Meet Zachary Shinske, a white American country boy

Karim Raslan - Ceritalah USA

Posted at Nov 12 2016 06:48 PM

Zachary Shinske. Photo by Karim Raslan

The worldwide view of America is weakening in foreign affairs. Did you see what the President of the Philippines did?'

Zachary (or Zach) Shinske is a diffident, red-haired six-footer.

Soft-spoken and serious-minded, (he's a scholarship boy studying History and German at the prestigious University of Michigan), Zach comes alive when we chat about Donald Trump.

"He has a style of just making general statements. He's not reading off some prepared text. He's being a strong leader, a strong man. I like it. I really like it. He says what he wants. He doesn't bow to anyone."

For Zach, a native of St. Josephs, a classic Rust Belt town facing Chicago across the broad waters of Lake Michigan, Trump is authentic--and that matters.

"This is a repudiation of the (Barack) Obama Administration. Obama divided the country more than anyone else. He's made a big deal out of things and not found a way to heal the divisions."

When asked if his views aren't fueled by racism, Zach explains: "I know some Trump supporters are against the idea of a black President but I don't agree with such views. Besides, I was a big fan of Ben Carson before he dropped out of the Republican primaries."

To his mind, Obama has been a disastrous leader. While he wouldn't accuse the 44th President of corruption or dishonesty, he shakes his head over Obamacare and the mounting turmoil in the Middle East.

"ISIS has grown stronger under his watch. The worldwide view of America is weakening in foreign affairs. Did you see what the President of the Philippines did?"

Zach is even more animated as we talk about the economy, especially the manufacturing sector, something very close to the heart of the Michigan voters who switched their support to Trump on Tuesday, wrong-footing Hillary Clinton.

"America doesn't get enough out of NAFTA [North American Free Trade Area]. I understand when a business wants to relocate to make more money elsewhere, but I agree with Trump that they should stay in America and support our industry."

When asked if people will be patient with regards to jobs, he answers straightforwardly: "They've waited for this for a long time, what's a little while longer before it happens?"
Still, Zach insists that he's more of a Republican first.

However, he acknowledges that without Trump, the Midwest states would never have voted blue.

As a staunch Christian, Zach goes to a Lutheran church and has strong views on abortion as well as LGBT rights.

Admittedly, there is a slight wobble as we touch on Trump's religious affiliations: "I think Trump is a Christian," he says before moving on.

He shakes his head as we discuss Clinton and her campaign. He feels it was a joke, saying: "Her husband was almost impeached and now she's running for the Presidency. She's just not trustworthy."

Personally, I feel the key element to Trump's candidacy has been the way he's tapped into a sense of "white" American frustration and impotency.

Whilst jobs and the economy are a critical issue, the long queues outside the venue-halls and stadiums, the chanting and the fanaticism are more about the way Trump has injected a sense of purpose and identity in the "white” community.

I suspect many Trump supporters felt totally excluded from the kind of race-based, community-politics that lay at the heart of the rainbow coalition Obama assembled to secure the White House back in 2008.

Obama’s victory empowered America’s various minorities.

Indeed, identity politics was to bring them both power and influence, or as Zach put it, "making a big deal out of things"—unnerving large sections of white America, especially its conservatives.

With allowances for certain nuances, it can be broadly said that the voters who powered him to victory were white men (and women) who were afraid of losing their position in society.

Zachary Shinske. Photo by Karim Raslan

Speaking to Zach after the election, he told me: "I would want Trump to focus on overturning Obamacare, making appointments to the Supreme Court and renegotiating the big trade deals and repudiating the deal with the Iranians. America should never cut deals with terrorists."

All of this is only to be expected.

But there was an interesting point that Zach raised towards the end of our discussion, when he said: "I guess I won't be so scared to speak up. I'm not going to have worry about 'PC' culture."

Now with a young man as polite and thoughtful as Zach, it's nigh on impossible to imagine him saying anything untoward. He wouldn't scare a mouse.

But Trump's angry rhetoric and anti-Muslim tirades have moved the boundaries of what is permissible.

As Alyiah Al-Bonijim, an Arab-American, and another University of Michigan student said to me: "I don't think the threat lies with him (Trump). It's the people supporting him. They always held their racist views but now they have someone leading the way, now it's intensified"

Trump has become the avatar of an angry, insecure white America seeking to challenge Obama’s rainbow coalition.

He has promised them a return to what they see as the old America, where things were better for them.

But can he really deliver on such promises? What happens when he fails to do so?

The Kraken has been released.