Many of the nearly 63 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump did so for some of the same reasons that propelled Barack Obama eight years prior. They wanted change. And Trump gave them hope that a political outsider who didn’t care to play by Washington’s rules could shake up the status quo.
Just after Trump’s November victory, optimism ran high among those who supported him. A Pew Research survey found an overwhelming 97 percent of his voters expected his first term to be a success.
As he takes the oath of office, and prepares to face a deeply divided and anxious nation, we’ve asked those who came to Washington to celebrate Trump’s inauguration, and those who didn’t, about their desires. Not for Trump, or even the country. But for themselves.
Washington Post reporters fanned out all over the city are asking: “Tell us how you hope your life will improve during Trump’s first term as president.”
Here’s what they had to say:
Angel Schultz, 32, a single mom who works from home as a massage therapist in Cumberland, Md., said she wanted to see relief for her part of the world, where a sense of depression, economic and spiritual, had set in during Obama’s tenure.
She said her life would change for the better if Trump followed through on pledges to address her biggest need: affordable child care.
“I hope he really focuses on the family. I think a lot would be the child care,” said Schultz, who has an 11-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son. “It’s important to me to go to work and have life-work balance. That’s my problem right now. You go to get a 9-to-5 job and you work just to pay for daycare.”
Joe Wyson, 60, and his wife, Jana Wyson, 58, came this week to see their first ever inauguration.
Wyson, who owns a paving company and a gun shop, said the recovery has been slow and sluggish. “It’s been a businessman’s nightmare.”
He had to cut wages of his employees three times, he said, when times got lean. “Now we’re above where we were. We hunkered down and got completely out of debt. I want government off my back. Regulations lifted. Feeling a sense of pride in my country again.”
“I’m 60 years old. Not a young chicken. I hope things will improve so my family has opportunity. Watching my children and grandchildren grow up, they are my biggest hope.”
— Nick Anderson
Evangelical pastor Buck Marshall, 44, of Ennis, Texas, said his life would improve because he expected Trump’s Supreme Court appointments would protect religious liberty.
“My hope is he will make good picks on [Supreme Court] justices,” he said. “I think Trump had the largest evangelical vote ever, mainly because of Supreme Court appointments.”
Asked what issues concerned him regarding the Court, he said, “I would think, probably what’s going to happen with the church, religious freedom.”
— Robert McCartney
John Moore, 53, of Westland, Mich., drove nine hours with his wife, Robin, and stepson, Sean Bowling.
Moore is a veteran and worked for the post office for 28 years.
“I hope he follows through on what he has said about the VA,” he said. “That’s a huge issue.”
He said he is also concerned about the postal service. “I just hope they don’t break it up, that they keep it intact the way it used to be. They’ve already done a lot to try and trim down the postal service and it’s hurt us a lot. There’s all this talk about a privatization of the postal service and I hope that doesn’t happen.”
Lynette Prince, 70, of Reston said, “I just want to feel safe. The hacking bothers me, and the terrorists. Something could happen at any given moment… I don’t feel unsafe, I just feel unsettled a little bit, because it is so topsy-turvy.”
Her husband Carroll Prince, 62, added, “I’d like to see jobs and the economy [improve]. I hope my 401(k) goes up. That’s the economy.”
He sells Subarus and she is semi-retired, working part-time in a retirement home.
— Julie Zauzmer
Liz Levine, a Hillary Clinton voter, drove here from Florida to see her first inaugural and attend the Women’s March on Saturday.
Still, Levine said she has also tried to send prayers for Trump.
“God loves everyone,” she said. “I actually pray for Trump. It’s very hard for me, but I do. We are all one in the end. I pray for the Holy Spirit to crack open his head and bring in some enlightenment.”
Asked how she hopes her life might improve in the next four years, Levine said she has little hope for herself. For her 27-year-old daughter in Brooklyn, who has insurance through the Affordable Care Act, she wants her to continue to have health care. For her 92-year-old mother, who lives with her in Florida, she wants Social Security and Medicare to remain intact.
