A recently organized political action committee, or super PAC, seeks to drum up Amish support for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Although the Amish rarely vote, around 1,300 members of the community in Pennsylvania supported George W. Bush in 2004.
"Amish PAC was started by an alum of a pro-Carson super PAC, an ex-Amish donor to that super PAC and an employee of Gingrich Productions," Politico reported. "The group is planning to mount an old-fashioned, billboards-and-newspaper-ads effort this summer."
Amish PAC seems destined for failure because of the shifting political focus of the Republican Party and Trump himself, according to experts on the community's voting habits.
Issues like the economy and terrorism are the focus of this year's election, while the Amish are more motivated by social concerns such as same-sex marriage, wrote Kyle Kopko, an associate professor of political science at Elizabethtown College, for The Conversation.
Additionally, "Trump has filed for divorce multiple times, and several of his businesses went bankrupt. Any of these actions, individually, are grounds for excommunication in the Amish faith," he noted.
The Amish are found in around 30 U.S. states, but members are concentrated in Pennsylvania and Ohio, which are both swing states in the presidential election. The community follows strict lifestyle guidelines, avoiding modern technologies such as cars and computers, USA Today reported in 2014.
Participation in election season isn't an outright violation of community rules, but it's seen as misguided behavior by many Amish.
"The church discourages them from voting in presidential elections because as conscientious objectors, they are voting for the commander-in-chief of the military — which church leaders consider hypocritical," said sociologist Donald Kraybill to Yahoo! News.
Leaders in the Bush campaign had some success with Amish outreach efforts in 2004 because they formed a valuable alliance with a formerly Amish man and promoted an openly devout candidate, according to both Kraybill and Kopko. Amish PAC can form similar bonds with community leaders, but they can't turn Trump into Bush.
"Donald Trump is very different from the Amish in a lot of ways. Bush was able to relate to the Amish on a personal level. Trump's star power, celebrity and tech savvy are useless with the Amish," said Gabe Neville, who served as a longtime aide and chief of staff for Rep. Joe Pitts, a Republican whose district includes Lancaster County, to Politico.
However, Amish PAC co-founder Ben Walters told Yahoo! News that there are many reasons why Amish voters should be able to overcome the apparent gaps between their lifestyle and Trump's.
"Imagine you've never read his tweets, you don't know about his Megyn Kelly feud, you haven't watched "The Apprentice" — you just don't know a lot about him. We're still in the phase of introducing Amish people to Donald Trump," Walters said. "He's a family man with fantastic children."
Amish PAC has raised about $25,000 so far, Yahoo! News reported.
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