February 12, 20177:45 AM ET
Heard on Weekend Edition Sunday
How do President Trump's supporters evaluate his first weeks in office? NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro checks in with a few of them: Becky Ravenkamp, Dan Meyer and Kevin Eisbrenner.
LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
President Trump has been in office for just over three weeks, and it's been hard to keep up with all of the policy announcements and news out of the White House. We wanted to know what his supporters think about how he's doing so far. We reached out to people who our reporters caught up with on the campaign trail last year. Here's what they said then.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)
DAN MEYER: You know, the Old Testament is full of situations where God used even evil men to accomplish his will. We're in a - desperate straits right now. We have strayed from the founding fathers.
BECKY RAVENKAMP: We need to secure the border. And yet, we have to have a system that works to be able to let people that contribute to our society into the country.
KEVIN EISBRENNER: I'm voting for the man, but do I think he's qualified as a politician? No. But what he's qualified at - he's a leader.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was Kevin Eisbrenner of Livonia, Mich. He's a millwright at Ford Motor Company. Becky Ravenkamp of Hugo, Colo. - she's a farmer and an educator. And Dan Meyer of Boone, N.C. He's retired but was formerly president of the chamber of commerce in Boone. Welcome to the program.
MEYER: Thank you for having us.
RAVENKAMP: Thank you.
EISBRENNER: Thank you.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So I'd like to ask each of you in turn - how are you feeling right now about President Trump's first few weeks in office? Let's start with Dan.
MEYER: Well, I have my seat belt on for certain. I wish that things had happened over a longer period of time. I agree with some of the things that are happening, but I think it's just an awful lot to swallow at one time.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You think he's going too fast.
MEYER: Exactly, and saying too much on Twitter.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) We'll get to that in a moment.
MEYER: (Laughter) OK.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Becky, how do you think he's doing?
RAVENKAMP: We're so early into this administration that I think it's really hard to tell. He's trying to follow through with some campaign promises, and at least he's trying to do what he promised the American people.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Kevin, your view?
EISBRENNER: Well, I'm conservative by nature, and conservatism likes to move things a little bit slower. I agree there is a sense of urgency. But how quick do we need to move on it? I don't think we're privy to a lot of that information. And the reason we elect people is we're letting them handle that. And we'll know in due time. Not everything needs to be transparent immediately. I expected it like a diamond in the rough. Him not being a professional politician and him being who he is, you know, he doesn't mince words. It's black and white. And he comes off as offensive, but I voted for him to get the job done, not to protect people's feelings.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. So you're adopting a more wait-and-see attitude, give him a chance. Becky, when you last spoke with NPR, you said border security was a big issue for you. It's certainly been something that the president has addressed. What do you think about what he's done so far?
RAVENKAMP: I'm not opposed to the executive order that he signed. It's not a religious ban from those countries.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Stopping people from seven Muslim-majority countries from coming into the United States and banning refugees indefinitely from Syria.
RAVENKAMP: Right. And that's one of those things that I think what he was intending to do was say, you know, let's hold on a minute here so that we can get a process in place so that we can vet people, so we can see who's coming into our country. And he has vowed to protect the citizens of the United States. And I think that's what he's doing on this temporary ban. And I think he's saying let's just push the pause button, get ourselves together and then we can move forward.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Kevin, immigration was also one of your top issues. What is your view about what's been happening now? And I'm thinking as well on border security, on the discussion over the wall, his relationship with Mexico. How do you look at that?
EISBRENNER: As far as what he's done on the immigration issue, the one word that keeps getting left out of the discussion - if you want to call it that - is illegal immigration. One half the country feels that it's totally fine. Let's not have any borders. And the other half's saying, wait a minute, you know? That's not how you define a country. He moved with a sense of urgency on that. Yes, it's caused an inconvenience and the word chaotic's been thrown out there. The provisions for people that have green cards, permanent resident papers, et cetera, yeah, it's inconvenienced them greatly.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: But these are professors, they're doctors, they're simply being told they can't come to the United States even when they have been vetted and gone through very rigorous application processes. Some of them have lived and been to the United States many times, and now they're being told that they can't come here.
EISBRENNER: That is one of the chaotic problems with the rollout. And that's one of the things I wish would have been figured out beforehand and this wouldn't have happened. I don't know what the sense of urgency was to not have that already factored in. You know, you got to feel for the people in that situation, but it's a drop in the bucket when you have to consider the overall security of the country.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I think we should remind people that the 9th Circuit has rejected the executive order, and for the moment, it remains on hold. You guys have talked about - a little bit about - President Trump's personality. One of you mentioned Twitter. I want to talk about the tweets. After U.S. District Judge James Robart temporarily halted President Trump's travel ban, the president tweeted, quote, "the opinion of the so-called judge which essentially takes law enforcement away from our country is ridiculous and will be overturned." That judge has now received death threats. Do you think that the president - do you think he's acting in an appropriate manner?
