Recently, I posted on Facebook my disdain for “candidate bashing.” Every day I receive (and so do you) countless posts and articles about the dubious misgivings of so-and-so candidate and how activities or votes from their past indicate a sinister set of ideals. I have voiced my dislike for negative advertising and attack commercials for years and have pleaded with anyone who will listen to focus, instead, on positive aspects of who and what they support.
The wish, obviously, is for a less toxic dialogue in hopes of achieving a less toxic environment. I’ve gotten….nowhere.
My latest incursion into this plea was specifically in regard to the Democratic candidates wishing to primary and eventually contest President Trump. Yet several Republican/conservative friends joined in to isolate the negative rhetoric that targets the President. Most of them then turned their pen toward their own “positive” reasoning for their support of the President.
A common refrain was heard: “I don’t like Donald Trump, either, but I do like what he’s doing.”
Several things were mentioned consistently: The economy, our borders, foreign policy, and long held conservative values (anti-abortion, gun advocacy, patriotism via nationalism). I thanked several of them for participating in a positive approach to the debate, but I also realized that this is where the rubber truly meets the road, and this is where I am…terrified.
The people who genuinely like Donald Trump are not going to change. For them he is delivering on his promise to be unlike any previous president and that he is going to root out the bureaucratic cronyism infecting the body politic. He is, for them, a breath of fresh air and the language he uses, offensive as it can be, even as childish as his tactics often are, fulfills that promise.
They will not be swayed no matter how many lies he is caught in, no matter how many testimonies to his ill-temper or infantile behavior come forward. No matter how he even betrays other promises to factory workers or farmers; they will stand by their man, fueled even more by the attacks. And he has a LOT of supporters.
But, there aren’t TOO many of them. They are a voting bloc, but not the force that will determine a second term. No, that distinction belongs to the genuine base, the rank and file Republican who remembers Ronald Reagan, and believes that classic conservative values are what bolster the economy, gives us strong defense, and manufactures like no other nation; that lay the foundation of American mythology.
They are the ones, and they include my friends who tolerate Trump’s infantilism in exchange for cementing supply-side economics and oligarchic control, who will determine the Republican vote. They have taken the Democrats loathing of Trump out of the equation by agreeing with the premise that he is a scoundrel, but then embracing the Machiavellian tenet that “the end justifies the means.”
And all they have to do is point to economic indicators that are strong, that the Supreme Court is more conservative, and that the values therein are being supported. While Democratic voters are spending their time pointing out the profound character flaws of the President, they are not going after what will decide the next election: His policies.
Anyone who knows me should never doubt that I abhor the antics, rhetoric, lies, bullying, and racism that is fostered by Donald Trump. I don’t believe he is a leader, or even a good man. Hell, I thought (and so did most New Yorkers) that he was a clown and a lousy businessman in Manhattan and was only amusing to read about on Page Six for his philandering. But, that is not the issue here. Unlike my conservative friends from above who claim to share a dislike for the man, himself: I DON’T LIKE TRUMP’S POLICIES.
And that is where the rubber meets the road.
Put the man aside. Put the stupid Tweets into a basket to be retrieved when his library is built. I want to talk about WHAT he is doing.
There are strong economic indicators. Unemployment is down, the stock market (volatile but for the most part continuing its historical favorability) is up. Trump has ended several margin consuming regulations. I’ve argued long enough to know that no matter how many times I point out that Trump inherited an economy well past the rebound of a disastrous recession and that those economic indicators are simply in line with where they were headed anyway, I get nowhere. There is a “It is what it is” factor in politics and all that matters is who is sitting on the throne when the ransom is collected.
Trump reduced taxes and the phrase itself outweighs the reality of who benefitted (or didn’t) the most. The truth is that Trump has implemented Trickle-Down Economics on Steroids.
Trickle-Down policies always show an initial boost in production, job creation, and liquidity. And it always sets the stage for a recession. Because when wealth is siphoned to the top and income disparity widens (and the cost of living increases as it always does), the consumer class gets left in the dust. And when no when can buy….crash.
And so….I don’t like Trump’s economics.
The border. The border that hasn’t really changed much in 100 years. Suddenly it is a “crisis” an “invasion.” Illegal Mexicans are taking our jobs, raping our women, killing, robbing (“They aren’t sending their best”), and draining our public services.
“At least Trump is trying to stop our open borders” chimed a supporter.
We have never had open borders, nor is anyone suggesting that we create them. But what Trump’s demagoguery-draped-in-hyperbole is doing is creating a crisis mindset that effectively sways votes. Trump gathered support as a candidate by appealing to a nationalist fervor that was more than ready to make Mexican immigrants evil invaders.
Nevermind the reality of families desperate to work and to provide. Or the actual statistics regarding crime (lower among immigrants), or the fact that undocumented status means that they can’t vote or receive benefits- all that mattered was the narrative that America was under attack.
What has resulted is that the fringe American who IS racist and xenophobic has emerged from the shadows to champion that cause. And even good, non-racist Americans further that cause by supporting such policy.
And so….I don’t like Trump’s border policy.
“He has kept us from going to war with North Korea.”
I don’t recall going to war with North Korea when Obama was president. Or Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter….
Again, what Trump does is demagoguery in action; create a conflict that only he can resolve. Relations with Kim Jong-un are different than they were with previous presidents, but they aren’t better. The uncertainties from nuclear testing, the Who-Can-Be-Crazier rhetoric from either side is no more comforting that the posturing that took place before.
Fear is not respect, and that is the only card Trump can play. Our mighty military should be feared, and also revered, but without respect for the diplomacy that should precede any conflict, all fear does is create more enemies. The greatest military leader of my lifetime was Dwight Eisenhower who loathed war and warned us against the proliferation of the military-industrial complex.
And so….I don’t like Trump’s foreign policy.
There are myriad issues that fall into conservative and progressive definitions. Personally, I fight for any cause that furthers life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those are umbrellas for equal and civil rights, environmental stewardship, egalitarianism, and unrelenting opportunity to create prosperity. Subsets are jurisprudence, workers rights and wages, and safer communities.
Since the emergence of a fringe view of nationalism that sees American history as the legacy of chauvinistic, white Europeans, not only is progressivism under attack, but conservatism itself. Donald Trump is nothing if not a great promoter and he instinctively knew that Americans who were not being heard by Democrats and liberals, needed a voice. By becoming the conduit for that fringe and classic conservative values, he bridged the gap, cross pollinating both.
That gap is where authentic conservatives forgive themselves for supporting a charlatan who has no more truck in their real values than a carnival barker has for the bearded lady; they are just a means to an end.
When that “means” chastises those who are down on their luck, the disadvantaged, the environment which bears us fruit, the safety and future of our children, in order to glorify the already glorified, then I will fight those policies tooth and nail.
And so….that is why I don’t like Donald Trump.