— Nick Anderson
Robert Reed, 57, a veteran from Lancaster, Pa., said he hopes President Trump will overhaul the Veterans Health Administration during his first term.
“I’m on the VA. I can’t complain about the care, but it’s the wait time,” Reed said. “I just had a double knee replacement and it took me two years before I could get my operation.”
His wife, Wanda Reed, 65, added, “I just hope my Social Security doesn’t get hurt.”
The Reeds have another, more idiosyncratic wish: Under President Trump, they’re hoping economic conditions improve enough for them to start their own company. Robert currently sells vinyl railing and siding and Wanda does secretarial work in a medical office. But the couple are motorcycle enthusiasts, and they want to launch a business that would hire out bikes and drivers to tug hearses (for funerals) and Cinderella-style carriages (for weddings).
“I’m hoping that through him, with the changes, it’ll be easier to get a business loan,” Robert Reed said.
Wanda is confident Trump won’t disappoint them. “I have a lot of faith in this man,” she said.
— Peter Jamison
Elizabeth Merchant, 45, recently moved to the Washington area from St. George, Utah so Elizabeth — an office manager with computer tech experience– could find a job with the Trump administration.
“I hope he has more opportunities,” she said of her six-year-old son. “The past decade, it seems like opportunities for white males have decreased greatly. I hope that his opportunities in life can go back to when I was in high school.”
— Antonio Olivo
Ronald Greear, 60, a painting contractor from Clarksville, Tenn., said, “I’m hoping my Social Security will be there in another year because I’ve worked all my life and paid in. I hope he’s going to protect Social Security and get us some good health insurance plan that working people can afford.”
Alex Condos, 52, a police officer in Seaside Park, N.J., was with his son, Aristotle. He said, “I think we’re going to see manufacturing improving, and more jobs staying here in the United States. That affects my life because I’m a police officer, and it has a trickle down effect. The job market affects what’s going on around me and how people behave, and we’re better off when people can make an honest living.”
Sara Clements, 56, a contracts administrator from Fairfax, said, “I hope our country is safe so when I’m flying on a plane I’m safe. And I hope he serves us better on the economy so my daughter can get a job after college. Over the last eight years I lost a job, so I want the economy to stabilize for the American dream of having a house and a good job – a job that lasts.”
Sarmad Bhatti, 21, a George Mason University student studying information technology, was demonstrating with a dozen or so other Muslim men from Northern Virginia.
“I just hope it’s not that extreme, the next few years, no hate, all the ‘banning Muslims’ stuff,” he said. “We just hope he [President Trump] supports us, and we can connect with him. After him, we’ll still be here.”
“We love and support our country,” Bhatti added. “We’re working hard to stop the stigma against Muslims.”
Emma Flynn, a 19-year-old sophomore studying finance at Catholic University of America said, “I hope I’ll be graduating college and hopefully getting a job. He’s a businessman, so hopefully jobs won’t be as hard coming out. I want to work in finance in Manhattan. There are some jobs, but I think it’s kind of harder because I’m a girl.”
— Julie Zauzmer
“I hope that he can create jobs,” Tony Jones, a 28-year-old DJ from Greenville, S.C. said as he waited in line for free marijuana near Dupont Circle, a Make America Great Again hat on his head. Unemployment had torn apart communities like his, he said, and he hoped the new president would fix that.
“There are a lot of youth on the streets because they don’t have jobs. You take the youth off the street and put them to work,” he said.
When it was pointed out that an African American waiting in line for free weed didn’t seem like a typical Republican voter, Jones voiced another hope: “I hope that once he gets in the people see it’s not like the media put him. Then maybe we can work together.”
As the line inched closer to the volunteers doling out the pot, Jones remarked “This is the start, right here. You have people who don’t like Trump and people who couldn’t care less and we’re all here together for a good cause. This to me is what America is all about.”
