Sunday, May 7, 2017

Reflections on the Trump presidency after more than 100 days

I did not vote for Donald Trump.  I still think he was the least attractive Republican candidate competing.  While I did not vote for Trump, if we would have had a national election for president however, where the popular vote mattered, which thankfully we do not, I would have voted for him.  I do think he was the less bad choice of two bad choices.  Due to the certainty that Donald Trump would get all of Tennessee's eleven votes, I had the luxury of not choosing the less bad of bad choices.

Since Trump has been elected, I have rallied to his defense, primarily out of disgust at the anti-Trump people who display Trump Unacceptance and Resistance Disorder. The violence of inauguration day and the massive demonstrations the day after and many since has led me to feel absolute disgust with the opposition. If Hillary would have won, we would not have seen the same reaction from those unhappy with the outcome. There would have been a period of respect and civility. Even on a personal level, I have experienced being ostracized and shunned by some who were so upset at the election outcome that they could not tolerate being in the presence of a Republican. The snowflakes who had to have their safe spaces and cry-ins have left me appalled. The rise of liberal fascism on college campuses prohibiting conservative voices from being heard, concerns me.   So, I may have displayed more Trump support than I sometimes felt due to a disgust with Trump opponents and a polarization that pushed me further into the Trump camp.

During the campaign, the one reason I did not support Trump is because I perceived him to be a liberal at heart.  He had a history of supporting Democrat politicians and socializing with liberal elites. He had donated heavily to Democrat candidates and helped elect Harry Reid. He had contributed much, much more money to Democrats than Republicans over the years.  He had also contributed $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation. He had also switched parties several times and at one time toyed with running for President on the Reform Party ticket.  I saw no reason to believe he was a real Republican.  I can understand one seeing the light and changing parties.  Ronald Reagan was once a Democrat.  Trump, however, has changed too often for me to believe he has had a conversion.  He seems to not know what he believes.

In addition to giving money to Democrat candidates and causes, he has espoused liberal policies.  He has praised single-payer health care, has opposed entitlement reform, has taken a more protectionist trade position than most Democrats and has said complementary things about Planned Parenthood.  He campaigned on a plan to spend $1 trillion dollars for infrastructure spending and promised a new paternal leave entitlement and child care entitlement. Those are hardly conservative positions.  I perceived Trump, if not be be a liberal, to be a populist without core values.  He struck me as the type of leader that determines which way the mob is running and works himself to the front of the pack. He says what people want to hear.  He is charged by the roar of the crowd.

It is not just Trump's support for Democrat candidates and liberal positions and a believe that he has no core values that turned me off on Trump, but also his demeanor.  He acts like a bully and he is crude.  It is one thing to refuse to be seduced by the liberal establishment and changing who you are in order to be liked and bending to political correctness, but is something else to be offensive and impolite and crude.  Ronald Reagan was a strong unbending conservative, but he was a gentleman.  I do not perceive Trump to be a gentleman. Maybe he is simply a product of the times and the nation has become more crude and plain spoken, but I don't like it. I know we are not electing a father or a pastor when we elect a President, but I still want to elect a good person. 

I am also concerned about Trump's temperament. He has a fragile ego and is easy to take offense and seems to speak before he thinks. He focuses on petty stuff like the size of the crowd at the inauguration. He picks fights with celebrity personalities that are insignificant. Trump's impromptu comments and style of governing, causes me unease.  I fear Trump may make an off the cuff comment that could be misunderstood by an adversary and lead to an avoidable war.  Trump is like a bull in a China Shop. He does not instill confidence.  He is not thoughtful and says what's on his mind without thinking and that scares me.

Since Trump's election I have been relatively pleased with the way he has governed.  I am delighted that Neil Corsuch has been placed on the Supreme Court. I am pleased with Trump's cabinet.  I am pleased to see America again take a leadership role in the world.  I approve of the US responding to the use of chemical weapons in Syria. I fear that if Hillary had been elected, both North Korea and Iran would become functional nuclear powers.  I feel that is less likely to happen under Trump and the world will be a safer place.  I am pleased to see us rebuilt the American military.  I am pleased to see that Trump is proposing tax reform which has the potential to increase economic growth. I am pleased to see stepped up immigration enforcement and illegal border crossings down by 40%.  I am pleased to see the Keystone pipeline given the green light. I am pleased to see Trump use executive orders to reverse the excessive executive orders of President Obama.  There is much to be pleased about.

I still am waiting to see what he will do with the promised new entitlements and the proposed trillion dollar infrastructure program.  New entitlements should be resisted. There are ways to provide infrastructure spending without increasing the deficit, but if Trump proposes to simply borrow and add to the national debt, infrastructure spending should be resisted. I am concerned that his policies will balloon the national debt and I am convinced that America's deficit spending may be as big of a threat to national security as a nuclear armed adversary. Without entitlement reform we can not make significant debt reductions.  We can not tax our way out of the debt problem; increase taxes leads to decreased growth. While growth can help, neither can we grow ourselves out of the $21 Trillion hole we are in. We must bite the bullet and reduce spending. Entitlements must be on the table.

Syndicated columnist George Will recently wrote what I think was an insightful analysis on Donald Trump and expressed what I feel but have not been able to put into words. Almost every time Donald Trump speaks, I am fearful he will say something really stupid. I often cringe when he says something that is simply not accurate or shows a lack of understanding of the issues.  His defenders will point out that Trump is held to a different standard than Democrats. They will point out Hillary's various misstatements of fact or Obama's saying he had visited all 48 states as examples. That is a good defense but I think there is more to Trump's misstatements and the way he talks that cannot be explained as a biased press that is out to get him.

Trump is an embarrassment. He displays the vocabulary of a fifth grader. He speaks less to explain and more to reinforce opinions. He doesn't try to win over the undecided as much as he speaks to reinforce the opinions of the already convinced. Issues are simply presented as simply issues. I watch a lot of CSPAN and I read journals of opinion.  I know what a thoughtful and informed person sounds like and it is not Donald Trump. Even some people I disagree with, I can respect their grasp of the issue, ability to explain the complex, and use of logic.  I do not respect Donald Trump's intellect. 

George Will wrote that, "it is urgent for Americans to think and speak clearly about Donald Trump's inability to do either."  He said, "Trump has entered his eighth decade unscathed by even elementary knowledge about the nation's history."  "The problem isn't that he does not know this or that, or that he does not know that he does not know this or that. Rather, the dangerous thing is that he does not know what it is to know something." I think I agree with George Will. I wish I could respect Donald Trump and I wish I could trust his leadership, but I can do neither.  I just hope we can muddle through the next four years without a major disaster.

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