I. This is ‘Trump Talks.’
Opening remarks from Ivanka Trump ushered in thundering applause last November as her father, Donald Trump, took the podium before tens of thousands to accept his nomination for the 45th President of the United States.
Fast-forward 42 weeks: the Trump administration is almost a year old now. What’s shifted in the Trump base since Inauguration Day?
In “Trump Talks,” a recorded mini-series, Trump supporters from California and Ohio air praise and pride for how the president’s cabinet has fared since taking office Jan. 20.
II. How’s he doing?
I know, you’re wondering too. One yardstick for President Trump’s performance during his first year in office is the U.S. economy.
America hasn’t seen this level of growth in stock markets during the first year of a presidency since Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the White House.
Earlier this year, economists thought 2017 bullish markets and positive economic growth were the artifacts of Obama-era economic growth. But surely 3 percent annualized growth between July and September is a Trump White House win.
Either way, roughly 50 percent of Americans are more attentive to politics and the affairs of Capitol Hill since Trump’s 2016 election victory, according to a Pew survey released in July.
Suffice it to say the public eye is watching over Washington – perhaps closer than ever.
III. ‘He tells it like it is.’
In this episode, I talked to Jordan Mendoza, 29, a Mexican-American business owner from Oakland, California.
We connected through the “Conservative Moms” Facebook page which has about 1200 followers. The cover photo for the group features an American flag banner with the header, “Let’s take America back to the days of freedom!”
Mendoza said my media inquiries to members of the group “ruffled some feathers.” The group’s admins made the group private the same evening I reached out last week.
“I think people felt violated, maybe assuming you had bad intentions,” Mendoza wrote me in a Facebook message. “As conservatives, unfortunately, that is a worry.”
Mendoza’s been bullied for speaking up about politics online. Negative, one-star reviews inundated her aesthetic company’s business and Yelp pages minutes after an online clash with an African American mother in a Bay-area mom’s group with 17,000 members, Mendoza estimated.
I don’t see identity politics really. And it was really upsetting that I was just being labeled all of those things for simply being a conservative.
She was deleted from the group, and a group member wrote a derogatory post about her in another group that called her racist and a homophobe.
“I don’t see identity politics really,” she said. “And it was really upsetting that I was just being labeled all of those things for simply being a conservative.”
Mendoza made a fake Facebook account to write the reviewers who were slamming her business. She hoped her accusers would offer her the chance to explain herself.
In 2008, Mendoza admired what Obama stood for – “hope and diversity” – and so much so that she would have voted for him.
But on election day, members of the New Black Panthers Party protested at the polling place near her undergraduate campus, Temple University, in Philadelphia. Mendoza said the protesters were “trolling.” She texted me this Washington Times coverage of what happened.
“I ended up just going home and not voting,” Mendoza said. “It felt like they were trying to intimidate people” who were Republicans.
IV. ‘Is he perfect? No.’
In this episode, I spoke to Zach Proctor, 22, from Haviland, Ohio. He graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, last May and is now an engineer at the industrial manufacturer, Alliance Automation.
Proctor thinks Trump’s White House is doing well. While we should always question our leaders, he said, Trump’s been unfairly treated.
“I know the downfall with Trump – and why a lot of people don’t like him – is he runs his mouth a little too much,” Proctor said.
But what’s more important to Proctor, he added, is that Trump’s been a good father.
“I tend to judge people on the kids they raise,” Proctor said. “If you look at some of the kids that were raised in similar circumstances – you know, rich, given everything – he’s raised some decent people.”
Proctor remembers reading an article that reported on another secret meeting Trump had with Russian officials. He said he investigated on his own and learned there were 20 other leaders in the room.
“I think some of it might be based on fact or misunderstanding, you know,” Proctor said. “And some of it might be complete hogwash.”
If you look at some of the kids that were raised in similar circumstances – you know, rich, given everything – he’s raised some decent people.
Proctor gets most of his news online. He said “fake news” isn’t anything new, citing America’s media history with yellow journalism. The term was first used to describe sensationalized news-telling driven by competition between New York City papers edited by Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst.
Proctor usually hears about an event through social media. But he’ll follow up with an investigation of his own, pooling together facts from a variety of media institutions.
“Discord and arguing and stuff like that sells better,” Proctor said. “They exaggerate the truth, and they word it so it gets better ratings.”
However the country’s midterm elections shake out, Proctor hopes the public backs the winning candidates – the same way he holds faith that the American people keeps hope for President Trump.
The alternative, he said, does no one any good.
“I’ve seen a lot of people wishing he failed, and he wishing he does a horrible job,” Proctor said. “And I heard one person say that’s kind of like flying and hoping your pilot does bad.”