Reflections on Recent News

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         On Possible Settlements of About $450,000 per Immigrant (WSJ 11/1/2021)

They are now being proposed on behalf of immigrant families alleging trauma when parents and children were separated after they crossed the border – illegally – in 2018.

The separations occurred as part of the zero tolerance enforcement policy put in place in 2018 by the Trump administration to deal with illegal immigration from Mexico.

Talk of settlements is in progress, reportedly to avoid the higher costs of going to trial.

Approximately 940 claims have been filed so far by families affected with no certainty as to how many more will do so. The total cost to the government may reach $ 1 billion.

Clearly, it was wrong and inhumane for the Trump administration to act as they did.

But should monetary awards be granted to such families, absent death or other cruel physical damage? No.

These families crossed illegally. They may have been desperate to cross, in defiance of the law, given untenable circumstances at home, and so they crossed, braving the risks involved in their search for freedom and the opportunity to remake their lives.

Separation of the members of the family was one such risk.

To now have a settlement in their favor is not fair to other Americans who deal daily with labor and housing problems, limited education, reduced access to health care, crime or otherwise unsafe neighborhoods.

In the spirit of justice, these immigrants who crossed illegally and were so mistreated, could be granted a path to permanent resident status. But not given monetary rewards.

Let the new immigrants deal with the same problems lower income Americans have to face every day. Would lower income Americans like to get an award the size of the proposed settlements? Yes, why not? What about our suffering, they would argue.

Mr Biden should not allow these absurd monetary settlements to be granted. There must be a way to block them.

Many Americans would be offended that their own priorities take second place to those of illegally crossing immigrants.

Republican legislators are loudly protesting this idea. It is clear that they see the political potential of playing this up.

It would be very harmful politically for democrats to go along with the proposed settlements.

Control of the House of representatives has been in jeopardy. Why add vulnerability? Never mind the Senate which is evenly split. An issue like this may lead the swing vote to give both houses to Republicans in next year’s elections.

Biden has to stop this. This won’t go away and will badly hurt the agenda he seeks to push through to assist millions of Americans who have been waiting for years for fairer policies to improve their lives.  

With the proposed settlements, the new immigrants would go right to the front of the line.

Mr Biden and his administration need to keep the big picture in mind.

                     A Shortage of Butchers in Britain

                      (The Economist – Oct 23rd-29th – Britain Section)

Post Brexit, the National Pig Association estimates there are approx 125 to 150 thousand pigs waiting to be turned into pork. To prevent them from going to waste, the government recently authorized 800 new visas for butchers, although more than 10,000 may be needed.

But there are language requirements (post Brexit) that are raising obstacles.

One representative of the British Meat Producers Association had this to say about such requirement for butchers: ‘they wanted to work with their hands so probably weren’t top of their class.’ Then added, “our HR (Human Resources) people aren’t sure they’d pass the test in their own language.’

Dear sir, must you stick your head up in the clouds so high, just as you need others?

Here are your fellow citizens eagerly asking for the additional butchers (to be drawn mostly from countries in the European Union) and you are putting them down.

All the years spent in the trade and still it got away from you – confronting the old prejudice that manual skills are at odds with intelligence.  

You are not alone, for the people in HR appear to think alike.

But, of course, we all stumble here and there.

Just come down to earth and maybe you won’t make the same mistake again.

Manual skills are a precious gift. I wish I had them.

As way of atonement, do give thanks to these expert cutters who are providing the pork that makes you a living.

And as you do, ask yourself, could I do the job?

                                             Oscar Valdes.    Oscarvaldes.net

Digesting Trump. Squaring with Immigration

Photo by William Fortunato on Pexels.com

First of all, digest Mr Trump the nation must. 

Digest him as in understanding what drives him.  

Otherwise we leave unprocessed the yearnings and motivations that led his followers to the absurdity of the assault on the Capitol on January the 6th and make a repeat possible.

Otherwise we leave unprocessed the ongoing attachment by a significant sector of the Republican party to a man who lacks the ability to lead.

