeds if things come up, because I think in these times people are actually looking for an opening to talk and to plant and then you can run with it.


If you had five minutes alone with Donald Trump to tell him whatever you wanted to tell him and there are no cameras watching, it's just you and Donald Trump. What would you say to him?


I worked for 11 years at a psychiatric facility for emotionally disturbed teenagers from nineteen sixty six to nineteen seventy seven. When somebody is mentally disturbed, reality isn't going to mean much to them. And anything that I would say to Donald Trump would be like trying to talk to a crazy man going, no, you really don't want to go kill people because that's a bad thing. They're not going to listen. I think Donald Trump is mentally ill. I think that he is worse than we even think he knows.


And it disturbs me more that the GOP will not do anything about him. But if I had five minutes with him, I would tell him I voted for you. You have left the country down. You have burned this country down. Everything you have said has been for your enrichment, not our country, for the love of God. If you care about this country at all, resign. Having said that, Ron, it would go in one ear and out the other.


This is a man who is not going to listen to anybody and people can go, oh, but you're not a doctor. Listen, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. And I don't I I am extremely fearful that these last months are going to get worse and worse and worse. I pray to God that he will lose in November. But those months, I think it's very likely he'll contest the election.


God only knows what he will do. I take Mary Trump at her word when she says she's going to get worse. And that's what I would say. I just don't thank you. I don't I think God himself come in to Donald Trump's office and Trump wake up. I know more than God. I think it was S.E. Cupp that said that he probably would be the kind of guy who would say he didn't like Jesus because he didn't like his people crucified.


The man is just evil. And I believe that with all my heart. I have just one more question for you, and it's a zoom out question, so we've been talking a lot about this election, Donald Trump specifically and your journey. But if you think about the United States at large at the moment of history that we're in and all that, I am sure you've lived through and experienced in your life. What are your greatest hopes and fears for what happens next in this country?


My greatest fear is that Trump is going to declare martial law. This is a man who embraces Putin. God only knows what's going on there and all the dictators when you stand a group of federal agents to Portland. And you see them just wail away from people and to shoot tear gas. And now there is a group called The Wall of Moms and they're pushing those moms. I mean, these are older women and mothers and their tear gassing them and pushing them.


Now, I understand we sent troops everywhere. My biggest fear for this country is we're going to lose our democracy. And I don't say that likely. I can see him refusing to accept the election. I can see the GOP rallying around him. I think another epiphany for me was the fact I thought these people we had policy differences, but they love the country. And now I realize that people like Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham are not about the country.


They're about power. So my greatest fear. I have a son, our son recently got engaged, I want a world in America for him that I grew up in and we did have issues. Of course we did. But we still love this country. The democracy was strong. If there wasn't going to fall down, we knew it was going to survive. I don't know that anymore. I'm in the final chapters of my life. My son is in the middle chapters and someday he may have children.


And my greatest fear is that people are not screaming at the top of their lungs that Trump is sending federal troops all across the United States. And all of this is a political ploy. What happened to states rights? My greatest hope, and this is what has brought me hope. Donington project. The bulwark, a wall of moms, now there is going to be a wall of that getting together, individual people when George Terloy died and I may cry, but he cried out for his momma.


When my son, who is an adult, gets upset, he uses the term momma. And for the first time, I see people gathering together, black, white, brown, and saying, we're not going to stand for this anymore. We are going to fight for we know America can be. You have I know there are more people out there like me. And if we can go ahead and vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, if you have to call cross-class and let's take back this country.


That's what gives me hope. And I do have hope because for a long time there, I didn't I thought, well, this is how I've made a terrible, terrible mistake. I was not paying attention. And look, look, look what I happened to do, and I know there were millions more like me who just don't like Hillary Clinton and let's give this guy a chance. It was a horrendous mistake, so I would say pay attention, listen, those are the things that give me hope, so there is hope with the fear and we will just have to wait to see which one wins out.


But I pray, pray, pray to God that people will wake up because this country, it's it's it's easy to go. But that doesn't have anything to do with me. Well, those people are rioting. Well, no, not everybody's rioting. Well, you know, the police are doing whatever. That's just not true, and we can't allow our federal government, which is supposed to recognize and respect states rights, take over this country. And I am genuinely.


Afraid of what's going to happen and not so much because of Trump, because we all know what Trump is, but because of the GOP on the Hill that's wrap their arms around him and go, OK, buddy, this is where you want to go. This is where we're going to go. You can't believe anything these people say. And that is my huge fear. And I'll be honest, it's really going to piss me off. And this is why my life ends with this.


But I have great hope that we can turn it around every.


Well, I'm very passionate about it. I love this country. My uncles fought for my father fight for it. My mother left school and went to Seattle and worked on the beaches. This is a great country, but I want it to return what it was. Trump has divided us where we are humans. We are Americans. We all bleed red. And the other thing that gives me hope and talk about change is when the kneeling during the flag started.


At first I was like, oh, this is terrible. I've educated myself. I've opened my heart, I've opened my brain. And I realize it's not about the flag. So when the Nationals and the Yankees all took me, that gave me hope. I thought we're going to come together as Americans. When the noose was found at Bovell Wallace's garage and all those drivers said, we stand with you, but there are more of us than there are them.


Most Americans are not on Twitter. And I've always said there is a raging right and a raging left and a 24/7 media that speaks at all out. But the vast majority of Americans, we are centrist. We love our country. We want to elect somebody so we can go about our life and let them take care of it. And I'm hoping that that's what we can get back to, you know, it gives me hope. What gives you hope?


You Oh, Ron, you've made my whole day now. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I can't thank the Lincoln Project enough. My husband said when we were driving back home from the break, he said, I think we finally found our tribe. And I said, yes, I agree with that. So you guys were our tribe.


Rita, thank you so much for your insight and for sharing your story with all of us. This means the world to the Lincoln Project. Well, God bless you. Thank you for having me on. Thank you, Rita. We'll talk to you soon. Bye bye. Have a great day now. Thank you for listening. You can find more information about the Lincoln Project at Lincoln Project US, if you haven't yet, it would really help us if you'd subscribe rape and review the show wherever you get your podcasts.


This helps new voters find us and join our mission to beat Trump at the ballot box. If you have questions or comments about the show or you just have advice for us, you can send them to podcast at Lincoln Project on us for the Lincoln Project. I'm Ronstadt's. I'll see you in the next episode.