On the day of President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration — Jan. 20, 2017 — The Southern Illinoisan the stories of two Trump supporters, Wes Henson and Charles Mason.
After one year, Henson, of Carterville, and Mason, of Pomona, both still support the president.
Henson says people either like or dislike the president, and that there doesn't seem to be any middle ground.
“People who like him like him," Henson said. "People who don’t like him don’t like him."
While Henson understands that people do not like the president, he says the president’s detractors are “over the top.”
“If you don’t like Trump, you don’t have to be rude,” Henson said.
He says President Trump is doing a good job, especially with the economy. The country has the lowest unemployment rates in years and the stock market is above 26,000. Since the tax bill passed, several corporations have announced they will give workers bonuses.
“On the world stage, ISIS has just about been defeated,” Henson said. “Trump has done more in less than one year what previous presidents could not do in four years. If you look at accomplishments, Trump has done more than Obama or even Bush."
Mason echoed those thoughts.
“I still support him — more than I did then,” Mason said.
He added that the president has had a lot of successes, including the “bit tax cut.”
“Like (Friday), he spoke at the pro-life march and no president has ever done that,” Mason said.
Mason said the president is bringing money back to states and corporations are giving bonuses.
“It’s better all the way around,” Mason said.
In spite of these successes, Henson does not like the president’s personality.
“Politics is like children in a sandbox kicking sand at each other," Henson said.
Both men would like to see more bipartisan cooperation, as well as both parties working better with the president.
“It would be a wonderful thing to have all them work together," Mason said. "It would be five times better."
More specifically, Henson would like to see bipartisan cooperation on issues like health care and immigration.
“I think 'Obamacare' should have been voted out. If our representatives in Congress had done that, it would be over. Something bi-party could replace it,” Henson said. “It has to be both parties coming together — that's the job of Congress, not the president.”
Henson added that a few years ago that Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, were advocating for some kind of wall. Now they are against it.
Henson added that immigration issues are connected to wages. The less people available to do work, the higher the wages will be for that work. Henson believes those lower wages are a byproduct of illegal immigrants being in the U.S. However, he is not in favor of sending people back.
“Instead of Congress being upset, they need to pass the laws that tell us what immigration should be,” Henson said.
One of the things that led Southern Illinoisan reporter Molly Stephens to interview Mason in 2017 was his signs. He had two homemade signs in his yard declaring his support of Trump and dislike of Hillary Clinton.
He chuckled as he said his sign that reads “Lock her up and drain the swamp” is still up at his Pomona home.
“He’s draining the swamp, and he will do a lot more," Mason said. "I think they will get Hillary before they are done, and I hope they do."
But, what about the president’s tweets?
“The way he words things sometimes is very crass or rude," Henson said. "I wish he was a little more tactful in the way he goes about some things."
Henson added that tweeting is the one way the president has to get his message out unfiltered by mainstream media.
Mason does not care about media reports or the opinions of lobbyists.
“I like his tweets. At least he can get if off his chest that way,” Mason said. “That’s why we are a free country.”
Mason believes a lot of other people share his feelings.
Henson says tweeting is a way to adapt to new technology, and Trump is not the first president to do so. He cited the now-infamous televised debate between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chats on evening radio as examples.
Henson said the 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week news cycle has changed the information that comes through traditional and social media.
“You hear things immediately, but sometimes before it been fact-checked,” Henson said.
Mason said Trump would be re-elected if he ran tomorrow, and expects that support to show up in the polls in the November mid-term election.
“I’ve talked to a few people who have said Trump was a lot better than they thought he would be,” Mason said. “He’s up front with people, and he’s for the U.S. and for people.”