Reacting to President Trump and his speech to Congress
Robert Walker is a pastor at Main Street Methodist Church and spends an hour each day making himself available to the public as the “Main St. Chaplain.” He believes that the U.S. should provide shelter for refugees nutil they can return home.
Warner A. Brown thought he was going to watch another typical speech from President Trump, but he admitted he was “impressed” by the president.
Dot Fishburne, an employee at Something Special Florist on Main Street, says that she wanted Hillary Clinton to win the 2016 election. She thinks that President Trump could take away a lot of people’s rights, like those of the LGBTQ community.
Drew Hill, a 19-year-old USC student, understands why President Trump and his supporters are so anxious about immigration, but she is uncomfortable and saddened that some people could think of immigrants in such a way.
Coffee shop Reverend
By Lindsey Hodges and Micaela Wendell
As he does every weekday, Robert Walker is sitting in a coffee shop – Starbucks on this day – with his laptop and cell phone. Attached to his laptop with binder clips is a sign: Main St. Chaplain, Free, Conversation/Prayer.
Walker is the pastor at Main Street Methodist Church in Columbia and makes himself available to those who need to talk. On Wednesday, one day after President Trump’s joint address to Congress, Walker would like to give Trump a piece of his mind.
“I think he’s the worst president we’ve ever had in the history of this country,” Walker said.
During his speech, Trump praised the “merit-based immigration system” that some countries, including Canada and Australia, use. That system would restrict the number of relatives of U.S. citizens entering the U.S. and allow more high-skilled workers to enter the country.
Walker didn’t listen to the speech but gives the president credit for broadening the debate over immigration. “As far as an overarching immigration policy, that’s not a bad one,” he said.
But when refugees are fleeing war-torn countries and are seeking a safe place to stay, the United States should not react based on merit or skill, he said.
“I think we need to always have an open door to people who need refuge, so if that’s our only way in, to prove you have value or worth, then I’m not in favor of that,” Walker said. “I think our first calling should be to make sure that anybody in the world who needs a safe place, a safe haven, should have the opportunity to come.”
Skeptical before, impressed after
By Jeffrey Griffin
Warner A. Brown was skeptical about what the president was going to say before the presidential address Tuesday. President Trump, however, surprised Brown.
“Honestly, at first, I thought it was going to be a bunch of, you know, the Donald’s rhetoric. Blah. Blah. Blah. But honestly, I was impressed,” Brown said.
Brown, who normally identifies as a Democrat, was satisfied with the way the president handled himself at the podium.
“What impressed me the most is that he was more presidential than we had seen in the past. You know, it was like you had the ‘before’ Donald and the ‘after’ Donald,” Brown said.
Brown was not impressed, however, with the Democrats’ response during President Trump’s address.
“I just wanted to ask: why are you all moaning and groaning?”
In response to President Trump’s comments about immigration and the need to build a wall to prevent illegal immigrants coming from Mexico, Brown felt a more advanced approach should be taken.
“Why have a wall, when we have technology in play?” Brown asked. “We’ve got satellites that can read the fine print on a dime from space. Why should we need a wall?”
Brown, a Navy veteran, became emotional following President Trump’s recognition of fallen Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer Ryan Owens’ widow, Carryn Owens.
“I cried. I think it’s great anytime people in power recognize our warriors,” Brown said.
Trump’s ideas about immigration make freshman journalism student wary
By Micaela Wendell and Lindsey Hodges
Freshman broadcast journalism student Drew Hill doesn’t like the negative way that President Trump and others talk about immigrants.
“It makes me very uncomfortable and it also makes me kind of sad that people, like, think of other people that way,” she said.
Hill doesn’t agree with President Trump’s ideas that people from other countries should be allowed entry into the United States based on their merit.
“I think you should allow people in based on need, not on like, how good of a person they are because I feel like, for the most part, if people want to come here, it’s because they’re probably escaping something that’s much worse,” Hill said. “So I don’t think a merit based system is necessarily the way to go.”
Hill also doesn’t agree with Trump’s beliefs about the media.
“I’m a journalism student, so whenever he like, insults the media and says that everything is fake news, I’m like, no, just because someone’s disagreeing with you doesn’t make it fake,” she said.
Giving up on politics
By Collyn Taylor
Nancy Brock didn’t watch the speech, and doesn’t care for Trump at all. When asked if she supports the president, she stuck her tongue out and made a loud guttural noise to voice her displeasure for Trump.
Brock, who was walking briskly though downtown Columbia Wednesday morning, said that she does not agree with anything that comes out of Trump’s mouth, especially about immigration.
“This country was founded on the principles of immigration,” Brock said, sobbing. “It’s very un-American.”
Joe Welsh didn’t watch the speech but for a totally different reason. The senior chemical engineering major at USC said he didn’t vote in November because he couldn’t decide on a candidate, and that he’s “given up on politics” after this election.
Welsh, who lives right on Main Street, said he’s felt some of Trump’s decisions have been hasty and he doesn’t think the president consults advisers on topics like immigration.
He agrees there needs to be some kind of border changes, but doesn’t know how a wall—a concept Trump has championed for the last year—can fix the issue.
“If you build a wall, you need immigration reform on top of that. It’s too hard to get into the US at this point legally,” Welsh said. “It’s very expensive and I think you can justify deporting criminals, but you really have to balance that with making it easier to immigrate too.”