This independent voter sat out in 2016 – but in November, he’s backing Joe Biden

‘I do have a little faith that Biden may not shoot at peaceful protesters to have a photo op’

Chris Riotta
New York
Friday 19 June 2020 15:42
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In a divided time, The Independent is highlighting unique voters every week from all 50 states – featuring a nation of different voices
In a divided time, The Independent is highlighting unique voters every week from all 50 states – featuring a nation of different voices

Polarized is a weekly series featuring Americans from all 50 states sharing their views on the 2020 elections. Click here if you would like to be a part of this project

Bryce Lewis often gets “funny looks” while running errands and wearing a face mask, the 43-year-old Kansas voter says, since he’s one of the few remaining residents of Wichita still following strict coronavirus guidelines.

“Our governor was pretty progressive and a lot of stuff got shut down early,” Lewis says, noting that he’s still concerned about a potential second wave. “It seems like we kind of opened our economy inconsistently and we didn’t have any measures in place to trace and test people. It kind of feels like we’re just taking a big risk.”

As the number of new coronavirus cases once again rise in reopened states like Kansas, Lewis, a former smoker, worries about contracting Covid-19.

“I think at the most we’ve been at like 50 percent of people wearing masks” in Wichita, Lewis says. “Now we’re at 15 percent, maybe 20. You seem like you get singled out. It’s weird trying to participate in taking those precautions when nobody else does.”

And yet, Lewis seems like a pretty reasonable guy. He says he’s been trying to put himself in the place of somebody younger, like his two sons, one of whom is 17 years old and has slowly begun going back out as the state reopens.

Bryce Lewis: ‘I just don’t think Trump is good for our country’

“I just believe that when it comes to caring for others and wearing a mask, that if you don’t have the will to do it for others out of generosity or humanity’s sake, then do it for selfish reasons,” he says. “Do it so other people do it and you won’t catch their germs.”

Lewis, who was born and raised in Wichita, appears to have a similar philosophy when it comes to his vote in the 2020 presidential elections.

Though he sat out in 2016, the self-identified independent voter says he will be casting a ballot this year for former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee. When it comes to his reasoning, Lewis says it’s his “social duty” to remove Donald Trump from the White House.

“I don’t know how to put into words how strange it is what kind of government we have right now,” he says. “I’m a little beside myself, to be honest.”

When we spoke, the president was tweeting conspiracy theories about Martin Gugino, the elderly man shoved to the ground by police officers during protests in Buffalo over the death of George Floyd; an incident that later went viral.

“We have a president attacking an elderly man – I just think it’s cowardly,” Lewis says. “Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but if your opinion sucks, you should probably keep it to yourself.”

Lewis notes that “the problems we’ve been having, we’ve been having for a long, long time,” but says he believes Trump is at least in part responsible for the divisiveness seen in recent weeks amid the nationwide protests against police brutality. The president’s supporters have begun showing up to the demonstrations in droves, a move Lewis says appeared to be “ill-willed” and which “doesn’t make a lot of sense”.

“Protesters should be able to protest without being attacked,” he says, adding: “Soldiers should never have to attack their own citizens.”

Lewis says he’s looking for a president to tackle the issues of income and wealth inequality, as well as someone who “will begin connecting the dots with racism and how it connects to police policy”.

Click here to read more of The Independent’s series, Polarized: Voices From Across America

“Black Lives Matter is very important, but we need to go beyond that,” he says. “That’s what I’m hoping to see in Biden. I just really don’t want to see Trump again – I’m not going to throw my vote away for that.”

Lewis says he abstained from voting in 2016 because he did not support Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee, and was never planning to vote for Trump.

Though he admits he’s never been the biggest fan of Biden, “things have just gotten so bad” with Trump, he says, adding: “Especially with the tweets.”

“I just don’t think the guy is good for our country. I think we could get Bozo the Clown in there and he’d do better than Trump,” he says. “I’m really not even trying to be insulting, but when we have a president attacking an elderly man who was shoved by police officers and claim he was bringing a device – which was his cellphone – and he was trying to disrupt their machinery... What planet does he live on?”

It’s gotten to the point where Lewis says he doesn’t even listen to what the president says during some of his recent briefings and speeches.

“You shouldn’t ever get to that point with your president,” he says. “Out of every president I’ve had, I’ve never thought to myself that I’m just not even going to listen to what they say. A lot of times, even if you disagree you still got to hear it. But with him, I mean, he changes his story every week.”

While he may not have felt it necessary to vote against Trump in 2016 with Clinton as the only formidable opponent, Lewis says the last few years – and especially the president’s response to recent protests –have proven why he’s a terrible fit for office.

“I do have a little faith that Biden may not shoot at peaceful protesters to have a photo op,” he says, referring to how protesters in Washington DC were tear-gassed by police officers so Trump could pose for photos outside of a church.

Lewis concludes: “The lesser of two evils, maybe. But if one is actually, really evil, you kind of have a no-brainer.”

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