The time leading up to the 2016 election has been as polarizing as anything in recent memory. Many of us didn’t see eye-to-eye on a great number of topics. We called people out and we deflected. There were lines we couldn’t get past and a lot of us tepidly voted for somebody while calling them the lesser of two evils. That meant voting for “evil” – and I honestly don’t consider any of the candidates “evil”. Evil takes quite a bit of work and malice. In the end, the person I chose to settle for lost. That’s done and I haven’t contested it or marched or made a single post about the Electoral College vs. the popular vote. The Presidential election has rules and, to everyone’s knowledge, they were followed. Most people would like that to be the end of things.
That said, if you voted for a “lesser of two evils” or paid attention to what was going on daily, then you know both candidates had warts on them. Donald Trump had a few that I absolutely positively could not get past and a few things happened after the election which weren’t right in my opinion either. As I’ve said, Trump will be the President of the USA and I wish him success in moving the country forward. This blog is about what I will or won’t say about it and you can hold me to it. I’ve been fairly consistent about it so far and events have actually backed me up.
My pledge is to not beat you over the head with these by posting them non-stop on every issue. I will strive to share primarily about family, cooking, bikes, cocktails, travel, jokes, dry humor, blogs about other crap, and so on. If I post something with a Please Read/Watch, it’s because I feel it’s important to me personally or the country. It will not be a fake news story which is a complete spin. It will be corroborated. It’s not going to be a repost of a meme. If I post a meme, I’m making it up (unless it involved Joe Biden). Memes are a cop out from thinking things through and having your own opinion plus they’re most often entirely divisive. It’s going to be something which is actually important. If it makes you uncomfortable… in many cases, it should. If you don’t want to engage, scroll on by. If you do engage, I promise to be respectful of your time and perspective. If you want to unfollow or unfriend me, at least do me the decency of saying so. I’d rather get a pledge back that you’re willing to talk about uncomfortable topics in a way which isn’t tedious or insulting. Like grown ups.
That said, these are some areas I can almost guarantee I’m not going to let go. They’re valid concerns which, like I said, impact me personally or the country as a whole. I’m sorry it’s not going to be all #DogNoseFriday and jokes, that’s not all there is to life. As an added bonus, I’m putting some thoughts on Hillary at the end.
- Donald Trump has said some things which most people consider racist, misogynist, or bigoted. On at least one occasion, Paul Ryan agreed. We all saw the “grab them by the pussy” video. Unless you’re willing to completely ignore it, you know it’s there. There has been a decided increase in hate crimes since the election. Pennsylvania’s governor had to address it in high schools. There were ugly incidents near where my wife grew up in St. Louis. New York police have created a new hate crimes special unit. It’s not isolated and the recent alt-right celebration of Trump’s victory brought that to a head. I posted about these incidents as well as an NPR interview with Richard Spencer, the key organizer of that celebration, in the week prior to it. I’m not going to post alleged or unvalidated occurrences and I’m not going to ignore neo-Nazis either. The day I’m typing this, Donald Trump has strongly disavowed the activities and I give him credit for it, but he’s going to have to be consistent and persistent. Hate is real. Turning your back on it is willful ignorance and this is an area I don’t want my friends ignoring. There’s no legitimacy in saying “they do it too.” I’ll frown on hate crime and speech wherever it comes from. I’m Jewish. This affects me personally.
- Trump’s pledge to drain the swamp is a good one. I’d love to see an end to Washington’s domination by lobbyists and career politicians who are there to suck us dry. I’m fairly sure most of us are. That’s why the initial cabinet and appointment propositions were so alarming. I reposted Elizabeth Warren’s letter to Donald Trump which is a well-written and researched piece. I did this because it was important to what was pledged to us when he ran. And do you know what? The letter was sent while Trump was purging Chris Christie who was in charge of arranging the appointments and Mike Pence was installed to head the transition team while weeding them out. I’m still not in love with many of the choices, but there were steps in the right direction. This is well worth keeping an eye on. For those who are in favor of letting Trump screw up in office before criticizing him, this is a perfect example of him actually screwing up and learning from it. I gave him credit and want to note that there’s a reason to watch what he does. Trump is inexpereinced in governing and will make mistakes. It’s absurd to think otherwise. Don’t think ill of me if I see something validated and out of whack and call it out. There may just be a chance I’m right and that it’s worth hearing.
- Trump and the media. Maybe this can be crystallized in the Hamilton moment. When it happened, I said that it was a reasonable and respectful plea from the cast to be considered to Mike Pence. I said I’d expect anyone in Pence’s position to hear it out, smile and wave, consider it, and move along without a debate. Our elected officials are here to represent all of us and Trump pointed that out in his victory speech. Within the next day or so, Mike Pence went on TV and actually said as much. He pointed to the mixture of cheers and boos he received from the audience as “what freedom sounds like” while paying respect to the performance he’d enjoyed. I was quick to say that this is precisely what I’d have hoped for.
Trump, on the other hand, went ballistic on the cast. His immediate reaction to most activities not 100% in his favor is a meltdown which appears childish. He’s about to be leader of the free world. He’ll face criticism, that’s a given. Some of it’s going to be legit while other pieces are going to be crap designed to get at him. He will need to be above the fray to be effective. He has room to improve here and we know it. I’d love to ignore this, but I want him to grow so that he can best represent our country. Defending childish behavior leads to spoiled children. Unless they’re not really children but manipulative adults playing three card Monte. That weekend was the weekend he settled a $25 million fraud lawsuit and I’m not sure if I’d rather he was living in his own world or deliberately diverting attention and manipulating the media.
- Corruption. Yes, it was “Corrupt Hillary” through the election. If you bought that, then you should expect Trump to not act the same way. Through the campaign, he lost a lawsuit over non-payment to contractors, had the illegal payment to Pam Bondi, performed self-dealing with the Trump Foundation, settled the Trump University fraud case for $25 million, and has never disclosed his tax returns like every other Presidential candidate in our era. He’s got corruption issues of his own. Where this is a problem going forward is his relationship to his company. He’s said that Presidents cannot have conflicts of interest. There may be legal wiggle room, but there’s two key factors at play which are well worth paying attention to. The first is that this is a completely ludicrous statement. Foreign dignitaries booking rooms at his properties to gather favor is an obvious simple case of this. There are other cases where he can be seen as profiting directly from his role as President. But there are two other major issues:
- President is a full time job and the most stressful one on the planet. His endeavors are global in scope and involve billions of dollars. He can’t do both effectively and we have to have him lead the country full time.
- He is appointing heads of departments who are investigating his businesses for legal compliance, labor issues, or who negotiate with him. Those branches are beholden to him as the chief executive of the country and as the head of the Trump Organization, he cannot fulfill both roles without conflicts of interest.
- He’s the self-described king of debt. That debt is held in one of two places. One is overseas and in banks with governmental ties. Ties such as the state-owned Bank of China which could leverage him directly in trade or military negotiations. The other is domestic institutions who could push him to provide favorable deals (such as loans for infrastructure) or legislation such as rolling back the regulations put in place after the Great Recession. He can’t straddle the fence or he’s going to get nailed on something if he doesn’t wall himself off from the potential. Guaranteed. Impeachment trials are ugly and distract from the work of actually running the country.
Trump came in on a promise of change and he doesn’t have direct experience in many of the areas he’s promising to turn upside down. He also has a sketchy, though possibly improving, reputation for listening to advice. To ignore what he’s doing and automatically defend everything he’ll come up with is neither rational nor safe. Hopefully an active debate on this will keep us pushing the government in the right direction, even if we don’t always see things the same way.