People of Trump's America
“I’m trying to educate people in Erie about Indian food. But this truck is my wife's. She saved my life. She gave me new life after I lost a lot of money (while living in California during the financial crisis). This is all hers. I want to do this for her.”
Sam runs the Curry Point food truck, which he typically parks along Perry Square in downtown Erie, Pennsylvania. Sam’s wife Rajani owns the truck but is home with the couple’s 4-month-old daughter. Sam and Rajani moved from New York City a year ago. There is one Indian restaurant in Erie but it serves Americanized North Indian food, Sam said. Curry Point serves southern Indian cuisine, which has more herbs and spices. Various kinds of masala, dosas and curries were on the menu today.
June 12, 2018Sam, Erie, Pa.
“My personal motivation for running for mayor was to create an environment where both my kids who live elsewhere will want to move back. They’re both in high tech jobs, and if the jobs were here, they’d move back.”
June 10, 2018Joe Schember, mayor of Erie, Pennsylvania
Question: Would you want your four kids to live in Erie when they’re adults?
Michael Outlaw: “Yes! Listen, Erie is a jewel. It really is. There’s so much opportunity, so much potential. But we have to be willing to embrace the challenges until the changes manifest. Three of my sisters left Erie, they left. I could have left but I refused to."
Due in part to the departure of factories and dependent businesses, Erie’s population has declined steadily over the last half century, from a high of 138,000 in 1960 to its current population of 97,369.
June 7, 2018Michael Outlaw, community liaison, City of Erie, Pa
“I used to vote Democratic. But the shine on that kind of wore off with Bill Clinton and NAFTA. It was supposed to create all sorts of jobs in our country, and it was a debacle. And I’ll say this, every time I suffered a layoff in my working career there was a Democratic president. Bill Clinton, Obama. And what really ticked me off about Obama was that he basically said, ‘I’m going to bring the coal industry to its knees.’ And a large majority of the locomotives built at GE are BNSF locomotives. And that’s mostly what they haul is coal. So when the coal industry dies, the locomotive manufacturing business takes a nosedive.”
June 5, 2018Allen Ewanick, Erie County, PA.
Iraqi-American photographer Maitham Basha-Agha standing in front of some of the portraits in his collection called, “Rust Belt New Americans: A Showcase of Erie’s Refugee Population,” displayed at Ember and Forge, a coffee shop in Erie, Pennsylvania. Each of his photographs is accompanied by a story of the journey the refugee took to get to Erie. Erie’s 10,000 refugees make up roughly ten percent of the city’s population.
June 2, 2018Maitham Basha-Agha, Erie County, Pa.
“A lot of people know how Pittsburgh has rebounded from the Steel mills closing. Erie didn’t have a massive heart attack like Pittsburgh. What we had was chronic bronchitis. To cure yourself of the chronic bronchitis you have to stop things. You have to stop smoking and exercise more and eat better and make better mental health decisions. All that stuff is happening in Erie right now. But you’re not going to see [the results] overnight.”
June 1, 2018-Jake Rouch, vice president of the Economic Development Division at Erie Regional Chamber & Growth Partnership.
“Everyone deserves someplace to die with dignity. I’m not sure what I would do without this place. It's been a saving grace for me.”
Located in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Inn Between also takes in people like Kathy for respite care.
May 25, 2018Kathy, a resident of The Inn Between, America’s only hospice center for homeless people, located in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“For many the hardest thing is not the actual dying but the regret,” says Matilda Lindgren (right), program director for the Inn Between, a one-of-its-kind hospice center for homeless people in Salt Lake City.
“It’s amazing how many people develop a passion for our work,” adds Kim Correa, The Inn Between’s Executive Director. “We may not know why right away, but usually it comes out that they either have a family member who has experienced homelessness or substance abuse or mental health, or all those three.”
This “hospice for the homeless” opened in 2015 with the goal of ending the tragedy of about 50 people dying on Salt Lake City area streets annually.
May 23, 2018Kim Correa (L) and Matilda Lindgren of the Inn Between, a one-of-its-kind hospice center for homeless people in Salt Lake City.
"I'm just a plain old guy. I come from dirt."
-Utah State Rep. Mike Kennedy, who's running against Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.
May 20, 2018Mike Kennedy, Utah State Rep. and Republican candidate for U.S. Senate
Question: Is there anything Trump has done that you like?
Alex Cragun, executive director of the Utah Democratic Party: “Trump has done a hell of a job making my job easier in terms of getting people involved. He’s everything that I stand against. That sounds hyperbolic, but he is an entitled child that thrives on the anger and fear of millions of gullible Americans."
In measuring success this election cycle, Cragun says Utah Democrats' ultimate prize is a congressional seat (Republicans hold all six]. But his focus is on local races. "We have a long-term goal of ending the [Republican] super majority [in the state legislature], so we don’t have to be led by the nose. This year’s all about planting seeds.”
May 13, 2018Alex Cragun, executive director of the Utah Democratic Party
“I told you last time I ran that Donald Trump was going to win, and you called me ‘stupid.’ Well you’re stupid!” And with that, U.S. Senate candidate Larry Livingston ended his speech to delegates at last weekend’s Utah Democratic Convention and walked off stage.
Livingston, a perennial candidate for various offices in Utah and a self described libertarian-Democrat, had just told the assembled delegates, “If you think you’re going to win this state with your radical leftwing agenda, then you’re on a better drug than I am. You will not!”
May 4, 2018Larry Livingston, Salt Lake County, Utah
“When I see the way Mia Love follows orders from Paul Ryan, it’s like she’s a robot,” said Democrat Tom Taylor during his speech at the Utah Democratic Convention on Saturday. “And trust me, as a robotics engineer, I know a robot when I see one.”
Taylor was a Democratic candidate for Congress in Utah’s 4th District. But during his speech to the delegates, Taylor threw his support behind progressive Democrat Darlene McDonald. Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams ended up winning the nomination and will take on Love, who’s attempting to win her third term in Congress. The match-up is expected to be one of this year’s most competitive.
