In Garfield County, well-wishes for Trump tempered with sadness about the state of the nation | PostIndependent.com
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In Garfield County, well-wishes for Trump tempered with sadness about the state of the nation

Polarization of the country a common theme when locals interviewed

Carbondale resident Allison Mincks chats and has lunch with a friend in downtown Carbondale on Tuesday afternoon.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

When asking Garfield County residents about President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, the most common theme was wishing him well — from both sides of the political spectrum.

“I wish him a smooth recovery so that he can be perfectly healthy while he loses badly in November,” said Jonathan VanTassel, 39, of Carbondale.

Amy Hohon, 39, Rifle, who said she’s soon to be a two-time Trump voter, said, “I hope he gets better. He is still a human life.”

“I do hope he recovers from the virus. I don’t feel any more death resulting from the virus moves us forward as a nation or world,” said Patrick Johnson, 57, of Carbondale.

That’s not to suggest that everyone felt sympathy for the president.

“I’m not one to celebrate anybody else’s illness or wish anything bad to happen to anybody, but I think he was being really reckless,” said Allison Mincks, 32, of Carbondale. 

“This man was obviously asking for it and putting many other people’s lives at risk,” VanTassel said.

There was some question as to the severity of Trump’s illness, though not to the Michael Moore degree of suggesting the president was faking it.

“I don’t think we’ll ever know the truth about what was going on with his health. I think they’re painting it a little bit shinier than it probably was. It’ll be hidden from us forever,” said Charles Engelbert, 58, of New Castle.

One item of certainty? The quality of his medical treatment.

“I think he got better health care than most Americans have access to,” Mincks said.

Several others were more than willing to talk but were unwilling to be quoted, and the reasons provided also paint a portrait of the state of America. One feared violent retaliation, and another didn’t want to lose any more friends over a difference of opinion.

Political polarization came up a few times.

“It’s a caustic thing for our nation regardless of his accomplishments or lack of accomplishments in certain categories,” Engelbert said.

“What’s really disheartening over the last three and a half years is our country is really going to pot. People are divided more than ever,” said Lisa DiNardo, 57, of Carbondale. “We should not be divided by race, creed or political ideologies. We need to come together.”

That was echoed by John Sherwood, 34, of New Castle. He said people need to be able to engage in open dialogue in order to make lasting progress on the challenges facing the country right now.

“Topics such as this drive a wedge between us even further without advancing true information,” Sherwood said. “It is imperative in uncertain times, such as these, that we are able to openly talk to one another about our views and perceptions of the current situations. At times we have allowed ourselves to become so polarized, that in many instances, we are unable to even communicate with each other.”

Oftentimes, the news media fuels polarization, some explained.

“The left and right media put their own spins on it. I don’t really call [what] those media outlets [produce] news anymore, I call them agenda reports. I watch both sides because it’s the only way to form a real opinion about things,” Engelbert said.

“It seems that all sides of the media have become focused on separating us from each other,” Sherwood said. “We know that there is a lot of biased information coming across through the media. It is more important than ever to use our unbiased critical thinking skills, check sources for ourselves and not to forget that we get through all problems together.” 

The media has done such an effective job of pointing out its opinions of Trump’s shortcomings that DiNardo found no need to repeat any of it.

“Do I want to say anything negative? Why? It’s been said. What do I need to say that hasn’t been said?” DiNardo asked.

Johnson merely alluded to them.

“I also feel it is important that the president is held to account for his indiscretions, too many to list. We don’t need him martyred, we need him to face justice,” Johnson said.

While it garnered some well-wishing, Trump’s battle with COVID-19 didn’t change the way any interviewee plans to vote.

“I don’t think it’s really changed my opinion on anything,” said Mincks.

“I’m a Republican who’s going to vote Democratic this time to get a reasonable human being in office,” Engelbert said. “I can’t take it anymore.”

cwertheim@postindependent.com


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