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MAGA moms

Meet the unlikely women who helped Trump win the presidency

MAGA moms: Meet the unlikely women who helped Trump win the presidency

The first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency have radically changed the lives of people all over the country. And Precious Mixon counts herself among them.

Once a teenage mother and runaway, the 27-year-old launched the MAGA (Make America Great Again) March as a show of support for Trump in the wake of January’s massive Women’s March. And on March 25, pro-Trump marchers took to the streets in several cities all over the country. Although the turnout was underwhelming — only about 100 people showed up in Washington, D.C., while the D.C. Women’s March boasted close to 500,000 — Mixon believed it marked the beginning of a new movement.

But she didn’t organize the march alone. Within two hours of creating a MAGA March Facebook group, she had three partners: Linda Danger, Michelle Eldridge, and Kate Crossman. Though the women were from different parts of the country, they had two things in common: They were white, and they didn’t have four-year college degrees.

In other words, they were members of a key demographic that helped win Trump the presidency. According to the Pew Research Center, while Hillary Clinton won 54 percent of all women voters — and overwhelmingly won the votes of women of color — 53 percent of white female voters went for Trump. White women without college degrees? Trump won 62 percent of their votes.

“Expecting gender to work in the same way for all women in influencing voting behavior is the reason why political observers were surprised about the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” Jane Junn, a political science professor at the University of Southern California, writes in an upcoming issue of the political science journal “Politics, Groups, and Identities.”

Junn told VICE News that the 2016 election numbers were actually “consistent with voting behavior since the 1950s.” In 2012, fifty-six percent of white women voted for Mitt Romney; in 2008, fifty-three percent of them voted for John McCain. Trump, however, lost the vote among white women who graduated from college, suggesting economics and class were a strong determining factor among white female voters.

“Whether [Trump] is sincere in helping the white working class or not,” said Melissa Deckman, author of the book “Tea Party Women,” “he got that these voters felt left out of this newer version of America.”

The four women would agree. Referring to themselves as “the silent majority” on the MAGA March website, which has since been taken down, they said they found themselves feeling increasingly marginalized and forgotten in what they called the agenda of the elite left. But what was it that inspired four women from different parts of the country who had never met each other — and who had never before been politically active — to come together and organize a nationwide march in support of Trump?

VICE News spoke to each of them to find out.

* * *

PRECIOUS MIXON
Age: 27
Home: Bainbridge, Georgia
Family: Engaged mother of five
Education: GED and a few patrol officer courses

Mixon, who was named Precious by her grandmother, grew up in Colquitt, Georgia, a city of about 1,900. Her mother worked at a peanut mill but didn’t earn enough to support her four children, so the family also collected government assistance. Mixon says that as a teenager, she repeatedly ran away from home because her mother disliked her boyfriend. And the police always ended up bringing her back home.

She had her first child with that boyfriend when she was 16; they got married and quickly divorced. Mixon lived in a trailer that once belonged to a dead aunt, babysitting and getting help from her mom to make ends meet. She eventually remarried, but was widowed before meeting the man who is now her fiancé; he works in construction. The couple now lives with her five children in Bainbridge, a city of about 12,500 people 50 miles north of Tallahassee, Florida.

“I didn’t like the way the country was going. Your kids can’t go to school or walk down the road and be safe anymore.”

The day after Trump’s inauguration, Mixon says she was holding her 1-year-old as she scrolled through excited posts about the new president on her Facebook feed. Fox News, the only TV channel she’d watched for the past two months, was on in the background broadcasting coverage of the Women’s March. The tone of the march upset her, she says, and so she decided to start a  the MAGA March and created a Facebook group to get it off the ground.

She says she did it primarily for her children. Although crime has gone down nationally the last 20 years, that’s not the way Mixon sees things.

“I didn’t like the way the country was going,” Mixon said. “Your kids can’t go to school or walk down the road and be safe anymore. It’s dangerous. I remember when I was a kid and you could do stuff, and your parents didn’t have to worry about you. It’s so different now.”

She’s recently seen her community plagued by a meth epidemic and says she has several family members who have addictions. But, she adds, after growing up with an alcoholic father who didn’t seem to want help, she cares less about providing rehabilitation for those dealing with addictions than she does about supporting law enforcement.

