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Trump Voter Reflects On First Year Of Presidency


Last January, I took a road trip in the week leading up to President Trump's inauguration. One of the places I visited was Yadkin County, N.C., which had the highest percentage of Trump voters in the state, people like Chuck Wooten.


CHUCK WOOTEN: I'm not the person that wants to see the wreck on the side of the road, OK? But I am fascinated by the changes that are going take place.

SHAPIRO: He grow soybeans, pumpkins and strawberries on land where his family used to farm tobacco. For the last of our year-end check-ins with people we met during 2017, we have Chuck Wooten back on the line. Hi there.

WOOTEN: Ari, it's good hearing from you again.

SHAPIRO: First let me ask about what you told me last January - not wanting to see the wreck on the side of the road but looking forward to changes. Do you think you've seen changes, a wreck on the side of the road, both, neither?

WOOTEN: I think I've seen some very positive changes in Washington, D.C. I don't think it's been quite as catastrophic as a lot of people predicted, which was good. I've seen a lot of positive changes and look forward to seeing more.

SHAPIRO: What stands out to you the most?

WOOTEN: The recent tax bill. It was good to finally see Congress get together and pass something that positively affects small business. You know, my sort of binoculars are, I look at things through the eyes of a small business owner. So when you start talking about taxes, you know, that perks my ears up pretty quick.

SHAPIRO: It took a while for Congress to actually get anything done this year. Until they passed the tax bill, were you frustrated? Were you patient? How were you feeling?

WOOTEN: No, I was very frustrated that we had a group of incredibly talented people that were being well compensated that were doing absolutely nothing for the American people that they were up there to represent to the point that I think for the first time, I was going to start writing emails or making phone calls, which is something I've never done before.

SHAPIRO: And now those frustrations are totally gone or just assuaged a little bit?

WOOTEN: Oh, no, this is like a new basketball coach. This is just his first win, you know...

SHAPIRO: (Laughter).

WOOTEN: ...Or a new salesman. This is his first - he just closed his first sale. So no, this is just the beginning, I hope.

SHAPIRO: When we met, you talked about using immigrant labor on your farm, and you said you've met some immigrants who you think are good people and would make good Americans if they were allowed to become citizens. Immigration is likely to be an issue before Congress early in 2018. How are you feeling about the way that debate's playing out?

WOOTEN: I really hope they find a pathway to some sort of permanent residency. Whether it actually be citizenship, I'm still on the fence on that. But I really do not believe that we need to deport the people that are here illegally that have a clean record, that have participated in their local communities in a positive way.

SHAPIRO: Do you think the Trump administration has been too aggressive about that?

WOOTEN: No. I think it's like anything. Sometimes you have to be so far to the right, realizing that, you know, what's going to end up happening is somewheres (ph) in the middle. I think if you start in the middle, then you get pulled to the left. You know, that's one thing that Trump is good at. He is good at talking points to the extreme almost. And I think you have to do that because you've got so much pulling you in the other direction.

SHAPIRO: It seems like one trend I've seen this year is that people who opposed President Trump feel like their worst fears were confirmed, and people who supported him feel like their best hopes were confirmed. Has that been your experience as you talk with friends and family about politics this year?

WOOTEN: I absolutely cannot agree more. If you liked Trump, you still like Trump. If you didn't like Trump, you still don't like Trump. There's nothing that is probably truer about this election or about this political cycle, you know, post-election. You're still on the side that you were on.

SHAPIRO: Chuck Wooten is a farmer in Yadkin County, N.C. Thanks for joining us again, and happy New Year.

WOOTEN: Ari, it was a pleasure. Have a happy New Year. And it's always great listening to you in the afternoons. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.