Editor’s note: This is another installment in an occasional series for which reporters at The Times-Tribune and other CNHI newspapers across the U.S. talk to voters about issues that matter to them and their thoughts about the country’s political landscape.
CORBIN — Brad Pearce sat in Corbin’s Bubby’s BBQ restaurant wearing a hat. It wasn’t red and made no mention of America or its level of greatness. Despite the youth minister’s political views, it was a simple hat with the shape of the state of Kentucky on the front.
That’s who Pearce is when it comes to politics. He doesn’t flaunt his beliefs with clothing, Facebook posts, or bumper stickers — but that’s not to say he doesn’t follow politics or believe passionately about his views. He’s just not going to tell you about them, unless you ask.
A Lexington native, Pearce says he doesn’t follow politics as much as he did four years ago. He says it mostly comes down to how little he feels the President affects his day to day life.
“For me personally, I know a lot of people are hardcore into politics and that’s their prerogative,” he said. “I saw [Barack] Obama for eight years, I’ve seen [Donald] Trump for four years, George Bush for eight years. I’m confident I can make it through who comes next.”
Pearce credits the hysteria on social media as another deterrent on how closely he follows politics.
“I would say that’s probably a reaction to the culture. Facebook, just period, Facebook,” he said laughing.
“I mean I don’t trust CNN or Fox News. Everything has been so hyper politicized that I don’t even know what national news sources there are that are worth while anymore, on both sides of the aisle. I try to read a little bit from both [sides] and make an objective opinion, but that’s kind of hard to do.”
The 27-year-old describes his political beliefs as prototypically conservative. However, he shares that he didn’t vote for President Trump in the last election. In fact, Pearce says he didn’t vote for either major party candidate last election.
“I disagreed with just about everything Hillary [Clinton] wanted to put into place. Hillary was just not an option for me. Then I didn’t take Donald Trump at his word.”
“He was really trying to harp on the Christian morals,” Pearce said on Trump. “He was doing speeches with religious figures and then he goes to Liberty University, that’s actually where I go.”
Pearce is currently working on his graduate degree in religious studies.
“He’s doing a speech, he’s reading off the teleprompter and he says ‘two Corinthians.’ It’s a really small thing, like sure people mess up speaking all the time. But anybody around here that reads the Bible, goes to church just vaguely would say ’Second Corinthians.’ It was just a red flag.”
Pearce says his religious beliefs tie into his political ones strongly.
“I come from an Evangelical, Christian background, that shapes my worldview, and I’m kind of unapologetic about that. I’m willing to have discussions and everything, but that is the way I see the world so it has to have an impact on my politics. I think it’s disingenuous for politicians who say it doesn’t.”
Pearce’s religious beliefs shape his views on abortion.
“I wrote a research paper on the definition of personhood at the time of conception. It’s something I’ve looked a lot into and from my position if I believe that God created someone in the womb, then they’re… made. From that point of conception, there is multiple Bible verses that would back that up. I disagree with abortion.”
Pearce, who earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of the Cumberlands, says he’s noticed how politicians are using word play to attempt to shape people’s opinions on issues.
“What I see going on in politics now is a rebranding to soften things. We used to call it abortion and now it's reproductive rights, but we’re still talking about the same issue. I see a lot of word play going around to try and change our conversations, and I just kind roll my eyes at it.”
In the same notion, Pearce’s faith also sees him a little more relaxed on other typically conservative views. Although Pearce isn’t a fan of taxes, he says he realizes that they’re inevitable and would rather them go to social programs that help those in need.
“As far as taxes go, they’re going to take our money. Like whether we put a Republican in office or not, they’re going to be collecting our taxes. So, I would rather it go to things that help people survive a little bit easier.”
In his perfect world Pearce says those programs wouldn’t be needed.
“Forced benevolence isn’t benevolence. By that I mean I think it would be better if people took it upon themselves to help other people versus the government doing that. Now people need help, I am not trying to say that people shouldn’t be able to get help, but in my perfect society people would be helping out of their own want-to.”
Looking ahead, Pearce says he is most likely going to vote for Trump in the upcoming election. He says he’s been following the Democratic nominee process and none of the candidates really resonate with him.
“I think it’s hilarious that Beto O’Rourke thinks that he can be in the race. He couldn’t even beat Ted Cruz in Texas.”
O’Rourke has since ended his campaign.
“I don’t think he’s a very good person, but the stuff he has implemented was the stuff he said he was going to do, and that was what I was really worried about,” Pearce explained on his decision to vote for Trump.
“I thought he might just be a showman. But yeah, I’d probably vote for him over anybody on the left, because they’re getting worse and he’s actually following up on what he’d say he’d do. What I’ve seen from the Democratic Party is that they think they lost the last election because they haven’t been running left enough. I just feel like they’re drifting further and further to the left with progressive policies. You could probably say that same thing is happening on the right, but I just agree with that more,” he chuckled adding, “so that’s not a big deal to me.”
Despite how strong he feels about the topics we vote for on election days, Pearce says he doesn’t let politics consume him. He’s more worried about helping others through his work in his church, his young family, and establishing roots with his wife.