Mixon was frustrated with what she saw as disrespect shown to police officers during Trump protests. Two of her cousins are police officers, and she was adamant that the MAGA March show support for law enforcement.

She’s also passionate about supporting veterans. When she was able to donate $4,000 to the Disabled American Veterans that was left over from a MAGA March GoFundMe account, she felt that she was making a difference for the first time in her life. There were no courses to complete or tests to take; she had started a national march from her living room.

Going forward, Mixon says she wants to create distance between her movement and Trump, and focus more on soliciting donations for veterans and police.

“Trump doesn’t need any more money.” she said, “He’s a multi-billionaire.”

* * *

LINDA DANGER
Age: 48
Home: Marysville, Washington
Family: Stay-at-home mother of two separated from her husband
Education: High school

Danger hadn’t voted in the past two presidential elections, but the morning Trump was declared the winner, she found herself crying tears of joy and jumping around her living room at 3 a.m. A little more than two months later, on the day after the inauguration, she was at home on Facebook when she saw the MAGA March page and immediately wrote to Mixon about joining as an organizer.

Danger’s mother was an alcoholic and her father died when she was 11; she says she always dreamed of having a husband, children, and a white picket fence. When she got married and had her first child at 29, she decided to stay home with the kids.

She and her husband separated six years ago, their children are about to leave home, and she’s having a difficult time getting back into the workforce after 20 years almost entirely out of it; she briefly delivered mail about six years ago, but says she slipped two discs in her back and hasn’t been able to work or receive disability at all since.

Linda Danger at the Washington, D.C. MAGA March

As her own life has changed, Danger says she’s also become disillusioned by the change she’s seen in America. Though she once considered herself middle class, she now finds her money doesn’t go as far as it used to. She calls Obama a “plant to destroy America from within,” claiming that he’s purposefully allowed terrorists into the country. And she doesn’t like what she sees in her own community, a city of about 60,000 outside Seattle.

“The area I lived in and wanted to raise my kids in was a really nice area,” she said. “There was a country feeling. Now, there’s starting to be more people moving in, more people in the street needing money.”

She focuses on immigrants, who she says are treated better by the government than she is. She applied to receive Obamacare health insurance tax subsidies but says her family made $33 too much per year to qualify. So she was forced to take out loans for her children to get their teeth fixed or to see the eye doctor.

“I got denied, but I saw other people in there — illegal immigrants with five kids, and they get checks, a food card, free insurance,” she said. “And like, we’re a working family and have paid taxes forever and got denied. And that’s so frustrating.”

She’s hoping Trump makes it easier for her kids, “where they won’t have to fight their whole life, where they can work, go to college, get a degree, and use it.” Clinton won easily in the Seattle metro area, and Danger felt unable to share her opinions until she found the MAGA March community.

“I just feel like I finally have people to talk to,” she said. “It’s like a support group in a way…. People feel they have somewhere to talk about their frustrations without being told to shut up or that they’re racists…. We’ve been suppressed, I’ve felt, for so long.”

* * *

MICHELLE ELDRIDGE
Age: 35
Home: Spartanburg, South Carolina
Family: Married, stay-at-home mother of four
Education: Some high school

When Trump first announced his plan to build a wall along the Mexican border, Eldridge decided to vote for the first time in her life. Born in Florida, she lived there with her mother and stepfather, a legal Iranian immigrant, until the couple separated when Eldridge was 7. About two years later, he told Eldridge and her mother that he was going to visit family in Iran — and disappeared. One of his family members eventually called from Iran to say that he’d died, but the women now think it was all a lie.

Eldridge admits this experience informs her views on immigration.

“I’ve seen so much from [immigrants],” she said. “It was the lying and the deceit that made me think twice. My mother doesn’t even know if he’s dead or alive. [Immigration] is a trigger for me. Hearing about all these attacks freaks me out.”

Her mom got remarried to a veteran who helped raise Eldridge from the age of 11. Now disabled, he struggles with post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder, and for the last five years, Eldridge has been his primary caretaker. She says she herself has been on disability for about 10 years after an injury, and her husband is on it for a mental condition.

“Look who Trump put in his cabinet. I think he’ll make a huge difference for our veterans.”

Her experiences trying to procure care for her stepfather at Veterans Health Administration hospitals inspired her to join the MAGA March.