May 2, 2018Tom Taylor, U.S. Senate candidate during his speech at the 2018 Utah Democratic Convention
“Like Mitt, I served as a missionary in France and am a High Priest in the LDS church. I’m 6’1” and have a great head of hair with just the right amount of grey.”
Vice, a progressive Democrat, was until Saturday a candidate for U.S. Senate from Utah. The first-time political candidate was beaten for the Democratic nomination by Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson. Wilson won 81 percent of delegate votes to Vice’s 19 percent, thus eclipsing the 60 percent threshold needed to avoid a primary contest. Wilson will likely face Romney in the general election campaign. Romney was unable to avoid a primary contest but remains the heavy favorite to win both the Republican primary and general election in a state that hasn’t elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 40 years.
April 30, 2018Mitchell Vice, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from Utah
How does it feel to become U.S. citizens?
Jasmine: “It’s so hard to put my feelings in words. I feel so happy, honored. …For me, your country is not where you’re born. It’s where you feel home, safe, welcomed, accepted, equal and protected by the law."
Ali: "The ceremony made me more proud to belong to this country. …My loyalty toward the United States didn’t change since day one and will never change. So saying the oath just confirmed that loyalty. Also, I was paying taxes and filed the tax return every year, and my citizenship will not reduce the tax rate on me. A lot of American people don't know that as legal immigrants we pay taxes even before becoming citizens!"
Iraqi refugees Ali Dawood and Jasmine Alsabunji of Erie, Pa., became American citizens on April 6 after living in America for nearly six years.
April 16, 2018Jasmine Alsabunji and Ali Dawood, Erie County, Pa.
“We are not ‘Bikers Who Think We Know Best.' We are ‘Bikers for Trump.’ He has to point the direction. He’s the compass. We don’t ever get ahead of him.”
Bikers for Trump founder Chris Cox has visions of turning bikers into a voting bloc as influential as evangelicals or gun owners. “There’s no reason we can’t be the NRA,” he said. But unlike those groups, Bikers for Trump isn’t rooted in a religion or a constitutional right but rather in an unflagging loyalty to a man.
April 5, 2018Chris Cox, Founder of Bikers for Trump, Volusia County, Florida
“When I come here, people was really open with me. I had really nice people. I had really nice friends. Everyone here is so friendly.”
Carmen, a Mexican immigrant, and her daughter Rossellin live in Arcadia, Wisconsin, a community with many immigrants.
Their church Holy Family Parish and many businesses offer dual language and translation services, since many newcomers don’t speak English. As Father Sebastian Kolodziejczyk said, although the people speak different languages, “We’re all Christians.”
April 1, 2018Carmen Lisowski, a Mexican immigrant living in Trempealeau County, Wisconsin
A constituent's question: “Are you going to sort them out in Washington?”
Rep. Robert Pittenger: “We already did!"
That’s the distilled version of the pitch Pittenger is making to his Republican constituents ahead of the May 8 primary. In essence, Pittenger is arguing that only 14 months into the Trump era, America is already well on its way to becoming great again. Here, Pittenger is seen with a constituent who clearly just got back from some kind of St. Patty’s day fun.
March 29, 2018Rep. Robert Pittenger, Robeson County, N.C.
“I see a lack of empathy on both sides. The same people who are offended by Civil War monuments cannot understand why taking a knee [during the national anthem at football games to protest racial inequality] offends me for something I hold sacred.”
March 22, 2018Donnie Douglas, editor-in-chief of The Robesonian newspaper in Robeson County, N.C.
"To see someone elected to the highest office in the land who is the antithesis of [Mormon] values, it was the breaking point.”
Sharlee Mullins Glenn started the group Mormon Women for Ethical Government in the wake of President Trump's inauguration.
MWEG's leaders insist they don’t oppose President Trump. Rather, they are fighting the dishonesty and callousness they believe define his presidency and the descent into political tribalism they fear will become its legacy.
March 20, 2018Sharlee Mullins Glenn, Salt Lake County, Utah
Question: Being half Mexican, how did you feel when Donald Trump called most illegal immigrants from Mexico rapists and drug dealers?
Jim McCuen: “I nodded my head in agreement because I have actual experience with it. … I lived in Mexico. I lived in Costa Rica, where you can’t leave your car unlocked, they’ll steal the paint off of it….People have no idea what it’s like to live in a country where petty crime is a fixture of daily life. They have no idea."
“Just turn on the local news [in America] and look who is robbing, beating, raping, murdering, you name it. So when [Trump] said that I wasn’t offended at all, because it was a factual statement. Perhaps he could have set if more artfully. [But] we have enough problems, too many problems with the people that were born here. Why are we importing more? That makes no sense.”
McCuen is a libertarian-leaning Republican who voted for Barack Obama in 2008, Mitt Romney in 2012, and Donald Trump in 2016. Overall, he thinks Trump is doing “pretty well” as president.
March 19, 2018Jim McCuen, Volusia County, Florida
Question: What did you make of Hillary Clinton blaming her presidential election loss in part on married, white women for not standing up to men who pressured then to vote for Trump?
Sandy Chilson: "It was insulting, and clearly displays her lack of connection with real people..”
Chris Chilson: “Women can think for themselves.”
March 17, 2018Sandy and Chris Chilson, Howard County, Iowa
“I think he’s doing awesome. Remember that song by Stephen Stills, ‘If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with’? The ones that don’t like him, they should take that song to heart, because he’s doing a great job.”
March 14, 2018Chris Cox, founder of Bikers for Trump, Volusia County, Florida
Question: Describe Trump's presidency in one word:
Tiffany Powers: "Train wreck."
"I will say, not that it’s necessarily his doing, but people were so enthusiastic about Trump being in the White House that Smart 529 college savings plans became more prevalent. I set one up for my daughter and my son. So, thank you, Mr. President!”
