Trump Takes Action
Six weeks and 11 executive orders into his presidency, President Donald Trump has elicited mixed yet strong reactions from the public. While supporters are hopeful about how the remainder of Trump’s time in office will play out, Maine West students who have previously given their support to Trump express concerns about some of the actions he has already taken as president.
The dissatisfaction of some of Trump’s own supporters may simply be attributed to the nature of the election. Many found themselves voting for Trump simply because they didn’t like Hillary Clinton.
“Trump gained my support because he wasn’t Hillary,” junior Andy Orlowski said. “I can’t say that I’d ever support Hillary. She has a lot more experience than Trump but she also has a lot of garbage under her belt and on her record.”
Senior Lauren Bechtold, having grown up as a Republican, at first supported Senator Marco Rubio during the primaries. “When it came down to Trump or Hillary, it tipped the scale for me,” Bechtold said. “I did more research on Trump’s policies, and although I definitely do not agree with all of them, I think certain things he says or does could really help our country if they’re done the right way.”
Though Trump’s lack of previous political experience may be alarming to some, others believe it provides a change that will benefit America. “President Trump may not have a background in politics, but I think that gives a fresh perspective,” junior Christopher Jensen said. His lack of political background “might raise concerns regarding his ability to lead, but he’s surrounded himself with people that have experience in politics, like Reince Priebus, or the military, like General Mattis.”
Others cited his experience as a businessman as a quality that may prove beneficial. “I think that it’s good to have a change of pace in the presidency. He’s working with other people who are there to support him and assist him in all this, so it’s not of utmost importance to always have a politician,” Bechtold said. “What our country needs is economic change; having a businessman in charge will really help boost that.”
According to Gallup Polling, as of Feb. 20, 41 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s work as President. By contrast, both President Obama and President Bush had a 62 percent approval ratings six weeks into their first terms, according to Gallup. Trump supporters here at Maine West are not worried about these numbers. “People tend to judge Trump more on him as a person instead of his policies,” Bechtold said.
“I don’t mind the fact that Trump has low approval ratings in polls. Trump has been in office for less than a month, and he took office at a point in history when America was severely divided,” Jensen said. “Wounds take time to heal, and the discontent isn’t going to die down overnight.”
When it comes to how he could possibly gain more support from the larger public, students had a few suggestions. “He would definitely have to be a lot less radical,” Orlowski said. “The ban on [immigration] would be better off if he tried to ease into it. That would make it more appealing to the general public.”
Others feel that to expect Trump to mold himself as the public sees fit is asking too much. “There obviously are things he could do, but I think he’s just being himself,” Bechtold said. “He could ease up his views on certain things, but if that’s really what he’s standing for, then it’s unfair for us to just say, ‘Change what you think.’”
Jensen believes it is not Trump’s responsibility to bring the country together. “Honestly, I don’t think Trump can do anything to help bond the nation together. Division needs to be mended by the people themselves,” Jensen said. “If we want unity then we need to have discussions, understanding and compromise. If we want unity then we need to speak with each other and not yell over each other.”
As far as what Trump has done as President so far, supporters seem pleased with how quickly he has started tackling big issues. “He really started things up-and-running within the first week of his presidency. A president that takes initiative is something that our country really has to look forward to,” Bechtold said.
“I’m happy that Trump is doing something in the first place. Whether I agree with it is different, but he’s doing something, and I’m happy that he’s not just sitting in the Oval Office,” Orlowski said.
Supporters expressed mixed feelings regarding Trump’s tendency to insist on repeating falsehoods and manufacturing lies, as well as lashing out arbitrarily on Twitter. “He would insist on certain numbers and certain amounts of people; stuff was proven wrong and yet he was still pushing towards that,” Bechtold said.
As far as the backlash here at Maine West goes, Trump supporters admit they sometimes find themselves in awkward situations. “It does kind of put me in an awkward position because a lot of people at Maine West, and Illinois in general, are very liberal, and I’m somewhat liberal too, but I just couldn’t justify supporting Hillary,” Orlowski said. “As far as agreeing with some of his policies, it definitely puts me in a hard spot because a lot of people are very anti-Trump.”
Jensen finds it difficult to be a Trump supporter when it comes to communicating about political views. “America is divided, and this is a time when we openly express our voices and opposition,” Jensen said. “Arguments are frequent when I discuss politics with progressives and even other Trump supporters.”
Bechtold feels that it is unreasonable for people to attack her for supporting Trump. “If people feel intimidated by Donald Trump, they don’t need to take that out on me,” Bechtold said. “I’m a very tolerant person, and I really work hard to accept everybody.”