In this segment we are introduced to the six Americans featured in this podcast.
00:02 Adam: In Texas, it's typically not polite to talk politics with people, [chuckle] so I tend to not. Why would you talk about something divisive? You know, like, why – why even try to, you know, engage someone on that level if you don't have to?00:29 Marjorie: To say I'm an American just makes me kind of straighten up a bit and really feel proud. I mean, I think I've been blessed – I'm in the best place to live in the world... until now.
00:45 Irtefa: People would say, "Well, if you don't like it, why are you here? Like, why are you here? Just move. Go back." And even though this country is pretty *** to me, pretty *** to people like me, it's just like, "Well, this is all I know."
01:04 Derek: I think that I live in an amazing country. There's a lot of opportunities here, and I think that this could be a blip in history and not the final destination.
01:16 Angel: I guess I have to be careful how I say this so as not to sound like some crazy religious freak, 'cause I'm not, but at the same time, I have felt that this country has been going down a moral landslide. In other words, this nation needs to get back to God.
01:37 Isabel: In religious traditions or in biblical tradition, there's this either total salvation or total destruction; it's one or the other. We don't talk about, how do you get through wastelands and ruins? We're not in a physical wasteland necessarily, but we are going through, like, this period of, like, basically the ruins. You're walking through destruction, and the only way you can get through is together. And not in a very fake kumbaya sort of way, but really, you know, lifting each other up.
02:14 Angel: My name is Angel Odije. I live in Houston, Texas. I am a part-time teacher and I also minister at the church, assisting the pastor, and I'm a Hispanic young man of 44 years of age.
02:30 News: On the news hour tonight, Americans decide. Voters head to the polls to choose between the first woman president and a businessman running for his first elected office.
02:40 Adam: Okay, so Election Day, November 8th. Okay, oh man, it was rough for me because I honestly did not plan on voting for Donald Trump. I originally put Hillary, but I gotta tell you, at the end, just before hitting the send button, in one of those polling booths, I was like, "Wait a minute. I don't know." And then I remembered, you know, "I'm not for abortion. I'm not for all these other things, I'm not a liberal." And I went all the way back to the first page in the voting booth, and I just said, "Alright, Lord, here goes. Holy Spirit, please guide me on this one. I need to know what to do." Just something in my heart and my mind, was like, "Okay." I just hit Donald Trump, and then I sent away my vote.[background conversation]
03:34 Adam: Hey, my name is Adam and I'm from San Antonio, Texas, and I voted for Donald Trump.
03:40 News: Well Jake, the Clinton campaign is increasingly confident of reaching 270 electoral votes...
03:44 Adam: I was here at the house, and my fiancée was camped out upstairs. I was downstairs. Things were not looking good for Trump. And she was, like, on cloud nine. She was dancing around. My neighbor was having an election party. I was like, "Okay, well I'm gonna go over here and go to this party." And she was like, "Yeah, get out." [chuckle] It was like, she's like, "Get the hell out of here." I go over there and, you know, things are starting to turn. Basically, by the time that I came back over to the house, things did not look good for Hillary Clinton.
04:32 News: This means that Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States.
04:38 Adam: My fiancée was a mixture of unresponsive and hellfire. She was deeply emotionally hurt and, you know, couldn't believe that that much of the nation consisted of a-holes, and, you know, I was one of them. Yeah, it was like, unforgivable.[music]
05:07 Adam: I slept in a different room because she would go between, like, not talking, to, like, "our relationship is over and get the hell out." That went on for weeks. It was not something that just went away. I didn't even feel all that great voting for Trump in the first place because I thought that he was a plant to just totally disrupt the Republican party, which is what he did, but I kinda liked it anyway. I just felt like maybe it was time for some disruptive leadership.
05:51 Protesting crowds: Hey, hey, ho, ho, the patriarchy has got to go. Hey, hey, ho, ho, the patriarchy has got to go. Hey, hey, ho, ho, the patriarchy has got to go.
06:00 News: Overnight, the outrage over an election.
06:03 News: Waves of anti-Trump marchers rolled through hundreds of towns and cities...
Irtefa tells of being outside of the US during the election and why she returned.