So-called 529 education savings accounts are versatile savings accounts that offer federal, and sometimes state, tax benefits, while minimizing impact on financial aid. Most states now offer such plans. The tax reform law signed by President Trump in December will let families use 529 plans to pay for private schools from elementary school onward. The provision allows $10,000 in annual tax-free 529 account withdrawals for pre-college students starting in 2018.
March 13, 2018Tiffany Powers, Robeson County, N.C.
“I know people are open to my candidacy because they voted for Trump."
Jarrod Lowery, a member of the Lumbee native American tribe, is a Republican running for North Carolina’s 47th House District seat.
March 12, 2018Jarrod Lowery of Robeson County, N.C., a Republican running for North Carolina’s 47th House District seat.
“The tensions with North Korea had me very concerned, because my son is 18 and in the Marine reserves. But the announcement last night [of a possible summit between the U.S. and North Korea] kind of eased my burden.I was concerned with Trump’s ‘Rocket Man’ comments. Is he inciting a war here? Now looking back, maybe he was doing the right thing.”
Yesterday the White House announced forthcoming direct nuclear talks between President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Locklear stands outside his home in Maxton, below American and Marine Corps flags and holding a portrait of his son, Ethan.
March 9, 2018Mark Locklear, Robeson County, N.C.
“We have not seen Trump’s support die down at all. But we’ve seen from Trump supporters anger at the media, who distort what he says and darken everything he does.”
Robeson County, North Carolina, is the most racially diverse rural county in America. It voted for Donald Trump in 2016 after giving its support to Democratic candidates in every election since 1972.
March 8, 2018Dr. Phillip Stephens, chairman of the Robeson County Republican Party, N.C.
“[Hispanic immigrants] will still come. They won’t care about border restrictions, including a wall. They’ll go over or under the wall, it won’t matter. They’ll still get here and I’ll help them no matter what the law is,” says Richard. "As long as they’re not criminals. We tell them to stay home,” Jackie said. Richard adds, “Right. As long as they’re not criminals.”
Richard and his sister Jackie live in Arcadia, Wisconsin. Richard is a U.S. citizen and Jackie a legal permanent resident. Their parents emigrated from Mexico and became US citizens under the 1986 immigration amnesty. “My dad worked hard, came home tired every day,” Jackie said. “But there never was a day when he came home and didn’t take a word out of the dictionary and learn it.”
March 7, 2018Richard and Jackie, Trempealeau County, Wisc.
“If I would get sent back [to Mexico], the way of life is way different over there compared to here. It would be something to get used to, for sure.”
Trump has said he supports a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients who “do a great job.” If anyone meets that criterion, it would be Gerardo Gonzalez.
Gerardo, who was brought to the U.S. from Mexico at age one, graduated as valedictorian of Whitehall Memorial High School in Wisconsin and now attends community college.
March 4, 2018Gerardo Gonzalez, a DACA recipient from Trempealeau County, Wisc.
"I don’t know Honduras. I have nothing there. I have nothing more than my birth there. I love this country. I feel like I’m between a country that doesn’t want me and a country I don’t know.”
DACA allowed Ramon Ramos to legally remain in the U.S., where he has earned college academic and athletic scholarships
March 3, 2018Ramon Ramos, a DACA recipient from Trempealeau County, Wisc.
“Without the influx [of Hispanic immigrants], we would be cutting programs and staff, just like other districts. We would be cutting jobs left and right, so they’re definitely a plus for us and our economy. We have job openings in the community already. I can’t imagine what it’d be like without them here.”
Ferguson estimates that 80 percent of his elementary school students are Hispanic immigrants. “Makes me think, what would those class rooms look like without them here?”
February 28, 2018Louis Ferguson, superintendent of the Arcadia School District in Trempealeau County, Wisc.
“Orange County has changed demographically here in the last 20 years, both economically and ethnically. Also, the Trump campaign made a smart strategic decision to ignore California with respect to campaigning. McCain, Romney, Bush, even though they knew they’d lose, they’d send a certain amount of money here to keep it close. The Trump campaign said no, nothing’s going to California. So there was no effort at top of ticket to turn out the vote. It turned out to be a wise decision. But in California, it depressed the vote. In Orange County, we didn’t get great turnout.”
Orange County Republican Party Chairman Fred Whitaker gives his answer to the question, "How did Hillary Clinton become the first Democrat to carry Orange County, California, in a presidential election since 1936?"
February 27, 2018Fred Whitaker, Republican Party chairman, Orange County, CA
“It’s too soon to hate him,”
Eddie Lopez of Orange County, CA, said he tells fellow Hispanics about President Trump. Lopez thinks Trump will ultimately offer a pathway to citizenship to most unauthorized immigrants and that the border wall won’t get built. Once that happens, Lopez believes Hispanics will start voting for the GOP, whose social conservativism and focus on entrepreneurialism should be a natural fit for these voters.
Lopez cried when Hillary Clinton lost the election, but he has no love for the Democratic Party, which he believes uses Hispanic voters. He voted for President Obama twice but is very disappointed in the way he failed to take up immigration reform after promising to do so as a candidate and in the number of deportations he presided over.
February 25, 2018Eddie Lopez, Orange County, CA
“We’re usually begging people to run. But now we have an abundance of talent. If it was two years ago and any one of these individuals had raised their hands, we would have been absolutely delighted.”
Sdao holds a plastic flipper and box of pancake mix that were featured as props in the party’s recent “Flip the House” Pancake Breakfast and Precinct Walk events.
February 22, 2018Fran Sdao, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Orange County, CA
“Personally speaking, I have no problem with who people vote for. What is unfortunately happening is if I begin to see you as my permanent enemy, or as a lesser human being, that is very unhealthy for civilization. One thing that bothers me a lot…every human being deserves equal respect and dignity. That should not be compromised or stripped away.”
“And once we begin to do that, we are regressing as a collective. This is the 21st Century and for God’s sake, none of us should be engaging in that type of culture. I am a parent and I have four kids, born and brought up in this country and love it, like me as an immigrant, so that motivates me, keeps me awake and alert. What can I do to not let that culture take root in society? This collaborative is our modest effort to get people to think of the greater common good.”
