Meet Michigan's divided: Ben Shomo

Ben Shomo

Ben Shomo (Photo by John Russell)

Vital stats

Name: Ben Shomo
Age: 21
Place: Traverse City
Job: between jobs (barista, cook)
Income: living on savings
Voted for: Didn’t vote
Hopes or fears for 2017: Worries about setbacks to social reforms

TRAVERSE CITY — Ben Shomo is no political neophyte. He speaks eloquently about the U.S. political process, the policies and shortcomings of both major parties, and what he expects Trump to do in his first 100 days in office. All while sipping coffee or taking a drag from a cigarette in the alley behind Brew, a hip coffee shop and community gathering place for millennials and young professionals.

Shomo didn’t vote in November. He has never voted, to the chagrin of his parents, college-educated, Democratic-leaning voters. Shomo remembers “Meet the Press” was always on television in his household growing up. But the political system, he said, is more about “creating conflict” than finding solutions. And he doesn’t want to be a part of it. Shomo considered voting for Bernie Sanders during the primaries but opted against doing so, again confounding his mother.

Shomo also refused to attend college after high school. He took AP classes his senior year at Traverse City West, but said he “felt disenfranchised with the educational system.” Instead, Shomo worked for his parents’ moving company after high school, saved up money, then worked at Brew for six months as a barista and cook. Now he is between jobs and sharing an inexpensive basement apartment with a friend.

He has no health insurance, refusing to sign up for the Affordable Care Act, accruing fines for his stance. “I’m a fan of Obamacare in essence,” he said, “just not the federal mandate.”

On election night, Shomo was in Chicago visiting a friend. When it became clear that Trump would win, he followed stock exchange rates late into the night, predicting the economy would collapse. It did not.

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Sun, 02/05/2017 - 12:27pm

I hope in the future issues you capture how these individuals are experiencing their election choice as well as how they feel about the impact to those who did not vote for President Trump. If we are to heal this United States we need to walk in others shoes, be empathetic and reach out to give a helping hand up first and then engage in deeper understanding. Judge not yeast yea be judged (not in the biblical sense) but to understand.