36:00 I was out of the country during the whole election cycle. I sent my absentee ballot for the election. I was in Oman and, you know, there were a lot of jokes going around about, "Oh, he doesn't like Muslims, so why are you going back? You should just stay here with us."
52:00 As time went on, I was like, "No, I have to... If he wins, if he makes... Somehow becomes the president, I have to go back because he wants to get rid of people like me, and I'm not gonna make it easier for him."
01:06 But also because I think I realized while I was gone, how much... How American I am, even though I moved here at 12 years old. And I think I realized what stakes I have here. Gosh – and, I don't know, it's just... There's a lot to do and I just hope I have the energy to continue doing it. It just already feels very exhausting.
Marjorie tells us why she voted for Trump, and how she feels about his presidency so far.
00:06 Marjorie Richek: Hi.
00:08 Reporter: How are you doing?
00:09 Marjorie: I'm fine, just now when you called, I was busy watching a black bear out the backyard attacking our bird feeder. I won't dare go out back and go for my walks because of... I can't... If one came, I couldn't run or anything, so I didn't live to be this old to be eaten by a bear.[music]
00:41 Marjorie: My name is Marjorie Richek, I'm a 78 year old woman, white woman, and I live in Mexico, Maine. I love my little old town of Mexico. In 2016, I voted for Donald Trump. I wasn't influenced by Russians or anybody. You know, in my mind, I don't want a woman president, period.
01:11 Over the years of my life, women who I have been under, you know, who have been in power over me, have always been... I shouldn't say mean, but they've been... Yeah, they've been mean. They used their power. When my children were in school and they had women teachers, and if I was called into the school to have a meeting with one of the teachers, they always tried to make me feel like I was lower than them, always felt pushed down by women. So it could have been any woman, and I would've voted no.[music]
01:57 News: As President Trump approaches the 100-day mark of his presidency. Since President Trump took the oath of office 99 days ago, he's met with...
02:03 News: President Trump, now approaching the 100 day mark, tonight here, the people speak, we were out...
02:08 Reporter: How are you feeling about your man?[chuckle]
02:10 Marjorie: No. Do you wanna make me cry? And everything I hoped he was going to do and was gonna happen, don't seem to be happening. Number one, I thought he was gonna be tougher on immigration.
02:27 Number two, I really thought that he was gonna clean the cesspool out or whatever, and it seems everybody is still there. And even building his wall, I keep having pictures of that beautiful wall. I don't think it's ever gonna happen. We're not going forward.
Isabel tells about her status under DACA and how she felt while being checked by the border patrol. We also hear how her views contrast with those of Marjorie.
00:00 News: Immigration reform was Donald Trump's signature promise. And at the center of it, that wall. On day one, he said he would build a big, beautiful wall, and Mexico would pay for it.00:12 Isabel Castillo: My name is Isabel Castillo. I am a master's student studying conflict transformation at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. I was born in Mexico, and I came to the United States when I went six years old. I really do feel like I am American in every sense of the word, except on paper, you knowm, because I don't have US citizenship.
00:39 I am under the DACA program, which stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Sometimes, we call ourselves "DACA-mented" individuals. DACA is a two-year work permit, and it defers your deportation for two years. So we are able to renew this status every two years, and you cannot get a green card with this. You cannot become a US citizen.
01:09 Isabel: I'm getting nervous.
01:11 Mo: Are you nervous?
01:12 Isabel: This is my first US border patrol.
01:13 Mo: This is your country.
01:16 Isabel: Yeah.
01:16 Mo: It's alright...
01:17 Isabel: At the beginning of 2017, I was on my way to Nogales, Arizona and going through several Border Patrol checkpoints.
01:29 Isabel: Oh my gosh, there's cars, all cars must exit. There's a bunch of cones and flashing lights, and...
01:37 So it's still within the United States, but you have to go through these checkpoints. It's like a toll station, but these are immigration agents in their uniforms, and there's K9 dogs and there's huge lights.
01:52 Mo: They're gonna be, "Ma'am, you're nervous." [chuckle]
01:54 Isabel: I – yeah, I'm nervous.
01:56 Isabel: I was worried because even though I had DACA, I think with the new administration and the threat of DACA being taken away, it's just like – what if they detain me or, you know, don't accept my DACA.