Shakeel Syed is co-founder of the Muslim-Latino Collaborative of Orange County, California.
February 19, 2018Shakeel Syed, Orange County, CA
"I’m a woman, and I voted for Trump. So the people who are in hell with me, I like. It’s such a double standard. People are so sick of politicians. The Clintons have done so much that they should be in jail for. To me, Hillary Clinton should be in jail. I voted for Trump because he wasn’t Hillary."
This was Lois Morales answer to the question presented to her: What did you think of (former Secretary of State) Madeleine Albright’s remark during the 2016 campaign that there is a “special place in hell” for women who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton?
February 17, 2018Lois Morales, Orange County, CA
“If kids getting murdered didn’t change the conversation [on gun control], I don’t know what will."
That's what former Wisconsin lawmaker Chris Danou said after the last mass shooting in Las Vegas, referring to lack of action in Congress responding to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. The Democrat, who lost his reelection bid in 2016, said there is little appetite for action on a gun control ban.
February 15, 2018Chris Danou, Trempealeau County, Wisc.
“We used to call the one lone Democrat running in the county the ‘sacrificial lamb,’ because we wouldn’t get support from the state of national parties. Now, with the Trump effect, so many more women are running, more progressives in Orange County are running.”
Orange County, a historically Republican county, voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, the first time it voted for a Democrat since the Great Depression. Democrats here think they can win all four congressional seats in the county, all currently held by Republicans. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has even sent staffers to Orange County to help in these efforts.
February 13, 2018Sherri Loveland, president of National Women's Political Caucus of Orange County, CA
Question: “Are Mormons receptive to the Democratic message?”
Crystal Young-Otterstrom, treasurer of the Utah Democratic Party and former head of LDS Dems: “Sadly, half our work is getting Democrats to be welcoming to Mormons. They don’t like Mormons, Mormon candidates or delegates. I get it. Many of them have had negative experiences with Mormons…. [but] Democrats really need to wise up to being more welcoming to faith voters. A lot of secular voters look down on faith people. They are closed minded. Don’t monolithically paint all Mormons with the same brush.”
February 7, 2018Crystal Young-Otterstrom, Salt Lake County, Utah
“I’m more and more becoming a big fan of Trump, because it’s all about the economy. It really is.”
February 5, 2018Chris Chilson, Howard County, Iowa
"I don't agree with the [NFL] protests, but I signed up to die to defend the right for them to do it.”
February 4, 2018George Martin, former sailor, Macomb County, Mich.
"I have maintained in working with the [Utah] legislature that a lot of Mormons are Democrats, they just don’t know it yet. Because with both groups there really is a sense of taking care of the least among us."
February 2, 2018Jen Dailey-Provost, Democratic candidate for Utah Legislature, Salt Lake County
Describe President Trump’s first year in office in one word.
Bill Hamilton: "Amazing."
On the one-year anniversary of Trump's election, he said that if the election were held again Trump would win more votes than he did a year ago.
February 1, 2018Bill Hamilton, state senator, Upshur County, WV
Describe President Trump's first year in office in one word:
Pramit Patel: "Erratic."
Patel voted for Trump out of appreciation for his business acumen and a hope that Trump would protect America. But while Patel is pleased with the tax reform bill, he is afraid Trump’s divisive rhetoric could spark an international disaster.
January 30, 2018Pramit Patel, Robeson County, N.C.
Describe President Trump's first year in office in one word:
Tom Walker: "Despite Trump's well-known catch phrase 'Make America Great Again,' my one word impression of his first year in office is 'unpatriotic.' In my view, persistent dishonesty from the nation's chief executive is unpatriotic, as is racist posturing and bullying."
Although Utah is largely conservative, Salt Lake County is its least conservative county and voted for Hillary Clinton by nine percentage points in 2016.
January 27, 2018Tom Walker, Salt Lake County, Utah
"I voted for Trump partly in hopes that he could make bipartisanship possible again. That hasn't happened. Let’s hope that the next year brings about this realignment. But with the mid-terms ahead, we will likely see both sides remain polarized."
Gooder believes the real test of bipartisanship comes this year with debates over DACA, an infrastructure bill and health care.
January 26, 2018Mike Gooder, Howard County, Iowa
Describe President Trump's first year in office in one word:
Sumar Khalasawi: "Destruction. ...We respect this country, we love it. We pay our taxes. We voted for Trump because the things he said and he lied to us. I’m so embarrassed to say this but our president lied to us."
Since June, Sumar’s husband Hadeel and nearly two hundred other Chaldeans with criminal records have been detained and face deportation to Iraq. Hadeel committed a nonviolent gun crime when he was 17 and has lost his permanent resident status. Sumar says that her three children are depressed after witnessing their father being torn from their home.
January 25, 2018Sumar Khalasawi, Macomb County, Mich.
How would you describe President Trump's approach to politics?
Bryan Ward: “Refreshing. We West Virginians have a low number of PhDs per capita, but our BS meters work flawlessly. Being unpolished, and unapologetic, despite the occasional compulsive tweets, are attributes that make [Trump] an effective ambassador for our nation. He's said what he intends to do and does it."
January 24, 2018Bryan Ward, sheriff, Hardy County, W.V.
Describe President Trump's first year in office in one word.
Sean Fedorko: “Disgraceful. President Trump does not embody America’s highest ideals. He invokes fear by his ignorance, tempestuousness, and lack of professionalism. He threatens democratic principles by attacking the free press, the judiciary, and the election process."
January 23, 2018Sean Fedorko, Erie County, Pa.
“Horrified,” “fear” and “dystopian.” These were some of the words five Mormon women in Salt Lake City used to describe President Trump's first year in office. Some are registered Republicans, and none struck me as hard-core liberals. But they all agreed that Trump’s main accomplishment has been to activate those who oppose him, including themselves.
The women are founding members of a public policy group created in the wake of Trump's election called Mormon Women for Ethical Government.
