If you read Peter’s letter about “How residents of a rural area started copying the President” you might have been surprised when you read these two paragraphs.
“In Grand Junction, I learned to suspend any customary assumptions regarding political identity. I encountered countless strong working women, some of whom believed in abortion rights, who had voted for Trump. Cultural cues could be misleading: I interviewed one gentle, hippieish Trump voter who wore his gray hair in a ponytail. An experience like leaving a small town for an Ivy League college, which might lead some people to embrace more liberal ideas, could inspire in others a deeper conservatism. And so I wasn’t entirely surprised to learn that Tyler Riehl, like me, was a former Peace Corps volunteer.
“He had served in Slovakia. “Every time you get to look at how somebody else lives, it gives you perspective that’s useful,” Riehl told me. In 2000, he was sent to a village in eastern Slovakia, where he advocated for bicyclists’ rights. Riehl told me that living in a post-Communist society strengthened his appreciation for freedom, truth, and the virtues of small government. Now he was applying that idealism to his current campaign. “I do unequivocally state that the Sentinel is full of fake news,” he said.”
Reading Hessler’s piece I realize that we all have “Trump Lovers” who served with us in the Peace Corps. The truth is that Peace Corps Volunteers have always reflected the country’s political moods and ways. It is not the home only of flaming liberals.
Those of us with the first group to Ethiopia have a famous “Trump Lover” in Leo Cecchini. Leo who has been on the board of the NPCA board in years past, and also had a long career in the Foreign Service, sold real estate in Florida and is now a wine merchant living mostly on the island of Majorca. Like Trump, he has had several bankruptcies and business upheavals. But unlike “The Donald,” he has had only one wife and no sons to get him into trouble. Also, (thank God) he doesn’t have The Donald’s golden locks.
Recently Leo on his Facebook Page wrote: “Here I am waiting for the bulls in the “encierro” at Pamplona, Spain. The cap is a “Make America Great Again” cap or as known by the Trump crowd, a MAGA. Three Americans came up to congratulate me, a young woman from California who has a political affairs consultancy, a farmer from California who immigrated to Fresno from Pamplona, and an American who spends several weeks each year in St Jean Pied de Port on the French side of the border about 40 miles from Pamplona. The two men’s wives did not share their husbands’ enthusiasm to see a MAGA at Pamplona. I met other Americans who were visibly not pleased to see the cap.”
photo by Randy Marcus
While Leo–and many of those who were Ethiopia One PCVs–are a good ten years older than The Donald, Leo is still out there ‘running with the bulls’ in the festival that Hemingway made known to Americans and not (like The Donald) riding around in a golf cart and swinging a nine iron. Yes, we can see Leo’s paunch is not as “grand” as Trump’s, but Leo can still button his suit jacket! Try that Trump. Button your jacket! Or just go off and run with the Elephants!