On the Road to DC: Washington, DC — Shortly after President Trump’s inauguration ceremony, I had the opportunity to speak to two Latina Chaplains and Trump supporters, Vivian Hernandez and Desiree Bernstein. Here’s an edited version of our conversation.
Were you at the inauguration?
“Yes, we were at the inauguration. We’ve been here all week.”
I’m assuming you’re pro-Trump.
“Yes. We’re pro America. We’re pro ‘We the People.’ That’s the only way we’re going to unite. We’re not ‘red state, blue state’ anymore. We are red, white and blue and we are Americans first. Partisanship has to be put to the side so we can work together.”
You heard his speech. What did you like about his speech?
“The fact that he felt he was turning the nation back to the people, that he was going to facilitate that and make sure there’s law and order, but [also that] the people will no longer be dictated to about what to say or do. We’re Christians, and we’re being penalized just for deciding who we’re going to do weddings for, or bake cakes for! You have to be able to have religious or rather faith-based decisions as well.”
When you say “back to the people” you’re talking about back from the government to the people?
“The government IS the people, but politicians have forgotten that for a really long time! The American people gave Obama a second chance and he still didn’t hear us. We are minorities. We work in the inner city, and our people are suffering.
“More people are on welfare and food stamps since he took office. I know many of the young people in the inner cities. If they are given a chance, they will make something of their lives. They don’t need welfare.”
So is the appeal of Trump is primarily economic?
“It’s a total package. He’s going to work on schools…schools are horrible; he’s going to work on economics, he’s going to work on defense.
“We shouldn’t be ostracized because we believe in God. That’s what the Pilgrims came here for, religious freedom. Ronald Reagan said ‘a nation who forgets God is a nation gone under.’ That’s how we have felt. We have felt oppressed. No one wants to come out and speak. Today everybody was talking to everybody! It was glorious. We heard patriotic songs, songs that we’re proud of. Not many nations can say that they have written songs about God. ‘God bless America. ‘My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the lord.’ Everybody was singing. And the military! It was just such a beautiful day. Really, we’re very optimistic.
“However, there’s one other thing. We are not giving carte blanche to anyone. It’s not one person that’s going to turn around the nation. It’ll be wisdom, and that person relying on God and His wisdom to be able to carry the oath of office through, to make sure, because everybody has to be held accountable. But we have to give him an opportunity to do something.”
Do you have any concerns about Trump?
“Look, we just came through eight years with president Obama and our people are suffering. We’re talking [about] the Latino community, and the Black community. So I don’t have any reservations whatsoever. We’re going to push together and we’re going to hold his feet to the fire. We tried holding Obama’s feet to the fire and he said, ‘forget you.'”
On the issue of abortion, there’s a big divide in this country. How do we unite? On what basis?
“The basis of unity in a nation is to value human life. Above economics. Above inconvenience. Above even your self-interest. If you have brought a child into the world, there is a way to raise that child. And God would not have had that child conceived unless he had a destiny for that child. So each child in the womb is saying ‘let me live. Let me breathe. Let me be.’ And if we are concerned with the child in the womb and the elderly, then our society will be better. We have to look at this. One day we’re going to be old! Are we going to create an America where they’re going to give us a lethal injection ‘cause we’re not any useful anymore?”
You’re Latina. How do you feel about the things Trump has said that have offended some people who are Latino/Latina? How does that sit with you?
“Since he said that, he’s apologized. There’s a difference between someone that said something and is in great error—and I thought it was extremely offensive—and someone who continues saying that, and continues in that behavior. He’s not exhibiting that behavior that we’re aware of. God was able to use David who committed murder so he could have Bathsheba. So God can use an imperfect person and use him for good.”
That is your hope for Trump?
“That is my hope for him. That really is my hope.”