Voices From the Midwest on Trump’s Presidency

Six months into Trump's presidency, his voters in Ohio see a president working to keep his promises
August 18, 2017 Last Updated: August 29, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Four hundred miles from Washington, it’s not hard to find ordinary Americans who voted for Donald Trump and are happy with how he is following through on his promises.

The Epoch Times talked to several Ohioans to find out how their values align with Trump’s and the issues that are close to their hearts, in a series of interviews from to July 28 to Aug. 5.

They talked about the American dream, their hopes and fears for the future, and how they think Trump is trying to steer America in the right direction—despite what they see as constant obstruction in Washington.

All were concerned with the growing divisions in society, and several identified the media as perpetuating the divide and fomenting chaos. Most of them said they find it necessary to seek their news and information from a variety of sources along the political spectrum.

Amy Blazitz, 62, outside her home in Gahanna, Ohio, on Aug. 5. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
Amy Blazitz, 62, outside her home in Gahanna, Ohio, on Aug. 5. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Baby Boomer Wants Respect for Trump and Honesty in Media

Divisions in society can be traced back to a decline in morals

Even before the primaries last year, Amy Blazitz, 62, had a feeling Trump would become president.

“I knew in my heart he was going to win,” she said from her home in Gahanna, Ohio, on Aug. 5. “Just his promises, what he stood for. I believe he can get the job done. That’s why I voted for him.”

Blazitz, a hair designer, returned to Ohio to be close to her family last year after a stint in South Carolina selling real estate. She lives with her daughter and shares responsibility for her three grandsons during the times her daughter has custody.

Blazitz’s sciatica makes it difficult to work full time, but she packs in as many hours as she can handle at a local salon.

“My family and my friends are my most important value. Doing the right thing by people, always being honest—[and] I expect that from everybody else, too,” Blazitz said, summing up her values as “God, family, country.”

But life is not easy—money is tight, retirement is looming, and health is always a concern.

Health Care

“I can’t afford health care right now. Mine [insurance premium] went from $200-and-something a month to almost $700. So based on my income, I had to go on Medicaid. I could not afford the health care. And they’ve done it to a lot of my friends. I mean, if I had to pay $700 a month, I wouldn’t be able to—I’d be living in my car!” 

Blazitz said Trump is trying to fix health care, but gets obstructed. “They just don’t want him to succeed, period. It’s almost like they want our country to be really bad,” she said.

Forty years ago, Blazitz’s dreams were based on having lots of money, a big house, and travel plans. “Now it’s just survival. I just try to get through the day, go to work, do what I’m supposed to do, and have a roof over my head and be able to feed my family,” she said.

“I could probably go get food stamps. And I don’t; I won’t. I mean, I don’t believe in it. I’ve had friends that helped me and that’s okay, but I’m not taking from the government.”

Media Bias

Blazitz believes Trump “absolutely” has the best interests of Americans at heart and says media bias is a big threat to the country.  

“We need more honesty. I don’t care which way people believe … but I want them to at least be fed the correct information and then make [their] decision,” she said.

Amy Blazitz (R) with her daughter and three grandsons, during a recent family evening at home in Gahanna, Ohio. (COURTESY OF AMY BLAZITZ)
Amy Blazitz (R) with her daughter and three grandsons, during a recent family evening at home in Gahanna, Ohio. (COURTESY OF AMY BLAZITZ)

“I think he’s doing as well as could be expected. He doesn’t get a whole lot of help from anybody else, so he’s trying. Of course, we don’t hear anything about the good he does.

“Make people work, get off the [welfare] system, close the borders, take the trade, bring jobs back to America, [build a] stronger military. I believe Trump stands for all that. And he says it. I see on one channel that he’s doing it, and on the other channel, I don’t.

“I think we need to have respect for our president. I think we need to stand behind our president.”

Moral Standards

The divisions in today’s society are scary and can be traced back to a decline in morals, says Blazitz.  

