The Amish didn’t watch DonaldTrump during the debates, and they aren’t reading his tweets. They also don’t usually cast ballots, as it’s strongly discouraged among their community, but that’s not stopping a new PAC from getting out the vote.
Amish PAC’s website says it’s the “The first Super PAC dedicated to getting plain voters to the polls,” using the term”plain” to referto the Amish people and their lifestyle. But instead of airing smear campaign commercials or spreading anti-Hillary Clintonrhetoric on Fox News, Amish PAC is going old school with newspapers and billboards.
The two-pronged approach has one purpose: to bring a tiny but deeply conservative bloc of voters to the polls in two key states, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
According to the committee, each state has approximately 60,000 Amish residents. Even a small jump in Amish voter turnout—5 percent, the group says—could be the difference between a Republican and Democratic president come January.
If Trump and the “plain people” seem like strange bedfellows, they’re reallynot.
The Amish and other Anabaptist groupsendorse basic Christian beliefs, but have been shaped by a “martyr tradition,” according to Elizabethtown College. They preach lovingtheir enemies and forgivinginsults, practicing pacifism and nonresistance.
That said, when the Amish do cast their ballots, they vote for their individual rights, less government and to protect their right to bear arms, according to the committee.
Amish PAC has deep ties to the Republican Party. It was founded by an alumnus of a pro-Ben Carson super PAC, an ex-Amish donor to that super PAC and an employee of Gingrich Productions, NBC Newsreports. Ben Walters, a former Amishman of Lancaster, is a former fundraiser for the pro-Carson 2016 Committee and now serves as fundraising counsel to Amish PAC.
The committee is against same-sex marriage, and wants to protect religious freedom and gun ownership rights, spokesman Ben King told Newsworks.
“The Amish are a very conservative community on all the issues of the day,” King said. “It comes down to who’s going to most allow the country to function like it has functioned. The Amish might not agree with the personality and character of Donald Trump, but the alternative is far worse.”
Church elders often discourage its members from participating in voting, as it’s viewed as a modern practice in our Democratic society, and allegiance should be pledged to the church above all else.
“I can promise you this time around the Amish will be out in full force voting for president,” Raber said. “And I can almost guarantee you that the Amish will be voting for Donald Trump. Because they vote for what is right.”
In 2004, George W. Bush visited Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and Holmes County, Ohio, in an attempt to woo Amish and Mennonite voters in his re-election bid.
Approximately 43 percent of Holmes County Amish were registered to vote in 2004; only 13 percent actually did so, with the majority selecting Bush.
That fall, approximately 10,350 Amish adults in Lancaster County were eligible to register and vote. One-tenth of that, approximately 1,342, actually voted, according to PennLive — the majority of whom supported Bush.
But Bush also famously squeaked by Al Gore in 2000 with a mere 537 vote margin. So to Amish PAC, registering even 1,000 voters and helping them get to polls could make or break Trump’s campaign.