I recently read a Letter to the Editor in my local paper. It was from a woman who was defending her vote for Trump. Her defense was very succinct and well written. But then I realized, it was in essence, the same tired crap I had heard many times before.
I was compelled to respond because her defense spelled out the very reasons why Non-Trump voters (i.e. the clear majority of American voters) are both baffled and horrified by the election of Donald Trump and the people who voted for him.
In context, her letter was written in response to a previous letter which I did not read That previous letter was obviously supportive of Hillary Clinton and perhaps denigrated Trump and his voters. After referencing that previous article she continued:
“I am one of the 53 percent of white women who voted for Donald Trump, and I take offense at being called an “ignorant voter” who cannot discern my own self-interests. I chose Trump because in my opinion, Hillary Clinton was a disastrous secretary of state.”
Let’s pause right there. Here is the “I Hate Hillary Clinton” argument . A pretty popular theme among Trumpians. She doesn’t actually say she hates Hillary, instead it was carefully couched in the put-down about her as Secretary of State.
Admittedly, people disliked Hillary almost as much as they did Trump. It is also unfortunate that after an 18 month campaign costing billions of dollars, we ended up with two candidates that most people hate. That’s a sad reflection on the state of American elections — something we all should be concerned about and work actively to change.
But Clinton’s term as secretary of state was not disastrous. Maybe not stellar, but certainly not a disaster. This talking-point is straight from the Republican spin room. Mistakes were made, for example the outcomes of the Libya and Syria strategies were mixed at best. But no one could rightfully accuse Clinton of not being a highly engaged, hard working Secretary. She put in grueling hours and logged more miles and visited more countries than any previous Secretary of State. And then there was Bengazi. Republicans tried very hard to pin that tragedy on Clinton — conducting 8 separate Republican-lead Congressional investigations. If they had found even the slightest illegality, Republicans would have nailed her to the cross with it. But there was nothing. Begazi was a horrible tragedy and mistakes were made, but, sorry Trump voters, Hillary Clinton neither broke any laws nor acted with any negligence. Not even rabid Republicans could make a case.
All that digging revealed that Clinton had been using an email account on a personal server at her residence instead of the one provided by the government. While using a government server was “policy”, both Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice (Secretaries of State under W Bush) used private servers during their tenures and no one raised an eyebrow. But with Clinton, the Republicans cried “Eureka” and launched even more investigations. The FBI even got involved. Despite Clinton’s poor handling of her own defense, by July of 2016, it was concluded that Clinton’s actions did not warrant criminal prosecution.
But Hillary was running for President and, despite all of the above, was still favored to win. So Republicans continued to batter Clinton with unfounded Bengazi and Email accusations. By repeating a non-truth often enough, Republican voters seem to be much more likely to accept it as fact.
During the 2016 Presidential campaign I routinely compared the two candidates by pointing out a simple fact: Hillary Clinton had spent most of her adult life devoted to public service. As a lawyer, she could have exclusively taken cases from wealthy litigants, but she always found time to do pro bono work and support causes for people unable to afford legal council, especially women and children. She continued her public service as the First Lady of Arkansas for two terms, First Lady of the U.S. for two terms (and an active policy advisor), U.S. Senator from New York for 1 term and Secretary of State for 5 years. Pretty impressive resume. The point is, like her or not, she has been a dedicated, hard working public servant and advocate devoted to making America a better place.
Let’s contrast that with Trump. He had no political resume whatsoever. Not a clue about how government works, not to mention the Presidency. He doesn’t read books, doesn’t have the slightest inkling about American history and knows absolutely nothing about our Constitution (which used to be as sacred as the Bible to Republicans) and worse, doesn’t care. Republicans voters decided these were good (or at least acceptable) attributes. Trump had spent his entire adult life thinking of no one but himself. He parlayed a silver spoon upbringing into a sizable real estate empire heavily funded by Russian oligarchs and mobsters. He succeeded by bullying, suing, and slandering anyone who stood in his way. He screwed contractors, customers and banks over and over again, was forced to pay damages in numerous civil suits, but was able to avoid criminal conviction in others by hiring teams of aggressive lawyers that would drag out litigation and intimidate plaintiffs. A true, quality individual.
His record alone on the Trump University scandal should have disqualified him. His admission of being a sexual predator alone should have disqualified him. His refusal to turn over his tax returns should have disqualified him. His refusal to divest himself of his business and real estate holdings should have immediately disqualified him.
But it didn’t. Instead Republicans rewarded him with the nomination!