“It’s almost like right is wrong and wrong is right now,” she said. “Maybe we are getting ready for a civil war or something. I don’t know. It’s a scary thought, but I see that. I see it with the division.

“Honestly, I think with Obama … a lot of faith-stuff failed. I mean, our country was built on Christianity, not on somebody else’s religion that they are trying to force on our people. America stands for a lot, [including] different religions.

“People who come here don’t respect our beliefs in our country, and want to force [their beliefs] on us. If we went to their country, we would probably be beheaded. I mean, we don’t have freedom to walk in their country like they do in ours, and [they] want to takeover.”

Blazitz has faith that Trump will build a stronger military. “Our country used to be strong. It’s one of the things I thought our former president was out to destroy. It’s like we are not safe.

“I would love to live in peace. But I don’t know if that’s possible anymore.”

World Government

Blazitz supports Trump pulling out of the Paris climate accord and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal because they represent taking a step closer toward having a one-world government.

“We cannot be a one-world government, especially when it’s against everything I’ve ever been taught and what our country stands for. So that’s a really big fear to me. In my head, this is the devil,” she said.

“I think that’s what Trump is trying to prevent. I really do.

“Why I feel this way and why I back Trump is, first of all, my beliefs, basically. It’s all about the big picture, about my faith, and what I believe is happening in our country right now, in the world.”

Republican Versus Conservative

A Republican always stood for a government for the people, says Blazitz, and Democrats stood for a government for the government. But she sees a demarcation between a Republican and a true conservative.

“The government for the people—the Republicans have kind of lost that a little bit, the conservatives not so much,” she said.

“I don’t know if Republicans think so much or care so much about our rights, either. Both parties … if somebody would give them enough power or money to switch, they would, whereas most of my conservative friends would not. I mean, they could torture us and we’re probably not going to. You can’t be bought. You either feel the way you do, or you don’t.

“I believe that the government in the last 40 years has … I think they’re all about themselves. They don’t want to give up their salaries or their health care to help the Americans. They’re supposed to make better choices for us and pick things that work for their country, but it doesn’t seem like they do.

“They’re in somebody’s pocket. It’s all about money and power. So as long as they can stay in office and they’re paid or they’ve taken a bribe, I don’t know, I do believe that that’s what it’s about now. And maybe it was then, but we just didn’t hear about it like we do now.”

———

Kim Murphy outside her daughter's home in Plain City, Ohio, on July 29, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
Kim Murphy outside her daughter’s home in Plain City, Ohio, on July 29, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Nurse Practitioner Talks Health Care, Debt, and Morals

Is tired of being demonized for supporting Trump’s policies

Kim Murphy, 55, has lived in central Ohio all her life. She grew up on a farm, worked as a nurse for 20 years, and has since worked as a nurse practitioner for 14.

“I value my family, I value my work, I love my job, I love contributing to society … I enjoy traveling, and I want to be safe,” she said.

She has three adult children and two young grandchildren (whom she and her husband of 35 years were looking after when we visited).

Murphy voted for Trump because she was concerned about the direction America was heading.

“I think a big threat is our debt, if you’re talking governmental policies. For example, the debt ratio. In October, right before the election, it was 105 percent debt to GDP ratio,” she said.

“To me—and that’s part of my internal values, and how I run my household, how I feel everyone should run their world—and that is, money runs out.

Kim Murphy, 55, and her husband, Dave, outside their daughter's home in Plain City, Ohio, on July 29. Kim is a nurse practitioner and Dave has worked for Honda for 36 years. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
Kim Murphy, 55, and her husband, Dave, outside their daughter’s home in Plain City, Ohio, on July 29, 2017. Kim is a nurse practitioner and Dave has worked for Honda for 36 years. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

“We also traveled to Europe last summer and saw some of the downfall of Greece. In Athens, streets and streets and streets just boarded up, there’s nothing there. Driving through the beautiful countryside, there are semi-loads of just garbage along the streets, just for as long as you can see, because there is no money to pick up the garbage. So people go dumping it along the roadside, just to get it out of their homes and whatnot.

