Colorado Voters Weigh In On Trump's Insistence On A Border Wall
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
It was on. Then it was off. And now that the government shutdown is over, at least for the time being, President Trump's State of the Union address is back on again. The government was shut down because of the debate over a border wall with Mexico, which President Trump is still pushing for. So what do Americans make of all this? NPR's Don Gonyea has been talking to voters in the Denver suburbs.
DON GONYEA, BYLINE: This state was once considered a classic political battleground, but it's been going more and more Democratic in statewide elections. Our first stop, Aurora, a sprawling suburb just east of Denver. Forty-seven-year-old Bob Nelson stopped to talk outside a local supermarket. He described himself as apolitical and no fan of Republicans or Democrats. And he did not vote for Trump. I asked him about the border wall.
BOB NELSON: I understand the need for border security, but we do not have a crisis - the crisis that he's imagining.
GONYEA: Nelson nods to a past Republican president, Ronald Reagan, who in 1986 worked with Congress to pass an immigration law that granted amnesty to immigrants who had entered the country illegally.
NELSON: So the - what we need is people who actually talk to each other again.
GONYEA: Also outside the grocery store, 35-year-old Jessica Polacek. She's a government accountant who was furloughed during the shutdown. Polacek also describes herself as an independent politically. She voted for Trump but, these days, says she's just fed up with politics.
Are you going to watch the State of the Union?
JESSICA POLACEK: Probably not.
GONYEA: Why not?
POLACEK: Because it's politics. It's arguing no matter what (laughter).
GONYEA: She says she doesn't know if she agrees or disagrees with the idea of a border wall but thinks it's not something to shut the government down over. She's pessimistic that another shutdown can be avoided. She does not want the president to declare a national emergency to get the wall.
POLACEK: The point of government is checks and balances, and claiming a national emergency is just saying, well, you don't agree with me; I'm going to do what I want anyway. And that I don't like.
GONYEA: Now to a part of the Denver suburbs that is still very Republican.
GONYEA: This is an early morning meeting of the local GOP group in a downtown diner in the city of Parker. It's in Douglas County. You can hear the frustration over Colorado's changing politics. Sixty-three-year-old Pat Bygott is a businessman and geophysicist in Parker.
PAT BYGOTT: Well, simply, it's going from conservative to progressive liberal dramatically.
GONYEA: Bygott, a self-described constitutional conservative, is very happy with his vote for Trump. So, too, is 58-year-old Tressa Server who runs a small e-commerce business and who volunteers at the local food bank. Server says at times, she feels vilified for her political beliefs.
TRESSA SERVER: A large part of the reason we're defensive is the media. I mean, as we're learning now, if you wear a MAGA hat, that means you're a racist.
GONYEA: Or, she says, you're labeled homophobic or sexist or misogynist.
SERVER: No, we're not. And - but it puts us on the defense 'cause we're being attacked daily on our beliefs. Just because we associate with a candidate or just because we associate with an issue doesn't mean we're racist or sexist. Maybe we just have another way of looking at something.
GONYEA: For her part, Server will be watching the president tomorrow night. Still, you can hear the anxiety in her voice over the nature of our politics today. Whether it's stress or frustration or just worrying about where this is all going, it's something that each of these voters seemed to share whether they support the president or not. Don Gonyea, NPR News, Denver.
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