Mr Trump can stir and inspire many people but that does not make him a leader. 

A leader is the person who can work with those they inspire to elevate them through a greater understanding of what ails the nation, not simply to play to their passions. 

If the so called leader does not do that, then they are no more than a rabble rouser. 

At the very core of what divides the nation today are immigration and inequality of opportunity.

I’ll take immigration. 

There is a reluctance in the average Trump supporter to accept that immigration is essential to our path forward.

Without immigrants from all over the world – not just from England and Ireland and Germany and Scandinavia – we would not be where we are.

It is hard for the average Trump supporter to accept that.

Without immigrants we will not have the hard edge to answer China’s challenge.

Business loudly asks for them. ‘Give me your immigrants!’ the business community says loudly to the world. ‘If you want to work hard and make something of yourself, this is where you must come!’

The average Trump supporter, fearing they may lose standing in their own land, is reluctant to endorse that call. 

Trump sensed that and said to himself, ‘this is my ticket to the White House. God knows that in all my years I’ve never done a thing for anyone in public life (a life mostly spent building hotels and golf courses for the rich and then filing timely bankruptcies) but I now see this great emotional need in Americans, so why not milk it?’ 

And people fell for it. 

Many Trump supporters realize now that something is very wrong with the man they voted for but are having trouble moving past. 

Immigration has much to do with it.

Immigration is not an easy subject. The rest of the world is also having trouble dealing with it. 

But hold on to those antipathies and gradually nations will lose their competitive edge.

Hold on to those antipathies and you lose the stimulus for renewal.

To our credit, in spite of strong nativist sentiments, America has kept its doors open to immigrants. 

Immigrants equate renewal. Renewal equates progress. 

Keep our doors open and we will have plenty of brain power to shape our future.

Close them and we will injure ourselves.

Trump could not lead because he could not build bridges. Not to other Americans, not to other nations, not to himself. Yes. Let me restate the latter. He could not build bridges to himself. If he had, he would have become an integrated man. But he did not. An integrated man is one who reflects and recognizes others may have better formed opinions than his. Trump could never do that. And thus his fundamental failing. 

An integrated man would have accepted the loss in the election and asked his supporters to accept the results, examine the mistakes made and move past.

An integrated man would have accepted that the doctors in the Center for Disease Control knew more about viruses than he did. If he had, he would probably have won the election in spite of all his failings. 

But he could not accept any of the above because he does not have an open dialogue with himself that can lead to reflection and to accepting that others may know more than him. 

Doctors at the CDC spend all their time dealing with viruses, but Trump thought he knew more than them.

But the man could tweet. Oh, yes. And degrade others. And make stuff up. Plenty of it. 

That so many Americans fell for his act and still do is something that needs to be digested. 

Processed. Understood. So we can move on.

The whole nation has to process a profoundly maladjusted leader and why we chose him in 2016.

That is on all of us. That is on the entire nation.

If we do not do the processing required, then we will repeat the same mistakes.

We cannot afford that.

China, of course, is counting on us not doing our homework. And so are all our detractors in the rest of the world.

Oscar Valdes. Oscarvaldes.net

First Generation or Second?

They were standing in line for ice cream when they started talking, very much mindful of social distancing and both wearing masks. It was a hot summer day.

CoVid 19 and the expectation of having a vaccine came up. Just a few days before, Russia had announced that they had produced one. The news had aroused skepticism in the scientific community, in and out of Russia. Had the rush to being first sacrificed safety?

The line for ice cream was long and moving slowly.

Robert was dark skinned and spoke with a Hispanic accent. Carol looked Hispanic but had no accent. He was in his mid thirties, she in her early twenties and they had never met before.

‘You were born here?’ asked Robert.

‘Yes,’ she said, ‘my parents came from Paraguay. And you?’

‘Bolivia.’

‘What a mixture we are,’ reflected Carol.

‘Indeed.’

They chuckled.

‘That would make you second generation American,’ said Robert.

‘First generation,’ she answered.

