UMW students reflect on President Donald Trump’s first 100 days
By VIRGINIA BIXBY
Sarah Hansen, UMW’s Young Democrats President, still remembers the moment she realized that it was Donald Trump’s column that lit up on the news channel in November during general election. She felt worried and fearful especially, after months of promoting Hillary Clinton’s campaign with fellow members of the Young Dems. She was dispirited by Trump’s unprecedented victory.
“Trump is exactly the kind of president I feared he would be: erratic, xenophobic, and ill informed,” Hansen said. “I cannot think of a single action of his so far as president that I support.”
In reflection of this past year, UMW students have noted that this year has proved to be controversial and divisive. In his first few months as president, Trump has signed twenty-six executive orders and plans to sign four more before the 100-day mark. These orders include working toward repealing the Affordable Care Act, progressing work on the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL pipeline, stripping money from U.S. sanctuary cities, restricting immigration from Muslim countries, and beginning construction of a wall across the U.S. and Mexican border. Trump has also appointed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, reorganized the National Security Council, and signed a presidential referendum withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership in his first 100 days.
“Trump’s ideology remains fairly incoherent, with his only driving principle seeming to be protecting corporate interests,” said Hansen. “His first 100 days have been remarkably ineffective, despite his party controlling Congress.”
There are members of the Mary Washington community who feel as if Trumps words and actions have not appeared to align together during his time in office.
“Through his actions, [Trump] has shown us that he has no plans to fulfill the promises he made to the people who are most vulnerable and those who genuinely believed he had their best interests at heart,” said Caroline Schwartz.
Sophomore Kathryn Peterson was disappointment by Trump’s budgeting choices.
“I think he is fear-mongering and is making people believe there is danger when in reality there is no threat at all,” said Peterson. “He wants to spend way too much on money on military and force and not nearly enough on issues that citizens actually have to deal with like adequate education, access to healthcare, voting rights, and global warming.”
But some students think Trump has made positive changes.
“I like how he is signing deals and executive orders, like the ‘Buy American, Hire American’ idea,” said sophomore and chair of UMW College Republicans Stephan Lamm. “I believe that job growth is crucial to a strong economy, and I believe that Trump can deliver on that but I hope Trump can somehow heal his tattered relationship with women and minorities, because as voting groups, they will only become more and more relevant in elections to come.”
The differing opinions of him, along with how he has needed to learn the ropes of holding a political position, has influenced how some people view what has taken place so far in Trumps administration.
“Usually, presidents are given their first 100 days as a honeymoon period,” said junior Mary Grace Cooney. “Trump has no experience in Washington or in any government role, which hurts him a little. He is also trying to tackle many large projects such as healthcare, when he should be focusing on smaller victories to gain goodwill. Trump is trying to hit home runs in the midst of still learning how to bat.”
Junior Emily James said she has conflicting feelings about Trump’s policies.
“I do not support most of his actions,” said James. “I do not support his policies towards immigrants as a daughter of an immigrant… I do agree with his support in the pro-life movement [but] overall, [I am] not satisfied… Why get rid of vital government programs and departments, like cutbacks in EPA [and] refusing that climate change is real is ignorant?”
The Trump administration has proven how people may agree with some policies from a candidate, but not all of them. Students who are disgruntled with Trump’s presidency have been trying to speak out and enact change through protests and discussions, including as a silent demonstration on Ball Circle against Trump’s executive that suspended refugee entry into the United States.
Senior Lauren Rainford helped organized van rides from campus to the Women’s March on Washington the day after the inauguration. Hansen and her fellow Young Democrats have decided to channel their frustrations into working to elect a Democratic governor in the 2017 Virginia gubernatorial election. The Young Democrats have hosted Democratic candidate Tom Perriello on campus twice during the semester.
“The most important thing young people in Virginia can do to resist Trump’s agenda is to vote in upcoming elections,” said Hansen. “It is difficult to overstate how important November’s gubernatorial election is… not only can Virginians send a message to the rest of the country by rejecting Trump’s agenda, but we can also combat GOP policies right here at home.”
There are students who feel that instead of completely focusing on the negatives surrounding Trumps presidency, it is important to make an effort to focus on finding solutions to different problems.
“I think we need to stop believing his lies because they make us fear others rather than come together to solve real day-to-day problems,” said Peterson.