Sunday morning the Jackson brothers stood outside a little diner in Elizabethtown, N.Y. They grew up on Long Island, but for decades they’ve lived here in Essex County, a deeply rural corner of the Adirondack Mountains. People in these small towns voted strongly for Donald Trump in November.
Asked about the president’s first week in office, they jumped at the chance to talk about him.
“The guy’s just got in there, he needs a chance,” argued Tim Jackson, the younger brother.
He wore a black leather jacket and Harley Davidson cap.
“You know, I mean, everybody [is saying] he’s signed this he’s signed that, Tim says. “It’s only been a week.”
His brother Bill wore a winter hat with ear flaps and sported a kind Duck Dynasty beard. He felt more solidly positive about the president’s first week and said Trump had captured some of his own spirit.
“I’m also a rebel from way back,” Bill says. “I’m sick of people who just stand by. Now that someone’s gone in there and stirred the waters up, boy them Democrats are pissed. They’re trying to come up with every way they can to push him down.”
One issue in particular has sparked controversy and headlines this week: the new president’s executive order temporarily banning refugees from seven Muslim countries. Bill Jackson says the action represents common sense. He thinks there’s good reason to keep Muslims out.
“I feel the same way,” Bill says, describing a broad concern that Islam is incompatible with life in America.
“I feel that if a Muslim woman wants to move into this country, she needs to leave her towel home. Because the reason this country is here and safe today is because of Jesus Christ,” Bill says. “We were one nation under God. The Muslims are into Allah. They can’t live there [in their home countries] anymore because of all the turmoil and unrest. Here we still have somewhat peace. So if you’re going to come here to enjoy this peace, follow our rules and be one nation under God. Or stay home. I’m not making you change your religion, or whatever you want to call it, your belief. But if you want this, what we want, then you got to do what we’re doing to get it.”
A lot of Americans think one of the great things about this nation is that you can worship whatever god you want. Bill shook his head at that notion.
“That is something I believe that has come along with political correctness and all this other garbage,” he said, insisting that America is a fundamentally Christian nation.
These are sentiments you hear a lot in this corner of rural America. Few Muslims actually live in these small towns and Islamic culture is often viewed with deep suspicion. But at that moment, the conversation took a surprising turn. Tim Jackson, the younger brother, chimed in again. He said he actually has big reservations about Donald Trump and his ideas.
“I wanted Hillary in the worst way,” Tim says. “I thought she was a strong woman. I believed she helped him, Bill, run a lot of stuff that was going on when he was in the presidency.”
So given his preference for the Democrats, why was Tim backing President Trump? He said it’s because he didn’t vote. He stayed home on election day, when Donald Trump won the White House.
He thinks millions of people like him who didn’t cast ballots in November missed their moment and now should give the new president and his supporters their shot at running the government.
“You had the chance to vote,” Tim says. “And that’s there with me. It’s like, I feel like I don’t have a say in it.”
So after week one, these brothers were paying attention, discussing, debating and even fighting over where the new president is taking the country. For now, they’re both with Donald Trump, the one watching and supporting guardedly, the other following developments in Washington D.C. with real excitement.