They're Skeptical, but Can Trump Change These Voters' Minds?
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because this sums up what some of your neighbors are thinking.
By Nick Fouriezos
As part of a regular series, OZY has profiled some of those who voted for Trump, and now we profile those who opposed him last November. We asked them how they think he is doing, what they would like to see him change and — perhaps a big and — what it might take for Trump to change their minds about him. These interviews have been edited for clarity and length.
Kara Mailman, a 24-year-old international policy researcher in Alexandria, Virginia
It was exactly what I expected: He managed to anger just about everyone. All of the grandiose promises he made, he pretty much broke immediately — my “favorite” is Mexico will pay for the wall.
On the bright side, he has mobilized a whole new group of people who previously were not very politically active. There were marches against the Muslim ban in D.C. where people were holding “Don’t Tread on Me” flags — the last people I expected to see. This new resistance, if it looks like anything, is what the old American Dream looked like: people from different walks of life coming together for a common cause.
The one thing I’m not as critical of is firing missiles on Syria. Syria has been violating chemical-weapon conventions for years, and all we had done was slap people on the wrist. There wasn’t a better way to show a clear, distinct signal that using chemicals against anyone is not OK. But to change my mind, I would basically need him to become a completely different person — to remove all the climate deniers, anti-choice, anti-LGBT and anti-immigrant people from his cabinet. I need him to change his rhetoric so it’s positive, and then secondly, deliver on that positive rhetoric.
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Emory Potter, a 52-year-old commercial and construction litigator in Peachtree Corners, Georgia
I’m a libertarian — I’m impressed he’s met with leaders from Japan, China, Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Egypt. I’m happy that the Keystone pipeline went through, and for him working to defund Planned Parenthood. He put NASA back on the table. And I’m happy he did an audit of the executive branch, which I felt was necessary.
What do I not like? You have to know how Washington works to make it work: It’s all nice and good to say, “Let’s put someone in there who is going to drain the swamp.” But just like the guy he quotes, Andrew Jackson, he’s had lots of problems at the beginning of his presidency because of lack of experience.
What will affect the country most is that the left is going to blow any credibility they have by attacking every single thing. If you want to have a movement, you have to pick something definite to work with. This constant flow of insulting and nitpicking is going to numb the American public to the point where the Democrats will accomplish the opposite of what they want: getting Trump reelected.
Kristina King, a 24-year-old public relations account executive in New York City
The DREAM Act has not been rescinded. But I hate the fact that he promised on the campaign trail to not deport kids who were covered under it, but he has deported some of those kids. The ongoing chaos on Russia and the lack of clarity and transparency: It’s really concerning that there hasn’t been a concerted effort to get to the bottom of this, as there would be with any other president. The good news is that we’re not getting out of NAFTA.
The most good that comes from Trump’s presidency is what America learns from it. He would have to put us on a single-payer health care plan and follow through on Bernie’s promise to make college free for me to even begin to say that I would be impressed by him. As a woman, I’m deeply concerned about his approach to women as well as the sexual-assault allegations against him, and his and the Republican party’s war on autonomy and women’s rights.
Caroline Herron, a 27-year-old English, history and debate teacher in Huntsville, Alabama
I’m a moderate and everyone in Huntsville works for the government — so we’re happy NASA is fully funded, and it’s a fairly defense-heavy area, a lot of contractors, so this region is pretty pleased right now. His presidency has been a mixed bag, more negative than positive, but that was kind of expected.
On the campaign trail, one of the things that I actually liked was him talking about decentralizing control for education. And then he puts Betsy DeVos as education secretary, and now we’re talking about block grants for school vouchers. Which is in no way local control — it’s still the federal government dictating to local schools, just in a different way. A lot of my objections to him are as a person, so it’s not so policy-based. They are things like his rhetoric. Because that bully pulpit is so powerful, and it’s something he has so little respect for. The problem is he has decades of time in the limelight, of quotes of him building his brand, and so I’d be skeptical if he magically transformed into a well-spoken moderate.
David Brandt, a 36-year-old Uber driver in Atlanta, Georgia
I think Trump has inspired two things: an increase in quality investigative journalism and a satirically reborn Stephen Colbert. I would argue that those are really the only two positive results from the Trump presidency so far. What I’ve seen and heard since his election win is reflective of what I would half-jokingly discuss among friends a year ago: Trump doesn’t want to be president; he wants to be king.
I’ve probably been most irritated by Trump’s push to get a new health care law through Congress, largely because he doesn’t seem to grasp the legislation. As a cancer survivor, that’s incredibly troubling to me. And Republicans in Congress are currently writing a law that puts protections against insurance-cost hikes for preexisting conditions in danger. Trump’s preoccupied with his public image to the point where his incompetence in the job is becoming more difficult to hide.
Talia Jane, a 27-year-old freelance writer and comedian in Brooklyn
It feels like it’s been a million years, and it’s just been 100 days. I’m surprised we haven’t been nuked at this point.
If there’s anything I can credit him for it is a willingness to communicate directly to the people. At the very least he doesn’t have the kind of posturing that Hillary and Bernie carried about them. Bernie, you ask him anything, he’s going to make it an economic issue — ask Hillary and she’s going to give a very calculated response. You know that what Trump says, he means, because he doesn’t have the capacity to think three moves ahead. It’s easier to criticize him and push his buttons: Steve Bannon is not on the National Security Council because SNL did a parody where Bannon was the Grim Reaper and Trump the puppet. Seriously, though, I think something he could do that could possibly change my mind would be to create some stability.