Unlike the 5,644 Democrats in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, who changed their party registration to Republican in 2016, presumably so they could vote in the closed 2016 Republican primary, Ed Harry did not. He didn't formally leave his party at the beginning of the election — but his eye did wander.
At D's Diner, Harry dusts the crumbs from his white toast off of his deep- navy Penn State sweatshirt and switches from coffee to pop. As the young utility workers at the next table leave, he tips his hat, and they return the gesture.
He says of former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, the son of one former U.S. president and brother another: "I made a promise to myself, four years out, after Obama won his second term, that I would never vote for a Bush or a Clinton. That was absolute. Nothing would ever change that. I thought they were both corrupt."
He adds: "When Trump first announced, I laughed. I just couldn't believe that he even had a chance." But Harry was dead set on someone outside of the establishment, so he started to look at the other choices.
"The only other nonpolitician was Dr. Ben Carson," he says. "Everybody else, outside of Rand Paul, I didn't really have any use for. Put them in a bag and shake them and they all come out the same."
As the campaign went on, he wasn't committed to anybody. "The one I liked the best was Jim Webb," Harry says of the Democratic former Virginia senator and former secretary of the Navy, "and I thought he was probably the best candidate out of everybody, but he didn't last except for a couple of months."
The more he listened as the campaign went on, he explains, the better he understood that the Democrats definitely hated Donald Trump and the Republican establishment hated Trump. All the lobbyists on K Street hated Trump. The Chinese came out against him. India came out against him. Mexico came out against him.
Harry says: "I figured I must have a candidate because everybody who's coming out against him are all corrupt, and he's an outsider. So, I said, 'I think I found my candidate.'"
Then he made the announcement: "I had decided to go to the rally he held here in Wilkes-Barre and I ran into a local radio reporter who knew me as a Democrat union official. She said, 'What are you doing here?' I said, 'I guess I saw the light. I'm going to support Trump.' She said, 'You want to get interviewed?'"
He told her bluntly, "Actually, I don't care."
During the course of the interview, she asked him if he was involved in the labor community in the area.
"I said, 'I just happen to be president of the labor council,'" he says. "When we got done, I said, 'Well, that should get me a resignation tomorrow.' Sure enough, I got a phone call from them the next day." He voluntarily resigned, and he did it in person, in front of the entire council.
Harry has lost trust in everything big in this country. He says: "Big banks, big Wall Street, big corporations, the establishment of both parties and their lobbyists, and the big media corporations; gone are the days of the network news just delivering the news."
He adds: "This Russian s—- day in and day out is just absolute nonsense, as far as him being in cahoots. I watched ABC last Thursday; the first 10 minutes dealt with nothing but the allegations that he was in bed with the Russians. The big storms that hit the Midwest got a minute. Nothing else got any time. It was just all this bulls—-."
Harry is optimistic about Trump. "But it is going to be a hard slog, he has to work against the Democrats and the Republicans.
"In his heart I know he wants to do well. But Washington's culture is so embedded that it may be a year before he gets a handle, or eighteen months before he gets a handle on everything."
And no, Harry does not care about what Trump tweets. "We knew exactly who he was when we voted for him, tweet and all," he says. "What I liked about Trump was that it was more than about Trump, it was about people, it was about being part of something bigger than just me, I felt as though I was part of something important and worthy of accomplishing something better than what have had."
As long as Trump stays away from becoming a Bush or a Clinton and stays tough, Harry is in this new alliance for the long haul: "If he becomes one of them, then I think this movement continues, without him."