Local residents share thoughts on inauguration

It’s official. The Trump presidency has officially begun.

Supporters and demonstrators alike flocked to Washington Friday to witness Donald Trump become Mr. President.

It’s no secret that Trump’s politics have been divisive. Either you love him, hate him or are coming to terms with his presidency and are willing to give him a chance. As his term officially begins, the effects of his policies have the potential to impact residents up and down the Shenandoah Valley.

Luke Fredman, a Strasburg plumber and Trump supporter, attended the inauguration and said the atmosphere was one of celebration.

“When we went in early this morning, most everybody that was going in you had to go through two or three different security checkpoints,” Fredman said. “We weren’t but 150 yards from the Capitol. It was mostly all pro-Trump supporters. … Most everybody that I ran into were pro Trump. … It was an exciting day. …It seems like the crowd was real supportive and there were a lot of people there.”

Fredman said that Trump’s outsider status made him an attractive candidate.

“Most of the times, when people get elected they sell everybody false hope and a dream but once they get in there they’re more concerned about their own personal agenda because they’re already there,” he said. “This is one time where he doesn’t need the money, he sounds like he’s trying to run it like a business instead of having his own agenda.”

Larry Vance, a Trump supporter and a Shenandoah County government teacher for more than 30 years, explained why he voted for for the incoming president, noting that his personality and reputation factored into his decision. Vance also said Trump’s immigration and economic policies were attractive to him.

“I don’t know whether it was something he said during “Celebrity Apprentice” or how he said it but a light bulb went off and I said ‘you know, that’s who we need for president,'” he said. “I think the thing that probably triggered all this was that he’s a man of strength, somewhat uncompromising and he just had this can-do will-do persona about him and I liked that. This is long before he got into his campaign speeches.”

Vance said that after watching inauguration coverage Friday, his trust in his chosen candidate was strengthened.

“(The inauguration) completely reinforced my notion – fewer doubts than ever,” he said. “I didn’t have many to begin with, now I have no doubts. He made a commitment of can-do will-do when he said something to the effect of dream bigger. Nothing can’t be achieved.”

Steve Kurtz, vice chairman of the Warren County Republican Committee, shared his thoughts on Trump’s inauguration and speech.

“I would say I was elated when the inauguration took place … when he got sworn in,” Kurtz said. “I thought his speech was good. I thought it was unifying and I thought that his reference to the people, that the people won the election, not him, was very well taken I would say.”

Kurtz, also the northern regional vice chairman of the Sixth District Republican Committee, added that he saw the speech as “definitely guiding the country forward and … taking us to a place where we can all work together again.”

Luther Santiful, chairman of the Shenandoah County Democrats, gave his reaction to Trump’s speech.

“I listened to the speech and, to be honest with you, with the exception of two or three sentences, I didn’t see anything in it that was different than what he did when he was on the campaign trail,” Santiful said. “I hope that at some point he will get out of the campaign mode and you know be serious about the job that he was sworn into. It’s time now to be serious and I don’t see that yet but you know there’s always hope.”

“I have a great respect for the office of the president and I would hope that he would do well,” Santiful added. “But, to this point, I don’t see any indication that he’s willing to change his attitude toward people that he maligned throughout the campaign.”

Michael Romano is an associate professor of political science at Shenandoah University. He said that Trump’s campaign, and now presidency, is certainly unorthodox but not necessarily unheard of.

“There are vestiges of the Trump campaign from previous campaigns throughout history,” he said. “The Nixon campaign is a good example of it where the Republicans kind of switched their strategy after losing in 1964 with Barry Goldwater and focused on turning those economic sentiments into moral sentiments.”

Romano explained how voters in rural areas and regions where industry came and went felt forgotten as they watched America’s large urban areas develop at a rate disparate to that of their areas. Romano said that Trump’s use of Twitter was a major factor in his election.

Romano said that he was able to watch some of Friday’s inauguration coverage and saw nothing too out of the ordinary.

“Most of what I’ve seen has really kind of been fairly standard for Republican candidates in inaugurations,” he said. “A big thing for Trump was arguably, for lack of a better term, beating his chest about the fact that he won. He likes to portray himself as a being outside of politics and for the most part in traditional measures he’s right because he’s never held a political office before and he seemed to like to point out the fact that all of the politicians watching this – he’s not like you and he’s going to take back Washington.”

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com