[Kyle is an undergraduate student who has just completed an internship and "semester in Washington". Shout! interviewed him.]
Shout! (SH!): Are you a Democrat?
Kyle McHugh (KM): Independent.
SH!: How did you vote?
KM: Voted for both Democrats and Republicans. It depended on who it was.
SH!: I know you dislike many things about politics, but what do you like?
KM: [Laughter] I like many things. Politics are interesting. I follow politics a lot, more than most people my age. It’s interesting because we elect the people that make the laws and rules that we must follow, it’s a way of governing everyone. It follows what society deems good or bad.
SH!: Are you optimistic about the political situation in America?
KM: I guess you could say yes because we don’t have anywhere to go but up. Look, Obama was elected 2008 and then 2010, the Democrats lost their majority so the Republicans just wanted to stall Obama and wait until he was gone to overturn everything he did.
And now the Democrats are doing the same. They're just obstructing everything.
SH!: Are they being hypocritical?
KM: No, because politicians are supposed to work together. It’s not what they used to do; what happened to going across party lines. Coming together for the good of the people?
SH!: Who’s the one to blame for this?
KM: Uhm, I think both because neither one are trying to come together, it’s becoming more polarizing. They think their side is right.
SH!: I’ll ask you about some controversial topics. Let’s begin with abortion. What should the Democrats and Republicans do? And what do you think personally?
KM: They have completely polarizing positions on the issue. I feel that the bigger issue is when you define what a human life is. Because [it's] a fetus, the Democrats would say [it] is not a human, where the Republicans believe it is a human.
My personal belief is that yes, some abortions should happen in case of health of the mother or rape. But also there’s a point where you shouldn’t just use abortion as birth control.
SH!: So it should be legal?
KM: Yes. But people should be educated before they get the abortion.
SH!: So you’re pro choice but anti-abortion?
KM: Yes, that’s basically my stance on it. I don’t think it’s right to do it, but I’m not the woman and the decision should come from the women.
SH!: You are a registered Democrat. Why?
KM: I’m truly an Independent, but in the state I’m from, we have closed primaries. Independents cannot vote, so I registered as a Democrat so I could have a say in the primaries.
SH!: But why not have a say in the Republican primaries?
KM: Because the Democratic primary was much more closer than the Republican. Hillary and Bernie [Sanders] were very close, while Trump had a good lead over [Ted] Cruz and [John] Kasich at that time.
SH!: How do you feel about Bernie?
KM: I disagree with his policies. I’m for universal healthcare. Government should go all the way in or just stay away from it. Now, they don’t have a choice because they have their noses in, there’s so much money involved now.
I think some time in my lifetime there will be a single payer system in the U.S. As the way things stand right now, I would say it’s a better option. It’s like the entitlements, you can’t take them away.
Another thing I agree with Bernie is Citizens United.
KM: Citizens United was about giving to much power to corporations and they have more money than 99% of Americans.
SH!: What about the electoral college?
KM: It’s an outdated system.
SH!: Who did you vote for? And why.
KM: Former Secretary [Hillary] Clinton. It was just like most Americans, we had two flawed candidates, they were shitty candidates. Clinton had problems because of her long career, and Trump had no experience.
Honestly, I still don’t know why. I just thought that she was the lesser of two evils. They were pretty close.
SH!: How do you grade the Obama Administration. Would you have voted for him against Trump?
KM: I liked him. I would say that with this Republican majority in Congress, Obama would have accomplished very little.
SH!: Gay marriage? Should it be legal?
KM: Honestly, I don’t give a fuck. Yes, they can do whatever they want. They should be treated as equals, adopt, everything.
SH!: What about the death penalty?
KM: I’m for the death penalty, but it’s impossible to execute somebody, it costs a lot of money. But on the flip side, what’s the point of keeping someone in jail without the possibility of going out.
SH!: Sessions recused himself from the investigation, so did Devin Nunes, Mike Flynn resigned as National Security Adviser and now FBI director [James] Comey was fired. What do you make of all this?
KM: It’s looks like they’re hiding something. The Russian thing should be investigated, obviously. But, personally, the whole Russia and Trump conspiring together is bullshit.
Trump and the Russians had the same goal, that Clinton didn’t win the election. But just because you have the same goal, it doesn’t mean you colluded.
SH!: Then why are they being so suspicious?
