Rizkar Muttaleb, a supporter of President-elect Donald Trump from North Dakota, stands at the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez/S.F. Examiner)

Rizkar Muttaleb, a supporter of President-elect Donald Trump from North Dakota, stands at the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez/S.F. Examiner)

Trump supporters answer questions from SF readers


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Damn the politicians, forget the pompous balls, and to heck with the (ear-splittingly awful) Three Doors Down inaugural concert a stone’s throw from the Capitol.

While in Washington, D.C., for the inauguration this week, I had one aim: to bring far-flung supporters of President-elect Donald Trump to my fellow San Franciscans.

Stalking underneath the tall dome of the Capitol building, I found plenty of folks in red “Make America Great Again” hats to go around, and I was there to make them answer to you.

I asked some of you via email, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to tell me what’d you like me to ask Trump supporters. I’m almost certain that many of the folks I met at the Capitol would defy my readers’ assumptions. (Most of them took a pass on the “What about his pussy-grabbing?” questions, especially the women.)

Some asked about attacks on Muslims and Trump’s vehement racism. To my surprise, one of the first Trump supporters I met was a Kurdish man who was also Muslim.

Rizkar Muttaleb is a 32-year-old refugee who fought along private contractors in Iraq. When I met him by the Capitol building, he was wearing the classic red Trump hat, a Trump T-shirt and waving a flag with Trump’s face on it.

Muttaleb couldn’t yet vote; he’s two years away from citizenship, but he canvassed for Trump in North Dakota for weeks, where he works as a restaurant dishwasher.

Muttaleb decried what he called extremist Muslims and said he came to the United States because it is one of the few countries in the world that intervened to aid its neighbors.

Yes, I can picture all my progressive readers now, pulling their hair out and cringing as they recall our government’s motivations for war. Still, I think it’s important to acknowledge his perspective.

“I am a Muslim,” he said. His face darkened gravely, and he said he could not go into details, but said back home he “suffered as a progressive Muslim.”

“I love this country,” he said.

His face sported as much genuine joy as I think I’ve ever seen.

Many readers also tasked me with health care questions. So I asked Paul Hurd and Skip Cassie, two Louisiana fellas in D.C., for their first inauguration. They, too, wore red Trump hats.

Hurd’s accent sounds straight from the bayou, and he’s an attorney with a sharp wit. He welcomed a Republican repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

“I’ve always paid for my own health insurance,” Hurd told me, noting he’s seen his family’s premiums reach the level of “catastrophe” under the ACA.

When asked if he supported the repeal of the ACA without a good replacement plan, Cassie, a retired veteran, said, “It’s not gonna happen.”

Some of my readers’ questions assumed Trump supporters didn’t know that Obamacare and the ACA were the same thing — granted, many news reports showed ignorant Republicans learning that Obamacare was just a spin-word invented by conservative politicians.

But Cassie knew better. In fact, he supports some of the ACA.

The answer why was obvious: Much of the plan was first proposed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

“Those were Republican ideas,” Cassie said.

It’s a shame republican politicians aren’t listening to Cassie.

* * *

Mayor Ed Lee left D.C. as soon as he came. Though Trump’s inauguration is Friday, Lee skipped town Thursday.

When asked why he didn’t wait one day to watch history (albeit a frightening one) take place, The Mayor’s Office answered, “In a time when many have felt anxious and fearful about the future, the Mayor felt it was most important to be home, with fellow San Franciscans, during Friday’s inauguration.”

I suppose Lee has had his fill at protests in Frisco, but he’s still going to miss a hell of a day.

On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Follow along for daily reports straight from Washington, D.C., for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. Email Fitz at joe@sfexaminer.com.

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