MEYER: This is Dan. I disagree with his use of tweets. There are too many unintended consequences that come about or too many unintended interpretations of what he's saying. But I'd really like to see somebody take his phone away from him. There are other ways to get information out. And a knee-jerk response on a tweet, it - that creates a knee-jerk response to the tweet. And we need something that's a little more stable as we move ahead.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Becky, when you hear these kinds of tweets coming out, obviously one of the things that makes America what America is is the fact that it has separations of powers and that we have a very strong judiciary. What do you think when you see that?
RAVENKAMP: Well, as far as the tweets go, I agree with Dan. Sometimes you just have to to shake your head and say somebody take the phone away. On the flip side of that, I think we're getting a unique view into his thinking and where he stands on some of these issues. And so there's pros and cons to both of that.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Do you like his thinking, though? I mean, when he says something like, quote, "my daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by Nordstrom. She's a great person - always pushing me to do the right thing - terrible," he's directly attacking a U.S. business for essentially making a business decision. And he's using his very, very important position as president to talk about either specific people or specific businesses.
RAVENKAMP: Yeah. And isn't that an interesting situation that we find ourselves in with a president that has a business background, whose family has those business backgrounds? There's going to be some fine lines that he's going to have to walk. And I think we've got people in our government that's going to hold him accountable to those. But he's a human being. He's a father. He's responding to how his daughter is being treated.
EISBRENNER: Well, I agree with all that, and I want to say that hopefully he learns through this that just because you can say it, you - sometimes you shouldn't say it. And you are in a position now that you have to really vet yourself on this. I've learned that over 35 years of marriage that I just don't say what I want sometimes. It gets me in trouble most of the time.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'd like to get your perspective on the temperature of the country. We had a very contentious election. This was the last time you were on NPR talking about your opinions. And what's happened after this election is that the country remains divided. Are you hopeful that some of these divisions can heal, or are you worried that it is irreparable?
EISBRENNER: Right. I think it can heal possibly, not only through the policies and change of policies that will be implemented that will help society hopefully - we have a bigger problem in this country, and it's a lack of morality. It's been on the decline for years. And it comes down to part of the country being, say, more humanistic and secular and part of the country having some sort of a religious or moral background. And we have to coexist. They don't believe, say, maybe - let's just call it God. They don't believe in God. Then, well, where do we derive, you know, our belief system from? Where do we derive our own personal moral compass if we don't - where do we get this from? And yet, how do we get solutions? How do we coexist with another individual who has the same rights, God-given rights, that we believe in on one side, rights granted by who knows on the other side? But they have the same rights under the Constitution. We have to coexist, whatever their belief system is.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Becky, what are you worried about more broadly or what are you hopeful about?
RAVENKAMP: Well, I'm hopeful that when the administration is all in place and when the decisions are being made, that we can really get back to the heart of what makes us America. And I think for me this election was not just Republicans versus Democrats. It was the people versus Washington D.C. And I'm hopeful that, you know, maybe we sent a message with this election saying we are putting Washington, D.C., on notice, you need to start working for us instead of yourselves and that they're going to start behaving like the representatives that we elected and start compromising and working together to make this country move forward. If that happens, I think we're going to see the temperament turn around and Americans start joining together and coexisting, like Kevin said. I hope for that because I have children in this country.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Dan, I'm going to give you the last word here. If you had to give the president a grade so far - I think sometimes it's easier for people to sort of imagine it this way - what grade would you give President Trump?
MEYER: (Laughter) I'm going to give him a B-plus headed towards an A-minus. I think that the basics are there. I think some of the application needs working on. It's like a wound, though. We're wounded. And if people keep picking at the scab, it's not going to heal. What we need are some folks who are willing to put some salve on it, leave it alone, let it heal on its own and not just keep bringing up old things. We need to think about again the common good and use common sense. Those two guys died a few years ago I think. But I'm hopeful for the future and still got my seat belt on, but that's for safety reasons. And I think we're going to get there.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Kevin Eisbrenner of Livonia, Mich., Becky Ravenkamp of Hugo, Colo. and Dan Meyer of Boone, N.C., and he joined us via Skype. Thanks so much for being with us.
EISBRENNER: Thank you.
RAVENKAMP: Thank you.
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