January 21, 2018Mormon Women for Ethical Government, Salt Lake County, Utah
Describe President Trump's first year in office in one word.
Tiffany Powers: "Horrible. [Trump] is dismantling Obama’s legacy to the detriment of this country.His Tax Reform is an affront to the American Dream and he has brought shame and ridicule to the office of President of the United States of America."
January 20, 2018Tiffany Powers, Robeson County, N.C.
Describe President Trump’s first year in office in one word.
Alan Taylor: "'Finally.' After years of Republican leaders being run over by Democrats and the mainstream media, someone has 'finally' fought back. It has been a joy to watch him fight back. It has also been entertaining to watch his enemies lose their minds."
January 19, 2018Alan Taylor, Baptist preacher, Robeson County, N.C.
"At times, President Trump has been brilliant this year. And yet at times he has seemed petty, impulsive, and divisive. Our nation is ripping apart because of how many seem to hate Trump versus those who want to support him."
Johnson named the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court justice, deregulation and work on almost defeating ISIS, tax reform, religious liberty issues, illegal immigration and energy independence as accomplishments.
January 18, 2018Pastor Greg Johnson, Salt Lake County, Utah
Describe President Trump's first year in office in one word.
Chris Danou: "Can you use 'shit-show' in your paper? If not, my next choice would be 'grotesque.' I can't believe that so many people, people that I believed were fundamentally good, decent, Wisconsinites, people that I was proud to represent, voted for him."
January 17, 2018Chris Danou, Trempealeau County, Wisc.
"It's very traditional in all of Iraq's workplaces that each new employee should invite all the other employees in the department for lunch, and we should make it after getting our first paycheck. In the lunch all others employees will welcome the new person at the workplace and wish him or her good luck."
January 16, 2018Hiba (Tulip) Alquzaee, an Iraq refugee living in Erie County, PA
“Oh, my. ‘Shit hole countries’? I am concerned now. I’m a pendulum. There are days I sway in a positive direction [about Trump], then he tweets or says something stupid and my thought changes to negativity.”
That was Mark Locklear's reaction after learning that president Trump had referred to Haiti, El Salvador and Several African countries as such during a meeting with congressional leaders to discuss a potential immigration deal. Locklear voted for Barack Obama twice before taking a chance on Trump in 2016. He is a member of the Lumbee Native American Tribe residing in Robeson County, North Carolina, America’s most racially diverse rural county, which voted for Trump in 2016 after twice voting for Obama.
January 11, 2018Mark Locklear, Robeson County, N.C.
“For me personally, I have great concerns. I think the president of the United States should be a moral man. That doesn’t always happen. I feel like if somebody will cheat on their wife, how can we trust them not to cheat us? If he were ever to say,'I’ve learned a lot, I’m sorry and I’ll never do it again...’ but he says he’s never repented. He’s never said he was sorry. I have a real problem with that.”
But Ruzicka has no patience for the #NeverTrump movement. “I didn’t support Trump [in the 2016 campaign], but he is the president of the United States and we have an obligation to support him in that.”
January 9, 2018Gayle Ruzicka, president of the Utah Eagle Forum, Salt Lake County, Utah
“What is a little bit different about Utah Republicanism is, even though it is quite conservative, it’s not a hard-edged conservatism. It’s always tempered with the importance of family, community, compassion, and giving people resources to solve their own problems. Republican Utahans don’t frame [their conservatism] in the same way Republicans in Texas might.”
January 8, 2018Matthew Burbank, professor of political science at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
"Evangelicals saw the Access Hollywood video as sabotage, and directed their anger at all things Hillary. Mormons saw it as proof of Donald Trump’s poor character."
That said, Johnson believes Utah’s Mormon residents feel “less troubled” with Trump than they once did because he’s getting things done.
January 6, 2018Pastor Greg Johnson, Salt Lake County, Utah
“Five years ago I came from the desert (Baghdad, Iraq), where the temperature gets up to 150F and there is sometimes no power in your house to even turn a small fan on! Today I’ve been living in Erie, PA where snow is no joke. In my first year, 2012, I stood in front of the frozen Lake Erie, and the first words I said were, 'This is heaven,' and I still feel the same. Snow is my joy, snowflakes are like summer breezes for me, snow brings the child inside of me!”
Jasmine Alsabunji is a refugee from Iraq living in Erie, Pennsylvania, which has seen 84 inches of snow fall since Christmas Day.
January 2, 2018Jasmine Alsabunji, Erie County, PA
“When you’re engaging in misconduct, to then have the taxpayer bail you out for the misconduct, and then keep it all secret from the public, that is just totally unacceptable."
Following a spate of sexual harassment allegations against members of Congress, Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis introduced a bill to prohibit members of Congress from paying off accusers with public funds.
December 29, 2017Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis
“We need to come away from ‘We are not them’ and come forward with big bold ideas. Can anyone sit down and say what the Democrats are for that’s new and different? What’s our tax plan? Do we have one? Regulations—who’s making the argument that they are good?”
Laura Hubka recently resigned as chairwoman of the Democratic Party in Howard County and from the Iowa Democratic Party State Central Committee. According to Hubka, the bickering and recriminations within the state party have become so intense that many Democrats are privately contemplating a mass exodus from the state central committee.
December 27, 2017Laura Hubka, Howard County
“Look at the stock market,” she wrote. The stock market has reached record highs in recent months, and Trump hasn’t been shy about taking credit for it, writing that it is booming “because of me.”
Sandy Chilson of Howard County, Iowa, said she would vote for Trump again without reservation.
December 23, 2017Sandy Chilson, Howard County
“Trump inadvertently sparked a serious conversation about police brutality by insulting protesters. These things would not have happened had Clinton won."
Darryl Howard of Macomb County, Michigan reluctantly voted for Clinton in 2016. He now says he’d vote for Trump, though not because he’s a fan of the president.
December 22, 2017Darryl Howard, MaComb County
“This is huge for my business,” said Ray Blum, owner of a Dairy Queen franchise in West Virginia, about the tax bill."
