Owsley county’s population lives below the government-designated poverty line, including 56.3 percent of children.
Since Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th US president on January 20, his actions have sparked global protests and concern.
His executive order to halt all refugee entries for 120 days, suspend admission of Syrian refugees indefinitely and block for three months most travellers from the Muslim-majority nations of Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen sparked a legal battle and nationwide demonstrations.
He signed many other executive orders, including reinstating the “Mexico City Policy“, which prohibits federal funding for international non-governmental organisations that provide or talk about abortions.
He signalled his intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, and decreed that for every regulation the executive branch proposes, two others must be repealed. He threatened to withhold funding from so-called sanctuary cities that don’t cooperate with immigration enforcement.
And that’s not all. He had a contentious phone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, levelled attacks on the media and drew criticism for often-unfiltered tweets that included lambasting a federal judge.
A women’s march on Washington drew hundreds of thousands of demonstrators.
But in Kentucky, a conservative state where Trump won 63 percent of the vote, many Trump supporters say they aren’t shaken by the actions of a president who campaigned on a promise to upend the political status quo. Others, however, say they do have some concerns.
Al Jazeera spoke with an array of Trump supporters about how they feel he is performing so far.
Robert Berry, 40, a former Marine from Owensboro, Kentucky
‘The American voters got what they ordered – for once’
“The moves that President Trump has made over the last few weeks, I can only say, ‘wow’. Though I had imagined him to be a non-politician go-getter, I had no idea that he was going to dive in so quickly.
Though many of his campaign promises sounded like a good starting point for a negotiation, I never dreamed that he was going to literally run through Washington DC like a bull in a china shop.
Granted, this is what myself and others who voted for him wanted, but seeing it in action is a bit unsettling.
As much as anything, Trump was my warning shot to the establishment, as I knew he would garner enough support to scare at least a few of them straight.
I have a few concerns about the way he is steamrolling everyone in his way, but this is why I supported him – I knew he would start twisting some arms in Washington.
Obviously, the president means every word that he said, or, at the least, is willing to back those words up with action.
For better or worse, the American voters got what they ordered, for once. One thing is for sure: Politics will never be the same in America again.”
Jeff Klusmeier, 48, insurance agent from Louisville, Kentucky
‘Where the hell is Congress?’
“The speed of the executive orders is a little overwhelming. It’s like, hey man, can you deliberate on this?
For years, Republicans had to sit back while Obama used his pen [to change policy with executive orders]. So there’s a lot of pressure on Trump right off the bat.
But I have a problem with too strong of an executive branch of the government. It’s not good for the country. I didn’t like it when Obama did it, and I don’t like an overzealous president. You have to compromise and work with Congress. Where the hell is Congress? I’d like to see Congress step up. I feel like they’re abdicating their duty, and need to take some of the agenda back.
The [travel] ban …was a surprise that it came so quick. It caught everybody off guard. The rollout was a little bumpy. But it was a campaign promise, so in some ways he did keep his word to have some kind of ban and slow down the refugees coming in.
Trump is working to deregulate businesses, which I think will bring back coal jobs to Kentucky, [which has] lost a lot since the war on coal.
Mid-term elections in two years, that’s when we’ll really find out what people really think of how he’s doing.”
Sovanna Chhan, 59, Cambodian-American factory worker from Simpsonville, Kentucky
‘I’m a refugee, but I don’t regret voting for Trump’
“I’m a refugee. But I don’t regret voting for him. I recently became a citizen, it was my first time to vote. My relatives heard I was voting for Trump and said, ‘What are you doing?’ They think I’m crazy.
I’m a Christian. In America we love all the people no matter who you are – Muslims, Hindus or Buddhists. But I think the travel ban is not bad at all. Security is most important.
Better jobs is the number-one reason I voted for him. I work in a cabinet factory. Even before he was inaugurated, Ford cancelled a new auto plant in Mexico. That’s what I like to see. I like what he said, that if you want to move out of the United States, OK, but when you come back to sell, there’s a border tax. So the companies will stay, and they’re going to bring the jobs back to Kentucky.
Right now, he’s trying to take back jobs. After that, he’ll build the wall … so no drugs come from Mexico. I have friends from Mexico. But they need to do the right things. You can come, but come legally. Trump and
the Republicans will keep down government spending. It’s out of control. That costs the taxpayer too much money.”
Terry Wright, 59, retired industrial painter from Louisville
‘I’ve never seen a president treated so badly by the media’
“I’ve never seen a president treated so badly in my life by the media. And people are feeding off the media. It’s terrible. They’re being hard on him, every little thing he does. And the TV shows, and the Saturday Night Live. It’s very harsh. Everybody is picking on him.
I’ll give him a B. I can’t give him an A. Too many people are drilling on him and being negative. No man could jump in there and straighten up the world in two weeks. He’s trying, he’s already working on things like banning illegal immigrants.
