Gabriel Karam is not exactly sure when his conservative views solidified, but he knows that his interest in politics started when he was young.
He can remember being in fifth grade and listening to the 2008 presidential debates between Barack Obama and John McCain, and feeling like he connected with the Republican’s views on the Constitution.
He characterizes himself as being a traditional Republican — a “family values” Christian who opposes abortion, same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act and supports small businesses. Born and raised in Bangor, Karam, 23, studied business management at the University of Maine in Orono and is now studying for a master’s degree.
But Karam does not see himself reflected in the modern-day Republican Party, pointing to the party’s lack of concern over the environment. He supports capitalist approaches to environmentalism through the use of measures like cap-and-trade policies and cites President Theodore Roosevelt’s interest in conservation.
Then there is Trump, who Karam says is “dangerous for democracy” because he has not committed to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses in November. Karam also disliked Trump’s past praise for North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, who he said the United States has “no business” dealing with. He compared the involvement of Trump’s family members in government — including daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner — to being “like a mafia.”
“He’s not even listening to the traditional rule of law,” he said.
In short, the president does not fit Karam’s view of what a Republican should look like, although he agrees with him on gun rights and social issues. That does not mean he will be voting for Democrat Joe Biden. The age of the candidates — Trump is 74 and Biden is 77 — is one reason.
Karam said he would be okay with Vice President Mike Pence assuming power if Trump is incapacitated, but would be wary of California Sen. Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate, whom he views as more liberal. For now, he is not sure where he is going to land.
In 2016, he wrote in former House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, for president because he disliked both presidential candidates. He sees making a similar choice, or voting for a third-party candidate, as “throwing his vote away.” He also does not see ranked-choice voting as an option because it violates his view of “one person having one vote.”
The Bangor Daily News is following undecided voters ahead of the 2020 election. Read more about the project here. This series was produced with support from a grant from the American Press Institute.