His profit is about 3 percent once he subtracts sales tax, royalties to DQ headquarters (10 percent of net sales), food costs (33 percent), labor costs for employees (30 percent), utilities, mortgage expenses, local taxes, permits, repairs and maintenance, uniforms and other assorted costs. And that’s before federal taxes.
December 21, 2017Ray Blum, Grant County
Pramit Patel, who owns a Best Western franchise in Robeson County, North Carolina likes the Republican tax bill but wishes Congress would have considered linking tax rates to an area’s relative wealth. “That way in a poor area rates are less and in New York City rates are higher,” he said.
Robeson County is North Carolina’s second-poorest county, with a median household income of $30,000.
December 20, 2017Pramit Patel, Robeson County
“Why anyone would oppose this bill is beyond me,” said Jack Brandenburg of Macomb County, Michigan.
Brandenburg is a Republican state senator and owner and president of Blue Water Industrial Supply, which sells fasteners and shop supplies.
December 19, 2017Jack Brandenburg, MaComb County
“I've seen a lot of change, Positive change, since Donald Trump became president", said Susan Walker, a business owner in Robeson County, North Carolina.
Donald Trump won the county, the most racially diverse rural county in the U.S.
December 18, 2017Susan Walker, Robeson County
"I don't think the president is a bad person inside himself," said Elizabeth Weight, who represents Utah's 31st district in the Utah House of Representatives. "But he doesn't have a clue about my neighborhood. And I don't think he cares."
Weight's district lies within Salt Lake County, which Hillary Clinton won in 2016 with 42 percent of the vote.
December 17, 2017Elizabeth Weight, Salt Lake County
“The best chance of recovery is for people to lean on God,” he said. “Almost all the people who have pulled themselves through have done so because of faith. We are never going to be able to arrest your way out of the problem, because there’s a never-ending supply of possible users.”
Bryan Ward, sheriff of Hardy County, West Virginia, says he doesn't know a family in the 14,000-person county not impacted by the drug crisis.
December 13, 2017Bryan Ward, Grant County
"I like the people, they welcome us, and I have never had a bad experience with anybody. A lot of people try to communicate with the Hispanic community. I know there’s a lot of Hispanics who are going to English classes, and they’re trying also to get better with English.”
Jackie and her family live in Arcadia, Wisconsin, a largely immigrant city that's part of the county Donald Trump won. She says immigrants and native-born residents have made an effort to mingle.
December 12, 2017Jackie, Grant County
“I think part of [Trump’s success in Howard County] was just people thought, things aren’t working, we’ve tried Republicans, we’ve tried Democrats, it hasn’t worked for us. Telling people that he’s going to make America great again, when it hasn’t seemed very great for you, that’s hopeful.”
Courtney Rowe, a Bernie Sanders supporter who is running for Congress, explains Donald Trump's 21-point victory in rural Howard County, Iowa.
December 11, 2017Courtney Rowe, Howard County
“I want to see the money. Show me the money. Show me where you’re going to put the money in helping the United States with this horrible epidemic."
Cindy Corbin, executive director of a drug recovery center in West Virginia says President Trump and other politicians have talked a lot about combating the drug epidemic but haven’t devoted much money to it. President Trump’s public health emergency declaration did not unlock new federal funds but directed agencies to devote more of their budgets to the problem.
December 9, 2017Cindy Corbin, Grant County
“Mr. President you are allowing haters to pull you down to their level. Mr. President please rise above this and focus on the job at hand, it is yours for four years.”
Mark Locklear is the Democratic precinct chairman of Prospect, North Carolina and a member of the Lumbee Tribe that voted for Donald Trump. But he grades the president lower because of his negative tweets and says Trump has not earned his 2020 vote yet.
December 7, 2017Mark Locklear, Robeson County
“I think he instilled in people a hope that people in cities were going to matter again, and they were going to be part of the policies going forward, especially the economic policies. That’s what people are betting on.”
Erie City Mayor Joseph Sinnott, a Democrat, said Donald Trump won the county because he convinced voters he’d bring back manufacturing jobs. Trump turned Erie red for the first time since Ronald Reagan's 1984 re-election
December 6, 2017Mayor Joseph Sinnott, Erie County
“For the people who live [in Grant County], Trump offered a change and it was worth taking a risk,” said Ray Blum, who owns a Dairy Queen in Petersburg, West Virginia. "Trump has been a breath of fresh air.”
December 1, 2017Ray Blum, Grant County
Josh is a Donald Trump voter who said the president is “doing well” overall but is “50-50” in his response to Hurricane Maria. He wishes the administration had reacted faster and done more to help repair the island’s damaged infrastructure.
The Florida resident worries about family back home, including his grandmother, who is in the hospital in eastern Puerto Rico that lost power for several weeks.
November 30, 2017Josh, Volusia County
“In the same day, 18 people get killed in this checkpoint. I’m the only survivor … I just lost my arm and I run away.”
Abdul Sitar (left) from Damascus, Syria is a recent refugee whose arm was shot off by a sniper at a checkpoint in 2013, and Hiba Alsabonge (right) from Baghdad, Iraq, is a case manager at Catholic Charities of Erie.
November 29, 2017Abdul Sitar, Erie County
Petersburg in Grant County, West Virginia is known for its stunning mountain scenery. It's also been an area devastated by the opioid crisis. “If I ever lost my clean date—August 29, 2014—I don’t think I would try going through this all again,” said Brenda of the difficult recovery process. “I would go to heroin, overdose and end it.”
Brenda and Adam are recovering drug addicts and work at the Petersburg Dairy Queen.
November 25, 2017Brenda & Adam, Grant County
Meet "the Trumpettes." These ladies worked to register 60,000 voters in Volusia County, Florida. “Trump is just the messenger,” Maryann Pistilli (left) said. “The election wasn’t so much about Trump as about ‘we the people.’”
November 22, 2017The Trumpettes, Volusia County
“He backs us. That means a lot. Because I know there's been a couple of police-involved shootings, and he's actually spoken about those at press conferences," said police officer Jeremy Franks about why many people in law enforcement voted for Donald Trump for president.
