Meet Michigan's divided: Tom Herbon

Tom Herbon

Tom Herbon (Photo by Brian Widdis)

Vital stats

Names: Tom Herbon
Ages: 57
Place: Troy
Jobs: Engineer
Incomes: Retired
Voted for: Trump
Hopes or fears for 2017: A conservative-majority Supreme Court

TROY — For 17 years, Tom Herbon packed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for work. He ate in the company cafeteria, folded the plastic sandwich bag and paper bag and took them home to reuse. Herbon was an engineer at IBM and could easily afford to join co-workers for $10 lunches, but that’s not how he was raised. You don’t spend money unless you need to. That’s why he still rides the bicycle he got in high school and hasn’t seen the dentist in three years.

In August, he splurged on paint supplies at Walmart. He painted “Trump 2016” on a 4-by-8 foot sheet of half-inch plywood and planted it in his front yard. On Nov. 8, he tied the sign to the back of his 2000 minivan and drove to his polling place, telling Troy residents, “A vote for Trump is a vote for America.”

Herbon, 57, never before posted a political sign outside his spacious home, or stood outside a polling place.

“I truly believed that if Hillary Clinton was elected, it would be the end of America as we’ve known it,” he said. “I was very concerned about my kids and my grandkids”

He retired at 51 and spends his days puttering around a basement wood shop as clean and organized as a surgical suite. He’s Catholic, pro-life and pro-gun, with five grown children, only one of whom has left the flock and become a Democrat.

Democrats don’t understand Trump voters like him -- well-educated, with good jobs. “They think I must be a racist, a homophobe.” But that big Trump sign was not about social issues. It had more to do with all those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. “I’m all for helping people, but you have to help yourself,” Herbon said. “Nobody gets a free ride.”

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