Rey Reynolds

Trump’s die-hard supporter, Ray Reynolds who lost his mother and sister due to high medical costs, opens up for The Pavlovic Today about why he thinks Obamacare is a death sentence.

At first glance, the life of Ray Reynolds might seem like the American dream.  He has a successful photography business with a few employees, a decent middle-class income, and a nice home in the Virginia suburbs, outside the Washington beltway.  Like much of America’s middle class, however, this lifestyle is hanging on by a thread.

The soaring costs of healthcare are largely responsible for a series of recent tragedies in Ray’s life.  Over the past few years, since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare), Ray has lost his mother and his sister to health problems that were likely treatable, but they could not afford the healthcare.

These tragedies left him, like so many in American suburbia, desperate for some kind of hope, and someone who would speak for them.  And like so many others, Ray found that hope in “The Trump Movement”, which is the title of his book.

When hope was lost, and change was tragic  
Rey's mom and sister Pamella who were not able to meet the costs of the ObamaCare
Rey’s sister Pamella (left) and mom,  who both died and were not able to meet the costs of the ObamaCare
Rey’s sister Pamella (left) and mom,  who both died and were not able to meet the costs of the ObamaCare

While Ray is not a policy wonk, he certainly understands the particular policies that have affected himself and the people he loves, and therefore can offer a firsthand account. We first discussed the passing of his mother.  

“Obamacare is really what brought about the book and me following Trump is because I went through, my mother passed away in Jan of 2015…Once she passed away they told us that my mom was on Medicare and some of her medications were not allowed due to Medicare policies through Obamacare…They say Obamacare didn’t do but so much, but Obamacare affected all of the medical policies, all of your doctors policies, all of the hospital policies.  Obamacare changed what you are allowed to be tested for, what you’re allowed to be treated for.”

So essentially, Obamacare included some changes to Medicare (likely Part D in this case) that reduced the number of medications that could be covered.  Ray was also told that had his mother been able to take all of the medications she had been prescribed, she would have lived.

This was just the beginning.

“My sister called me in July the 15th.  On Wednesday.  And she was just crying her eyes out and I said -What’s wrong?  She said ‘I don’t think I’m going to make it…The lung doctor says that something is wrong with my heart and I’m not getting oxygen to my brain…that’s why I’m short on breath…I could die…and then my heart doctor…said it’s not through my heart, it’s through my lungs.’  Both of them said that the test that she needed could determine the problem but Obamacare would not, the way Obamacare was set up through insurance and her work, their policy would not allow this test done right then because it was not an emergency.”  

His sister didn’t make it.

Ray Reynolds himself has been without insurance for years and has developed diabetes.  He has seen insurance premiums more than double over the last 5 years and has not been able to afford the premiums.  With his middle-income just above $50,000 a year, he makes just a little too much to qualify for the subsidies associated with Obamacare, but he’s far from rich.  Unsubsidized private health insurance for a man over 50 years of age is a tremendous blow to the budget.  According to Ray, the last quote he was given was “700 for the Gold Plan”, and that would come with a $6,000 deductible.

The Trump Movement
Trump Livberty
President Trump at Liberty with Dr Falwell

Many of America’s poor and disadvantaged look with envy on people like Ray.  But tragedy strikes the middle class as it does the poor, and when people like Ray see an America with declining opportunities, rising cost of living and stagnant income, their seemingly picturesque middle-class suburbia becomes far less of a comfort, and if anything, a liability.  

The decline of the American middle class will in no way benefit the working poor.  It will only expand the size of the working poor, and it is for this reason, that many like Ray Reynolds were attracted not so much to the Republican Party in general, but to the particular brand of Republicanism offered by Donald Trump.

Rey Reynolds was eager to support Trump in the best way he knew how.  He put his skills as a photographer to use.  During the Trump campaign, there was great controversy over the rallies and the violence that sometimes broke out.  Many will dispute the cause of this violence.  Whether or not you trust Ray’s opinion, pictures don’t lie.  And anyone looking for a balanced perspective on the Trump rallies should see Ray’s pictures, along with the many others from different perspectives and angles.  

Needless to say, Ray Reynolds was focused on the positive aspects of the Trump campaign.  He discussed with me the pictures he took showing diversity among Trump’s supporters, such as showing African Americans for Trump, Hispanics for Trump, gays for Trump. 

If you are a visual person, you will find his book “The Trump Movement: My Path, My Purpose very easy to read.  Every page includes a picture, and a story of all of the events Ray attended and covered. 

Trump’s base

Ray Reynolds is like many in Trump’s base.  He is not a policy analyst, and he does not have a college degree.  He has a skill that he has used to make a decent living for himself, and has simply tried to live his life as a peaceful and contributing member of society.  

Our interview was briefly interrupted by the doorbell.  Someone from the local police had come by to pick up some pictures.  Ray then explained to me that he volunteers his photography to the local police department.

For many in the Washington beltway, the first instinct is to be dismissive of people like Ray Reynolds. According to Ray, some have interviewed him only to twist his words and make him look “like a hick”. The politicians leave the beltway only long enough to campaign. The bureaucrats may never leave.  But outside the Washington beltway, there is an America that is close to crisis.

RR with Pence
Rey Reynolds with VP Mike Pence and the Second Lady Karen Pence

We are a wealthy nation. We are not war-torn. We do have a high life expectancy and low infant mortality rate.  But beneath the surface, there are deep racial tensions, a middle class struggling not to fall into poverty, and a deep underlying fear that the America we leave to the next generation will be a diminished nation.

Trump’s supporters feel like those in the Washington beltway are just not listening to them. Ray told me that Trump “speaks for me!”  

Despite so much difficulty in his recent life, at no point in the interview was Ray happier or more at peace than when he discussed the highlights of the Trump campaign.  But those moments passed when he also remembered the riots, the disdain we are seeing towards the police, and according to him “some of these teachers are teaching their kids to hate Trump.”  Considering how many schools requested the day off to mourn following Trump’s victory, is this that hard to believe?

Many feel that Trump is a con artist who has played people like Ray for a fool.  If that is true, isn’t that all the more reason to understand people like Ray Reynolds, rather than dismissing him because he doesn’t know what is Medicare Part D?

Outside the Washington beltway, Americans are feeling life, good and bad. They are not polishing their words for perfect little soundbites, nor are they fine-tuning their knowledge of public policy for detailed analysis. They are experiencing the real effects of those policies. Ray’s first-hand experience with both Obamacare and the Trump campaign makes him a different kind of expert, and he has the pictures to prove it.

Richard Wagner is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Florida State College at Jacksonville. He conducts independent study on the American conservative movement and foreign policy. When he is...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *