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By Lindsay Maizland,
Vox, USA,
13 July 2017

I asked Trump voters in Michigan about the Russia investigation. They said it`s fake news

It`s been nearly a year since the FBI started an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Since then, the investigation has turned toward examining links between Russia and President Donald Trump`s associates and members of his campaign, and even possible obstruction of justice by Trump.

The investigation has been the go-to news item and topic of many heated conversations since last July, at least in DC. But outside of the nation`s capital, many voters aren`t as concerned about possible Trump ties to Russia.

When I recently visited my hometown and one other small town in Michigan that went for Trump, I talked with residents about the investigation. Nearly every single person I spoke with said the same thing: The media just needs to leave Trump alone, and the Russia investigation is a distraction.

"I`m tired of hearing about the Russia thing. Let it go and move on. The media is the one that`s propagating it. They just won`t let it die," said Nancy Androsky, a longtime resident whose grandchildren go to school in the area.

Conversations with residents of Linden and Argentine, which are located between the cities of Detroit and Flint, confirmed what recent polls have shown - that Republicans don`t think the Russia investigation is a big deal. More than half of Republicans think the investigation is a political distraction, according to Vox`s Alexia Fernandez Campbell`s analysis of a June CBS News poll. Only one in five consider it a critical security issue.

And while nine out of 10 Democratic voters said that an investigation into Russian involvement in the election is somewhat or very important, only 35 percent of Republicans agreed, according to a February poll by Quinnipiac University.

More important to the residents of Linden and Argentine Township than the Russia investigation are promises Trump made on the campaign trail: building a stronger military, restricting immigration by refugees and asylum seekers, and creating jobs for middle-class Americans.

And around 60 percent of people in the two towns voted for Trump in the last election, up from the approximately 50 percent of people who voted for Republican candidate Mitt Romney in 2012.

Despite the fact that he has yet to follow through on many of his campaign promises, including softening his position on China`s currency manipulation, failing to build a wall on the US-Mexico border, and struggling to repeal and replace Obamacare, his supporters keep saying "give him a chance."

"I think Trump will be a lot better than our previous president. I think he`s going to get things done," said Rich Marshbanks, the owner of a local barbershop. "I think he`s basically a good man. His heart`s in the right place."

It`s not surprising that nearly every person I talked with said they supported Trump. With a combined population of approximately 6,500 people, the towns of Linden and Argentine are stereotypical small-town America. They`re the kind of place where you`ll run into at least one person you know at the only grocery store in town and the smell of cow manure from nearby dairy farms occasionally wafts in the air.

"This is such a close-knit community," said Sharon Stone, the editor of the Tri-County Times, a newspaper covering several towns in the area. "They love the small hometown feel, but all of the perks of having everything available to them. We have so many lakes in this area, and there`s quite a bit of money in this area."

These towns are also almost entirely white - 96 percent of Linden residents and 97 percent of Argentine residents identified as white on the 2010 census.

Stone described the area as "passionate," but since the last election, people have become disenchanted with politics. "It`s almost like they`re completely fed up with politics in general on both sides," said Stone. "It`s not necessarily just the whole Russian thing that`s going on. It`s just politics in general."

And based on the conversations I had with people in the area who agreed to talk with me, that definitely seems to be true. People said they feel ignored by the Washington establishment, hate the "liberal media," and couldn`t care less about the Russia investigation.

"It`s a waste of time and energy for us out here in the hinterlands for us to worry about what`s going on in the cesspool in Washington," said Norman Schmidt, Argentine`s treasurer who has been on the board for more than 20 years. "And it`s a swamp. It really is a swamp."


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