At the White House, before the residents change, voters speak out

Onka Decker and Norma Allen protest in front of the White House the day before the election. (Photo by Christopher Diamond, BeltwayNews)
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Journalism students from American University in Washington, D.C., went to the White House Monday to gauge how people were feeling the day before the election. They spoke to tourists, demonstrators and metro-area residents.

Norma Allen, early voter from Maryland

Norma Allen of Maryland stood in front of the White House Monday with the group “We the People for Sensible Gun Laws.”

Allen cast her ballot in Maryland last week as an early voter and expressed her support for Hillary Clinton as the “one sensible candidate.”

“I’m appalled by one candidate in particular, and he is a man,” said Allen.

It was no surprise that Allen passionately expressed her support for tougher gun laws. The demonstrators want laws passed that require universal background checks, required safety education and training for gun owners, and an end to the terrorist loophole that allows those on the Department of Homeland Security’s “No Fly List” to still purchase firearms.

Allen cited the recent shootings in Orlando and San Bernardino as the driving force behind her passion for “sensible gun laws,” as well as gun violence in Chicago and Baltimore, and the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado.

If Donald Trump does win the Presidency, Allen vowed to remain in strong opposition of his proposed policies and the rhetoric of this election cycle.

“If he does win, we can’t stand around feeling bad about it. We have to be vocal,” Allen said.

Onka Decker, registered voter in the District of Columbia

Onka Decker and Norma Allen protest in front of the White House the day before the election. (Photo by Christopher Diamond, BeltwayNews0
Onka Decker and Norma Allen protest in front of the White House the day before the election. (Photo by Christopher Diamond, BeltwayNews)

Onka Decker stood alongside Norma Allen as a part of the group “We the People for Sensible Gun Laws,” holding a sign that said in big bold colors ‘CHILD GUN DEATHS ARE NO ACCIDENT.’ “

Decker, who used to work for Voice of America, said, “I am always excited to vote, so I am voting in person on Election Day.”

She described the thought of Donald Trump winning as terrifying but was optimistic about the country’s ability to move forward if he does.

“Let’s hope everything turns out tomorrow night and [Trump] concedes,” said Decker.

Kathleen Nunn, 73, Albuquerque, New Mexico
“There is an appallingly awful candidate, and it is the male candidate,” Nunn said.

She said everyone, including her Republican friends, were appalled by Trump’s behavior. “[Trump] degrades the presidency and is an embarrassment to the country,” she said.

“If he was in my classroom, he’d be sent home,” said the former teacher.

Nunn’s partner, 74-year-old Chuck Olsen, echoed his disgust of Donald Trump.

He said football players are held to higher standards than Trump has been, citing players being fined tens of thousands of dollars for making less profane remarks.

Olsen and Nunn are on their second visit to Washington, having scheduled a tour of the White House on Election Day in advance.

Rob Mack, 42, Kentucky, park manager
Standing with his wife and young daughter, Rob Mack, 42, didn’t hesitate to share that women’s reproductive rights stood out as the most important issue for him in this election. He said he hopes his daughter has choices in terms of her own body, but doesn’t know exactly what he hopes the next president will do during the first 100 days of office.

“I haven’t gotten that far yet,” Mack said. “When she gets elected, I’ll cross that bridge.”

Mack suggested that Secretary Hillary Clinton would follow the lead of President Barack Obama and continue to support women’s rights.

“Four more years of him, and we’ll be in good shape,” he said.

Laura Bush, 46, Houston

With election results a day away, Laura Bush is looking forward to the “nonsense being over.”

“I know that seems very basic, but it seems like we’re all so divided,” she said.

Laura and Andrew Bush say foreign policy and health care are top concerns. (Photo by Arielle Weg, BeltwayNews)

“Insurance is definitely a big issue,” Bush said. “I see a lot of people who just can’t afford it, and it’s so expensive, and the coverage is not great, and it’s less coverage and higher deductibles. And that’s obviously a concern.”

Stanley Schaper, picture framer, scroller and wood carver, Texas and Maryland

Stanley Schaper stood in front of the White House, like he does every Monday afternoon, with a poster around his neck protesting the nation’s gun laws. The Maryland resident is a member of the “We the People for Sensible Gun Laws” organization.

“The gun laws in this country are insane,” Schaper said. “To not be able to get on an airplane but you can buy a gun, that doesn’t make any sense.”

He stressed that gun laws represent an issue of immediate importance because 91 people every day die from gun violence.

“A child gets shot every day. Two children a week die from gun shots.”

Kate Bejarano, 24, student, Colombia

Kate Berjarano, 24, giggled and posed for a photo with a group of her friends in front of the Eisenhower Executive Building as she talked about her perspective on the 2016 presidential race as a resident of Colombia.

Safety and the integrity of the election stood out to Berjarano as the most important issues of the election, and she hopes the government will “have it under control.” She said that her friends in Mexico may have heard more about the election than she has, but she still worries about what would happen if Donald Trump wins the election.

“Donald Trump is the worst, and if he wins, all of the Latin people … living here will need to go out of this country.”

Rob Meadows showcases the issues he cares most about, which include health care and criminal justice. (Photo by Arielle Web, BeltwayNews)

Rob Meadows, 38, IT Project Manager for the White House

Dressed in a navy sports jacket, a brightly colored tie and wearing an official White House lanyard, Rob Meadows, 38, quickly stuffed a protein cookie in his pocket as he rattled off the list of issues that he considers to be particularly important in this election.

He emphasized the importance of criminal justice reform, increased diplomacy, affordable health care and decreasing unemployment.

Meadows is a Virginia voter in this election, but he originally hails from New Jersey. As the IT Project Manager for the White House, Meadows said he is happy to see the progress the country has made in terms of employment, but he hopes the positive change continues.

“Where we are now, I feel like we’re in a good position but I know that there is still a large percentage of people that are unemployed,” Meadows said. “So trying to make sure we stay in that same vain with adding a lot of jobs yearly.”

Fair treatment and equality of care also matter greatly to Meadows, and said, “Nobody should be denied services for things that could potentially save their lives” in terms of health care. He also said that he wants to see fair treatment for African Americans and other minorities in the justice system.

“Given the climate that we live in for African Americans and other minorities, I think that there needs to be a review of our criminal justice system, of how they treat its citizens, particularly African Americans and other minorities,” Meadows said. “That it needs to be fair across the board.”

Leandro Toti, 23, Buenes Aires, Argentina, Journalist for the National University of Avellaneda

Leandro Toti, a journalist for the National University of Avellaneda in Argentina, eagerly spoke about his thoughts on the election, explaining his opinions through a mixture of English and Spanish.

“There’s too much killing in Syria,” Toti said. “Hillary Clinton will continue [this].”

While he expressed discontent for the Democratic nominee, Toti wasn’t impressed with Donald Trump either.

Toti said, “He’s a millionaire, an enemy of Wall Street.”

Toti saidBernie Sanders was his favorite candidate, even though the Democratic senator from Vermont did not advance past the primaries.

“I like Bernie Sanders,” Toti said. “He’s a socialist; he’s like no other. I don’t like anyone else.”

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