Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Stories from a Swing State

Talitha Brauer
Voices of America
Published in
4 min readMar 15, 2016


Bruce K, age 67, was born and raised in Darke County, Ohio. He lives on a farm there.

“I lived here the first eighteen years of my life, then I went to college. I got a masters degree in electrical engineering, married Yvonne and came back. I started working as an electrical engineer, and then also as an organic farmer.

I worked at Wright Patterson Air Force Base for over 30 years as a civil servant. My grandfather was a farmer, and he loved farming, and he had an organic garden. Farming was my sanity with the craziness of the political things at work.

I worked on the B2 during Kosovo — I was upset that we were bombing those people. My conscience really started to haunt me about what we were doing, defending one people group against another.

I kind of wondered why my grandfather was opposed to World War II, and now I understand why. Most all of these wars are fictitious, unneeded, and it’s all money-driven, by greed and pride.

We took down Libya, Gaddafi, Egypt. We’re trying to do it in Syria now. Trying to start World War III. I mean, what are we doing?

Our forefathers had it right, we need to take care of here, and foreign entanglements are what get us in trouble, and we are entangled. That’s why the Muslims hate us. I don’t blame ’em. I don’t blame ’em at all.

Today I see almost no difference at all [between Republicans and Democrats]. In the way they do policy — I see the same lies, the same corruption. Things are very corrupt. It’s just a different kind of corruption than you’d find in a third world country. It’s all masked over very neatly. It’s just the way we do business here. A whistleblower is told to be a whistleblower, but if you’re a whistleblower… good luck.

I started doing all this research, and that’s when I came to the conclusion about the big banks, that they control the politicians and that the politicians are essentially puppets. And that started to keep me up at night.

This place is not good. Maybe this is just the fear kicking in, but the amount of surveillance; the heavy-handedness of the law; the fact that if you go to court, we don’t have common law anymore. I learned a lot about contract and law and things like that. And I realised that we don’t have many rights. We don’t have any rights, even though we think we do. That’s kind of an illusion.

So it’s no worse in some third world country than it is here, in a way. There’s a lot of political prisoners here. We have the highest incarceration rate of any nation in the world. That says something. This is not a safe place to be.

I’d like to see Trump get the economy turned around. I think that’s where he shines the most, and we need that. We need to have tariffs. If the Chinese have a tariff on our goods, we need to have an equal one on theirs. There’s a tax advantage for companies like Apple to have their manufacturing overseas — Trump wants to change that.

Now, Trump may be a false dude, I can’t say. I don’t know. But I like the fact that he is willing to get in there and rough it up. I know he’s using the political theatre. I mean, he’s a master at it.

You’ve gotta have a strategy, and he does. He’s got one. These other clowns are out to lunch. And they’re liars as far as I’m concerned. I just think all the entrenched politicians and bureaucrats are liars and… he may be too, but I’m gonna risk it on him.

The only reason I’m thinking of Trump is because he’s the closest thing to get us there — away from corruption. I’m a libertarian. I want truth and honesty. The American way, whatever it is. I’m agnostic about the person, I don’t care who the person is. I just want the person who will get us to that point. That’s my struggle, finding who that’s gonna be.

I may vote for Trump. Or I may not vote at all.”

This story is part 3 of a photographic exploration of ordinary Americans and their reasons for supporting a controversial candidate.

< < Part 2 < < ………………………… > > Part 4 > >

Why I Created This Series

© All text & images copyright Talitha Brauer



Talitha Brauer
Voices of America

Investigative Artist. Wanderer. I love colour, clean design, and vast open spaces. And you.