By Sara Schonhardt
For Foothills Forum
A Dutch nightly news program recently brought together some of Rappahannock’s more conservative voices to share their views on the Trump administration and gauge how the president is performing after 18 months in office.
They covered the gamut: border controls, necessary; corruption, declining; conservatism, ascendant.
Do they like what Donald Trump is doing as president?
“What’s not to like?” Demaris Miller asked back. “He loves America, he loves the American people, he really wants to put America first, but he wants to be fair, so it’s hard not to like that.”
The conversation comes at a time when immigration, trade tariffs and a Supreme Court nomination are making headlines and just months before a midterm election many see as a litmus test for the mood of the country.
While much of the conversation revolved around the United States’ role in the world and transcontinental relations, there were also questions about Trump’s America First policy, perceptions of the media and the administration’s overall performance.
The program aired in Holland to coincide with last week’s meeting between Trump and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and focused mainly on how Trump supporters view U.S. foreign policy.
Reporter Eelco Bosch van Rosenthal said he focused on Trump voters because he wanted to give viewers a perspective they’re not used to hearing. “Our voters don’t understand why people would still vote for Trump, and we need to help them understand that,” he said.
For the six who participated in the conversation, perhaps the most important impact of the Trump administration is that it has put America back on track and disrupted a political system they view as long-controlled by a liberal elite.
“We see this not as a one off, but as the way forward,” said Richard Viguerie, a leading conservative figure and chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, a right-wing news and opinion website. He believes a Republican-controlled Congress and the support of other major parts of the political establishment have aided the president, but so too has a more advanced conservative movement.
Page Glennie, who called himself a “come-to” Trump voter, said he likes that Trump is causing people to question the majority and mobilizing those who feel they didn’t have a voice.
“He has changed the social dynamic, and that is what is changing the country,” he said.
Since taking office, Trump has faced widespread criticism for actions and policies viewed as harmful to Americans and America’s standing in the world. In some ways, however, the constant criticism has strengthened conservatives’ affinity with the president and brought them to his defense.
“Popularity isn’t as important as results,” said Walt Longyear, who pointed to low unemployment and a booming economy as examples of Trump living up to his promises. “Trump is just doing an outstanding job. The world is safer today, people in Europe are safer, people in the United States are safer.”
Were they more proud of the U.S. than five years ago? van Rosenthal asked. The answer a resounding yes.
“More than proud, I’m optimistic about the future,” Miller said.