(Photo credit: Deirdre McQuade)
November 21, 2017Jeremy Franks, Grant County
“It’s not just about going out into the field and killing. It’s more important to us to have a good ethical hunt, harvest a few birds, and then prepare it immediately so that people can really understand what hunting is about," says Michael Gooder (right) of Cresco, Iowa on the occasion of his family’s annual “Pheasant Opener.”
November 17, 2017Michael Gooder, Howard County
“Keep doing exactly what you’re doing, because all my friends and relatives agree with what you’re doing,” says West Virginia State Representative Allen Evans when asked if he had any advice for the president. “I’ll ditto that,” fellow representative Bill Hamilton added.
November 16, 2017WV State Reps. Allen Evans and Bill Hamilton, Grant County
“I know first hand from just my division when I worked in Erie, of 125 employees out of three shifts, every single one of us voted for Trump for the same reason. We wanted change."
David Moore, a self-described independent, explains why almost everyone at his former job, a plastics packaging manufacturer, voted for Donald Trump.
November 10, 2017David Moore, Erie County
“We're in a county where no Republican gets elected unless a Democrat votes for them,” said Robeson County Republican Party Chairman Phillip Stephens (right). “ We're in a county where no cultural group gets elected unless another cultural group supports them. We're looking at a guy [Trump] who's a non-politician who's a deal maker who was willing to reach across party lines, and people want that."
A year ago from Wednesday, Nov. 8, Donald Trump won Robeson County, the most racially diverse rural county in the U.S.
November 7, 2017Phillip Stephens, Robeson County Republican Party Chairman
“It’s very hard being a Democrat in West Virginia,” said Sharon Nichols. “But oh the people are wonderful.”
Sharon and Duane Nichols are Bernie Sanders supporters but recognize people in the area are happy with Donald Trump
November 6, 2017Sharon and Duane Nichols, Grant County
“Companies are interviewing 50 people and only 10 qualify." State Del. Allen Evans (right), who represents much of Grant County, West Virginia, said that employers are unable to fill vacancies because of drug testing requirements.
West Virginia was one of the "Trump-iest" states in 2016, but it's also sometimes called Ground Zero for the opioid crisis.
November 2, 2017State Del. Allen Evans, Grant County
Donald Trump is “taking us down a really dangerous path,” says Barbara Henderson of West Virginia. Nonetheless she and other Democrats agree that most of his supporters seemed happy with him.
November 1, 2017Barbara Henderson, Grant County
“I think he's missing a couple of the countries — Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan — that should be on the ban list," says Pramit Patel (left), the owner of a Best Western in Lumberton, North Carolina.
He says he doesn’t agree with Trump’s travel ban because it didn’t go far enough. Patel is a political independent who voted for Barack Obama in 2008, didn’t vote in 2012, and then voted for Donald Trump in 2016
October 26, 2017Pramit Patel, Robeson County
“The truth of the matter is I think people will be disappointed when they don't see some of those economic changes happen like they had hoped," says Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper about Trump's promise to reinvigorate the manufacturing sector.
Erie County went for Trump partly for his pledge to bring back manufacturing jobs. But Erie is full of people who could turn on Trump if he doesn’t follow through on his promises.
October 25, 2017Kathy Dahlkemper, Erie County
Macomb County resident Darryl Howard knew Trump would win the election when he got caught up in a traffic jam caused by a Trump rally a couple of days before the election. The traffic, he said, “was lined up for miles. Some people just spray-painted the side of their car to say ‘Trump 2016.’ It was at that moment, I’m like ‘he’s going to get the votes.’”
October 24, 2017Darryl Howard, MaComb County
“[Trump] won the whole state, where not every county is experiencing the same [demographic] situation that we do," says Father Sebastian Kolodziejczyk of Holy Family Parish in Arcadia, Wisconsin, a city with many Hispanic immigrants
He dismissed the claim that Trump's victory in Trempealeau County resulted from anti-immigrant backlash. Immigrants have been moving there for years, including in 2012 when Trempealeau County went for Barack Obama.
October 23, 2017Fr. Sebastian Kolodziejczyk, Trempealeau County
“Most of the groups that [Democrats] are interested in tend to be in urban areas. And they’ve lost track of the rural voter and they have to start paying attention to those people," says University of Wisconsin-La Crosse political scientist Joe Heim.
In 2016, Donald Trump won rural Trempealeau County, Wisconsin, which has historically voted for Democratic candidates for president.
October 22, 2017Joe Heim, Trempealeau County
"I don't think the country has the morals and values to take an issue like this head on and deal with it, Charlie said referring to the opioid crisis, which has hit West Virginia particularly hard."
Charlie Combs of Cabins, West Virginia, stands next to a portrait of his son Brent, who died last year after overdosing on Fentanyl, an opioid pain medication. The state spent $1 million just on the transportation of corpses after overdoses in the last fiscal year.
October 20, 2017Charlie Combs, Grant County
“Hunting is just a huge part of my world,” said Wisconsin State Sen. Kathy Vinehout, a Democrat. “I heard over and over again from the election judges that if Hillary won, people would not be able to fill their freezer. This is really important in a rural area, because people do hunt for food, and they have for generations. It’s not just Republicans."
October 19, 2017Wisconsin State Sen. Kathy Vinehou, Trempealeau County
“I have a friend who lives in D.C., and I tell him I live in Erie. He says, ‘This is redneck area where nobody likes refugees.’ This is not right. I said, ‘I live there four years and people are so nice, so caring."
Jasmine Alsabunji (right) and her sister Hiba (left) were granted asylum in the U.S. Their family members had worked as interpreters and in logistics with the U.S. military, which made them targets of jihadists.
October 18, 2017Jasmine Alsabunji, Erie County
“Unless every gun on the street is eliminated, people are going to find ways to get guns,” said Republican North Carolina State Senator Danny Britt on gun control after the Las Vegas shooting. "Frankly, if a few more people in the crowd had had guns, [the massacre] might not have been as bad as it was.”