‘Ah, I don’t agree.’

The line moved forward a little.

‘Why’s that?’ asked Carol.

‘First generation is the one that made the trip. The one who generated. The generation that will have an accent for the rest of their lives, no matter how hard they try. First generation will always be asked “Where’d you come from?” Even though they may have been in this country half a century.’

Carol smiled. ‘I am first generation born.’

Robert shook his head. ‘I think first generation should not be qualified, it should be exclusive to those who made the trip. Those, who like me, don’t intend to go back.’

‘I think you’re being too rigid,’ said Carol.

He smiled. ‘Maybe. You speak Spanish?’

‘I don’t.’

‘Chose not to?’

‘Didn’t happen. But I’m working on it.’

‘I love the English language,’ said Robert. ‘I love Spanish too. But I came here because of other reasons.’

He stood in front of her but had turned around to face her and didn’t notice the line advancing again. She reminded him of it and he moved up.

‘It is very good that you are choosing to learn Spanish,’ Robert said.

‘Thank you.’

‘I tell you something. I think of myself as a New American. I don’t go around saying that but, in private, that’s how I think of myself. So when people look at me a little strange because I speak with a heavy accent, I feel okay. I just tell myself, I am a New American, the person I’m talking to just doesn’t get it.’

‘Cool,’ said Carol.

‘I tell you something… in my dreams, I speak without an accent.’ He gave a proud smile when he said it.

‘That’s funny’ replied Carol.

‘In my dreams, I’m perfectly fluent, just like you, and the language flows so nicely. I love seeing myself speak in my dreams. But sometimes, I speak in Spanish too. It depends.’

The line moved up again. There was only one attendant taking the orders for ice cream.

‘I wish I had a job where I worked mainly with language… but maybe later.’

‘What do you do?’ she asked.

‘I work in construction. I do everything… walls… plumbing… electrical. I like it. I keep a list of the properties I have helped build, so I can go by on my days off… get out of my truck and stand nearby… watch the people going in and out… and I say to myself… I helped build that. That building is there partly because of me. I take great pride in what I do. And sometimes I go and watch other workers do their jobs… and when they see me looking at them, I give them the thumbs up… and they wave back.’

It was now his turn to put in his order and he told the attendant what he wanted and then said to Carol, ‘I treat you today.’

‘Oh no, that’s okay, thanks.’

‘Please, let me treat you.’

‘All right,’ consented Carol, and she stepped up to order her serving.

Ice creams in hand they strolled a few paces down the sidewalk, social distancing in mind.

‘I share this with you… soon after I came to this country… I was standing on the roof of a building laying on the tile. It was very hot and I wore a wide hat and had to be careful not to lose my balance and slide off the building and break my neck. Then I noticed that a person standing on the street below was looking up at what I was doing. I looked back expecting that they would give me some sign that they approved of what I did. But the person just stared back. I just shrugged and went back to my work. But I said to myself, why couldn’t that person just wave at me?’

‘Didn’t take much,’ said Carol.

‘So that’s why I do it. I always wave at people that are doing their work. Just to say thank you.’

Then she said, ‘Thank you for the work you do.’

‘You’re welcome.’

‘I have to go now,’ said Carol. ‘Thank you for the conversation. I enjoyed it.’

‘You are most welcome. Don’t forget, I am first generation and you are second generation… but we are both New Americans.’

And with that, they raised their ice creams to each other in a gesture of friendship and she started walking away down the sidewalk.

Robert looked after her, quietly pleased that she had acknowledged him and, quietly hoping that, one day, he’d have a daughter like her.

Oscar Valdes is the author of Psychiatrist for A Nation. Available on Amazon.

Oscarvaldes.net

Bloomberg Rising

It certainly looks like it.

When I first heard that he had made up his mind to jump in, I thought it was too late. But no longer. Instead, he appears very well organized (see MikeBloomberg2020) and his plans of action are likely to appeal to the mainstream of the electorate. As such, he will likely draw from ambivalent Trump supporters, particularly those who do not want to see the recent gains in the economy jeopardized by a radical democratic candidate.