Back to the Letter to the Editor. My local Trump supporter went on:
“I am also opposed to abortion on demand, and I wanted more conservative judges appointed to the Supreme Court. Neither the media nor the Russians had any influence on my decision.”
This was another popular reason for voting for Trump: A Conservative, Anti-Abortion court. I’ll do an entire article on abortion sometime in the near future, so for now I’ll just say this to Pro-Life Trumpers:
Polling on Abortion in this country has remained relatively steady over 40+ years. Here is a historical Gallup Poll overview:
Legal Under Any Circumstances: 42 year range – 22-34%. Currently 29%
Legal Under Certain Circumstances: 42 year range – 48-61%. Currently 50%.
Illegal In All Circumstances: 42 year range – 15-21%. Currently 18%
Consistently over the years, OVER 50% of Americans believe abortions should be legal in some or all circumstances. Despite all the political wars, the scare tactics, the screaming and the shootings, opinions have changed very little.
Your “Pro-Life” agenda selfishly ignores the will, wishes and beliefs of well over half of adult Americans. The legal and social ramifications of a Pro Life American would be volatile, divisive and authoritarian. For what? So you can impose your will on the majority who see it differently?
Well Mrs. Trump voter, you got your pivotal Supreme Court pick. Congratulations. But you sold the soul of this country to get it! To preserve a Conservative majority, you were willing to elect a man-child of the lowest imaginable character, thoroughly unqualified, a pathological liar, with the temperament and maturity of a 3 year old, who has a long history of scam artistry and subterfuge, and no respect whatsoever for American political, judicial or media institutions or separations of power.
Since he walked into the White House six months ago, our country has been in a constant state of Constitutional Crisis. Practically no meaningful legislation has been produced because President Treason has everyone in Chaos Mode. There are expanding criminal investigations into key members of Trump’s campaign, senior Administration advisors and the President himself! In just six months, there is already talk of pardons, obstruction of justice, perjury and yes, even possible treason. WTF?
Non-Trumpians were able see thru Trump in seconds. He is a shyster, a snake-oil salesman, a con artist, a compulsive liar. He has dangerous autocratic tendencies, a racist streak and had no respect for women. And oh by the way, Trump is the least religious man that has ever been President. The only God Trump worships is himself.
Why didn’t you see thru him? Or did you feel perfectly comfortable ignoring his mental and behavioral instability? You drank the Trump brand Kool-Aid and your still drinking it. America will NEVER be greater with the likes of Donald Trump as President.
You want change? Elect a responsible, thoughtful, experienced candidate who will bring sensible constructive change. Not this sociopathic imbecile who has put our entire country and system of government in danger.
The Letter To The Editor writer concluded by saying:
“The arrogance of Democrats is staggering. If they could just accept that many of us have a different opinion of the direction we would like the country to take, and that doesn’t make us ignorant, uninformed, misogynists or racist.
Message to Democrats: Tone down the arrogance, and maybe you’ll have better luck in future elections.”
Well, she’s sort of right about that. Democrats were arrogant — after all, we expected to win! We simply could not imagine a scenario in which enough people in this country would vote for a mentally deranged scum-bag like Trump to make him President. We were horribly overconfident and I’m sure, to our opponents that came across as arrogance.
We Non-Trumpians are painfully aware that Americans have different opinions about the direction of our country. We truly welcome a robust, bi-partisan debate on any of those issues. It is that very ideal that has, over 2 1/2 centuries, made our country great. The problem today is that one party in particular (yes, yours) has, over the last 20 years, shifted even further to the right and adopted a “Take No Prisoners”, “No Compromise”, “Win At All Costs” strategy that has, at least on many major issues, ended any chance of meaningful dialogue, debate or bi-partisanship.
I sense that you’re probably shaking your head in disagreement right now. Let me make two quick points to support my position.
When Obama became President he IMMEDIATELY reached out to Republicans and offered to include them on policy discussion and legislation. The Republican response was essentially: “Go Fuck Yourself. We’re going to block almost EVERYTHING you want to do (despite the needs of the American people) and do everything in our power to prevent you from winning a second term.” Despite this, Obama continued to attempt to play nice for many months, way too long in my opinion.
Compare Obama’s approach to Donald Trump and today’s Republican Congress. Not only have they deliberately shunned any bi-partisan debate (on the pitifully few bills they have put forward so far) but, in the health care debacle, only a handful of exclusively white, male legislators were invited to craft the legislation. They didn’t even ask any of their minority or female members much less hold public hearings. There has been almost no effort to reach out to Democrats for anything, even though Democrats have openly offered to participate.
