But in the town itself, there’s a mix of political allegiances. “Our neighbours next door are for Biden and we get on just fine,” James told me.
Like everyone I met in Lawrenceberg, James was happy to talk – once he’d got permission from his friend whose property we were standing on. He gave many of the same reasons that voters across the country have given me in recent days and weeks for supporting the current president. Apart from his paramount concern: human trafficking.
James told me how a Facebook group he’d been involved in called ‘Save the Children’ had been summarily shut down by the social platform, with no reasons given. He says it was a group of concerned citizens who researched and tracked down child and sex traffickers and turned them over to authorities when they found them. They never tried to mete out justice themselves, he insisted. And he had no idea why they’d been stopped.
Over the past few months, the media has carried reports of how QAnon conspiracy theorists have infiltrated online networks such as the one James belonged to. Facebook has recently shut down many of these groups, limited distribution of #SaveTheChildren hashtags and pointed users to ‘credible child safety resources’ in response.
James himself showed no indication of having bought into QAnon – which alleges that Trump is facing down a shadowy cabal of Democrat paedophiles – other than confusing and perhaps overstating Trump’s role in cracking down on human trafficking. He called Biden a “puppet”, but only of the Democratic Party: too willing to cave on issues like the Green New Deal. And he told me that he’ll respect the next president, whoever that turns out to be. But, like most people I’ve spoken to – Republican and Democrat – he fears violence and unrest on election day, and beyond.
“I do fear that if Donald Trump is re-elected, as we hope he is, there won’t be peace. There will be more unrest – rioting, looting,” James told me.
And if Biden wins? “I honestly don’t think there will be as much trouble if that happens. There just aren’t that many Republicans out there doing that kind of thing.”
“They call a lot of us the silent majority for a reason,” he added. “If he’s the president we’ll respect that, because he’s our commander-in-chief, and that’s what you’re supposed to do as an American.”
‘We’re riding the Trump train’
Up on Main Street, I met Jeremy and his mother-in-law Elma. Three generations of their family had gathered to wave the Trump truck convoy as it rolled by.