For A Disenchanted Colorado Republican, Trump Makes Politics Great Again

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Photo: Erin Behrens
Trump supporter Erin Behrens at home in Arvada with her daughter.

Presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump may have a lot of Republicans questioning what’s happened to their party. But for Arvada mom Erin Behrens, his candidacy has done something she didn’t think possible: It’s made being a Republican feel cool again.

“To support Trump is not to be one of those white-haired, wishy-washy, stifling Republicans,” Behrens, 28, said. “It’s being a rebel against the media and the establishment and your friends and family. And that’s kind of cool.”

Behrens is so passionate about Trump that when she felt his supporters had been unfairly cut out of Colorado’s Republican National Convention delegate selection process earlier this year, she organized a raucous protest at the state Capitol. And yet, Behrens was initially nervous to come out to her friends about backing Trump. She actually planned out the conversations.

“I had, like, a little speech,” she recalled. “I sat down with them, and I was like, ‘I have to tell you something. Just listen all the way through; I’m totally serious. I like Trump.’”

Adrift In Her Own Party

Behrens does not fit the typical Trump demographic; she’s not older, she’s not blue-collar, and she’s not male. Instead, she’s a college-educated, stay-at-home mother of three kids. And although she’s always been a Republican, it’s not a label she wears easily.

“The Republicans, they don’t represent me and they haven’t for so long,” Behrens said. “Why would I call myself a Republican? I do because there’s not really any other word, but I don’t like them.”

Photo: Trump rally at state Capitol (AP Photo)
Erin Behrens, front left, and her husband, Matt, front right, of Arvada., both Donald Trump supporters, speak at a pro-Trump rally in downtown Denver in April 2016.

She is frustrated with what she considers an ‘unholy alliance’ between social conservatives and the “big business, 1-percent, ‘Bring in all the cheap labor so that we can get really rich’ part of the Republican Party.”

Until she started getting interested in Trump, Behrens had pretty much written off this presidential election. Out of a field of more than a dozen candidates, none of them impressed her.

“They all sounded like the politicians I have heard throughout my entire life who say, ‘Family values,’ ‘small government,’ ‘cut taxes,” … and they’re so polite and they’re so nice, and then they get elected and they do nothing. So they were off the table,” Behrens said.

The Man To "Save Western Civilization"

Behrens herself is very religious and strongly anti-abortion, and she acknowledges that Trump is generally too liberal for her in those areas. But those aren’t the issues she’s voting on this year.

“There is so much at stake,” Behrens said. “Social issues are like arguing about the drapes on the Titanic while it’s sinking. Let’s save our country and save Western civilization, and then we can argue about social issues all we want.”

Her thinking on the issue crystallized this winter as she watched the unfolding migrant crisis in Europe. She was especially upset by news of widespread attacks on women in Germany during New Year’s Eve festivities, allegedly by men of North African and Arab descent. All of it made her look at Trump in a new light.

“I did a total 180,” she said, “From ‘Donald Trump… He’s so vulgar, he’s so rude; everything he says is so mean,’ to, “Oh wow, like this is really serious. Maybe we should have this guy who is strong and will take control of the situation and correct our path,’”

Global Fears

The refugee crisis is only the most recent symptom of what Behrens sees as a larger national ailment. From trade policy to illegal immigration to the culture itself, she fears national borders are dissolving, being subsumed into globalization.

In this, Behrens concerns are right in line with the Trump campaign and its focus on renegotiating trade deals and putting new restrictions on who can enter the country.

“I think the Democrats and a lot of liberal people want a world without borders, and I think that’s not only a dangerous idea, that’s an inhumane idea,” Behrens said. “It’s one thing to have … the freedom to travel wherever you want; it’s another thing to transplant a country full of people into another country where they probably won’t do very well because it’s not their culture.”

Enjoying The Controversy

Behrens knows full well the response some have to views like her’s, and Trump’s. She said she hears words like ‘racist’ and ‘Islamophobic’ tossed around so often that they’ve lost their sting.

I ask people, ‘Why am I a racist? Why is Donald Trump a racist?’ and they have no answer,” she said. “It’s just they disagree with me politically and the way they’re going to silence me is by calling me names and hoping that the social pressure will shut me up, and I don’t care anymore.”

In fact, Behrens has gone beyond not caring; she seems to get a vicarious thrill out of her candidate’s provocative style. Off-the-cuff comments that used to make her cringe a bit and worry for his political future now just make her laugh in anticipation of the media frenzy.

Not too many months ago, Behrens was nervous about telling her closest friends that she was backing Trump. Now she relishes nothing more than wearing her ‘Make America Great Again’ gear out in public.

We’ll bring you more stories like this through the election, profiling passionate individuals caught up in the campaigns. Know someone who has a good story to tell? Tell us about them below, or contact Megan Verlee on Facebook.