KM: I feel like part of the problem with the Trump administration is that the way their relationship with the news media, or fake media as he calls it, is so damaged that he might feel like if he opens up everything, that stuff like that could be easily be taken and misconstrued by the mainstreams media and they would demonize him.
His distrust of the media makes him think of them as a rival.
SH!: Is it a legit scandal?
KM: I’d say it’s both. If you look at Trump and Russia colluding together I say no. But Russia hacking and influencing our election is a scandal.
SH!: Did the fact that Clinton is a woman influence the outcome?
KM: No. Some people probably didn’t vote for her solely because she’s a women but other voted for her just because she was a women. She was a flawed candidate. A guy in the same situation, going against Trump, would have had a hard time.
The way [Trump] went after people, the way he destroyed them in the primary, people saw him as a fighter for their cause.
SH!: What do you think about his presidency so far?
KM: He’s better than I expected him to be. You can’t listen to everything he says, but judge him on what he does, and I know that’s a terrible policy for a president.
SH!: How do you feel about immigrants?
KM: Immigrants are good. They bring new ideas, they make a country diverse and diverse ideas are good for a country to succeed.
SH!: Do you support a path to citizenship for undocumented people?
KM: I want to say yes, but the problem with that is that it could encourage people. If it is a one time thing, I’m okay with that. If I had to make the decision, I would say yes.
SH!: What is your position on the guns issue?
KM: I’m all for having the right to have a gun, but I’m for reasonable gun control. You don’t need a big machine gun.
SH!: What about legalization of marijuana and other drugs?
KM: Recreational marijuana, yes. I’m a pragmatist, if it’s practical I’m for it. People are going to smoke weed, they want to have fun and relax.
The one thing that everyone should love about making weed legal is that the government could tax it, and the government loves that. It’s terrible that a society wants to legalize a drug for monetary benefit.
I’ve never done any illegal drugs myself so I’m no expert. But smoking weed is not the same as doing heroin.
SH!: It seems that you agree with the Democrats on most of the big issues. Would you say you lean left or right?
KM: Social issues I lean left, but economic issues I lean right. The government should not just hand stuff out for people without them having to contribute something to society.
Part of the problem is lack of opportunity and part of it is lack of will to do something. You look at successful entrepreneurs, they’re self motivated, they want to achieve. Whereas I’m sure we all know someone that’s lazy and doesn’t care. My problem with socialism is people not contributing to society. People take advantage of the system.
SH!: How do you feel about president Trump?
KM: His whole political campaign, I thought, was almost genius. I think the Donald Trump you got in the campaign isn’t actually him, there’s some issues with his views and treating of women, but I don’t know if he’s actually a racist. I think he sees women as objects, he thinks that, as a man, he can claim a woman.
SH!: What do you make of his first 100 days?
KM: I approve of his pick for the Supreme Court. I don’t approve of the travel ban. I get it if you want to suspend it for 60 days, but permanently banning a country is not smart.
The [American Health Care Act] didn’t succeed because you can’t pass a health care bill without support from both parties. I would have voted no.
SH!: What about the missile strikes in Syria?
KM: I would hate it if they sent troops to Syria, but the missile strikes are just sending a message. It shows that Trump is not messing around and will take action if necessary.
SH!: What should be the role of America be in the world?
KM: I’m all for a strong and effective military, but it’s too much. There’s a ridiculous amount of military bases. You want to be the most powerful, but it’s too much.
The question is do we want to spend more in military or social stuff. But the thing is: everybody wants to avoid war. And the best way to avoid one is by having a strong military presence. I feel like America has a strong military presence on steroids, where we have a great big strong military but is overkilling us.
If I was running the show, I would take some out of the military and some out of the social and some of the money would go to the deficit and the rest to cut taxes. The deficit is a terrible issue. It’s all about helping the middle class.
Government should be all the way in or all the way out. When government gets involved, it usually ends up in disaster. They’re not efficient.
SH!: You’re a millennial and politicians want to know, what moves you to the polls?
KM: My biggest feeling is that I’ve always been business oriented, and every American makes so much money and they have to manage their budget to use it. But Congress just borrows more money. They should only spend the money they collect, they shouldn’t run into deficit, they have to balance the budget.
SH!: That’s the most important issue for you?
