President Donald Trump drew a lot of fierce criticism over the last month after he used the partial government shutdown to try to pressure Congress into funding a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
The shutdown meant real pain for Federal workers in the North Country. Some conservative critics are also angry. They say Trump caved in his standoff with Democrats.
We wanted to hear how some of Trump’s core supporters here in the 21st Congressional district view his leadership now that the shutdown is over.
In Brushton: “I like pretty much everything about what he’s done.”
Temperatures are in the single digits when I find Ivan Green having breakfast in Brushton New York. He just got off a night shift at a factory near here and he says he’s a big Donald Trump fan.
“I like the fact that he wants the wall up and I support him 100% on that,” Green said. “I like pretty much like everything about what he’s done.”
Polls show President Trump’s support faded during the government shutdown. But interviews here found many of his core supporters haven’t budged much.
“I’m behind him. I know there are some people who live off the government who aren’t happy about [the shutdown.”
Green says those 800,000 federal workers who went without paychecks would have been a small price to pay if it had forced Congress to pay for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I’d hate for somebody to come over here and rape my daughter, murder her, murder my mom, then go back over there and not get caught so yeah, I think the wall’s a great idea.”
In fact, federal crime statistics shows that immigrants and undocumented workers are far less likely to commit violent crimes than U.S. citizens.
In Canton, “fear for what’s coming down the road”
But the Trump voters I talked to here are convinced that migrants and refuges pose a serious danger.
“I’ve got grandchildren and great-grandchildren and I fear for what’s coming down the road,” said Maurice Bertrand, a farmer in Canton. He’s furious at Democrats in Congress for blocking Trump’s demand for a $5.7 billion downpayment on the wall.
Here’s how he described Trump’s opponents: “Smart-asses with their college degrees.”
Bertrand said he’d support another government shutdown if Trump deems it necessary: “Absolutely, it’s like a kid that doesn’t listen. He’s got to hurt before he understands. The country’s got to hurt a little bit, it’s a small price to pay, yup.”
In Russell, “there’s got to be a better way”
But even some Trump supporters say they’re not sure he played this confrontation the right way. “The border wall, I mean, yeah, I want to be protected just like everybody else,” said Amy White who lives in the tiny town of Russell New York. She says the government shutdown felt to her like bad strategy, a stand-off that hurt normal people.
“It just seems like there are other ways of doing it than putting people out of work and losing their income. It just seems like there’s got to be a better way but I don’t know what that way would be.”
White says she too still backs the President and still wants his wall built. Polls show the overwhelming majority of conservative voters still trust his leadership.
But her doubts about the wisdom of the shutdown are reflected in polls that show Trump losing ground in recent weeks nationwide even with some of his core supporters, white men without college degrees, evangelicals and registered Republicans.