02:14 Isabel: This is Isabel Castillo. If I am detained, please take care of my mom.
02:20 Mo: Who's not afraid...
02:21 Isabel: They just took a picture of our car, didn't they?
02:22 Mo: Yeah, they do that.
02:24 Isabel: I'll put my phone here... What are you gonna say?
02:27 Mo: Whatever I need to.
02:31 Mo: Hey, man. How's it going? Take care.
02:34 Isabel: That's it?
02:34 Mo: Yeah.
02:35 Isabel: They just waved us through. Holy cow.[chuckle]
02:39 Isabel: Mo looks very American, I guess. I'm here with my Iranian friend.
02:43 News: Immigration-related arrests are up nearly 33%, and illegal border crossings are down since the president took office.
02:53 Marjorie: I'm not a racist. I see it as a security thing to keep people out of our country unless they come in legally.
03:04 Isabel: Those who have very opposite views as mine, like, I try to be in their shoes, and it's just like, "Okay, well... "
03:12 Marjorie: He's only doing these things to try to keep us secure.
03:16 Isabel: There's just too many people wanting to come to the United States and...
03:19 Marjorie: I really think he's looking out for the safety of, you know, the people, American people.
03:26 Isabel: But then... Yeah, there's other instances that I'm like...
03:29 Marjorie: You know, but it's my country.
03:32 Isabel: That's just not the right way.
03:33 Marjorie: It's my country and I want it to be safe and secure.
03:38 Isabel: There's just some people you probably won't change their minds, and like – why waste your time trying to change the way that they think? But at the same time it's just like, "No, we should probably have a civil conversation and talk." But it's hard, it's complicated, life.[music]
Derek and Angel talk about how politics does not interfere with their friendship.
00:06 Angel: I'm doing great. Always a pleasure to hear you.
00:07 Derek: Definitely.
00:08 Angel: Hi, this is Angel again. I'm a conservative, and I live in Houston, Texas.
00:13 Derek: Right on.
00:14 Angel: How's family, how are the babies?
00:15 Derek: Oh, they're great. They're getting big. Cathy is starting to...
00:17 Derek: My name is Derek Baknu, and I live in San Dimas, California. I'm a Christian. I'm a parent. I'm a teacher. I'm someone who wants to see the world a better place. I am definitely not a Trump supporter.[chuckle]
00:31 Angel: That's great.
00:32 Derek: How are your kids? How's everyone?
00:34 Angel: Ah same. They're – everybody's good. They're growing. Seth is more active. Oh, get this. I cannot beat him in basketball anymore, man.
00:44 Derek: Huh. That's gonna happen.
00:44 Angel: I cannot beat him. He's gotten so good... I met Derek at the school that I used to teach in in California. He teaches science. I teach math.
00:52 Derek: The first time I met him was at a staff meeting. He quickly became a close friend.
00:57 Angel: I had to give him the sad news in 2015, that the Lord had called us to move out to work in ministry out here in Houston.
01:08 Angel: And your family and you are family, you are my family, so you are my brother.
01:12 Derek: And you are our family as well.
01:13 Angel: Thank you.
01:14 Derek: Hey, I had a real quick question for you.
01:15 Angel: Yeah.
01:16 Derek: Our friendship transcends politics. Being an Evangelical, I'm used to having different opinions with a lot of other Evangelicals. You know, it's not that I would go, "What? You disagree with me?" You know, if we talk about it or not, usually, in my head, I'm like, "Oh, we probably disagree."
01:36 This is Derek Baknu. It is 7:27 AM and I am currently driving to work. So I'm thinking about running for office. I don't really consider myself the person who would be a politician.
01:54 Politicians usually have had, like, a wonderful life. They went to the right schools. A lot of them went to Harvard or Yale or some Ivy League school. They have a perfect head of hair. And much like the character Aaron Burr on Hamilton, they seem to talk less, smile more. I'm not that guy.
02:21 I would really like to write laws that would benefit people. But then the other part of me is, you know, "Is this vanity? You know, who am I to run? I'm just some guy."
Adam tells of how the election results affected his relationship with his fiancée.
01:00 Adam: So it's 4:17 PM. I'm going to be getting married in less than two hours. On a day like today, politics do not matter whatsoever. All that matters is I'm marrying the woman that I want to spend the rest of my life with.