Trump, he’s not being politically correct. I love it, I’m sick of that. It’s going to get better once all these people stop whining and protesting and give him a chance.
The safety of the US is pretty important, but jobs are the next thing to that. But he is tackling jobs. He’s had a bunch to do with keeping work here, talking about putting taxes on stuff coming from other countries. That would have a real impact here. It would bring a lot of production jobs, and those are the ones that go overseas.
I’m just an old biker with a 12th-grade education, but I’m a true American. The president is out there preaching ‘Buy American’.”
Linda Greenwell, 67, real estate agent from Louisville
‘I’m pro-life. I was happy to see his executive order on abortions’
“He’s following through on his promises. And that’s what I like. I find it amazing that he’s doing exactly what he said he was going to do. The media did everything in their power to convince us that women wouldn’t vote for him. But that didn’t happen.
The march in Washington DC wasn’t a women’s march. It was an anti-Trump march. Not a single one could tell you what they were marching for. Women’s rights? Well, name one. They couldn’t. Our foremothers fought that battle for us, and I appreciated it. You fight the battle when it presents itself, but you don’t create one when it’s not there.
I’m pro-life. I was happy to see his executive order on abortions [reinstating the so-called Mexico City Policy].
I think he’s grown up a bit from the time he said [controversial comments about women during the campaign] … I think he grew up a heck of a lot.”
Tiffany Cervantes, 23, model from Salem, Indiana
‘Trump is like a shot of whisky’
“I’m Hispanic and Native American. People were like, ‘How could you be for him? He’s so racist. He’s so sexist’. No, he’s not. And he’s getting stuff done.
I’m all for the travel bans. Obama left the door to the United States wide open and unlocked in the middle of the night. Trump is trying to close the door and lock it to keep us safe. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m sorry it hurts your feelings. We’re not here to cater to everyone’s feelings. We’re trying to keep the US safe.
You think [pictures of Syrian refugees] doesn’t pull at my heartstrings? It absolutely does. But I love the American people first. If there were two poisonous gumballs in the machine, and you gave me two quarters, I wouldn’t eat any of the gumballs. I’m sorry. I wouldn’t take the chance.
Now that he’s the president, I think he could be more graceful [with his Twitter statements].
I heard on Fox News where they said Trump is like a shot of whisky. He’s bold, he’s in your face, he burns – but I think that’s what we need. President Obama’s failed policies got us to what we’re dealing with, and we need our shot of whisky.”
Rebecca Ghiefardi, 48, housewife with three children, from Louisville
‘I’m excited to see how Trump replaces Obamacare’
“What drew me to him was that he put America first, supported our military and promised to bring jobs back to this country and help our inner cities that are in such turmoil right now.
He’s done really good, considering the adversity he’s been up against. It’s a much faster pace than I’ve anticipated. He’s really surprised me. He has kept his campaign promises [including an order to start unwinding the Affordable Care Act].
I’m a registered Republican but when Obama ran the last time, I voted for Obama because I felt like it was in our national interest to have a healthcare system so people could get the healthcare and medication they deserve. That didn’t pan out so well.
But the $1,300 a month my family and I were paying under Obamacare was too much for insurance, insurance that’s not that good and it was hard to find a doctor who would take it. My family wasn’t the only one. Thousands were affected by the healthcare system.
So when this election came, Trump said he was going to repeal and replace Obamacare. I think that’s a fabulous idea. So I’m excited to see what Trump and the Republicans do to replace it.”
Tina Foley, 48, financial controller with six children, from Louisville
‘I feel like he is going to support law and order’
“The one thing that concerns me a little is the sanctuary cities losing funding. I know a lot of municipal police departments rely on that, and if they don’t have those federal dollars the officers could be unsafe.
My dad was in the military and a chief of police, so coming into the election cycle I was feeling very defensive about law enforcement [amid the Black Lives Matter protests that followed a string of police shootings].
I feel like Trump is going to support law enforcement and law and order. I do believe that will be a focus of his administration. If we have good jobs, it solves a lot of the other problems.
No matter what he did after he was elected, half the country was going to criticise it – whether he backed off his campaign promises or fulfilled them 100 percent.”
Evan Wright, 20, University of Louisville student
‘I haven’t met a Trump supporter who isn’t happy with what he’s been doing’
“I haven’t met a Trump supporter yet that’s not happy with what he’s doing since being inaugurated. The American people voted him in to do exactly what he’s been doing.
Already he passed the executive order that for every new regulation, two must come back. He’s already getting the government out of people’s lives. The immigration halt – it will probably go to the Supreme Court – but I wish the unelected court system would let him do what he was elected to do.
Getting out of the Trans Pacific Partnership was a huge thing. Factory after factory after factory has closed because of NAFTA.
I think this whole ‘He’s not prepared’ or that it’s not running smoothly is a media talking point because they’re not happy with the outcome of the election. There’s definitely a hostile relationship between Trump and the media. Both sides call each other fake news. They’re not giving Trump a chance.”