Politics

Pennsylvania: AMISH PAC Expects to Hand Key Battleground States to Trump

An Amish Pac located in key battleground states are reaching the unreachable for Trump. The Amish community is vastly ignored this time around but during the Bush campaign, they made all the difference in the world.

While many may not turn out, the few thousand votes in key states can make all the difference and this Amish PAC is set on finding them.

So far, the Amish community has managed to stay out of politics all together but some believe this year may be the one to act. The Amish traditionally believe that they should strictly pray for their leaders and move on as presidential elections conflict with their community ideals.

Let’s hope the Trump message reaches this large group of people in a relatable way, their whole way of life could be under fire should Hillary become President.

Al Jazeera has the story:

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Lack of modern communication platforms

However, there is one man who believes he can encourage more Amish to take part in the elections.  Ben King, 28, is the outreach director of the Amish PAC – the first ever political action committee created solely to garner Amish support for a presidential candidate.

According to a statement on the organisation’s website, the purpose of the committee “is to beat Hillary Clinton in 2016 by turning out a deeply conservative and often forgotten block of voters”.

King, who was raised Amish but left the church in 2014, says that he hopes to get “at least a couple of thousand” Trump votes from the  70,000 Amish living in Pennsylvania – a task made slightly easier as Amish voters have traditionally supported the Republican Party.

“They tend to favour conservative policies … and the Republican party has historically been viewed as more supportive of their way of life,” Kopko told Al Jazeera, adding that social issues such as abortion and concerns over same-sex marriage – which conflict with Amish beliefs – are key motivating factors for those who are considering voting in the national election.

While much of the 2016 campaign has been broadcast online, King says Amish PAC has been using more “traditional methods” of public relations.

“We’ve been reaching [the Amish] … through billboards and newspaper ads,” King tells Al Jazeera. “[It’s] pretty old-style, traditional maybe … but it’s pretty effective, honestly.”

Throughout the presidential campaign, Trump has caused controversy numerous times via his social media platforms – something of which Amish voters have been largely unaware.

“It’s good and bad because they are not getting these constant Twitter feeds and Facebook messages,” says King. “They are for sure not hearing all the news … that we’re hearing about whatever comments Trump is making.”

Sally Lyall is the Democratic Committee Leader of Lancaster County. She has two bumper stickers on the back of her car, one reads: “Hillary for President” and the other says: “Women make great leaders; you’re following one” – signs that she says have caused her some grief in the heavily Republican County.

She told Al Jazeera that due to the lack of modern communication platforms, Amish voters are approaching the election “with very limited knowledge”.

“Since they don’t have televisions, I don’t know if they get a sense of how crude and crass Donald Trump is,” she says. “He uses the ‘F’ word and he’s so vulgar, I don’t think they would in any way identify with him, but if they don’t have a TV, they don’t see what we see.”

However, King asserted that even with online access, the Amish would still vote Trump:

“Honestly, [Trump] is pro-life, he’s pro-business and that’s a huge concern in the Amish community… [they] are not going to be making decisions based on a few tweets.”

Aaron agreed that as long as Trump’s key policies aligned with his beliefs, he was willing to overlook other things. “It’s not our business to tell him [Trump] what to do. Issues like abortion – which is murder – well that’s different, but this is not that.”

Aaron tends some of his horses at his business in the village of Bird in Hand, Lancaster County [Jessica Sarhan/Al Jazeera]

These votes could make a difference

On July 9, 2004, George W Bush, then Republican presidential candidate, rode his campaign bus through Lancaster to hold private meetings with members of the Amish community.

It was a year when both Pennsylvania and Ohio, home to roughly  half of the country’s Amish population would be key battlegrounds in determining the election between Bush and then-Democratic senator from Massachusetts, John Kerry.

At the time, the Republican Party scoured the country for unregistered groups who shared Bush’s “accent on traditional values”, according to a  study by Elizabethtown College. They targeted Evangelical Christians, anti-abortion rights advocates and, for the first time, the Amish –  a group they believed would support the campaign’s promotion of conservative social ideas. And they were right – George Bush received  1,300  Amish votes in Lancaster County alone.

Amish PAC is hoping it too can garner at least this many votes for Donald Trump come November, King told Al Jazeera.

“A couple thousand votes could make all the difference.”

Outside of an Amish home in Lancaster County, a sign reads: ‘Keep America Free’ [Jessica Sarhan/Al Jazeera]

 

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