“They don’t want to treat him for anything,” she said of the VA. “He has to pay out of pocket for local treatment…. They say, ‘Oh, we didn’t find anything wrong with him,’ and then we go to a different specialist and they tell him that he needs to have surgery or he’s not going to walk again.”

When one of Eldridge’s friends added her to the MAGA March Facebook group, she quickly responded to Mixon’s posts looking for regional leaders. Eldridge felt that Obama had no interest in helping veterans, and she hopes Trump will change the way vets are treated, particularly with respect to financial assistance and access to mental health services.

“Look who he put in his cabinet,” she said of Trump. “I think he’ll make a huge difference for our veterans.”

* * *

KATE CROSSMAN
Age: 35
Home: Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
Family: Recently divorced with two adult stepchildren
Education: Technical school certificate

When Crossman saw Mixon promoting the MAGA March in the comments section of a Tucker Carlson Facebook post, she joined the group immediately. Despite working full-time as a dental technician, she would often stay up late with Mixon, tweeting and sending emails in an effort to increase the group’s profile.

Crossman wasn’t always a conservative, having grown up in a liberal household with two sisters. Her mother was a public school teacher, and their family was heavily impacted by ACT 10, a 2011 Wisconsin budget repair bill backed by Gov. Scott Walker that required state employees to pay half of their annual pension costs and increased their health insurance premiums. Crossman believes her mother lost her job because of the measure; she was a reading specialist who was let go because the school didn’t have enough money to fund the position.

Linda Danger, Kate Crossman, Michelle Eldridge, and Precious Mixon in Washington, D.C. for the MAGA March

In her early 20s, Crossman worked as a waitress putting herself through technical school, then started working as a dental technician in 2006. She didn’t have health insurance until 2010, when she bought her own coverage. And that’s when her politics began to change.

She was responsible for her own insurance costs, and after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2011, she says her health insurance deductible rose from $800 to $5,000 in three years — something she blamed on new Obamacare rules. She says she and her husband had to live in subsidized Section 8 housing because health care costs meant they couldn’t afford anything else.

She started listening to conservative talk radio, and in 2014 she volunteered for Walker’s re-election campaign. Trump’s comments about the importance of the free market in providing affordable healthcare and holding drug companies accountable resonated with her. In November, she and her husband voted for the first time since 2000, and they voted for Trump because of his central message: Make America great again.

“I think that they left us behind,” she said of the government’s treatment of the working middle class. “I thought that we were getting just completely lied to and I just wanted to tell the truth.

Ultimately, she was moved to help organize the MAGA March because of her perception of the Women’s March — a major national movement of women hailed for being inclusive that she felt didn’t include her.

“If you want to be inclusive, then you have to love everyone even if they don’t believe in your views,” she said.

In the lead-up to the election, Crossman had many discussions with her 23-year-old sister, Grace, who Crossman calls a “big-time Democrat.” They spoke the day after Trump was elected, but then Crossman posted a message to Facebook in which she voiced her support for things like mass deportations of immigrants, a ban on gay marriage, and the imprisonment of the Clintons.

She also told “everyone who thought I was a lost cause… to fuck off!”

She and her sister stopped speaking after that. Four months later, Grace died in a car crash shortly before the MAGA March was to take place. At that point, Crossman wasn’t sure she wanted to continue her involvement with the event.

“I didn’t know if I would be dishonoring her memory,” she said of her sister. “But I decided that she would want me to go because I was passionate about it.”

* * *

Today the MAGA March movement is no more — the organization fell apart after its first and only action. Danger is now looking to organize locally; she started her own Facebook page, America First March, which currently has 18 members. Mixon and Eldridge recruited a few regional leaders to help with a new movement, MAGA Nationwide, which is currently a 2,500-member Facebook group. As they build a new website and create an online store, they’re hoping to bus people to D.C. from the newly acquired regional leaders’ home states of California, Missouri, and Colorado for another march in the fall.

Crossman says she clashed with Mixon in the wake of the march, disagreeing on everything from travel costs to what should come next for the movement. She also recently divorced her husband of 16 years. Ultimately, she says, she wishes she’d never gotten involved with politics in the first place.

“Nothing I did changed anything,” she said. “It only divides people, and nobody wins regardless of what side you’re on.”

CORRECTION: April 27, 2017, 1:44: Precious Mixon was one of four children, not three as previously reported. Mixon was widowed after her second marriage, not divorced. VICE News regrets the errors.

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