Kansas Citians Tell Us What Donald Trump Needs To Know As He Takes Office
Just one day before Donald Trump’s inauguration into office as President of the United States, KCUR’s Up To Date hosted a conversation asking the Kansas City region a question: “What do you want the new president to know about you, or your community, as he takes office?”
As part of NPR’s A Nation Engaged project — an ongoing series of stories and shows that look at identity and politics — host Steve Kraske asked the audience and his guests, “What are your hopes and fears for the next administration, and is your town divided … or united?”
Andrea Clements, Executive Director of a health initiative in Atchison, Kansas, kicked off the conversation with a general call for Trump to be accountable to the American people.
“I want our new president to know that I’m a pretty average representation of Middle America,” Clements said. “I’m a working mom [with] a husband, two kids, and a dog. And that being said, I really need him to know that I’m trusting him to keep families like mine, who work hard and love our country and our neighbors in mind when he’s making decisions about our community’s future.”
Generally speaking, Clements said she is hopeful that Trump’s administration will be able to “bring our country together.”
Jason Camis, president of the Gardner Edgerton Chamber of Commerce, added that he hopes that Trump will focus his presidency on the issues that affect us, “whether it’s healthcare for one family, immigration for another family, [or] regulations for businesses.”
“The big thing I’d want him to know is that there are a lot of us who were maybe not fans of the incoming president, and he might not have been our first choice. However, he is our president. And we’re going to support him, and we want to see things improved in our communities and our nation. This is an opportunity for him to focus on issues, and I think that will be how we’ll judge him,” Camis said.
Deborah Smith, chair of the sociology department at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), echoed Camis and Clements. She said that leaders need to be able to understand that “they can’t know everything, there’s no way to know everything,” and said she hopes that “Trump would learn to lean on experts — not just people who have opinions about particular things but people who have expertise.”
Following on these themes of finding common ground among the nation, people from across the Kansas City region called in, Tweeted, and left Facebook messages and comments with their demands, hopes and invitations for Trump.
One social media user, Gabby, wrote to the show, “As a married gay woman, step-mom and grandmother, me and my family and community are also Americans. We’re not going back into the closet, and I truly hope that you meant and will continue your public support of the LGBT community and our basic civil rights … I will always speak up against discrimination in all its forms, including against my Muslim brothers and sisters, and racism in general, particularly against African Americans and the Latino community.”
An 18-year-old caller into the show, Edward, said that as “a member of a generation coming into the workforce … we feel strongly that America is a place for opportunity that is inclusive of everybody. Everyone should have an opportunity to have a good-paying job and to live happily and free from fear.” Edward also echoed Gabby’s concerns about basic civil rights.
“Our generation will not stand for any repeal or roll-back of basic human rights for any group, whether that’s the LGBT community or based off of someone’s religion such as following Islam, or any cultural identifier,” he said.
Andrea Clements commented that her biggest fear is that “we become a more divided and paranoid country, and that we act on those fears and paranoia.”
Rather than act on those fears and be in “attack mode,” Clements said, her message to Trump is to stop and listen to others, and not rush to extremes.
“I think that politics is about meeting in the middle, and living in a community period is about meeting in the middle, and finding things that we can agree on. You can maintain those extreme views, but understand that working to bring a country along, or working to bring a community along, is going to require you to set some of those aside to do the business of running a nation or running a community,” said Clements.
Diane Krauthamer is the digital intern for KCUR 89.3.