By Ikra Islam
President Trump’s name is so intertwined with controversy that even in largely liberal Princeton, few are willing to attach their names to a statement about him. But on a recent Friday evening, several residents felt the need to vocalize their frustration with the president and his policies.
Cynthia Parker, a Princeton local, said Trump’s choice to appoint Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court last year pushed her to become more vocal and politically active. Before the election, she rarely paid attention to local politics—but that changed when the reality of Trump’s victory set in.
At first, it was hard for Parker to accept Trump as her president. Parker recalled she would exercise during the 2016 election to distract herself from the news. She continued to exercise to distract herself after Trump took office, swimming an extra hour every day, but she also started channeling her energy into activism.
Parker and a group of friends wrote a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, like them a graduate of Hanover College. The group voiced their concerns about Trump’s rhetoric and accused him of failing to empathize with the concerns of Americans. They also criticized the selection of Gorsuch as a Supreme Court justice. After sending the letter, she began attending rallies and protests, demonstrating against the administration’s policies and championing local politicians she hopes will help bring change.
Unlike Parker, Rajesh Shah, an IT engineer from Mumbai, India, sees some positive in Trump. “He’s bringing back jobs by lowering taxes, which is not a solution, but it definitely seems to be helping,” he said.
But Shah is also critical of the administration. Shah disagrees with Trump’s emphasis on coal, arguing that trying to revive the coal industry doesn’t make sense. He believes America needs to become more fuel efficient, though he also said the government should take care of coal miners who might lose work as the American economy continues to evolve.
Jennifer Robinson, a librarian at Princeton Library, is particularly distraught by President Trump’s immigration policies. She’s concerned that the legacy of his administration—the damage, in her view—will long outlive his presidency.
“I know it’s temporary,” she said. “But it breaks my heart because it’s going to be years before his influence is gone.”