LOS ANGELES – As Donald Trump approaches his 100th day in office, AFP sought out two voters — one a supporter and another an opponent of the president — to gauge what they thought of his performance so far.
– Les Clark, 74, Republican –
Clark is an oil industry executive in California’s conservative Central Valley, the state’s agricultural heartland where the oil and gas industry is also booming.
He said he feels Trump “is doing a good job to push his agenda even though a lot of things still have to go through Congress. I think 96 percent of the people who voted for him still support him and I’m one of them.”
Clark said even though many people around him who work in the oil industry have lost their jobs, they still support the president and “have strong hopes Trump is gonna turn that around.”
He added he was also all in favor of Trump’s environmental policies and his approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, reversing former president Barack Obama’s decision to block the controversial project.
“The more pipelines, the more refineries, I’m happy with it,” he said.
But while he is all smiles on most of Trump’s actions so far, he said he was concerned the president might buckle under pressure and back down on his campaign pledge to build a wall along the southern border with Mexico.
“There’s still a lot of people concerned about this,” Clark said.
And though he supports the administration’s push to crack down on illegal immigration, Clark said he did not support separating families.
“There’s a lot of bad guys coming through our borders and let’s be real frank … what if they show up as your next door neighbor?” he asked. “You can see things are happening all over the United States right now and in other countries.”
As for the war of words between North Korea and Trump over the last month, Clark said it was important for the United States to take a “tough stance.”
“When you read the headlines ‘where will the first missile land?’ It’ll be right here in the oil pad,” he said, referring to central California.
Clark said he was also in favor of the recent US missile strike on a Syrian air base following a deadly chemical attack blamed on Syrian government forces.
“I always think about what if it’s my grandchild or my children,” he said. “Actually I wish they had gone back and shelled more just to show we’re serious about it.”
– Emilou MacLean, 38, Democrat –
“The policies from this administration are not too different from what was promised. The policies are egregious but they came from an egregious campaign,” said MacLean, a lawyer and rights activist.
“The most worrying thing is that things that would have been shocking not long ago don’t have the capacity to shock anymore,” she added. “You have someone telling absolute lies, a president and an attorney general that mock the judges, policies and executive orders that are blatantly anti- immigrant and Muslim on their face, hateful language.”
MacLean said she initially backed Bernie Sanders but rallied behind Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton after she won the primary.
She said Trump’s victory was “devastating.”
“Many people were shocked that Americans could elect someone as blatantly xenophobic as Donald Trump,” she said. “But many people who have faced discrimination knew it was there and now we have to confront that.”
MacLean said a call she received after the election from a foreign-born client – “someone who has a daughter who is everything to her” – illustrated the fear the new administration has instilled.
“She told me ‘I want you to help me put my daughter for adoption.’ She said ‘even though I have a good asylum claim I want to make sure my daughter is OK,'” MacLean recounted.
She said although she was disheartened by the Democratic Party’s inability to form a united front against Trump, she was encouraged by the public outcry over the president’s policies.
“To see families pushing back and saying ‘we’re gonna defend ourselves and our communities’ is cheering me up,” MacLean said.
She pointed to the outrage that followed Trump’s travel ban targeting Muslim-majority countries and his threats to withhold funding from cities that harbor undocumented immigrants as clear signs his administration was in for a rough ride.
“I do see the public really fighting back in some really comforting and important ways, with some real victories,” she said.
On the international front, MacLean said Trump’s policies clearly showed he was winging it.
“He has literally no idea who the president of any country is, apart from maybe Canada,” she said.
“At the time of (George W.) Bush’s election, I felt he was an absolute disaster and he was,” she sighed.
“But I still think Trump is a worse disaster … because he has zero values, zero things he believes in and that’s actually scarier.”-AFP