As to the second point, there was a very telling poll taken a few months ago after Trump launched the Tomahawk missiles at the Syrian airfield. From the Washington Post April 11, 2017:
“In 2013, when Barack Obama was president, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that only 22 percent of Republicans supported the U.S. launching missile strikes against Syria in response to Bashar al-Assad using chemical weapons against civilians.
A new Post-ABC poll finds that 86 percent of Republicans support Donald Trump’s decision to launch strikes on Syria for the same reason. Only 11 percent are opposed.
— Overall, a bare 51 percent majority of U.S. adults support the president’s action in our new poll. In 2013, just 30 percent supported strikes. That swing is driven primarily by GOP partisans. For context, 37 percent of Democrats back Trump’s missile strikes. In 2013, 38 percent of Democrats supported Obama’s plan. That is well within the margin of error.”
The Democratic numbers barely moved, even though Trump is a highly unpopular President among Democrats. What this says is that on issues of this magnitude, Democratic support is not conditional on partisanship. On the other hand, Republicans had a 64% swing, solely because it was their guy doing it.
Republicans have put party before country time and time again . And it is their seismic shift to the right that has created a dangerous ideological war within the American electorate. Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Alt-Right media have fueled the flames. Extreme redistricting and gerrymandering have insured too many Republicans have relatively safe seats and can pursue scorched-earth conservative policies without voter retribution. It has been a remarkably effective strategy, I grudgingly admit. But it has made America more divisive, more intolerant, more insular and it has dispossessed a lot more of our struggling citizens.
Our enemies, foreign and domestic, are cheering at the polarization of American politics; at the inaction and fecklessness of the American Congress; at the threat that our democratic institutions; such as the sanctity and fairness of our voting process, an independent judiciary, a free and independent press, the collapse of bi-partisanship; are under attack. Donald Trump’s campaign and administration has fed these monsters and encouraged divisiveness and distrust among us. This is YOUR doing Trump supporters. For your Conservative agenda, you have sold the soul of our country.
The party that not long ago promoted “Law and Order” has just chosen a criminal as President. The party that claimed the mantle of “Strict Constitutionalists” has elected a man who has zero understanding or respect for our Constitution. The “Anti-Communist” party now has a President who is neck deep in collusion and debt obligations with Russia. Perhaps, Letter To The Editor writer, you may not consider yourself “ignorant, uninformed, misogynist or racist”. But you support a party whose platform and legislative agenda are, in many instances, racist, misogynistic, discriminatory, and favor wealthy and corporate interests over the rest of us. If you need further proof of this accusation, please read any article on this blog.
Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress have already committed the most grievous dereliction of duty: Russia attacked our country in the summer of 2016. There is no doubt of this even though Trump supporters have conveniently looked the other way. The Russians meddled with the sanctity of our elections and voting processes. They promoted a candidate who was beholden to them and that they could, in some ways, control or at least manipulate.
And what exactly has this Administration or Republican Congress done about it? They have slow-walked and even at times obstructed investigations into the causes, the principals, and most negligently, the ways to protect ourselves and prevent this from happening again. Trump has railed against fake news, in-person voter fraud, Obama wire-tapping Trump Tower — all of which is unproven bullshit. What has he done to protect America from another foreign attack? Absolutely nothing — he doesn’t even discuss the issue. This is as gross a dereliction of duty and disregard for his oath of office as I have ever seen in my lifetime. This should disqualify him as President of the United States right now. We will hopefully learn in the next few months whether or not our President has committed treason or other high crimes and misdemeanors and just how deep his financial involvements are with Russian oligarchs and mobsters.
Non-Trumpians knew this man was bad news from Day One. There was no doubt. His character and actions screamed RED FLAG. But Trump supporters were willing to lie with the Devil so they could have their Conservative majority on the Supreme Court. Party before Country. Win at all costs. Turn the clocks back to the ’50’s or the 80’s. That’s the way to make America Great? What a crock of shit.
The Democrats biggest problem is not arrogance. Republicans have demonstrated, over the last 20 years, that extreme arrogance can be a winning strategy. The Democrats biggest problem is complacency and apathy. There are more of us, than there are of you (Democrats have won the popular vote in 5 out of the last 6 elections). If we can motivate an additional 5% (or more) of eligible voters to turn out on Election Day, despite Republican attempts to suppress the vote, your governmental majorities will disappear like ice in July. We don’t need luck in future elections. We need dynamic candidates and a big turnout.