W5 returns to 'Trumpland' two months later, and finds it restless
Published Friday, March 24, 2017 7:00AM EDT
In two months of a rough start, this week had to be the worst.
- The FBI Director laying out the case the Agency is building against Russia, and possibly members of President Trump’s campaign.
- The health care overhaul even some Republicans can’t stomach.
- A budget gutting some of the government programs Trump voters rely on.
- And a travel ban that is still in theory, not in practice.
- Oh, and the multi-billion dollar American taxpayer price tag now attached to Trump’s wall.
In some ways, it's surprising the approval rating Gallup reported this week of 37 per cent for the new president wasn’t even lower.
So we thought it was a good time to retrace a short journey we took just before the election, to see how American voters in the swing state of Pennsylvania feel about their choice now.
On election day back in November, voters in the state gave Trump the most votes any Republican candidate has received since Ronald Reagan three decades ago. And its voters are notoriously fickle, able to sense the mood of the country and generally back the winner.
Our first trip revealed many of the political impulses that helped propel Trump to the White House; a strong populist revolt against elites, lacklustre support for Clinton, and in the rural areas a deep antipathy for international trade deals that have largely hurt small town America.
During this second trip, retracing our footsteps, we once again went looking for the reasonable Trump supporters who were not those at rallies, railing against immigrants and spouting hate. Too often, American television news had portrayed them narrowly, failing to try to understand the breadth of impulses feeding Trump’s rise.
But we had our own preconceptions, too. We visited a bowling alley near Tyrone, Pennsylvania expecting to hear steadfast support for Trump after two months, and instead heard measured criticism from people who had voted for him.
We spoke with a senior Republican official who seemed hopeful Trump was finally getting down to business, but admitted he had hurt his country with divisive language since assuming office.
And we met a respected business leader who saw in Trump attitudes familiar to CEOs, but maybe not presidential. Like other Trump supporters, he still had faith a business approach to Washington would help.
But amid the base of his support, there seems a new restlessness that the president stop focusing so much on himself, and start focusing more on the people who helped him rise to power. And start delivering all those good jobs he boldly promised.
If Trump supporters are showing some impatience, they at least know they are in the driver’s seat.
Progressives we met in Philadelphia, at the now daily protest rallies, spoke with resignation about their chances of influencing the new Administration. They shout slogans to mask their melancholy and genuine concern over the direction American is heading.
While there are principles to rally around, there is no leader. It feels like protesting is all they can do, because they have lost influence and can’t see someone to lead them out of the wilderness yet.
It is still barely 60 days into a new and deeply controversial presidency, yet Pennsylvania is once again showing its savvy as a bellwether State. There is restlessness in the political landscape already, a population waiting to be lead.
And so far, still waiting.
W5's episode 'Trumpland' airs Saturday, March 25 at 7 p.m.