KM: I know it’s not sexy, but the entire deficit is almost 20 trillion dollars. It should be a big issue for everyone, because if you have a big deficit, it will affect what you’re able to do. If you don’t have a deficit, you can solve the rest of the problems much easier.
That’s an issue that politicians can fix.
Another big issue is more of a cultural issue: racial tensions. A xenophobic attitude towards some groups. The whole Black Lives Matter movement or anti immigrant movements are becoming, in general, a divisive tool where it’s us against them. There’s so much animosity between the two groups.
But that doesn’t move me to the polls. I don’t think politicians can fix a social issue like that one. They can help but it has a lot more to do with how people are influenced from an early age.
SH!: What drives you for a specific person?
KM: A candidate that shows he cares about what the people tells them, represent the person and not the party.
SH!: Who do you like?
KM: I like Jake Tapper and Bill O’Reilly. They’re both fair, well versed and informed. They’re not afraid to speak their minds and call it like they see it.
SH!: Would you have voted the same way?
KM: It was always a hard choice, I went back and fort between both. I decided when I was standing in front of the machine. Originally, even before Trump announced, I thought “I can get behind him” and then he came out with his anti immigration comments and that turned me off.
Here’s the thing: Hillary ran as Barack Obama 2.0. And he was great in 2008 as a change, and he did a great job but I feel like he could’ve taken a harder stance on some issues, held his ground. He could’ve been more vocal and not put to much emphasis on being likeable.
SH!: What does a successful first term looks like for Trump? Are you tired of winning?
KM: It depends on your definition of winning. If you’re going to establish a Trump win for his first term, what is that going to be? Repeal and replace Obamacare, having his new tax plan, replace Antonin Scalia? If he does those three things, I think that would be a success.
The wall is a sticky point for him. The wall is stupid. I get the point of a wall, but you want it to stop illegal immigration and people are still going to come. People that are here illegally are not criminals.
I think much of the [Trump] campaign was pandering to his voters. I’m okay if he doesn’t make good on the bring coal back jobs promise, for example.
SH!: What’s the problem with both political parties?
KM: I feel like Republicans pander too much to business and the Democrats pander more to your socially impoverished classes, they pander not only to poor people but also the leftist extremists. They pander to the minority just like Republicans pander to the minority of business.
No one panders to the middle class, which is the problem, and was the reason Trump succeeded. The Democrats forgot about the middle class, that’s why they went [for] Trump. It’s not that people thought Trump was the best choice, but he actually recognized they existed. A lot of it was hope.
SH!: So the election was about hope?
KM: Yes. He was kind of a Republican Barack Obama, they both wanted change and were outsiders. Trump didn’t have any political experience and Obama was a first term senator from Illinois. They both were political novices with a message of hope.
SH!: Who do you want in 2020?
KM: Both parties will need someone with political experience after Trump. Someone who can offer a hope and change but has some experience so they show they can actually get it done.
SH!: Which Democrats could beat Trump in 2020?
KM: I think [California Attorney General] Gavin Newson will run in 2024. I’m trying to think if there’s a Democrat from Texas or Florida. If they get a Latino guy from one of those states it would be interesting.
SH!: What about Elizabeth Warren?
KM: Elizabeth Warren has the same issues as Bernie, they are great in their states because they’re from very liberal states but they can only win in a handful of states. They won’t get national appeal.
SH!: Who else, then?
KM: I would say Gavin Newson, or maybe Al Franken or Chuck Schumer.
Al Franken is kind of like a Donald Trump-ish with some political experience. I think he would be a solid choice. Elizabeth Warren would be a huge mistake, it would prove that Democrats didn’t learn anything from 2016. Franken is down to earth, people can relate to him.
SH!: And Chuck Schumer?
KM: He and Al Franken are kind of the same, they both have political experience, they are the leaders and face of the party. I like that Schumer is standing up to Trump.
SH!: But that’s so easy for Democrats right now.
KM: Yes, but that’s what their voters want to see, they want to see Trump fail, just like Republicans wanted to see Obama fail. Politics became so polarizing. They put party above country.
SH!: Would you vote for either one of them over Trump?
KM: I can’t say right now. If it was today, I would probably stick with Trump. The Democrats would love Trump as a Democrat because they just look at the color.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions regarding this interview or would like to share your opinion.
Interview has been edited for clarity.