Here’s to Talking to a Trump Supporter

Eleven months away from the election, there’s still ample time to attempt to persuade the Trump supporter that reelecting the president is not in the best interest of the nation.

So why do I think we should not reelect Trump?

1- The president has not worked to build bridges between Americans.

Take immigration.

Over the years, the nation has benefitted enormously from the influx of immigrants. We have benefitted from the very skilled and the not skilled. Once here, the great majority of immigrants have striven to adapt and become contributing members of society. Whatever their color or shape, they yearn for a chance to make something of themselves that their land of origin has not allowed.

Do we need limits? Of course. Like we need borders.

Do we not want any immigration at all? Then let’s do a national referendum and put the matter to all the citizens of the country. We are a nation. We should decide as a nation. Trump is not doing that. He is not seeking consensus. The fact that he was elected is not equivalent to consensus on the matter. He lost the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million votes.

Instead of trying for consensus, the president has stirred hatred in Americans against certain groups of immigrants. That is no way of beginning to solve this problem. We have to think on it.

Remember, the unskilled immigrant may be our caretaker or landscaper today, but their children will become our soldiers, doctors and engineers tomorrow.

2- Trump’s economic policies have been counterproductive.

His 2017 tax cut overwhelmingly favored the rich. That has not resulted in a benefit for the rest of us.

The tariff war with China has weakened both our economy and the world’s economy.

The president’s impulsive and volatile style has eroded business confidence making it harder for enterprises to plan ahead.

As a result of our tariffs on the Chinese and their counter tariffs, the president has had to spend billions of dollars in subsidies for our agricultural producers. His tariffs have raised prices for all of us.

Has the stock market been higher under Trump than under Obama?

Yes. But economists agree that the stock market is not the economy. Partly due to Trump’s tax cuts for the rich, we have increased our national debt enormously and there’s a lot of money sloshing around that has inflated asset prices.

Trump inherited from Obama a sound economy that began to yield greater fruits during Trump’s tenure. The president has reaped the benefits.

3- Trump has a tendency to surround himself with people who say ‘yes’ to him. As a result he’s not getting the best advice he needs and the nation deserves. Take for instance Syria. Jim Mattis, a distinguished general who was secretary of defense, resigned last year because he objected to the president’s intention to leave Syria where the battle against ISIS was being fought. We were backing the Kurds who were doing most of the fighting.

In the absence of sound advice, the president chose to pull out our remaining soldiers on the border between Syria and Turkey to let Turkey run over and push back the Kurds. In effect we betrayed our allies. Now the area is under the control of Turkey, Russia, and the forces of the dictator al-Assad in Syria. The likelihood is strong that ISIS will again gather strength and once more become a threat to us.

4- Trump has frayed our bonds with our European allies. America has had strong ties with Europe. We went to their continent to help them fight two world wars. They are going through internal struggles in part connected to immigration, the influx of people from Africa and the Middle East. More than ever there is a need for strong guidance from America but there is none coming from the White House.

5- In his preoccupation with personal attacks and building a border wall, Trump has neglected the much needed investment in infrastructure. He has neglected investment in the education and training that his supporters need to become competitive with stronger labor forces the world over.

6- Because of his coarse behavior, Trump has devalued the highest office of our land. Maintaining the prestige of the office is invaluable in the conduct of national as well as foreign affairs.

There is no example of probity coming from the White House and we are the worse for it.

On international affairs, the president recently invited Mr Erdogan, Turkey’s president, to the White House. ‘I’m a fan,’ Trump boasted. This he said to the same man who run over and trampled the Kurdish population on the border with Syria, the same Kurds who had been our steadfast allies in our fight against ISIS.

7- Trump cannot stand up to Putin. In the presence of clear evidence, as carefully documented in the Mueller report, that Russia did interfere in the elections of 2016, our president has not mustered the nerve to say to Putin that he should never have done it, and will be severely penalized if he should attempt to do so again.

8- In the face of overwhelming scientific evidence Trump chooses to deny the ravaging effects of the burning of fossil fuels and then pulled us out of the Paris Climate Accord, where most of the world had gone to seek consensus. In effect, by his actions, he’s said to the rest of the world, ‘the US is no leader to you. We will do what is best for us in the moment. So there. Deal with it’.

I do not recall ever having a president who so willingly chose to surrender the prestige that our nation has worked so hard to attain.

To defeat Trump in 2020, we have to convince his supporters that they are not seeing things for what they are. And that means talking to them.

The better argument we gather, the more likely that we will get a point or two across.

The strategy is not to expect conversion to our position but to sow doubt, any doubt, in the Trump supporter.