“So I do not want to see that happen to my country.”

Entitlement Spending

“The entitlement spending is over a trillion dollars. I don’t want anyone to suffer without food, without a roof over their head, without basic medical care, but what I have seen … is abuse of that system,” Murphy said.

“So we’re making people dependent on others and it kind of gets a little further from the American dream. We want to rely on ourselves, so how can we help people become more self-reliant?” She said we don’t want a situation “where no one can do it without the government’s assistance.”

Health Care

Murphy says the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is a failed policy. She works in both a private women’s health clinic and a Health Department clinic and sees patients across all the socioeconomic strata.

“So I do understand insurance policies. I also think that everyone should have basic health care. That is a given.”

But, Murphy says, not being able to cross state lines with health insurance, along with other restrictions, on top of the cost, make Obamacare a failure.

“It’s becoming cost-prohibitive. Mine has continued to escalate to the point of [being] almost out of control,” she said. Her daughter paid $1,024 per month with an $8,000 deductible last year, the same year she had her second child.

“So I consider little Asher in there, who is 18 months old—it cost $20,000 to have him,” Murphy said. “Now, [my daughter] is a physician at a little bit higher income level, but she’s just starting out. The $20,000—that would cripple someone making $75,000. It would cripple them. And that’s middle America. And someone who makes $75,000 does not get any tax subsidies.

“I take care of these people every day. They are foregoing health care because they cannot afford it. So this is a failed policy in my mind. This is not enabling the American citizens to get health care.

“I actually have to counsel women to quit their job so that they can afford and be on Medicaid. Otherwise, they have this ACA plan that they can’t afford—even though they’re trying their darndest to work and to feel good about themselves and be a productive member of society, and then they can’t.”

Immigration Control

Murphy said Trump had a better approach to border security. “Hillary truly ran on open borders, and again, that is the furthest from my mind.

“I’m not saying not help people, but we can’t save everyone, and we can’t open our borders and let everyone in, because there are safety issues. I mean, we don’t leave our house just totally unlocked.”

Trump Voters

“Everyone that said that Trump voters are not educated, they’re racist, they don’t care about anyone else, they’re stupid. … Well, I’m not any of those things, and I just kind of kept my mouth shut and voted for Trump,” Murphy said. “And I think that’s how he won the election.”

“What floors me is, as a Caucasian, middle-aged woman, at every turn on the news, they want to call me racist.

“I’m really tired of that. I’m not racist, I have multiple friends from many nationalities and backgrounds, and I love having them, and it’s so interesting to be with them.”

The sun sets over an old barn in Plain City, Ohio, in August 2013. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/Epoch Times)
The sun sets over an old barn in Plain City, Ohio, in August 2013. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

The Future

Murphy is happy with Trump’s progress so far, although she does wish he would slow down on his tweeting.

“I feel like he is trying to keep the promises he has put out there. What he has said he is going to do, he has sure tried to do it,” she said.

“I’m happy with my 401k, I’m thrilled with how that’s doing. He’s been trying to slow down the borders. I hope Donald Trump can continue.

“And he’s not taking a salary, which I find very interesting. So I think, in his heart, why would he do this? Would he do it for power? He had a lot of power, worldwide power. Is he doing it for money? Well, he’s not taking money. … He has side-stepped from his business. So I have to believe that, in his heart, he does want what’s good for our country.”

But, Murphy said, she still has fears for the future of America.

“Unless we can keep [on] the track of trying to bring back some morals, trying to bring back work ethic, trying to bring back the integrity of the family—[this] is what I think is the future of our country.”

———

Steve Miller, 74, outside the Worthington Library in Columbus, Ohio, on Aug. 1. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
Steve Miller, 74, outside the Worthington Library in Columbus, Ohio, on Aug. 1. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Former Democrat Thinks GOP Should Support Trump

Wants a strong border, thinks term limits will help save democracy

Steve Miller, 74, has been a Democrat for most of his life. But when Trump burst onto the political scene, Miller switched his affiliation to Republican.

