Ben King is the cofounder and outreach director of Amish PAC, a super PAC for conservative Amish voters in swing states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio. He is a former member of the Amish church and currently serves as the CEO of an Amish barn-building business.
Donald Trump is, in many ways, the ultimate digital candidate through his use of Twitter and television. How do you inform voters about Donald Trump and keep them updated, given their restrictions on digital media?
Primarily, we focus on the issues that they are interested in. We are not trying to educate them on the whole world, on the foreign affairs they don’t care about. We are trying to educate them on how specifically a Clinton versus [a] Trump Administration will affect their way of life. If you look at the [Amish PAC] advertisement in the Lancaster Farming, it lists a few things, like religious freedom, less taxes, less regulation, and abortion…Those [issues] are some that nobody escapes from, regardless of how isolated you are from the world. They pay taxes and are affected by regulation, primarily because there are a lot of them in farming and the construction industry. The EPA has been really hard on farmers in this area. So they can’t escape, regardless [of] if they have cars, electricity, TV, and the things that the rest of us have.
What element of Hillary Clinton’s platform does the Amish community most oppose?
The number one concern is the liberal social agenda that the Democratic platform is promoting. I don’t know whether it is Hillary Clinton herself that is disliked by the Amish, as much as the policies that the Democratic party is pushing. In the last eight years under Obama, there have been so many things changed about our country that are just opposite from the Amish way of life.
How does Hillary Clinton’s gender affect Amish public opinion regarding her campaign?
All of us have a worldview based on our experience and the culture that we live in. The Amish culture has large families. So that requires the mom to stay at home and raise the kids while the father earns a living for the family. Based on their worldview and experience, women should not be holding positions of leadership in the church. Really, their primary goal is to raise the family and be the homemaker. That’s their way of life. It doesn’t make sense that a woman would even want to be president.
Does Trump’s business experience particularly appeal to the Amish community?
Certainly. A lot of Amish are entrepreneurs. Lancaster County is very well known for its entrepreneurism and small businesses. And certainly that is something that they connect with, and it is something that they are very affected by. Trump will put policies in place, primarily by cutting taxes and reducing regulation, that will really help incentivize people to start businesses. That’s really a huge issue for them.
Although you have left the Amish church, you still work among the Amish community. Can you describe your journey from an isolated religious community to an active political participant?
When we started our business in 2008, that got me involved with a lot of influential, well-to-do people, who had a different thought process than I did. And the more I talked to those people and learned about their world views and perspectives, it made me educate myself on really “What is truth?” Reading the Bible and digging deep helped me define what is important in life. I haven’t left my faith. I still believe in God and Jesus Christ. But, so far as the practices of wearing certain types of clothing and driving horse and buggy, those types of practices are really irrelevant.
There is a lot of fear about all the changes in agenda to fundamentally change our country by removing God from everything. If we remove God from our schools and government, we are going to lose that blessing eventually and we will be like any other empire or nation. It’s really a concern for the next generation that is driving us to get involved…I encourage people to really dig into the history of our country and use some of that knowledge to choose from the candidates we have available for office. For me, it’s very clear that there is a huge difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Trump has been a doer his whole life. He built a billion-dollar company. That doesn’t happen by accident. He has the ability to surround himself with great people, and I believe that is what he will do in government. If you look at the rallies that he holds and the people that he is drawing, the diversity in his crowds is really amazing. He’s out there in the trenches really making stuff happen. He’s definitely not a perfect person, and not a perfect candidate, but I’m really excited to see what he makes out of the campaign, and once he wins, what he makes out of his position as president.