01:20 One of the things that I love most about her is the fact that she looks at the same world that I see and she sees something totally different. That fascinates me. I know that she will always fascinate me, and I want that in my life.
01:47 Minister: You may be seated.
Irtefa tells of her experiences at the demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia. Adam talks about his reaction and the tension it caused in his marriage.
00:18 Irtefa: My name is Irtefa. I am from Charlottesville. I'm sitting in my room.
00:23 So the first motion is therefore be it resolved, that the council of Charlottesville, that the city of Charlottesville shall remove the stature of Robert E. Lee from the park currently known as Lee Park...
00:31 Irtefa: So I went to a City Council meeting and that's because I've met some people who were talking about the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue.
00:39 City Council member: This is the motion to relocate the statue...
00:42 City Council member: This is the motion to relocate the statue as amended.
00:45 Irtefa: I didn't even know, like, the history of the Civil War as well when I came here. It's, like, really hard not to be like, "General Lee, the best general in US history," when you grow up in Charlottesville, and like there's nothing else that you've been exposed to. But I did not like that statue. It's just huge. It's like a – it's kind of a scary statue.
01:03 City Council member: Alright, the motion carries is 3:2.[applause]
01:12 News: On Saturday, white nationalists rallied around the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that's scheduled for removal. Then last night, counter-protesters gathered for what they call a vigil against hate.
01:23 Irtefa: There were 300 or so people who came with children. Like, there were babies there.
01:29 My friends and I decided we would make a banner. At first we were just like, "We should just have a sheet and throw it over Lee and cover him up. But then that statue is 24 feet tall and it is really hard to get a sheet up there.
01:41 We cut little holes and then tied the rope through it, and then we taped tennis balls to the other end of the rope, and then just threw it over the horse's head, and then we hoisted it from the back. It said "Black Lives Matter *** white supremacy."
01:58 News: The chaos in Charlottesville had been building for months.
02:01 Irtefa: A few months after that, the August 12th rally happened. It was the one that got the most attention, and I saw it happen. I saw national media pick up on the level of violence.
02:13 News: ...white nationalist rally that descended into deadly violence and chaos.
02:17 Irtefa: We knew it was gonna be really bad, but even then I was sort of horrified at how bad it got, how quickly.
02:22 News: ...the images just coming in – a car plowing into a crowd of demonstrators protesting against those white nationalists. A 32-year-old woman killed, a number...
02:32 Irtefa: And then when the car attack happened, I think it was just like not even in the realm of my imagination that that could happen. I still haven't looked at any videos from that day.[music]
02:54 News: ...and when those officials try to explain why the President described this as bigotry on many sides.
03:00 News: This is not the time to talk about both sides.
03:02 News: the President of the United States painted white nationalists and members of the alt-right as victims.
03:06 Adam: I had only heard what Trump had said, and he said something to the effect of, there are, like, bad actors on both sides, and not everybody there was a member of the KKK.
03:18 News: The mainstream media once again hysterical. Complete meltdown mode today.
03:22 Adam: When he said that, like, it – it made sense to me. If there's, like, a rally outside of our neighborhood, people are going to go and, like, watch just to see, like, what's going on.
03:36 My wife who's, like, repulsed by the fact that I thought that, you know, she ended up saying something to the effect of like, you know, "I wish I was married to somebody that I could respect."
03:52 Irtefa: I still feel like when people talk about Charlottesville, they talk about this distant other place and a group of people that are separate from everything else, and you separate yourself away and you say, "This is not possible. They did it, it's not... Has nothing to do with us."
04:06 Adam: I don't doubt there are racist people out there. I guarantee you there's racist people out there. I have to believe in the good in people or I will see the world as a very scary place that needs to be feared. I understand that, yeah, I'm a middle class white guy, and so I can have the world view that I have.
04:30 Irtefa: We have to live in that space. I walked down 4th street today because I had to go to the mall to pick up something. 4th street is where the car ran into Heather, where she died.
04:43 And you know, like, I have to walk the lawn to get to my office to go teach, and that's where I have, like, images burned in my head of Nazis carrying torches, walking down there screaming, you know, "You will not replace us, Jews will not replace us."[music]