In the fire-ravaged northern reaches of California, there’s a different murmuring among Trump supporters than you might hear in the south or the midwest, where big media like the New York Times or the Washington Post loves to do diner interviews with farmers and truckers who are still pleased as punch with the antics of America’s 45th President.
After Trump essentially blamed Californians for the fires that have driven thousands from their homes, decimated entire communities and even towns, and left the landscape a smoldering pile of ash in places, opinions of the President began to shift, even in rural, traditionally Republican areas of the largely Democratic-controlled state.
Now Trump has traveled to California to visit the devastation and, one would assume, the people affected by it — although he has yet to do any of the latter.
And in areas where the unhomed have congregated to gather their wits, make plans, and try to reach loved ones from places with better reception, the murmurs are getting louder. In the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in Chico, at the meeting of Highways 32 and 99, survivors from Paradise — just an hour east, demolished by the blaze — are taking stock as Trump lands just a few miles from where they are to meet with first responders.
The Guardian‘s Dani Anguiano spoke with Kirk Ellsworth, whose children lost their homes in the fire, and asked him about Trump’s visit to the disaster area:
My kids lost everything. I voted for him – and now? He can kiss my red ass. What he said was ridiculous. It hurts my heart. A lot of us voted for him and he [talks] down to us?”
Some survivors hope that Trump’s visit will bring in more aid and even attention to their plight; Americans, while peripherally aware of what’s been happening, still cannot conceive of the way towns have been leveled by the fires. Tammy Mezera told the newspaper, “[For] the president of the United States to come here and meet the most vulnerable – that’s important whether you’re a Democrat or Republican. [He] has a responsibility to do that.”
Still others hope that Trump’s journey to California will bring a measure of understanding to his heart — though he has never been swayed by scenes of destruction or heartache in the past. Ryan Belcher and his wife Casey told the Guardian,
We are not the ones to blame. We are not in charge of managing the forest. I hope he sees how this community has come together. People are still here helping us. It’s an amazing thing and I hope he sees that.”
We hope so too, Ryan.
Featured image via screen capture