Hope In a Small Town.
How President Trump inspired a dying man in Eastern North Carolina.
By Clyde Swindel
The first thing you should know about me is my town: New Bern, North Carolina. It’s a lazy town, just 10 minutes from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and 20 minutes from Camp Lejeune, NC—so yeah, we love the Marine Corps and the US Military.
The second thing you should know: I have stage four colorectal cancer. I am dying.
In late 2015, when Donald J. Trump took that now-famous escalator ride, I didn’t notice. I had my candidate picked out: Dr. Ben Carson. I was utterly committed; his soft demeanor and wise understanding seemed to fit me. And it went great at first; he was challenging and ahead in the polls.
Then it came: the leftist media fire bombing. First, they came for Herman Cain, because black conservatives were and are unfathomable to them. The media slammed him as unintelligent because of his religious beliefs. As horrible as it was in real-time, it was mesmerizing to watch a media narrative being constructed right in front of you.
Then Donald Trump jumped in. At first I was angry and startled. But I slowly began to see what we, as a nation, needed: a man who would, and could, defend himself. So I started to do my homework.
During this time, I was the General Manager of a Ford Dealership in Havelock, NC. I began to experience bowel problems: bleeding and other symptoms. I wasn’t too worried; I had always been reasonably healthy, and I worked out every day. It wasn’t until I was scheduled to have surgery to fix the bleeding that my world nearly shattered: I found out I had cancer.
With my wife Jennifer, the eternal optimist, we set out to beat this. We had invested well, and I could retire and fix my fight on this while she continued to work.
I love politics, always have, always will. The battle of human ideas feels like the Roman Colosseum to me. With all the new time on my hands, I had plenty of time to read and learn. Admittedly, I had nothing in common with Donald J. Trump. Yet I couldn’t help but trust the man. In 2008, I held my nose and voted for John McCain—I almost voted for Obama, because of hope.
And when Trump came along, I couldn’t help but be drawn to hope—again.
I started to follow Trump closely. After years and years of old-guard conservatives, who capitulated on everything, and let the left set narrative after narrative, I had to re-evaluate things. I came across new, younger conservatives and independents who didn’t like war-hawk foreign policy, and who wanted to protect American citizens from illegal immigration.
Now, I am a 55-year-old man, but my wife says my best qualities are my ability to re-examine my priorities and start fresh if I need to. I began to read: I read people like Mollie Hemingway, Sean Davis—even Ben Shapiro. I began to see that they understood what I didn’t: America was still great, and could get even greater under Trump and these new conservative ideas.
One thing that happens when you approach death is that you think about your legacy. You think about children and what kind of nation you want to leave behind for them. After eight years of hearing how America and Americans were deplorable, colonialists, and inherently unjust, I had become downtrodden. I had lost my pride.
Now, I began to remember that America was always great. And like all great men, this nation had its flaws, sure, but it maintained a tried and true method to correct and better itself. These young warriors forced me to reflect, remember, and not be ashamed of being American.
I watched as Ben Shapiro and Glenn Beck took swing after swing at Trump, questioning his motives. And saw Trump come back swinging, time and time again. His platform became more apparent: he was pro-life and carried a list of judges. I was sold.
All of a sudden, here in Eastern North Carolina, we heard someone who loved America, and that someone was going all in, hair on fire, to defend it. I realized he was endorsing me, my family, and all of the families in my community—regardless of color or creed or religion. I began seeing Latinos, young black men, and everyone else embrace the fervor. I had never seen anything like it before.
Mr. Trump is in the ‘Hope Business.’ He had us sold in this small town. And having been a conservative all my life, I knew the attacks were coming: charges of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, etc. But what I didn’t realize was that we had reached a point of frustration in this country where the media couldn’t turn public opinion.
Although the maelstrom that was to come was withering, what God made me realize was, as much as I loved Ben Carson, he was not ready for the fight. Donald J. Trump knew what was coming—and he leaned right into the fight. He didn’t waver—didn’t even flinch.
During the 2016 election, I was on heavy, heavy chemo. I’ve gone through six significant surgeries. One I even tried to reschedule so I can see Trump speak—needless to say, Jenn wasn’t happy with that stunt.
But there’s a reason I did that—in 2016, this country began to feel like a family again.
And I understand what family means, even with all my stupid mistakes. I have three children, one liberal and the other two conservative. My oldest is gay, my middle daughter is Annie Oakley, and my youngest son—he’s just a great kid.
I noticed that the people who were defending us weren’t the ones I donated to over the years—but young, fierce warriors, who had no reason to come to our defense. Elites like Bill Kristol, Tom Nichols, and Rick Wilson became antagonistic towards us. As of course did Hillary Clinton. Yet in this small town, it began to feel like we had fought back.
For the first time in my life, I felt like we were winning the culture war. I noticed that the left repositioned themselves; they didn’t even attempt to engage or argue. Instead, they began a campaign of censorship, extreme rhetoric, and outright violence.
Right beside my house, I can go deer hunting. I have hunted all my life. I could sense it: the left had been severely wounded. That being said, an animal is most dangerous at that point. All pretense of truth went out the window for this limping leftist establishment, and I watched in amazement as President Trump was forced to parry attack after attack. And, refusing to back down, he has time and time again survived their brutal onslaughts. Time and again, President Trump has steadied the ship and given us hope.
Hope is what I see when President Trump hugs the flag like he was a kid again. Hope is when I see manufacturing jobs returning. Hope is standing beside Israel, right when they need strong allies the most.
Hope is black men and women being released from prolonged prison sentences. Hope is bringing our troops home from a 19-year-long war. It’s daring to cancel drone strikes, because they may kill 150 unnamed, unknown, innocent people.
Hope is when our President signed the “Right to Try Act,” letting me use medical trials that I didn’t have access to, and removing the pharmacist gag order so they could help me manage my medications for the first time. I thought about titling this essay “dying in a small town.” For the first time since Reagan, it could be called living in a small town.
Being scared of dying is a natural thing; being scared for the future of this great nation is no longer necessary. Our republic is safe, with a new generation of fierce minds and culture warriors, and a leader who is willing and able to fight.
I can rest easy. I have hope.