Two older men sit in yellow rustic chairs surrounding a circular wooden table while eating their breakfast at Mabel’s Hwy 44 Bar & Grill. It’s a green paneled building set on the outskirts of town in which people enjoy fishing and hunting. It’s where Ron Gerard, 60, and Bruce Mielke found themselves before they headed out for deer hunting on opening weekend. Hunting and political views are just two of the many things the men share in common.
“People aren’t as dumb as they’d like us to be,” said Gerard.
Mielke, who is from Alaska and just visiting Gerard, voted for Barack Obama in the last elections and flipped to Donald Trump because he desires change. He questioned his decision on voting for Obama afterwards, but at the time he saw him as the best candidate. Mielke sees the system as corrupt, especially on the congressional level. He also is registered as undeclared.
“I won’t go to a (political) party,” said Mielke. “Parties are the worst thing to happen to this country.”
Gerard, who lives in Minnesota, voted for Trump too. He speaks on behalf of numerous individuals residing in Mabel, MN who are fuming over how the media covered the elections.
“The media is putting what they want out there,” said Mielke.
Mielke’s rich Alaskan mentality is evident through his ideologies. Mielke sits in a camouflage trucker hat and orange plaid shirt with suspenders. He’s a man who lives off the grid, avoiding technology and the internet at all costs.
Mabel is an area rich in land with a population of about 1,400 with the medium age about 47 years old and the race being 98% white. Their historical society is in a barn and they have one hotel, which is the oldest running hotel in the state where even Charles Lindbergh once stayed. They also have a liquor store, a church, two places for food, an American Legion, and they celebrate Hesper-Mabel Steam Engine Days in September to name a few. A couple miles down the road sits Harmony, MN, the largest Amish community in the state, home to the religious group known for exceedingly living off the grid. Both towns are located in Fillmore, Minnesota, which flipped from Obama to Trump by among the highest percentages in the country, although Clinton won Minnesota (a historically blue state no one expected Trump to make competitive, until he did).
Mielke, unknowingly sharing common traits with the Amish, grew up in Alaska and has worked construction and in commercial fishing. As for Gerard, a career dealing with the elements isn’t strange. Gerard’s entire family is full of farmers; he was even raised on a farm. Gerard lived on the west coast for numerous years. He was a logger for 35 years and also lived in North Dakota working on oil fields. He moved back to Mabel a year ago and is outside every day. The two men are hard workers who have used their hands in isolated places their entire lives.
“I’m not in a city,” said Gerard. “I’m not around people all the time. I’m here where I am alone. It’s slower. I can think for a little bit. We don’t have six million people like New York City. We are all rural. A lot of these people that live in cities are sheep. They don’t have a mind of their own.”
A mind of his own, steering clear of the system and mainstream culture is how Gerard lives. He doesn’t use ATM’s, does not have a credit card, has 3 checking accounts, doesn’t own a smartphone or computer, and does not use the internet.
“You kids would be lost without technology,” said Mielke backing up Gerard as he crosses his arms.
Gerard is munching on his toast while listening to Mielke voice his irritation with the media. Though they don’t follow the media, they follow the local news and CNN. Gerard’s glossy blue
eyes dart back and forth between whoever holds the conversation. He has Norwegian blonde hair, a background that is highly expressed in Mabel, and is geared up in head-to-toe orange for a day of hunting.
“The media was saying Hillary is winning but really Trump was by 50 percent,” said Gerard.
The lack of trust locals have with the media manifested cursorily this election due to the belief the media was pushing Democratic views onto viewers. Though voters can acknowledge the bad in both Hillary and Trump, the feeling that the media sugarcoated Hillary’s wronging and oversized Trump’s lingered.
“I don’t want a bunch of people looking at us like we are idiots over here,” said Mielke. “I don’t care if a person is a democrat or a republican. I vote for who is the best.”
The media isn’t the only thing locals doubt, they also heavily distrust politicians, especially Hillary Clinton.
“Politicians are in it for the money,” said Gerard. “Everybody in the country is against politicians. I just don’t care for politicians at all.”
Though the thought of having a non-politician in office sparked interest in Gerard and Mielke, the two men agree with some of his opinions.
Mielke agrees with Trump on oversea immigrants, such as the Muslim community. He believes they are raised to kill each other and are a bigger threat to the country than Mexicans. He believes immigrants from Mexico should be documented and have no criminal record. However, if they have been working in the country, he believes they can stay here. Gerard shares similar opinions on immigrants.
“Am I bothered by what Trump said? No,” said Gerard. “We don’t want people from oversea bringing their bad juju here. Why should we be paying our good tax money on them? They don’t want to be helped. I don’t give a sh-t if they kill each other.”