Bloomberg brings to the table considerable experience as a three term mayor of New York. New York, mind you, not South Bend, Indiana.

Bloomberg also has a record of extensive commitment and support to liberal causes, not like Mr. Trump whose foundations had questionable finances and whose Trump University had to close under a cloud.

What scandal has been ascribed to Bloomberg? None that I know. Compare Trump.

Experience matters. Character matters.

A man gifted with exceptional business savvy coupled with a commitment to public service is a rare find, indeed. Why waste it?

Is Bloomberg coming forward to enrich himself some more? Absolutely not.

He is coming forward at a very important juncture in our history because he genuinely feels he can make an important contribution. One that is sorely needed at a time when our relations with longtime allies are being frayed, a time when immigration is under attack not only here in the US but in the world at large, a time when climate changes are being ignored by Mr. Trump.

At this crucial moment, Bloomberg is putting himself on the line and saying, ‘I am willing to serve the nation whose institutions and opportunities made possible my success’.

Men or women who have had the chance of savoring success because of their own efforts, are men and women who are generous. And because they are it is then reflected in their broad-minded ideas. Compare the stinginess and narrow mindedness of Mr. Trump.

Is Bloomberg buying the election?

Nonsense. People who say so are not thinking.

Bloomberg is saying that he can finance his campaign, that he does not need any contributions because he can afford it. That does not mean he can buy my vote. Or anyone’s vote.

In the court of public opinion, Bloomberg has to make his case for public support and compete with every candidate in the race.

I, for one, will not hold his wealth against him. That would be silly.

Why rebuff a highly capable and intelligent man because of his billions?

Which brings me to this next point. I have no doubt, that Bloomberg will not hesitate to show his tax returns. Compare Trump. So tell me, who would you then deem to be more trustworthy?

Remember the saying ‘don’t look a gift horse in the mouth?’

That’s where we are, folks.

We have a gift horse in the race and we ought not look him in the mouth.

Let us examine his plans, let us subject him to the greatest scrutiny, please. But let us not rule him out because he has been enormously successful.

Will he be able to go up against Trump? I think so.

Am I ready to vote for him? No.

I need to first see him in a debate. I need to see him under fire. But from what I’ve seen so far, I like Mike.

One final point. Bloomberg has good ideas on immigration. Still, I favor my proposal that we have a National Referendum on Immigration Reform. The issue is complex and should be decided by all Americans. Let us not be afraid of looking at who we are on the subject. We need Borders not Walls. With a National Referendum we will have Borders we will stand by United.

Disclosure: I do not know Bloomberg nor anyone in his circles.

We Need Borders Not Walls.

A Call for a National Referendum on Immigration Reform.

(this article was submitted to the OpEd section of the NYTimes on 1/22/20 but rejected. Then submitted to the Washington Post on 1/27/20 and withdrawn from consideration on 1/30/20)

There is the strong possibility that Trump might get reelected, regardless of the damage the impeachment process may cause.

In 2016, Trump took the immigration issue and whipped his supporters into a frenzy. He painted a picture that immigrants where the reason neglected Americans had not fared better economically. Or socially.

It was the immigrants’ fault. And he would clean house, build a wall, put in restrictions, stir as much hatred as possible so his loyal supporters could march to the polls and put in that ballot for him.

But immigration is not Trump’s issue. It is the nation’s issue. All of us should have a say in the matter.

We need borders not walls.

Borders that are held firm by the consensus of all Americans.

A caravan of would be immigrants forms in Central America and heads for our southern border.

Why should that be unsettling to us if we, as a nation, have taken a position and made it into law? It shouldn’t.

The reason it is unsettling is because we have not had the discussion. We have not had the open discussion of the pros and cons of immigration. We have not put all cards on the table and had a healthy debate on how much change to allow and so we do not stand firm on our beliefs.

Do some Americans feel guilty at the sight of impoverished would be immigrants seeking refuge in our land? Yes. But do we need limits? Yes we do.