— John Kelly
Describing herself as pro-abortion rights and pro-gay marriage, Liz Crawley, 48, a state social worker from Inman, S.C., said she supported Trump because families she helps in hospice care told her they can’t afford to pay for changes under the Affordable Care Act.
“Obamacare is not working. I hope they can work together and cross party lines when everything calms down,” Crawley said. “I also don’t want see relations with police inflamed. ”
Her husband Ron Crawley, 55, who works in information technology management, said he is not a Republican but supported Trump in part because he wants greater fiscal responsibility.
His hopes for the next four years? “Lower taxes would be nice but I’m not necessarily looking for that….I’m not sure I can put it in concrete terms of something for my family,” he said. “I’m hoping for a sort of a feeling of a satisfaction of knowing when your money is being spent, being able to see some tangible result of that.”
Marlyne O’Malley has survived cancer twice in the past two decades, and she loves a good parade. So she staked out a spot on Pennsylvania Avenue, determined to see President Trump’s procession from the Capitol to the White House.
“He can live up to his promises,” she said. “I’m optimistic. He’s real. He’s a businessman, not a politician.”
The 62-year-old from Bel Air, Md., said she hopes Trump might bring prayer back into schools and allow the Ten Commandments to be posted more widely in public places.
Also, she said, “I would like more peace in Baltimore. If that means we do more for the poor sections of Baltimore city, that would be my biggest hope for the state of Maryland.”
She’s also hoping for more rebuilding of roads and bridges. And for Trump to watch his mouth a bit. “I hope he thinks before he speaks,” she said, acknowledging that the man she voted for sometimes makes her wince.
Nicholas Valentine, the former Republican mayor of Newburgh, N.Y. from 1999 to 2012, runs a tailoring business in town.
“From what I hear today, I think what we have now is more of a voice in what government is going to do…he’s going to think outside the box. No doubt about it,” he said.
Valentine said Newburgh once had 25 coat factories. In the last year four small businesses opened, making children’s dresses, women’s clothing, back packs, “all made in America,” he said.
“What I’m hearing today is ‘made in America, made in America,’ ” he said. “I’m hearing that more and more in my store, more and more wherever I go. If he keeps sending that message… that ripples, and that ripple affect does affect us even on the local level.”
“It’s little cities like Newburgh that are benefiting from it,” he said. “And it may be five jobs at a time, but you know what, and if there’s 10 companies and five jobs, now you got 50.”
Mackenzie Shields, a 26-year-old law student from Denver, Colo., who supported Hillary Clinton, sees hope in what a Trump presidency might spur young people like herself to accomplish over the next four years.
“I hope a lot more people start paying attention,” she said. “I’m just glad there’s more awareness among my friends to be politically active. I hope [Trump’s presidency] kind of changes a lot of people on the state level to wake up and start participating.”
After she graduates from the University of Denver law school in May, Shields plans to work in public interest law, specifically helping to appeal criminal cases and reform the justice system, which she believes is too often stacked against minorities.
“I hope during the Trump presidency that I can continue doing the work that I want to do, despite not having people in power that I support or who have the same ideas as I do,” she said. “I hope I can continue doing what I do in a progressive way and we can move forward.”
— John Kelly\
Nix Prather, 18, drove all night from Midway, Kentucky to attend the inauguration of Trump.
She hopes the next four years will be kinder to police officers like her father, who she said put their lives on the line when they go to work everyday.
“It’s scary growing up thinking that your father could not come home one day,” she said.
She is studying criminal justice in college and said she wants to become a judge and she hopes respect can be restored to the field of law enforcement.
Matthew Kranz, 60, a financial manager in Warrenton, Va., said he’s optimistic about the economy under President Trump.
“I expect to see an uptick in business activity while staying ahead of inflation,” he said. If the economy picks up: “I might have a sunnier disposition than I’ve had the last eight years.”
His brother Robert Kranz, Vice President of 20th century fox in Los Angeles, says his life will also improve if Trump can help the economy grow quickly. “Being 61, I am hoping things improve enough that I’m comfortable to retire,” he said.
— Arelis Hernandez