Some of Trump’s supporters may not be willing to listen but some will.

Some may have interesting points of view that we need to consider.

Addressing key points with a spirit of civility is likely to foster dialogue and, perchance, reflection.

I’m posting this on WordPress, at oscarvaldes.net. I would like to invite any of you who wishes to contribute to this list to send me your suggestions. Should I choose to add your suggestion I will do so in the next edition of the blog and credit your contribution at the bottom. Or you may wish to write your own blog and start your own talking plan.

Hoping for the best, please join in.

Thanks

Oscar Valdes

I Immigration /E Economy / S Support staff/ A Alliances/  I Infrastructure / D Decorum in office / P Putin / C Climate

I E S   A I D P C

Battle for the Nation (1)

Recent talk has it that Mr Trump has got his reelection well in hand, his supporters contending that the economy is strong (by other accounts it is slowing), and with unemployment low what else is there to care about?

Behind this hubris is the implicit – and sad – belief that “money is what it’s all about, so carry on, please,” and to mind comes the often quoted line “Money, money, money, makes the world go round,” which was part of a song in the film “Cabaret” (1980), a story of Germany’s descent into Fascism. 

Mr Trump is, undoubtedly, a savvy politician, able to persuade a lot of folks that what he offers and represents is what the country needs. He is very lucky too. He inherited a sound economy, an economy that took a lot of effort and patience on the part of the Obama administration to bolster, so we could pull out of what could have been a catastrophe (the credit crunch of 2007-2008).

The economy that Mr Obama bequeathed to Mr Trump was in such good shape, that it has managed to withstand the latter’s efforts to wreck it, as with his vaunted trade war with China, the renegotiating of NAFTA 2 (the trade agreement with Canada and Mexico) and his continued assault on the Affordable Care Act.

All of what Mr Trump has done so far is to make a lot of noise – loud noise – to keep people and himself from paying attention to what really matters, which is not his deification but the designing and creation of social, training and educational programs necessary to boost the productivity of the American worker so they can compete effectively in today’s demanding world.

Not knowing how to go about it – without risking a hint of disapproval from his supporters – he prefers to bang his drum louder and louder instead.

Mr Trump’s strategy is not difficult to decipher, but it will take much discipline on the part of democrats to mount an effective campaign against him.

To think that America is all about the money is for Mr Trump to profoundly underestimate us.

To ignore the great need to build bridges between us is for the president to bury his head in the sand.

Building bridges is no easy task but it is the grand task now before the nation.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (FDR) intellect and vision led us out of the Great Depression, and then we went on to lead the effort to win World War II, ushering in a long period of economic and cultural expansion. 

Today we are in the midst of another great depression, not economic but of values – a depression of the spirit – as evidenced by our deep national divisions and the inability to overcome them. When WWII brought us together, we could point to someone outside of us and brand them the enemy. Today, however, the obstacle in our path lies not without but within, and it is none other than the intolerance we have for the dissenting view, the unwillingness to pause and reflect on our differences and to dare start a dialogue.

Tolerance does not mean approval of an opposing view, but instead signals the need to examine its roots. In a nation like ours, where plurality is a strength, such tolerance is essential.

Extremist views cannot be excised, as you would a tumor, but they can, with great patience and understanding, begin to be dissolved. It can be done by meeting and talking, confident as we should be that all extreme positions, whether on the right or the left, are fortresses of fear.  

An effective campaign against Mr Trump must offer a clear alternative, and a key part of it ought to be an invitation to establish such dialogue in the hope of finding common ground.

Why, then, not abstain from calling people racists, and instead express our disapproval by saying that such view is unkind? Isn’t that choice of words less likely to ruffle anyone’s feathers? If I behave in a prejudiced way, I would much prefer for you to say to me that I’m being unkind rather than labelling me one thing or another. Labels stir up anger and close doors. Even truly racist people are not without kindness. Using words that lead to reflection open the path to possible change. Since we are now at a damaging standstill, couldn’t that be one alternative to try?

With the world in a period of transition fostered by massive technological change, the call is out for exemplary men or women with the ability to heal and lead.  Mr Trump is lacking on both counts. An opposing democratic candidate must have such credentials to counter him effectively.

We are not about the money alone and never have been. We are about the struggle for our freedom. Tolerance of the dissenting view does not mean we approve of it. Instead it must be seen as an invitation to seek clarity in the quest for truth. Our privileged geography and the bounty of resources that nature bestowed upon us, have put us on a favorable position for such endeavor, so let us not be timid in this crucial pursuit. We Americans are much better than what Mr Trump wants us to be.

As FDR once said, “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.”

Oscar Valdes             Oscarvaldes.net