Minnesotans mixed on Trump's first 100 days
ST. PAUL — The sky has not fallen since Donald Trump became president.
But, opponents are quick to say, there still is time.
Trump's 100th day in office arrived Saturday, April 29, and the milestone passed with too few concrete actions for most Minnesota leaders to give him a full grade.
Early indicators show the Republican president's budget proposal would reduce how much the state receives in federal money. On the other hand, he has taken some trade actions pleasing to Minnesotans such as farmers, lumber workers and miners. Minnesota Democrats in Congress have been critical of Trump, but also praised some of his actions.
The biggest beneficiary of the Trump presidency thus far may have been, ironically enough, the political left as many liberals have become more involved in politics via protests and rallies because of Trump anxiety.
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton served in the U.S. Senate six years and worries about Trump.
"He has done nothing to assuage my fears," Dayton told Forum News Service.
Dayton especially fears how Trump will deal with foreign affairs.
Recalling President John Kennedy's need to be careful with every word he uttered during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, "Trump's tweets at 3 a.m., that's is very scary," Dayton said.
On the other hand, the governor said, there is a natural change after a candidate becomes a government official. "When you run for office, you run on rhetoric. When you serve in office, you deal with reality."
"That reality has set in, which I think is a good thing," Dayton added. "It tempers some of the more extreme positions he was articulating."
Immigration and health care are two big domestic issues that concern Dayton.
The fact that Trump and Congress have not been able to change federal health care laws is good news, he said, as time may moderate what would have happened.
Still, Dayton said, "I think the health care thing is a ticking time bomb, but I don't think people realized what the impact would be."
Immigration is what Dayton hears about most when it comes to the federal government.
"There are a lot of Minnesotans who are here from other countries who are living in daily fear," he said, fear of federal immigration authorities and of terrorists who attract young Minnesotans to their ranks.
As could be expected, Republicans see less Trump threat than Democrats. For instance, they like the president's plan to chop environmental regulations.
"I think the statement has been made to look at the possibility of over-regulation for expansion and new businesses throughout the country, and I feel the same about the state of Minnesota," Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, said.
Minnesota Republican Party leaders trumpeted Trump's work so far, including praising his efforts to reduce "excess regulations imposed by the previous administration."
The GOP blasted Democrats for suggesting that Trump should be impeached, barely after he took office. They targeted U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who said: "Trump's actions so far legitimately raise the question of impeachment."
Ellison is No. 2 in the national Democratic Party.
A University of Minnesota researcher said the biggest impact of Trump was incidental after his victory surprised Democrats.
"We know the psychological effects of anxiety can have interesting outcomes. ..." Matt Motta said. "When people are feeling fearful, threatened, anxious, they tend to get involved."
Getting involved may be donating to liberal groups, he said, but it is more visible in the numerous marches and demonstrations that became common after the 2016 election.
"Civic participation in this way is up, especially on the (political) left," Motta said, citing evidence of huge protests around the country, including Minnesota moms' and scientists' marches and other events.
In Minnesota, it is not just about one election that a Republican came close to winning, Motta said. It also it about Democrats worrying that the state is becoming more evenly divided.
"I do not think it has gotten there yet. but it is hard to deny that Minnesota is looking a bit more purple than it has in the past, especially in the presidential race," he said. "Uncertainty can breed anxiety from Democrats."
While Democrats certainly have concerns about Trump, some also have had some good things to say.
Take U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., who has delivered some of the harshest words about Trump appointees and the president himself. But on some issues, he and Trump are on the same side, such as when the new president placed tariffs on some Canadian lumber.
"I've heard from lumber producers and sawmills across Minnesota that are struggling to get by, and I believe they deserve a fair shot," Franken said. "They deserve a government that will stand up for them when foreign companies engage in illegal trade practices. ... I'm glad the Department of Commerce has recognized this as a major problem and that they've taken the initial step of levying new tariffs on these unfair imports."
Franken and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., supported Trump's agriculture secretary pick, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue. That drew thanks from the Republican-leaning Minnesota Farm Bureau.
"Secretary Perdue is a needed voice for agriculture as the new administration addresses issues like trade, regulatory reform, agriculture labor and the next farm bill," state Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap said.
On the other hand, Perdue did not become secretary until Day 95 of the Trump presidency, the last Cabinet secretary to take office. And agriculture programs would take some of the biggest hits in his budget.