Do we leave it to businesses to decide who comes in and when? No. But we should hear what they have to say.

Do immigrants lower wages? Yes they do. Do immigrants take jobs that other Americans don’t want? Yes they do. Are immigrants taken advantage of by businesses? Yes they are.

Should Americans fight to preserve what they have built? Yes we should.

And all the while we have to accept that change enriches us. The lack of it impoverishes us.

Immigration has helped us become the strong nation that we are but the rate at which we allow immigrants has to be managed.

It should be up to all Americans to decide on the numbers to admit.

It should not be up to Trump or his supporters for they do not, let me stress that, they do not represent the will of this nation.

Didn’t Trump lose the popular vote by 2.9 million votes?

Wasn’t his election marred by Russian interference as documented by the Mueller report?

We do need new legislation on immigration for we must be in control of our borders but such control should be based on a consensus reached by all Americans.

Which is why I am proposing that we hold a National Referendum on Immigration.

How many immigrants should be allowed in, with what skills, from which countries, for how long a period? (set periods would allow for revisions)

After discussion on the pros and cons, then all Americans would vote on what to do about it. Then it would go to congress to be made into law.

But the discussion has to be national, not left up to our elected representatives, which is why I am proposing the national referendum where all citizens would vote.

Our democratic presidential candidates have not taken this matter seriously.

Immigration deserves to be front and center in this political campaign, with a sound plan to address it, otherwise Trump will do the same that he did in 2016 and stir more hatred of immigrants in his supporters.

Hatred divides us. Discussion helps us build bridges. And borders we will stand by united.

Dear Meghan and Harry

I read with delight that you have decided to break away and chart your own course.

Congratulations.

Of course, Harry, you knew that once you tied the knot with Meghan, it was going to be an exciting ride. She carries that sparkle. So I’m not that surprised that things are turning out as they are. And there’s a whole lot more to come.

The two of you are choosing, in your prime, to go into the world and explore the wonders of it.

Little Archie will be most appreciative of your choice.

I’m not up on the latest, and don’t know if you’ve decided on a country, the US or Canada, but I say that if you’re going to break away then break away and come to America.

Anywhere in America would be fine, but I’m partial to the West Coast. Of course, you will likely be bicoastal.

I think the English will end up appreciating your decision but it will take a little time for them to get it. But they will. Envy is a tough nut to crack.

Meghan, I confess I have not seen your acting, but from hearing you speak and behave, I have no doubt that you are very good. So why not return to acting? With your new title and position, I have no doubt that offers will pour your way, if they are not doing so already.

So why not give it a shot? You would be paving the way for your family’s financial independence.

And Harry could easily get involved in the producing end and the two of you would be writing your own ticket.

By virtue of the circles you will have access to, opportunities will abound. So be bold.

I have no doubt, for instance, that soon enough, the two of you will be hobnobbing with the Obamas and will make friends with Oprah and company if you haven’t already.

Please do get involved in worthy causes and become models for others. There’s plenty to do in this country, much to learn and much to give.

And Harry, as an immigrant, you will discover the joys of that journey, at a time in our history when, in your native country as well as ours, barriers are being raised against immigration.

Should we not call you the Royal Immigrant?

Good luck to the two of you and little Archie, and may the energies you bring, find fruitful destinations.

Take Immigration and the Economy Away from Trump. Now!

There is the possibility, let’s be really clear about it, that Trump might get reelected.

It sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it, but there it is.

A man who lost the popular vote in 2016 by nearly 2.9 million votes has a chance of becoming our president for another 4 years.

Trump took the immigration issue and whipped his supporters into a frenzy. He painted a picture that immigrants where the reason they had not fared better economically. Or socially.

It was the immigrants’ fault. And he would clean house, build a wall, put in restrictions, stir as much hatred as possible so his loyal supporters could march to the polls and put in that ballot for him.

But immigration is not Trump’s issue. It is the nation’s issue. All of us should have a say in the matter.