“I like him a lot. I was surprised that he ran, but I was glad to see how he reacted … battling 16, 17 people. And even when people were against him, the moderators were against him, he still was able to get his message out,” Miller said.

Aside from voting, Miller has never engaged in politics—up until now. This year, he has called Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), as well as the White House.

“I’m dismayed at the Republican Party, because they turned their back on him [Trump]. There are some obstructionists in there,” Miller said in Columbus, Ohio, on Aug. 1.

“I know that since the beginning of our democracy, we’ve always had turmoil between parties. I don’t think that’s ever going to change, but I don’t believe [it has] been so vile as it is now.

“The hatred that’s come out of this election has just been scary. I fear for my kids, I fear for my grandkids, because I just don’t know. … I have no control.”

Miller spent 20 years in the banking industry, managing local branches, before running a small business pre-retirement. He has two daughters, a stepson, and three grandchildren, aged between 6 months and 8 years.

“I’m living a comfortable retirement, and I’m disappointed, and that’s probably why I’m more involved in politics,” he said.

“Of course, the mainstream isn’t going to report on any successes that Trump has.

“If you read between the lines from the media, he’s not doing very well. But I think that he is. Our stock market is gaining, it’s setting records every other day. I think he has demonstrated a little bit more America’s might with his trips overseas.”

Miller believes that Trump has America’s best interests at heart and that on the business side, he can excel. “If he can get a little bit more savvy on the political side, I think he will be a great president,” he said.

Shops and restaurants on High Street, one of Worthington's most popular streets in Columbus, Ohio, on Aug. 4, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
Shops and restaurants on High Street, one of Worthington’s most popular streets in Columbus, Ohio, on Aug. 4, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Immigration

“I think we have to get our immigration done first,” Miller said. “I’m not so much enamored by the wall, but we have to do something on immigration. I’m all for immigration if it’s done legally.”

Miller is disappointed that the previous administration had not addressed illegal immigration and enabled sanctuary cities to proliferate.

“It’s just wrong to … not work with the federal government on illegal immigration, especially when they have felony convictions.”

He sees two things as the biggest threats to America. “I honestly believe it’s Islam and porous borders, because anybody can come in. It’s just beyond me that a country like North Korea can grab an American and kill him and nothing’s done, but if we grab an illegal immigrant, throw him in jail, and deport him, we are the worst government in the world.”

As a child, Miller remembers being taught that America was the greatest country in the world and “that we welcome immigrants.”

“We’re proud of what they can come over and do. And I don’t think we lost that until, probably … after 9/11, I think, is when, if I had to pinpoint it. And I have not seen anything improve.”

Term Limits

If Miller could do one thing to improve the country, he would introduce 12-year term limits—two terms for senators and three for members of the House of Representatives.

“There are some people in there who’ve been there long past their due date,” he said, adding that early on in Trump’s campaign, he resonated with the “drain the swamp” slogan.

“I’m very pro term limits, but I don’t know how to go another step. I don’t have the ambition at this time to do that. I’m just a single whisper in the wind out there,” he said.

“As far as the short term, I think if we don’t get term limits in, this democracy is going to be … All strong governments, since the beginning of time, have lasted for what, 300, 400 years, maybe? You’ll see ours disappear, too—I hope not.

“I’m upset about Benghazi, because they blamed some poor film director and put him in jail, and I’m disappointed in what we did in Libya, what we didn’t do in Syria. And those are Democrats.”

Miller would like to see former FBI Director James Comey, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch be held accountable.

“You know, so much is in the news about Russia, and these things were just passed over. And shame on us, too, that as voters we don’t speak up and say, ‘You need to do more.’

“I don’t think our politicians listen to us.”

———

Kris Thomas, 30, outside his home in Hilliard, Ohio, on July 31. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
Kris Thomas, 30, outside his home in Hilliard, Ohio, on July 31. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Veteran Says the Real Threat to America Is From Within

Believes media is biggest threat to nation

Kris Thomas, 30, wanted to see economic change in America.  

