News & Politics

What It’s Like to be a Trump Supporter in DC

Stephanie Green in her “safe zone,” the Trump Hotel lobby. Photograph by Jeff Elkins

How does a French-speaking, opera-loving Democrat—one who lives in DC, no less—turn into a Trump supporter? What has it been like for me—une femme déplorable—to live in a city that overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton?

I decided to support Mr. Trump before he won the Republican nomination, and I became a most unlikely Trumpette. I’m young, adore abstract paintings, have friends who are gay, and have no idea what NASCAR even stands for.

But over the past several years, I’ve come to appreciate lower taxes, stronger borders, and leaders who will say the three most controversial words in the English language: radical Islamic terrorism. My evolving political philosophy was complicated by other factors: I’m a journalist, formerly with Bloomberg News, and a contributor to such magazines as WWD, Vanity Fair, and Vogue—whose readers view Trump fans as toothless, brainless Duck Dynasty rabble.

At cocktail parties during the campaign, whenever I mentioned that I liked Donald Trump, I could see the face of the person before me slowly contort into an expression of horror. I’d imagine his or her internal monologue: “This girl can’t be one of them. She’s well dressed and well spoken, for God’s sake.”

At a Hillwood Museum gala, when the gentleman seated next to me challenged my opinion, I simply turned away and started a conversation with the guest on my other side. The same thing happened at a country-club birthday dinner. I was happy to stand my ground in a conversation but refused to engage in a fight.

I was invited to debate-watch parties but knew I’d be outnumbered. So I viewed all of the presidential face-offs from my “safe zone”—the lobby of the Trump International Hotel. It was comforting to be among like-minded people, especially during the campaign’s darkest days. We grimaced together when Mr. Trump explained “locker-room talk,” and we guffawed when he scored a zinger. The hotel felt almost like a bomb shelter during a blitzkrieg of media pile-on.

On social media, my support was consistent yet tasteful. I never disparaged Hillary Clinton, except maybe the time I compared her to Marie Antoinette. (Is that really an insult?) I lost followers, but . . . c’est la Facebook. A few friends have fallen away because of my Trumpism, but I’ve decided they were never really friends anyway.

People I knew told me he’d never win and that I’d be run out of town by an angry mob, led by Lena Dunham types with body piercings and tattoos. They advised me to stop the retweets and create distance. But better to be a pariah than a coward, I assured myself.

After the election, I strangely felt no sense of vindication. Instead of running me out of town, many of my critics offered congratulations. I think this says not only that Washingtonians are magnanimous even when their candidate loses but also that they’re uniquely pragmatic. They understand the importance of mending fences. Grudges are too expensive here.

I do have a wonderful feeling of American optimism. I hope Washingtonians will give Mr. Trump the “open mind” that Mrs. Clinton has suggested is the best way forward.

What’s the point of living near so many monuments and tributes to our democracy if we don’t heed their timeless message?

This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of Washingtonian.