A business friend of mine passed away recently after a long illness. I was frankly amazed to hear that among the items placed in the coffin was a photograph of Donald Trump.
I simply had no idea.
If you had asked me his politics I would have said moderate Republican in the New York sense, a Mike Bloomberg for president-type voter.
We are missing something with this deep and visceral connection many Irish Americans have made to Trump.
Far from fading over the past almost two years of controversy the goodwill for him has strengthened. He is seen as aJohn Wayne figure, cleaning up the swamp that is Washington. His faults are admitted but are far outweighed by his finer points.
I correspond frequently with an old friend who is never shy of pointing out the virtues of The Donald to me. He gets outraged at some of the articles on IrishCentral but, in fairness, he makes his points without anger or hate.
He simply believes Donald Trump is the Sun King. So do a lot of Irish.
He is not alone, as part of an article in 2016 I interviewed numerous Irish Americans who supported him. Recently I talked to three of them again.
Despite all the negative coverage, they are even more devoted. They see him as under siege and unfairly so. They believe he has tackled the elites and liberal media who they feel look down on them and they couldn't be happier.
Eerily ,Trump’s joking contention that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it almost rings true.
When I examined the issue further with them one fact stands out.
They love what he is doing with the Supreme Court. It essentially cancels all out all the blunders and bluster. They feel that the court has legislated far too much on issues such as gay marriage, abortion and affirmative action, issues that they say would never have passed the electorate. A conservative Supreme Court answers all their prayers.
They also love his boldness and his determination to speak out.
Kevin Dowd, brother of NY Times columnist Maureen, says that he likes Trump because “I admire his resiliency against an unrelenting and unfair press." Dowd says the Supreme Court appointments are the core of the attraction.
He says “His tweeting is annoying, but it can be an effective defense.
"Trump got into office because of Congress' inability or unwillingness to do its job.
"Trump delivered on his promises to shake things up.”
All of that is undeniably true. Of course, Democrats believe the shakeup has been a disaster for the country but the hard-core Irish Americans for Trump hail him as a savior.
There is a anger over the point of view that white people generally have never had it so good. Put frankly, many Irish Americans have felt that view is at great odds with the reality of their situation.
With good colleges charging $60,000 a year and housing prices through the roof and wages stagnant they will never hand on to the next generation what was handed to them by their parents.
Even the traditional jobs in the police and fire departments are now getting closed off as full-scale affirmative action in cities such as New York takes hold.
The recent exam to join the police force was widely publicized by the NYPD in every ethnic newspaper imaginable - except the Irish ones.
So, Trump speaks to a certain class of Irish who feel their success has been hollowed out by decades of political correctness always treating them as the bad guy. They say they are not racist, just realistic.
They are also with him on immigration, seeing the rules dead set against any European migration and skewed hopelessly towards Latin America and Muslim immigrants. Irish American right-winger Pat Buchanan recently summarized it thus:
“This is the great issue of our time. And, the real question is whether Europe has the will and the capacity, and America has the capacity to halt the invasion of the countries until they change the character — political, social, racial, ethnic — character of the country entirely.”
It could be Trump issuing those statements. Surprisingly at least to me, the immigrant kids in cages on the border separated from their parents did not shake that Irish core. There is a touch of the Northern Ireland issue called “whatabouttery” or “my atrocities suffered are greater than yours.”
The man with the picture of Trump in his coffin was a man who did good who gave back and helped his communities. A man I was proud to call friend.
He was entitled to his heroes, but it was still a shock to me. When it comes to Trump it seems the loyalty for some Irish even goes beyond the grave. The question is whether political consensus of any kind has been buried with it.