“We are still in a lot of debt, and we are just spending, spending, and spending. And this is why I voted for Trump, his new economic policies.”

Thomas grew up in North Carolina, attended high school in Florida, and enlisted in the Army in Louisiana. He served in tours to Iraq and Afghanistan, where he sustained a traumatic brain injury in an explosion. In 2012, Thomas was honorably discharged and has since completed a marketing degree at Ohio State University.

He said he was “100 percent” behind Trump’s travel ban.

“Not because I don’t want anyone to immigrate to our country, that has nothing to do with that. But in terms of the hostile nature of that area, I feel that there needs to be a ban until we can further screen or at least have a better border security process. How can we bring in legal immigrants without the risk of terrorism?”

“When I was stationed in Iraq … there wasn’t so much hostility, they were mostly friendly. Yes, there were people who didn’t like us, but for the most part, a lot of the locals would wave at us.

“Afghanistan was a whole other ball game, completely different. I feel like some of them would be friendly, but for the most part, a lot of them didn’t like us.”

Military Changes

Thomas said he noticed changes in the military after President Barack Obama took office; it became “soft,” and disciplining soldiers became more difficult.

“I remember when I served under [President George W.] Bush for just a year. When I first came in the army, it was pretty much beat you down, find your weakest link, exploit it, and then build you up. That’s the way it was.

“When Obama came into office, it was completely different. It was more relaxed than it used to be, and I started to notice that transition.

“I have been out of the military five or six years. I’m not sure how bad it is now. A lot of guys tell me they are getting out because it has gotten soft.

“You want to be the biggest fighting force, and yet I think these are important issues that need to be addressed in the military. I think this new change of command—I really like Gen. [James] Mattis, and I think he’s going to do great things for the military.”

Miller has also noticed improvements to his medical care through Veterans Affairs since Trump took office. He was told recently that he would no longer have to get a referral to see some specialists.

“You can just call and set up an appointment. There was a good five- to six-year period when I was going to the VA, when I would be waiting months before I could even get an appointment.”

Future of America

Thomas has just gained a whole new perspective on life—he is a new father, and his weeks-old daughter is a big factor when he thinks of the future.

When asked what he sees as the biggest threat to America, Thomas identified the media as being a divisive force, saying it is “poisoning our minds.”

“They take one narrative and construe it to fit their political agenda. The impact is, firstly, it causes chaos.”

He said he thinks media has been influencing elections for years, but it has gotten worse.

“It’s like the media went out of their way to almost discredit themselves to influence this election. Not just that, it is still happening. Ever since Trump has been in office, I feel like the liberal networks are trying everything they can to get him out of office, and you can see that.”

Thomas said he bounces around to different news sources to try to get a fair picture.

“I don’t have one particular station that I watch because I get completely different political agendas from each network. So I just watch CNN one day, Fox, and I’ll watch ABC news, whatever. I just formulate my own hypothesis through all the different agendas.”

“I fear the divide. I think that is going to be our biggest downfall. I don’t think it’s another country taking over, I think it is going to be us not coming together—that’s my biggest fear.”

“People just don’t handle a difference of opinion like they used to. People don’t respect each other anymore. If you don’t agree with me, then you are a bigot, or whatever the case. I feel like that is the problem.

“People are going to have a difference of opinion, that’s just the way it is. Let’s try not to tear each other’s heads off about it. When people start to accept other people’s differences, then that is going to be the change.”

“Today’s American dream, from my perspective, is basically being patriotic in terms of loving everybody, respecting everybody—recognizing that freedom isn’t free and we need to come together and do what we can to better society, and that’s the dream.”

———

A neighborhood street near where Marsha lives in the northwest part of Columbus, Ohio, on July 28. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
A neighborhood street near where Marsha lives in the northwest part of Columbus, Ohio, on July 28. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Divisions in Society Drive Trump Supporter to Anonymity

Says Democrats would rather see America fail than Trump succeed

Marsha, 66, wished to remain anonymous for this interview, saying “with our country as divided as it is, we do not feel it is safe.”

