Bahman and Shiva’s Trump Dilemma

The past two weeks have been quite a roller-coaster for Bahman and his wife, Shiva, our Iranian family acquaintances. The couple immigrated to America shortly after the end of the Iran-Iraq war, but they still have family in Iran. When it looked like war might break out between the US and Iran, they were worried about their families. The punchline, though, is that Bahman and his wife are… get this, Trump supporters (though they prefer to be called Trump “voters” for reasons you will see for yourself shortly).

Both Bahman and Shiva detest the Mullahs. Bahman’s brother was executed by the Ayatollahs shortly after the revolution for the crime of handing out political pamphlets. He was not even 20 years old. Shiva herself was accosted by Iran’s morality police several times for wearing jeans and had to quit her job at the university after she refused to comply with the dress codes imposed by the regime.

After arriving at America, Bahman and Shiva slowly gravitated towards the Republican Party. They felt the Democrats were too soft on the Iranian regime. They thought Obama’s Iran Deal was a fiasco. In 2016, despite some reservations, they voted for Trump because “he would tear the deal to pieces.” Then the 2017 Travel Ban happened. Suddenly Bahman’s own mother (their only surviving parent) could no longer visit from Tehran.

Bahman was not happy. He knew that his ailing mom was not a terrorist, nor did she support the Iranian regime (she even lost a son because of the regime). She was being prevented from visiting her children and grandchildren for something she had absolutely no control over. The worst part of it all was that Bahman felt responsible for this. “I voted for that fool in order to oppose the ayatollahs, not my own mother!” But he still tried to console himself. Once he told me at a holiday party: “It’s the Mullahs, not Trump, who forced us to leave. They made our lives hell. Who will stand up to them? The Democrats? They failed!”

When I saw Shiva and Bahman the other day I noticed that Bahman had regained some of his faith in Trump. He said he was exhilarated that Soleimani, who was responsible for killing many Iranians, had met his maker. WWIII had not materialized, Trump had called the Ayatollahs’ bluff, and the regime was caught lying about the Ukrainian plane.

Bahman was also glad that Trump had tweeted in Persian. “Trump has become the voice of the Iranian people who don’t show up in state rallies and want this regime gone. Of course, Trump would probably throw Iranian protesters under the bus if the Ayatollahs met him halfway to do a deal. But for now his position aligns with people who want a better future for Iran.”

When I asked Bahman about his mother, I could see some of his enthusiasm recede. She lives near a regional airport in Tehran, and he is worried about might happen to her during a military confrontation. All Bahman could say was: “If only my mother could join us…”