American Voter: Stefanie Mingari
Al Jazeera asks the same key questions about the presidential election to voters across the United States.
President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden are battling for the presidency in a sharply divided United States.
Trump has focused on “law and order”, while Biden has tried to strike a conciliatory note. The Black Lives Matter movement and whether Trump will release his taxes are among the many issues Americans will consider when choosing their president.
Al Jazeera has been speaking to voters across the US asking nine questions to understand who they are supporting and why.
Occupation: Employed full-time and doctoral candidate at DePaul University (Ed.D)
Residence: Chicago, Illinois
Voted in 2016: Donald Trump
Will Vote in 2020: Donald Trump
Top Election Issue: Censorship
Will you vote? Why or why not?
“I voted on Friday.”
“It is very important [to vote] because the last four years have been crazy. And I feel that if you want your voice heard, then it’s your job to vote. And if you don’t vote, then it’s like you have nothing to say.”
What is your number one issue?
“My number one issue is censorship. [There is] a huge divide. It seems like if you’re on one side, [or] if you’re on another side, we can’t get along. People aren’t respectful of one another’s freedom of speech or religion or anything, because there’s just too much emotion involved, and the facts aren’t coming out. People take emotion better than they do facts. And it’s like, even if I have all the facts presented to you, you’re still saying I’m racist, or I’m against this, I’m against that, I’m pro-this, you know, anti-this. I hope that people can come together, and it’s OK to agree to disagree in a respectful, educated way. And everybody’s opinion should be heard, everybody’s voice should be heard, but you shouldn’t censor somebody else’s opinion, because it doesn’t fit the political-social climate that we’re in right now.”
Who will you vote for?
“I voted to re-elect President Trump.”
Is there a main reason you chose your candidate?
“There’s a few reasons. First of all, I love how patriotic he is. I love how outspoken he is, how he speaks the truth. He’s not politically correct. My three main [things are that] he’s pro-life, pro-military, and pro-law enforcement.”
“Half of my family’s from Cuba, so we know what socialism is. We don’t want that – we need law and order. I’m with the Northwest Side GOP [club] and that’s what we represent: law and order. Without law and order, without our military … They sacrifice their lives every single day for us for our freedom of speech, and our religion, and whatever else.”
“[Trump] is very pro-Second Amendment. We need that in this country. We need that because we need to be able to protect ourselves.”
“I’m thankful every day for all our military men and women and all our law enforcement. That’s what I love about President Trump – he just loves our country, and he’s very patriotic. That’s what it’s about. The United States stands for united and free. So we need to just keep moving forward with that ideology.”
Are you happy with the state of the country?
“The last three and a half years, yes. Obviously, the last six months, you know, the pandemic has hit, which it was totally out of our control.”
“We didn’t create the pandemic, it came from China, it came over. It can happen anytime – a few years ago, during the Obama administration, they had H1N1. And it was something that Obama couldn’t control, as well. So people are like, ‘Oh, you know, the pandemic is ruining our country.’ But that’s not our president’s fault. He’s trying to correct it. He tried to correct that in January and he was shut down.”
“Before all that, yes, our country [was] booming, unemployment [was] at a low for both Black and Hispanic populations, women[‘s] employment rate has gone up. Everything else is just amazing, you know, all the colleges that received funding, all the historically Black colleges. So yes, the last three and a half years, I’ve been very happy with the way our country’s been going. Obviously, the pandemic is another issue. Hopefully, we get that settled soon.”
What would you like to see change?
“Unity, more voices [being] heard and accepted. Traditional values should be accepted again. School choice, I think [is] very important. Like I said, more support to our military men and women when they come back – we need to take care of men and women in the military. And it seems like they’re kind of thrown to the sidelines, and that’s what I appreciate about President Trump.”
“It’s just so sad, the state that we’re in now, with the looting, the violence … We need to come back together and I think President Trump can do that. Because, once again, yeah, he’s not the most clean-spoken, politically correct person, but all his actions have shown us that he is the man for the job, and he has so much on his plate, yet he continues to try to make our country better.”
Do you think the election will change anything?
“I think it’ll change for the better once this pandemic gets taken care of. If they do come up with a vaccine, if they do come up with a cure, I think that’ll definitely bring back our economy … People are scared, the elderly are scared, parents are scared to send their kids to school. My kids are in school, because they’re at a [private] Catholic school.”
“I think that assurance and security [is important]. Protecting our borders is very important. We can’t just let anybody in. The vetting system has to be better, which they’re working on, and just making it better for everybody so that people aren’t panicking and causing chaos.”
What is your biggest concern for the US?
“I would say the pandemic is number one, because it’s caused so much [suffering]. I mean, these poor small businesses are suffering. People are getting laid off, although it’s gone [down] now [that] people are coming back to work. So, I hope that nothing more comes of it where we have to shut down again. I live in Illinois, and our governor’s constantly trying to shut us down and the mayor [as well]. So, I hope that that doesn’t get out of control again.”
“And then security, like [securing our borders] … I have no problem with [immigrants] coming over legally, as well as securing our borders because it secures jobs for everybody. We can’t just give away jobs to people who aren’t here legally. So, I think that that’s important.”
“Once again, the educational system has to improve. Bring back the trade schools! I think college is not for everybody, which is fine … I want to leave this world knowing that my kids and my grandkids will be taken care of when needed, but also [for them to be able to be independent] as well.”
Is there anything we haven’t asked about the election that you want to share?
“This election is almost nerve-racking – because we don’t know what’s going on. And I have a feeling they’re not even going to call it [tonight]. It’s going to be who knows when before we find out who actually won.”
“But like I said, people aren’t giving President Trump his dues when he has done a lot of things [he said he was going to do]. They’re like, ‘Well, he didn’t do this.’ But if you look at the records, he did fund colleges, he did fund the military, he is helping the military healthcare system, he wants to bring school choice.”
“I do hope that President Trump is reelected. I don’t think that Joe Biden is up there to run our country … I’m hoping and praying that President Trump is re-elected for another term.”