Many liberals and conservatives have found common ground in one respect after Donald Trump’s victory: uncertainty about how the president-elect’s administration will shake out.
For local political activists, this has proved motivating from all angles.
“Let me first start off by saying ... I didn’t think we’d come out (Nov. 9) with Donald Trump as president-elect,” said Chase Reed, a student at the University of North Georgia in Gainesville who works for the right-leaning Madison Strategies, a political consulting firm with offices in Atlanta. “I was already preparing for four years of Hillary Clinton and really looking at the best ways to rally and fight for conservatism.”
The same could be said of many who supported Clinton, even tepidly. The shock of Trump’s ascent is still resonating. And it’s turning into action.
“Young people understand the urgency of the moment and are stepping up to take the lead and move our country forward,” said Gabe Shippy, who leads the Northeast Georgia chapter of the Young Democrats of Georgia. “Our generation can’t afford to ever let another dangerous, unqualified, right-wing extremist like Donald Trump be elected to the highest office.”
The first three months should lay the groundwork for what a Trump administration is prepared to do.
Reed said priority No. 1 is filling the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death earlier this year.
Conservative Judge William H. Pryor Jr. from the 11th Circuit Court in Atlanta and more moderate Judge Diane Sykes of Wisconsin have been seen as top contenders since Trump mentioned them by name during a Republican debate shortly after Scalia’s sudden death, according to Tribune News Service.
Brian Aycock, a progressive activist who organized the first group in Hall County last year to support Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries, said liberals must better organize if they hope to stop Trump’s agenda and reclaim the White House in 2020.
“We need to inform and advocate by engaging with people, of course, but party politics needs to change, too,” he said. “Many of us on the left have said for a long time that the Democratic Party was too conservative. They seem to have branded themselves similarly to what Republicans were before the tea party.”
Gainesville attorney Ashley Bell, who served as a senior strategist for the Republican National Committee during the campaign and is now serving on Trump’s transition team at the State Department, said he expects the president-elect to act on issues where broad agreement in the Republican Party lies.
“I think (Trump’s) been very clear about what he wants to tackle in the first 100 days,” Bell said, citing issues such as upending President Barack Obama’s executive orders, reform U.S. trade deals, move quickly to cut spending and push for tax cuts. “Those are the easiest things we have consensus on.”
Meanwhile, Jentezen Franklin, pastor of Free Chapel in Gainesville who serves on the Evangelical Advisory Board for Trump, called on the country to heal its divisions to preserve its status as the greatest nation in the world.
“It is possible to disagree but still respect each other,” he said in a statement to The Times. “I hope everyone will ask God in prayer to guide, preserve and bless America.”