Since the arrival of the Trump administration, local leaders have become largely optimistic about what is yet to come in the President's first term. They are also thrilled with Indiana's connection to the national stage, through former Governor Mike Pence's rise to the Vice Presidency. With these new circumstances, they hope that Indiana's agricultural and political values could influence the direction of the country.
Jasper County Commissioner Kendell Culp believes Trump’s administration could bring needed change to the status quo in Washington D.C.
“I think, by and large, the majority of the American people are looking forward to some refreshing changes in Washington,” he said. “They’re kind of tired of business as usual, and they’re tired of political correctness, and they’re looking for something different.”
One thing that is definitely different from recent history is Indiana’s new connection to the presidency.
“It’s really exciting to have our past Indiana Governor to be the Vice President, so Indiana has a really strong connection to the White House,” Culp said. “That’s something that doesn’t happen very often. So I think, for hoosiers, that adds a lot of excitement and anticipation for the new administration.”
Culp also defended Pence’s character as a person and a leader. Then-Governor Pence once visited Culp at his farm in July 2015, along with various citizens, when a flood caused substantial crop and property damage to the county. He has also met Pence at other Indiana Government events over the years.
“He saw, I’m sure, a lot of examples of hoosiers that had faced adversity and overcame that and persevered and rose above that,” Culp said.
Jasper County Republican Party Chair Duke Critser also recently praised Pence before the inauguration last week.
"I think that Vice President-elect Mike Pence will probably go down as one of the greatest Vice Presidents we've ever had." she said.
As Vice President of the Jasper County Indiana Farm Bureau, Culp hopes that Indiana could become involved in the administration’s agricultural efforts as well, even though President Trump's nominee for Secretary of Agriculture is not a hoosier.
“Still, I’m hopeful that there are several undersecretary of agriculture positions that could be filled by hoosiers,” Culp said. “I would be hopeful that some of them could fill those slots, because that’s going to be good for agriculture in general but also for Indiana agriculture specifically.”
On that note, Culp said he disagrees with Trump’s aggressive stance on trade. He believes a limited trade policy could ultimately hurt the American farmer. And this is one area where he feels that government intervention can have a positive outcome.
“We produce more commodities, more foods, than we can consume as a county,” Culp said. “We rely on selling those commodities, those goods, those products to other countries. That is one role that I see our government playing...to have trade between those countries.”
Trump formally abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, negotiated in part by the Bush and Obama administrations, on Monday.
Critser also admitted that Trump brings concern. But she is very optimistic about his presidency. And she believes it could improve the country’s standing in the world.
“I worry about him because he says things off the cuff,” she said. “But I think he’s brilliant. I think that he’s going to work for the betterment of the United States of America. I really do, in all forms.”