Immigration has helped us become the strong nation that we are. A nation one hundred times better than Trump (who, while decrying immigrants, has married two immigrant women).

It should be up to all Americans to decide how to handle immigration.

It should not be up to a man who lost the popular vote.

His supporters do not represent the will of this nation.

We do need new legislation on immigration for we must be in control of our borders. But such control should be based on a consensus reached by all Americans.

Which is why I am proposing that we hold a National Referendum on Immigration.

How many immigrants should be allowed in, with what skills, from which countries, for how long a period?

After a set period of discussion on the pros and cons, then all Americans would vote on what to do about it. Then it would go to congress to be made into law.

Our democratic presidential candidates have not taken this matter seriously.

Immigration deserves to be front and center, with a sound plan to address it, otherwise Trump will do the same that he did in 2016 and stir more hatred of immigrants in his supporters.

To check him, a plan is needed. And it is needed now!

On the Economy.

Is it better than under Obama? Yes. This in spite of the dampening effect of the ill advised tariff war with China. But who blocked the needed spending to boost the economy during 2010-2015? Republicans in congress (please see Paul Krugman – The Legacy of Destructive Austerity – NYTimes 12/30 2019). The same Republicans who then, after Trump became president, chose to reverse course and approve such spending.

The duplicity of Republicans has to be exposed. Their blocking of Obama’s economic measures clearly harmed Americans’ economic wellbeing.

Democratic presidential candidates need to be very vocal on these two issues.

The harm caused by Republican policy has been devastating to the nation.

It should be front and center in the presidential political debate.

Finally, a word in support of Common Cause’s effort to Fix The Broken Electoral College by  sponsoring a proposal for a ‘National Popular Vote Compact’ which is ‘… an agreement among states to guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.’

To donate online please go to commoncause.org/join.

Thanks

Put Immigration Up Front

The nation will not get out of this impasse we’re living in without first putting immigration up front for discussion.

Trump identified it as a source of deep resentment in dissatisfied sections of the electorate and rode it to victory. That resentment is still there.

Democratic candidates do harm to themselves and the nation by not giving immigration a central position on their agendas.

We understand that addressing inequality will need a long conversation with the country and gradual fixes introduced as we are justifiably distrustful of quick ones.  

But to give immigration less importance is to allow Trump to whip his fans into a frenzy one more time. We cannot afford it.

So long as immigration is left on the sidelines we will not defeat Trump.

Putting immigration up front will ask everyone to look at themselves and examine where they stand.

Immigration has been a powerful force in our nation. It has helped build us. We would not be who we are today without immigrants.

But we need borders too. We need limits. We need to have a say on who gets in and who doesn’t. Americans need to feel that their input has been acknowledged.

To do that we need a national referendum on immigration. A referendum on just that one issue.

Let us set aside a period of time devoted to discussing its pros and cons. Who do we let in, from what countries, with which skills, from what race?

Put every related issue up for discussion, not being afraid to look at ourselves as we know stand.

After such period then the matter would go to the entire country for a vote and then to congress who, having heard the will of the people, will put their wishes into law.

A time limit should be stipulated for the law, so that it can be revised as its effects play out.

But the nation would have had a chance to agree to something as a unit. We all would then need to abide by the results, whether we like them or not.

Why hasn’t this been discussed?

Because of what’s happened in England with Brexit. Because of it, we’re fearful that we will be painfully divided.

But we are already painfully divided. Furthermore, we are not the English.

The world owes much to that accomplished and scrappy people. In economics, in politics, in science. They were once the dominant nation in the world and yet they failed to adapt to changing circumstances and thus began their slow descent. They’re still in the thick of their downward spiral. Soon the Scots will want out of Great Britain, then the Irish, maybe even the Welsh.

The English will surely make a comeback but they have paid dearly for their mistakes. During their long downslide, they had chances to change strategy to better deal with their vast possessions but they did not. Their failures represented a failure of imagination. Let us learn from them and not make the same mistakes.

A national referendum on immigration will allow us an opportunity to examine in detail all the pros and cons of the matter and make a choice.

