San Diego Women See Hope In President Trump's Vision Of America
Two months ago, an estimated 40,000 women marched in protest through downtown San Diego as President Trump took office. The event was echoed across the nation. But it was women who helped lead Trump to victory, including some in San Diego who say their support for the president remains steadfast.
“I’m sure he will become the best president ever in this country,” Nam-Yong Horn said.
“I think we voted for, not a personality, but we voted for a philosophy we believe in,” Lynn Reagan said.
“I just appreciate the fact that he has surrounded himself with people who are not career politicians,” Pat Schutte said.
The women are among 1,400 conservatives who make up the San Diego County Federation of Republican Women — a group that represents a minority in a largely liberal region.
The women describe themselves as educated and middle class with diverse backgrounds. Some hold careers, while others are retired. Many are mothers or grandmothers. Together, they represent some of the 42 percent of women who voted for Trump.
“Thank you ladies for helping to elect that man. I am so happy,” Waskah Whelan told the enthusiastic group during their recent monthly meeting and catered luncheon at a hotel in Mission Bay.
“As Republicans in California we know how to lose,” Whelan continued, stirring more laughter from the women. “We’ve been losing for a long time and we can do it very gracefully.”
But with a conservative government in place, the women are finding new momentum.
“And much more hope for what we can do for this country,” said Reagan, who was wearing her new Ivanka Trump dress and perfume. She made the purchases earlier this month after several major stores announced they were pulling the brand.
“I felt that things were unfair to her line and I didn’t feel this was a proper way to express political sentiment,” Reagan said.
The national grassroots organization, inspired by the women’s suffrage movement, was founded in the late 1800s. Its mission: to educate women in political issues, both local and national. The women also register voters, provide community outreach and scholarships, and support local Republican politicians.
On this day, the women devoted some of their meeting to discussing President Trump’s latest policies, from the controversial border wall to immigration.
Sandra Waecker, a married mother of five from Oceanside said she supports the president’s agenda, including the wall.
“I’m a sovereign person,” Waecker said.” I believe that I live here as an individual. I have a right to lock my doors at home. I have a right to have a fence around my yard. And as a country, although we need to be generous, we have a right to our sovereignty. And that doesn’t mean we exclude people.”
Nam-Yong Horn shared a similar sentiment. “It’s like your home. Would you open your door for somebody you don’t know? You won’t do that right? But you will open your door for somebody you know. Right? I think it’s the same thing.”
They also talked about the travel ban.
“As a concept, I have no problem with the travel ban,” said Mary Baker. “Especially because it’s temporary and it’s a process of vetting people from those countries where there is no vetting because there’s so much conflict.”
Immigration was another part of the discussion.
“My feeling is if you want to move to the United States, you will apply for that. And you will be vetted and you will be accepted or rejected,” said Pat Schutte, a great-grandmother.
Many of the women see Trump as a champion of hope for their children and the middle class.
"I would like to think that my five children will be living in a country where they can become part of the middle class and prosper and raise their families," Waecker said.
"We want our children in the future to have a safe life, and a life where they can eventually retire," Reagan said. "We feel the policies in the past have really not promoted that."
In addition to regular meetings, the women are encouraged to participate in peaceful demonstrations to show support for the president and GOP officials.
Some say their new spirit of activism is inspired by America’s political polarization in the aftermath of a contentious election.
Some women recently rallied outside Republican Congressman Darrell Issa’s office to counter protesters over the Affordable Care Act.
“I wanted to make sure that my voice was heard as well,” Waecker said. “That I got into this realm of politics because of the ACA, and I wanted to make sure that the GOP understood that there is no compromise on repealing what is there.”
Others recently marched along the the Embarcadero and attended a pro-Trump rally behind the Convention Center.
The group also recently wrote letters to San Diego City Councilmembers expressing opposition to the council’s support of a travel ban lawsuit. Now, they’re writing postcards of support to the new president.
“My dear President Trump, Thank you for being a man of integrity. You are keeping your word and trying to accomplish what you promised,” said Sallie McKelvey, reading her postcard.
“Keep the faith. You are being prayed for everyday by millions of Americans. God bless you, you’re doing a fabulous job,” Said Carol Buser, reading what she wrote.
Marilyn Rogers also shared her postcard: “The San Diego California Republican Women Federated support your efforts to make America great again. Thank you.”
Next month, some of the women are planning a shopping trip to buy Ivanka Trump fashions to show support for the president’s daughter.