This story is part of an Untold Atlanta special report called Georgia in Trump's America. Watch the full version here.
Customers visiting Billie’s Country Kitchen in Dawsonville, Georgia know exactly what they’re in for before they enter the door.
The restaurant ranks first on Yelp and proudly claims the South’s most heavenly biscuit, so you know you’re in a for a top-notch breakfast.
The next thing is the most obvious.
You’ve landed in pro-Trump territory.
“Can I put my arm around Mr. Trump,” said restaurant owner, James Teeple, as he slings his arm around an image of President Trump’s head attached to plaid shirt, overall wearing cut out.
This is Trump country in a Trump county. Last year, 85 percent of Dawson County voters chose the now-President. It’s one of 40 Georgia counties where Trump took at least three-quarters of the vote.
Nearly a dozen diners proudly shared they voted for then-candidate Donald Trump, and all of them remain resolute one year later. Each diner had a story, scenario or anecdote to explain their choice in the 2016 election. For one man it was his struggles within the American healthcare system; for another, it was fiscal stability through a growing stock market. While their stories were different, their feelings were the same.
“I’ve never had a president show how much love he has for America,” said Army veteran Bill Grizzard. “America comes first, believe it or not, America comes first.”
Politics are a hot topic of conversation at the restaurant, where “everybody speaks their mind” and “says what they want to,” according to Bill.
“We solve all the problems in the world, right here in this little restaurant,” he said smiling.
The decorations are Teeple's. So are the California roots, Beatles hat and a joy for surfing and skydiving that make him an unlikely archetype, but he’ll talk Trump all day with his customers.
“I don’t go for politicians,” Teeple said with an arm still slung around the cardboard cut-out of President Trump. “I’d rather go for a man who’d rather make a change for our country.”
James admits the change brought by the previous administration was not the change he wanted, and he believes “if the Democrats and Republicans would all sit down and listen to the man, maybe we’d get something done in this country.”
That last point echoes a number of tweets and soundbites put out by the President, lamenting Democratic partisanship and Republican feet-dragging.
James and his customers bemoan a lack of respect for President Trump. Any position of authority, including the highest office in the land, should be subject to scrutiny, so this is not a new phenomenon reserved for President Trump. Still, staunch supporters of the President, like the ones at Billie’s diner, feel it’s undeserved and unfair.
“We gave Mr. Obama a chance,” James said. “Why can’t other people respect this President? Same thing.”
And yet, James Teeple has this image hanging in his restaurant.
When asked if he thinks an image of President Obama with devil horns is disrespectful to the office of the President, his response is something straight out of the “Never Trump” coalition.
“He’s not my President,” James said. “I never followed Obama.”
But in one way, in one word, he does.
It’s a word supporters of President Obama used in his first years in office. It’s a word the diners at Billie’s now bestow upon President Trump.
How has James Teeple’s life changed in the year since President Trump was elected?
“It gives me hope. We got somebody standing there for the American people,” he said. “We gotta stand behind him, or we die as a country.”
This story is part of an Untold Atlanta special report called Georgia in Trump's America. Watch the full version below.