Photo by Evan Guest.
BY KATHERINE BAUER
Donald Trump has occupied the White House for close to a month. While his first acts as president have sparked controversy, Drake students from both sides of the aisle weighed in on his executive orders and where they think the country is moving.
“Executive orders are his way of getting instant gratification here and now, and totally bypassing his party,” junior public relations and political science double major Brooke Miller said. “As a Republican, I’m very upset by it because that’s not how government works. It’s a very fine line between an abuse of power and just getting something done that needs to be done. With Trump, it is unnecessary because he has all of Congress aligned with him.”
Trump has passed executive orders in order to fulfill his promises to supporters. These orders have attempted to roll back Obamacare, deport undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes, build a border wall and cut off federal funding to non-governmental organizations overseas that perform abortions. Quick action seems to be making a good impression on those who supported his platform.
“As somebody who voted for him, I’m definitely happy with the way he’s been moving,” senior Logan Kentner said. “However, we have to be careful of how he’s been getting things done because we were so critical of Obama all the way through.”
Even Republicans who did not vote for the president are recognizing his efforts to fulfill his goals.
“He’s definitely keeping his promises,” said sophomore Ryan Skotzke, who voted for Ted Cruz. “A lot of people voted for Donald Trump. He’s pretty determined to get to work and start implementing his promises right away. I kind of have to respect him for sitting down and getting things done as quickly as possible.”
Shortly after his inauguration, Trump signed an executive order that allows the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the directors of other agencies to interpret Obamacare legislation as loosely as possible.
“Getting things started with an executive order is definitely a good thing,” Kentner said. “It would make sense to get the ball rolling with that until you can get Congress to act.”
This move sets the stage for the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, one of Trump’s campaign promises
“It doesn’t do anything right away but it kicks off the process,” strategic political communications and political science double major Clay Pasqual said.
Pasqual spent time last year campaigning for Hillary Clinton.
Two Republican senators introduced legislation late last month for an Obamacare alternative, which would give states more power in determining how to handle their residents’ health care. Democrats like Pasqual remain skeptical.
“You have 20 million people insured through (Obamacare),” the junior said. “They’ve had more than six years to come up with a detailed legislative replacement to replace it with. Why aren’t you ready to go on day one to pass something?”
Across the board, Drake students seem to agree that Obamacare cannot be simply repealed; it must be replaced in some way.
Kentner said there are parts of Obamacare that republicans want to keep.
“I don’t think there are hardcore conservatives who say there aren’t any good things about Obamacare,” Kentner said.
He said the components that allow children to say on their parents’ health insurance until age 26 and not being turned away for a pre-existing condition, there are good components of the act.
Illegal Immigration and the Wall
Two controversial executive orders from the White House involved undocumented immigrants living in the United States as well as the construction of a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.
The first gave greater power to immigration officers to detain and deport undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes since coming to the U.S., although the term “criminals” was loosely defined.
“I feel like President Obama did nothing about illegal immigration,” Skotzke said. “It’s nice to see President Trump actually trying to do something about it.”
Most think the deportation of an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants remains an improbable venture.
“I don’t think that there’s any possible way to round up every illegal immigrant who’s in the United States right now,” Kentner said. “I do think that if you’re a criminal, that is definitely terms for you to be deported.”
Miller noted there is a fine line to walk when making a distinction between dangerous criminals and all undocumented immigrants.
“The only way that it would be smart when put into play is if you look at their criminal charges,” Miller said. “There are a lot of things that systematically set up minority immigrants to be criminalized. Like marijuana usage or inner city crime. They’re just set up in a way to pigeon hole or scapegoat these groups. You have to take that into consideration. Our country would be better without criminals, regardless of their background.”
Kentner added that he does not see President Trump attempting to deport otherwise law abiding, undocumented immigrants, a theme seen across the political spectrum.
“The vast majority of undocumented immigrants are not criminals,” Pasqual said. “We have 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows. We need to have a path to citizenship so they can get right with the law, pay back the taxes they haven’t paid, but they can stay here.”
The construction of a wall along the nation’s southern border was a cornerstone of Trump’s campaign. Some Republicans hope he will follow through.
“I’ve kind of been a supporter of the wall,” Skotzke said. “Illegal immigration is a big problem.”
Other Republicans see fundamental issues with building such a structure.
“Most of those states by the border aren’t going to help build it,” said Miller, a native of California. “I can’t imagine one person in California saying, ‘I’m going to go build that wall.’
“There’s also the struggle of cutting through mountains, and rivers and endangered areas and housing. There’s going to be so much that hasn’t been thought through.”
An upside some are citing is the influx of jobs along the border to construct the wall.
“You have rural Texas down along the border, not a very poppin’ area right now,” Kentner said. “So for them, definitely bringing in jobs. But then you have to pay those people. I’m not quite sure how I feel yet about how (Trump is) exactly going to do that.”
Miller said that the jobs may be temporary relief for the unemployed in the border states, but it will not bring long-term benefits.
“I don’t think it’s a constructive use of jobs because it’s not sustainable,” Miller said. “Once the wall is built, they’re gone.”
Yet the power of the wall remains in question. Kentner said he does not think a wall would necessarily stop immigrants from crossing without proper documentation.
The Mexico City policy
A bill has been making its way through the Iowa legislature to end government funding for Planned Parenthood, a move many Republican lawmakers across the country are hoping to make.
Trump ended federal aid to non-governmental organizations that perform abortions overseas, even though they provide other health care, like sex education and birth control.
“I do like that direction,” Skotzke said. “I do understand there are certain places for abortion like rape, incest and safety of the mother. It’s really important to protect unborn children. Providing that incentive (to stop abortions) by cutting funding to those NGOs performing abortions, it’s a good start.”
However, not all Republicans have the same perspective about the pro-life movement.
“I am pro-choice,” Miller said. “I’m pro-choice because I am pro-life, and I believe in giving my life the best shot I can and giving the life I bring into the world the best shot I can.”
However, Miller believes the money originally given to international (non-governmental organizations) is better spent in the states.
“I know it’s a foreign issue, and we should help,” Miller said. “But there are other things that taxpayer money should be going towards to help us out here first.”
Miller said the money could go towards better sex education in school to help prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place.
The issues America is facing right now at times seem to be a black and white battle between Democrats and Republicans. Although there are ideological, overarching differences, neither side is fully unified.
The Trump administration is evolving and changing every day. Now, time will show how well the president’s actions appeal to those within his party and the American people.