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Friends And Fraternity Brothers, Two Va. Cadets Transcend Trump-Clinton Divide

Alex Miller (left) and Ryan Leavis are both seniors at Virginia Tech. They are in the cadet corps and planning to join the military when they graduate. Alex voted for Hillary Clinton and Ryan for Donald Trump
Ari Shaprio

All Things Considered co-host Ari Shapiro is on a road trip leading up to the inauguration of Donald Trump on Jan. 20. He is driving through North Carolina and Virginia, on the way to Washington, D.C. These are two swing states that went in opposite directions in November, each by a close margin: North Carolina for Trump, Virginia for Hillary Clinton. As the country faces dramatic changes, we're asking people what they want from that change — and what concerns them.

Ryan Leavis and Alex Miller are seniors at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.

They both wear a uniform to class every day: They are both among the 1,000 members of the school's Corps of Cadets. Both plan on going into the military after graduation. They are friends and fraternity brothers.

And they cast different votes in November's election: Ryan liked what Donald Trump said about the Affordable Care Act, illegal immigration, and radicalism. Alex voted for Hillary Clinton because Trump's style turned him off.

"It was also kind of troublesome, you know, his inconsistency with his policies. It seemed like he would say one thing and then kind of change it in another interview and then change it again," Alex says. "And to me, that was just a huge problem, and I really couldn't vote for him because of those reasons."

Ryan points out that Alex went from being a big fan of John Kasich to supporting Hillary.

"That's a pretty drastic change. And I understand where your decision is coming from. A lot of people don't feel comfortable with the way Donald Trump will just speak his mind. He's not afraid to hurt people's feelings or call you a loser on Twitter," Ryan says, adding "which I think is hilarious, by the way."

The two men agree on at least two things: Trump's choice of Gen. James Mattis for secretary of defense, and that politics shouldn't get in the way of friendship.

Use the audio link above to hear the full conversation.

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Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Consideredgrew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.
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