Friday is inauguration day, as Donald Trump is set to take the oath of office and be sworn in as the nation’s 45th president.
NHPR’s Morning Edition spoke to two Granite Staters from opposing sides of the political spectrum about what they’re hoping to hear from Trump in his address, and their expectations from him as president.
Lou Gargiulo of Hampton Falls is in Washington, D.C. this week to witness Trump’s inauguration. He owns a real estate business and served as Trump’s Rockingham County co-chair.
You’re a longtime Trump supporter and many were surprised by his election. What will be going through your mind as you watch him take the oath of office?
I’m excited we picked someone who we think has the ability to change the trajectory in Washington and to begin to do things that need to be done. I'm happy that I was an early adopter and that he was elected.
Trump did make a lot of promises during the campaign. As a business owner, what’s one thing that he promised to do that you would need to see him follow through with to consider him a success?
Absolutely health care. Our costs have escalated, our employees’ coverage has diminished, their deductibles have increased. I think changing Obamacare to something that provides excellent coverage to everyone but does it at a more reasonable level of expense is something we’re excited to see happen.
Donald Trump recently got into a spat with Georgia Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis on Twitter. Trump’s known to use Twitter quite often. Are you worried at all about Trump’s use of that as president?
No, I’m not. I think it’s a method to get directly to the people. I think he has found a way to usurp the mainstream media and to get directly to the people who are interested in hearing what he has to say.
But does it distract from governing?
I don’t think it necessarily distracts; I think it possibly enhances. It allows him to get his concerns and his agenda to everyone so that people can make their own opinions and it isn’t tainted by others.
Trump’s mantra of course is Make America Great Again. What’s the measure of success for you? What do you need to see in the next several months?
I think I need to see those things he promised during the campaign, many of those things begin to happen. I think he’s already begun by working toward bringing more jobs into the country. I think reaching out to the corporations and putting a squeeze on them to recognize that moving your jobs to other parts of the world isn’t necessarily in the best interest of our country. I think that a president who does that is someone who will get the attention of business and I think that’s a good thing. I think that his approach toward the military and the VA are all things that are exciting.
What are you hoping to hear from him during his inaugural address?
I’m hoping to hear those steps that he’s going to begin to take of turning a lot of the institutions that have been broken or are not functioning at a level that many feel is an acceptable level around. I’m hoping to hear what steps he’s going to take to stamp out the terrorism issues around the world. I’m also hoping to hear how he’s going to approach things like taxation, military, and a whole array of other areas.
There are a lot of protests planned. Can you understand why people are nervous or feel apprehensive about a Donald Trump presidency?
Certainly. I can understand how anyone can feel apprehensive about any change in government. But I think those people should have the presence of mind to give it a chance. And I think that for me is what’s most disturbing. And I think a lot of those people, especially a lot of the Congressional people as well, including 1st District Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter who’s not going to attend, do not do well for unity and trying to build the necessary bridges to make America great again.
Catherine Carter is a music teacher at Lancaster Elementary School.
She's also organizing the Women's March in the North Country on Saturday, a local offshoot of the Women's March on Washington.
Supporters of Trump say you need to give him a chance. Do you feel a rally like this, a day after the inauguration, sends the message that you’re not willing to give him a chance?
I don’t think so. I think we definitely want to give the President-elect a chance. I think this march is definitely to say, not so much that it’s an anti-Trump march, but saying these are the issues we’re concerned about. It’s more of a pro-human rights demonstration. We want our views on women and minorities and veterans to be addressed and we feel that by doing this march, it’s the best way to get those views right out in the forefront.
What specifically are your concerns with the new administration?
We were upset by all the negative rhetoric and the way in which many people were being talked about during the election cycle, ie. immigrants, minorities, women, and veterans. And when we learned about the Women's March on Washington, something really resonated for us. And we wanted to have that opportunity here in our communities for those who are unable to travel to D.C. for the march.
You're a teacher. What have you heard from students this election cycle?
There's been some different things. Directly following the election, there were a lot of celebrations, but there were a lot of kids who were really concerned. You had someone as our president-elect who was displaying a lot of bullying behaviors and we try as teachers to teach children that you treat others the way you want to be treated and some of them were seeing the president-elect act in ways that were negative and wondering if that's OK to do. So we did have some saying now that Trump's president, I can do these things. But we had a lot of other kids saying that have to be respectful and respectful of our common man. So there are all different kinds of concerns on either side.
In the three months since the election, do you feel like you've been able to understand why people voted for him?
I think so. I've done some research myself and I think that there were many concerns that were not being met, people felt they were not being heard. And particularly being in rural America, a lot of times it feels as though our voices aren't getting heard way up here. So I think Trump's rhetoric really did resonate with a lot of citizens. But that being said, we do hope that there's been so much progress during the Obama administration, and we do hope that progress will continue and not become stagnant with the new administration.
What could Donald Trump say during his inaugural address that could reassure you or give you some hope?
We hope to hear him begin to unite the nation and begin to bring people in communities together, rather than being divisive and aggressively fighting like he did during his most recent press conference. We really want to hear him speak with respect in reference to the rights of immigrants, minorities, women, and veterans, people living in poverty, and in communication with our neighboring countries, as well. I'm sure that every individual coming to these marches are coming with their own personal hope for what President Trump will speak about. This march is one of solidarity, with overriding principles of social and racial justice for all Americans.
What happens after the rally Saturday? Are you hoping this gets people more politically involved?
Over 100 people have agreed to show up in Lancaster. From there, we hope to get together and get some ideas on how to press forward and continue fighting for the things we believe in.