Confessions of a Trump voter at an ad agency: ‘You’re framed as a xenophobe’

This article is part of our Confessions series, in which we trade anonymity for candor to get an unvarnished look at the people, processes and problems inside the industry. More from the series →

Agencies might pride themselves on their inclusivity, but they are also known to be filled with fervent liberals and hardcore Democrats: not an easy place for those favoring President Trump. In the latest in our Confessions series, where we exchange anonymity for candor, Digiday spoke with a copywriter at an ad agency who feels like he has to remain silent about his conservative viewpoints about what it’s like to be a Trump voter at an ad agency.

How do you feel about being a conservative in such a left-leaning industry?
I’m a needle in a haystack of liberals. It’s hard. I feel isolated.

When have you felt isolated?
The most blaring recent example was the day of the Brett Kavanaugh hearing in the Supreme Court. Everyone was watching on their computers and were talking openly about it as it was happening live. I was watching too, but I wasn’t putting in my input because my views don’t align with everyone else around me. There are a lot of women where I work who felt very passionate about the [hearing], and they were all saying degrading things about Kavanaugh and Republicans like calling them liars, and I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Wow, if they only knew.’

You voted for President Trump, but you’re not open about it. Why?
There are associations attached to someone who voted for Trump. You’re framed as a xenophobe, against women’s rights and all these other things like being super pro-guns and a white supremacist. Two years into his presidency, people think that if you still support Donald Trump, even after all these things that people have vehemently and very passionately speak out against, then you must be some sort of sociopath who doesn’t understand human emotion or what’s right and what’s wrong. It’s more of a moral thing than a matter of opinion. That belief is pretty strong in this office and across the industry as a whole, and I wouldn’t want the reputation I’ve built to go away just because of one thing about me personally. I’m easy to get along with and like making people feel comfortable.

Do you think there are a lot of people at agencies in your position?
Yes. Even if I’m in this sort of bubble, it doesn’t mean I’m alone in this bubble; it’s just not something talked about openly. Half of the country really does think differently. The same thing happened to me in college. I went to an arts school where there was a very left-leaning, passionate student body. I realized I needed to internalize my beliefs.

Why did you vote for Trump?
I voted for Trump because I am very fiscally conservative. With Trump, he’s very focused on the economy, national security and the border. I’m very attracted to all those policies and platform issues. He is exactly what the economy needed, and isn’t a career politician, which I also like. He also was honest and not afraid to speak his views. I identified with that.

Do you still support him?
I still support him, probably even more, because now I know that he can deliver on trade deals and the economy is very strong.

What do you want people to understand about your views?
Just because we don’t agree ideologically doesn’t mean we can’t all get along or have a productive workday. The main thing to grasp is if you voted for Donald Trump, it doesn’t mean you’re an evil jerk who wants to wish harm on everybody and send away all the Mexicans and everything else. That’s just not how it is. There are normal, rational people who voted for Donald Trump, and I’m one of them and I work with you every day. People should focus on the work and the end product, and not try to agree with everyone politically. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Should your agency ban political conversations?
Of course not. I think people should be able to talk about whatever they want. People should be honest and open because that creates a close community. The problem isn’t necessarily talking about politics; it’s the response you get if you are in the minority on an issue. To me, it has to come from an individual level more than an agency level. Agencies can’t control how each employee responds to certain situations or viewpoints. We as employees have to decide that we can be open and honest with each other without it affecting our working, and even personal, relationships. The partisan divide in this country is bad, but I don’t think the answer is banning political conversations. That’s like asking Congress to come to a compromise without speaking to one another. We should be having more of them, just with less vitriol and hostility.

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