We are no stranger to failures of imagination in our history. The decimation of Native Americans, slavery, Jim Crow, Vietnam, and in recent history the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan stand as examples.

It will take much courage but confronting immigration will give us a chance to square with our truth, and in so doing let our imagination conceive of solutions that free up our energies to create and move forward, rather than to blame and hate.

This will be my last offering on Medium.com

I will continue to post on WordPress.com at oscarvaldes.net

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

Dear Elizabeth (2)

I read your proposals on immigration. They are balanced and filled with a sense of compassion. Thank you. The idea of creating an office for New Americans is a fine example of a future oriented imagination that seeks to inspire. Let that be the hallmark of your campaign. Thank you again.

The task now is to sell the proposals. I mean sell them to those who do not yet grasp the value of immigrants. I mean sell the proposals to Trump’s supporters.

I do not think that Trump’s ‘base’ should be conceded. Far from it. It should be actively courted because they are Americans left behind. They are Americans who, having been ignored by previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican, fell prey to the manipulations of the current president who, based on his actions, i.e. tax cuts that benefit the wealthy, seeks not to empower them. That task of empowerment will fall to someone who, like you, has a strong record of working to uplift our citizenry.

The ‘base’ was once sadly referred to by Hillary Clinton as comprised of ‘deplorables,’ a mistake that contributed to her losing her bid to be president. I have no doubt that, had a writer of yours inserted that word in the text of a speech, you would have immediately deemed it inappropriate and not vocalized it.  

The advantage of courting Trump’s base is that, in doing so, you would be actively engaged in the quest of attempting to unite the nation. Trump has shown no inclination to do so. He could but he doesn’t seem to grasp the essence of the concept. Part of the reason is that he is not an integrated man. He is intelligent and competitive, hard driving too, but his efforts appear guided by the desire to boost an ego thirsty for attention.

You, on the other hand, convey a sense of being a mature and well grounded person, someone not bedeviled by Trump’s affliction. Because of it, you can aspire to unite the nation. Which means reaching out to Trump’s ‘base’.

I do not think that the ‘base’ really sees the building of a wall on our southern border as a real solution to their problems.

The ‘base’ needs to gradually be guided to understand that their real freedom lies not in barring immigrants (though setting immigration limits is essential) but that it will come from their personal development; their real freedom will come from their efforts to nurture their productive capacities so they can feel they’re on a path to integrating with the rest of the nation and the world at large. Previous administration, both Democratic and Republican failed to assist them. Your administration will not make that mistake. You will engage the ‘base” and challenge them to be their best, offering the necessary means for them to realize their potential.

Men and women who are actively attempting to exercise their potential are not likely to fall prey to the fallacy of racism or white supremacy.

Reaching out to Trump’s ‘base’ with the firm promise of generous assistance for their personal and economic development stands the chance to not only engage them, but to signal to the rest of the nation that you are in the office of president to be an agent of change for the nation as a whole, and that you carry in you the spirit and creativity of a statesman like Franklin D Roosevelt.

Maybe there is a place for an office for Americans left behind by Globalization (as a counterpart to the office for New Americans) and for it to be the fountain of the effort to bring them on board.

There is a dynamic view of human beings that should be at the bottom of your programs and creative solutions. We human beings are always in transition. We are always desirous of improving ourselves. Sometimes we give up but the longings are always there. All of us, without exception, are eager to be better than we have been and, at bottom, want others to recognize us.

Essential to who we are is the need to connect to our fellow human beings, no matter what their color or origin. Racist beliefs are held by those who have temporarily given up on that fundamental quest.

Essential to who we are is the yearning to be validated by our brothers and sisters for there is nothing more satisfying.

Elizabeth, life has assigned you a gigantic task. But in its infinite wisdom, life has also chosen someone who is tremendously capable. So fear not that you lack the imagination, the daring and the compassion for the job. It’s all in you.

I see it. Others do too.

Best

Oscar Valdes

Oscarvaldes.net

Author of Brother Donald:Letters.