A different view of Trump

A trip to Florida reveals contrasting attitudes toward the president

My wife and I took a 10-day trip to Florida in early March. Visiting friends, relatives and acquaintances, and meeting new people, shed some enlightening perspective on the attitudes of those from other parts of the country regarding the Trump administration, which we found to be interesting and somewhat disconcerting.

In New England, the consensus is that the majority do not favor the president and probably disapprove of his time in office so far. Elsewhere, attitudes differ.

In one part of Florida, visiting with people from the Midwest, all college-educated and sophisticated, the vast majority thought the president was doing a good job, had voted for him and could not understand why others disapprove.

Moving east, we visited with a professional, Ivy League graduate in his late 50s. He agreed that it was a tragic event but vigorously opposed any kind of additional controls on weapons, including the measures recently passed by the Florida Legislature. Indeed, he claimed not to own any weapons but said, “If Hillary Clinton had been elected, I was going to buy one.”

In a discussion with people from Mid-Atlantic states, one man listened politely to a general conversation disapproving of Trump’s performance. But, when faced with more than he could take, said that he was in an industry that totally had moved offshore and cost many American factory jobs. He said the rest of us did not understand pressures on people to restore jobs in America and “put the Chinese in their place,” supporting recently announced tariffs and additional ones, if possible.

This person expressed no concern about vacancies in the State Department, vacant ambassadorships, recent firings in the White House and elsewhere. He pointed to the fact that the president is “standing up for America.”

Next, speaking with a retired professional, himself a naturalized citizen, the subject of the wall along the Mexican border came up. Interestingly, this fellow, having lived many years in Texas, said that he favored the wall but not for the reasons usually stated.

With some sophistication of argument, he indicated that the wall would not keep illegal immigrants out, since the majority of them came to the United States legally and then overstayed their welcome when their visas expired. Rather, he said, the wall, especially in places where there is large population on both sides of the border, would separate the population and force those in the U.S. to learn English, focus on American society and be assimilated.

Finally, in a wealthy community in northern Florida, in addition to expressing support for President Trump, those in a conversation stated that they believed former President Obama had been un-American and “looking out only for blacks” and that Michelle Obama had been “one of the most dangerous people in the country.”

This was disconcerting, for while those of us northerners listening probably had not voted for the former president, he was the leader of the free world for eight years, and we considered his first lady to have done a pretty classy job, as a public figure, wife and mother.

While recent special elections indicate the possibility of a massive rejection of the president in the mid-term election, the attitudes we heard should give pause to people who think it is a given that some kind of conventional wisdom will carry the day, either in 2018 or 2020.

On a personal note, a recent column I wrote on gun control received an especially large number of comments, almost all in agreement. One forceful response, however, disagreed with almost everything stated in the column.

To that reader and all, thank you for reading and expressing yourselves. Often, things are included in the column to make all of us, including me, think about the issues presented. The dissenting reader accused me of not reading the Supreme Court’s opinions on the meaning of the Second Amendment, which obviously is the final statement of the law on the subject. The reader missed my point. Maybe I was saying the Supreme Court got it wrong. He also took NH Business Review to task for not listing a way to contact me. My e-mail address is bcook@sheehan.com.

Brad Cook, a shareholder in the Manchester law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green, heads its government relations and estate planning groups. He can be reached at bcook@sheehan.com.

Categories: Cook on Concord