Elections

‘I’m black and a former liberal’: She’s voting for Trump because of education

Lisa Watson of Kansas City, Kan., supports Donald Trump for president. Expanding educational options for parents is her priority: “One candidate is saying they’ll open the door to competition and school choice. And the other person is saying, ‘I’ll close the door.’ ”
Lisa Watson of Kansas City, Kan., supports Donald Trump for president. Expanding educational options for parents is her priority: “One candidate is saying they’ll open the door to competition and school choice. And the other person is saying, ‘I’ll close the door.’ ” along@kcstar.com

Lisa Watson is a Donald Trump supporter in this election. Eight years ago, however, she campaigned for Hillary Clinton.

“My list didn’t change as to what I wanted,” she says. “The people just changed around me.”

For example, Watson remembers the protesters in 2008 who were marching and speaking out against the U.S.-led wars in the Middle East.

“We’re still over there,” she says. “Were they really against it, or were they really just against (George W.) Bush and would say anything as long as it’s against Bush?”

Hypocrisy among Clinton supporters is part of what turned her away from the Democratic candidate. But there are other factors. The main one: education.

“I sort of have arrived at becoming a single-issue voter,” she says. “And I’ve made that single issue school choice.”

Education, Watson says, is about basic fairness, basic social justice. Everyone deserves a shot at a good education. How can young people compete equally, she asks, if they can’t read?

Watson says she believes many of our country’s problems — from welfare dependence to income inequality to overburdened prison systems — could be solved if parents had more access to more choices when it came to schools.

“One candidate is saying they’ll open the door to competition and school choice,” Watson says. “And the other person is saying, ‘I’ll close the door.’ And that’s the only thing I’m going to look at.”

Watson grew up in Kansas City, Kan. She studied at Whittier College in California and UMKC. Before that, she was a graduate of Sumner Academy in KCK.

She considers what she sees as a “one school fits all” approach as detrimental to some children. Decades of subpar results should be enough for America to see why changes need to be made for school districts — in Kansas City and across the country.

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“You’ve let whole generations go through that school district and you’re still saying, ‘Well, let’s try it out on another generation,’ ” she says. “That’s like the fire department saying, ‘You stay in the building while we try to put the fire out.’ 

Watson says much of the media coverage of the presidential race has been reduced to a personality contest. Even Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is finding it hard to gain respect, especially after he appeared to not know of the Syrian city of Aleppo during an interview on MSNBC.

“He’s not going on ‘Jeopardy,’ ” Watson says. “I disagree with him on policy, not personality, not the trip-ups in the media. When he didn’t know about Aleppo? We have hundreds and thousands of politicians who could tell you the capital of every country. They still got us into this mess.”

She also finds it odd that Trump gets criticized as “racist” for saying the inner cities are a disaster and black families are in shambles when she heard Democrats say that very thing not so long ago.

“When I was with them, we were all saying that,” she says. “Was Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan a radical Republican? I don’t think so. Before I was born he writes a report that predicts what’s going to happen if we continue along these paths. I don’t understand how a group of people who used to say the exact same thing now are demonizing someone who says the same thing they used to say.”

Watson has been campaigning for the Republicans and Trump. She has volunteered a couple of times in the local party office. She has knocked on doors and made some calls on Trump’s behalf.

“We’re calling into Ohio right now,” she says. “I talk to people. I tell them, ‘Let me start by telling you I campaigned for Hillary in 2008.’ I always tell them that I’m black and a former liberal. I tell them that I’ve made some changes.”

Another of those changes? Up until earlier this year, she supported Ted Cruz — she still has his bumper sticker on her car. When ask why she switched, she gets a little sheepish.

“This is going to be weird …,” she says. “I feel like I got a divine word that it was going to be Trump. And a lot of my friends were very irritated. They said that I was crazy. I said, ‘I’m switching over to Trump.’ And they said, ‘You’re insane.’ 

But she says she’s not alone in turning away from Clinton. Of her friends who were Bernie Sanders supporters, she estimates about 30 percent are voting for Trump.

“I can communicate better with the Bernie people than the Hillary people,” she says. “The Bernie people start talking about the big banks and the globalists, and I feel like Trump is against the big banks and the globalists.”

At the end of the day, Watson says, she’s not all that worried about any fallout from election results.

“We’ll still be friends — that’s the bottom line here,” she says. “I haven’t lost any friends over this. One friend, I talk to her, but we don’t talk about this topic. She’s mad about Cruz. It’s not my fault. It’s OK. We’ll get through.”

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