“We’re Trump supporters, but we were afraid to put a bumper sticker on our car for fear someone would smash our windows. We didn’t want a sign in our yard for fear someone would throw … something through the windows.

“It’s terrible to have to be that way, because I’m an outgoing person. But you have to be, because you’ve got kids, grandkids, and who knows what someone can do if they get crazy enough.

“It was never like that before. Never.”

Marsha, a retired bank teller, cherishes freedom and safety for her family—she has four children and six grandchildren. Homeland security is the top issue for her, with retirement and health care not far behind.

She has a lot of faith in Trump and isn’t fazed by his brashness.

“He’s the most hope we’ve had for years and years and years, because he isn’t afraid to do something.

“He doesn’t pull any punches, he says what he means. He’s not diplomatic. Obama was very diplomatic and highly educated and a very good speaker. Trump is very good, he just tells you what’s on his mind, and if you don’t like it, too bad, and that offends a lot of people.

“I’m looking at what he wants to accomplish rather than how polished he is with a microphone. If he can get our country turned around, that would just be a miracle. Not only get out of debt, but stop all the [illegal] immigrants from coming in, and give the jobs back to the American people.

“People don’t realize how much better it would be. They just think, ‘Oh, I don’t like him, he’s obnoxious.’ Well, he might be obnoxious, but he does have some good ideas.”

Homeland Security

Marsha is an advocate for well-vetted, legal immigration.

“It’s not that we don’t want them, [we] just have to make sure that they’re not going to harm us. We need to vet people better … so we know whether they have any ties to terrorism.

“It’s to keep the freedom that we have and not let it be jeopardized by these groups that are trying to set up their own country in ours—Sharia law and all that kind of stuff.

“You’re welcome to the country, but if you’re going to live here, respect our culture and learn the language. That’s what it used to be. If you want to be here, you can be an American. But if you want to just come in and do your own thing, that’s not what we want. That’s not what America is.”

She wants to see an end to sanctuary cities and eliminate the appeal of hiring illegal immigrants at a cheaper rate.

The skyline of downtown Columbus,  on Aug. 4, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
The skyline of downtown Columbus, on Aug. 4, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Changed Values

Marsha has seen American values decline over time and believes it started when prayer was taken out of schools. 

“It just spiraled downhill from that. And that was a long time ago. And especially the elementary schools, the teacher, they’d ring the bell, they’d say the Pledge of Allegiance, and then they’d have a little prayer.”

“Because it seems like the people that go to their church—it doesn’t matter what the church is—if they go to their church and they have things in common with someone, they have church house values, if they respect those values, everything works together. But once they dump it all, anything goes.”

The American Dream

“The American dream is the same today as it was 50 years ago. We all want to have our education, have our homes, have our families, have a car, have it be safe, but it’s getting harder and harder—the dream that we all had years ago, it’s not there,” Marsha said.

Job stability is not available like it was in the past, said Marsha, and that becomes a threat to Americans.  

“If they can replace you for half price, they’re going to. Especially when you get older. It’s all about the companies now. It’s not anything about Americans and how much time you put into the job and how faithful you were with the company and how much you did for the company. That’s all out the window,” she said.

“We need to do the things that got Trump elected. He promised border control and security. He promised vetting the immigrants of Islamic countries to make sure we didn’t let any people in to start things. He promised to support the police, the law enforcement. He promised to clean up the decaying inner cities, and to increase the military, and put an end to the welfare generations. …  If they’re able-bodied men and women, with nothing wrong with them, they should work.”

Overall, Marsha is happy with what Trump is doing.

“He’s doing fine. He’s done as much as he can by himself, but the Democratic obstructionists are standing in the way of the health care, the tax reform. It seems like the Democrats would rather see America fail than Trump succeed.”