Britt, an Army National Guardsman, said lawmakers should be focusing on addressing the mental health crisis, not on restricting guns.
October 17, 2017Republican North Carolina St. Sen. Danny Britt, Robeson County
“People have asked me about BLM, and it won’t make some of your viewers happy, but I’m sorry, I come from the perspective, all lives matter. I absolutely do. I don’t care what color you are. I don’t care what religion you are. All lives matter and have value."
Rep. Paul Mitchell represents Michigan’s 10th congressional district. The new congressman says one of his sons is a police officer.
October 12, 2017Rep. Paul Mitchell, MaComb County
“Our community, they feel welcome, are welcome, so they open their arms for us,” said Carmen, a Mexican immigrant. “And this is why I am so happy to live in this place.”
She and her daughter Rossellin said that they feel welcome in Arcadia. It's part of Trempealeau County, which Donald Trump won in 2016.
October 9, 2017Carmen, Trempealeau County
“If I owned the team and they did not stand, their asses would be gone,” said Jack Brandenburg, a straight-talking Republican state senator who represents part of Macomb County, Michigan, a county that single-handedly delivered Trump the vote differential to win Michigan.
He and others from Trump country respond to the NFL player protests.
October 8, 2017Jack Brandenburg, MaComb County
Guns. That's one of the reasons Donald Trump clobbered Hillary Clinton in the Midwest. “The people that are purists on the progressive side of the party [are] saying, ‘This is our platform, if you’re a candidate and you’re okay with guns, we don’t want to support you.’ [But] it’s Iowa. People have guns, you know?” said Laura Hubka, who chairs the Democratic Party in Howard County, Iowa.
October 5, 2017Laura Hubka, Howard County
“Kid Rock says it like it is,” one woman said. “He’s not politically correct, and honestly politicians should be like that.” Many concertgoers sported signature Kid Rock jerseys that say, "Fucks Given: 00."
Would-be Senate candidate Kid Rock recently held a series of concerts in Detroit. Rock would draw much of his support from Detroit's suburbs, including his native Macomb County, whose working class residents appreciate his brash candor.
September 30, 2017Kid Rock Concertgoers, MaComb County
"We need someone in there with common sense and who will get things done for us,” a woman attending his concert wearing a Kid Rock for Senate '18 T-shirt said.
Bad boy musician Kid Rock has been teasing a run for the U.S. Senate in Michigan, including recently at a series of concerts in Detroit. Rock’s working class sensibility and local philanthropy have made him a beloved figure in his native Michigan.
September 27, 2017Kid Rock Concertgoer, MaComb County
"Eventually he's going to get killed,” said Sumar Khalasawi, a Chaldean Christian living in Macomb County, Michigan of her detained husband. “My husband has tattoos of Christianity. He's a target there after he goes there."
Iraqi Christians helped Donald Trump win the presidency. And now hundreds are facing deportation.
September 19, 2017Sumar Khalasawi, MaComb County
"It's a life or death situation for us," says Assyrian-Christian activist Nahren Anweya.
Iraqi Christians made up a crucial share of the vote for Donald Trump in Macomb County, Michigan. Many look to him as a champion for protecting their loved ones in the Middle East.
September 15, 2017Nahren Anweya, MaComb County
"I totally understand the importance of preserving history. These are public statues paid for by citizens that were erected years ago. And they're just being toppled over by protesters because they're upset with the history. At the same time, that's a very soft argument when you consider that this man led an army whose whole purpose was to defend a system that enslaved people."
George Martin is a 28-year-old former sailor who voted for Donald Trump.
August 28, 2017George Martin, MaComb County
"I [am] a U.S. citizen, but I didn't come here as a U.S. citizen. I wasn't a resident. I was illegal. Why? Because my parents brought me here when I was 10 years old. My dad was already a resident. If I hear what Trump is saying … I do feel affected sometimes and offended. Why? Because I came the same way. I didn't know English. I didn't have any status, no social, no nothing. … I don't think that I deserve to be marked just because I wasn't born here. I went to school trying to do my hardest and my best to be a good person and good citizen, and not just a citizen here in U.S., but wherever I go.”
Laura Torres lives in Trempealeau County, Wisconsin, a Democratic stronghold that went for Donald Trump in 2016.
August 16, 2017Laura Torres, Trempealeau County
"[I]f you really get at the issues, me and Chris, on social media we'll argue a lot. Quite honestly, what people will be surprised about, and we're about as polar opposite as you can get, [is] we agree on a lot of stuff," Todd Mensink of Lime Springs, Iowa, said of his neighbor Chris Chilson.
"Isn't that great?" Chilson said. "We come at it from two completely [different perspectives] but we can find common ground. You can be passionate about your opinions, but don't be personal, just don't do it."
"That's the only way to be. People take it way too personal," Mensink added. "You can disagree with somebody and still respect them."
August 15, 2017Todd Mensink and Chris Chilson, Howard County
"For you to tell me, or assume, that every person of a certain gender needs to vote for that gender, if that's not sexism, I don't know what is."
That was what Sandy Chilson of Lime Springs, Iowa, says she thought when she heard former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright say that there's a "special place in hell" for women who don't support Hillary Clinton for president. Chilson's mug reads, "I love when I wake up in the morning & Donald Trump is still president."
August 8, 2017Sandy Chilson, Howard County, Iowa
“If you’re asking me do I have 100 percent trust in Donald Trump, at this point in time, my answer is 'no.' Has Donald earned the people’s respect yet? I don’t think so. He hasn’t earned mine. But with that being said, he is the president and I am willing to give him a chance.”
Mark Locklear, a Lumbee Native American, at his home in Prospect, in the western part of the Robeson County, North Carolina. Locklear said he had been proud to support Barack Obama twice for president, and he still keeps an Obama bobble head and framed portrait of the former first family in his home office. But he lost confidence in Obama when he withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq and failed to deliver on his healthcare promises.