For nearly two months after the 2020 election, Ronnie Thomas proudly flew a flag outside his Route 100 apartment building near the Stowe/Waterbury town line — supporting his preferred candidate, Donald Trump.
The top two-thirds of the red, white and blue flag read “Trump 2020” and the bottom bore a slogan not fully printable in a family newspaper, but perhaps familiar to political conservatives — or, perhaps, disgruntled cattle farmers — who’ve just had enough: “No More Bulls**t.”
“I did piss a lot of people off, but what the hell,” Thomas said.
Then came the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol building and down came Thomas’s flag.
For him, it was a bridge too far to see fellow Keep-America-Great-hat-wearing Trump supporters beating up on Capitol police and threatening the lawmakers inside the building.
“It was not right for them to go in there and do that to those guys,” he said. “When they went into the Capitol and they were hurting those guys, that wasn’t right. That’s not us as Americans.”
Thomas is among that vocal group of Republicans who believe the election was rigged, and he wasn’t going to take down his flag as long as he felt his preferred president was the victor, or as long as Trump was still in office.
But when the attack on the Capitol happened, it seemed like a good time to put the flag away.
At least, for a while. He laughs and says he’ll pull it out again in four years. That’s when, he predicts, Trump will run again, and win.
Thomas thinks things will calm down in a month or so, and he may be correct. The attention span of most people seems to be measured in social media cycles, not history books.
Plus, he said, Vermonters just tend to be more tolerant of other people’s views, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone.
Thomas, 59, grew up on a farm in Waterville and has lived in Stowe for five years, working construction.
He said it’s like the old maxim that goes back generations (second only, perhaps to duct tape being the state fabric or jeezum crow the state bird): In Vermont, you do what you want.
“I have friends who wear Trump capes and walk around in the store,” he said. “Nobody ever says anything in Vermont.”
Not many people harassed Thomas for flying the banner, even though a Trump flag is as anomalous a sight in Vermont as it is common in Republican strongholds.
He recalls one person who drove by, saw the flag and saw Thomas outside, and pulled over to the side of the road, got out and offered him some choice words. But, the man was far enough away to not be much of a threat to Thomas — and, as Thomas observed, far enough away to not feel threatened himself.
Thomas is used to being in the minority when it comes to political leanings in Vermont.
“It’s all been Democrat, since I’ve been born, it seems,” Thomas said.
He’s not far off: Republicans absolutely dominated Vermont politics until about 1960, when the Kennedy era brought about a shift in Vermont. Phil Hoff was the state’s first Democratic governor, elected in 1962.
By 1975, when long-serving Republican U.S. Sen. George Aiken retired after 34 years in Congress, and Patrick Leahy ascended — both of them were recognized as the dean of the Senate in their respective careers — the shift from near-total Republican to near-total Democratic control was well underway in Vermont.
Thomas said he has plenty of friends and family who are Democrats, or Republicans who trend more left than Trump’s base — this is still Vermont, after all — and he has no problem maintaining friendships and collegial family ties with them.
Just talk about fishing, or sports, or the weather.
“Politics are all over with, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “At least for four more years.”