The following is a continuation of an ongoing email discussion between my cousin Mark (semi-reluctant Trump supporter) and me (unabashed Trump basher). (For part one of the discourse, click here.) In this week’s installment, we delve deeper into the repetition of past failures of the Republican Party, and the general competence of one Donald Trump to serve as chief executive of the United States.
Mark (via email, 6/29/16)
Where to begin? Well, let me start here. I’m just happy that I can have this discussion with you, and that we can share our viewpoints. It rarely happens anymore. In fact, I think it is part of the reason for the fractures we are seeing in races around the globe, elections around the globe, and in the two major parties here. Let’s start with that.
I have not uttered the phrase, “I’m a Republican” since W passed Medicare Part D. It disgusted me that one of my own, a purported conservative, would do such a thing to further bloat our government and further drive us down a path of financial irresponsibility. It disgusted me when Bill Clinton started taxing our seniors on Social Security benefits, but that was to be expected of the opposition. The Republican Party has not been “my party” for a long time. I have considered myself an independent conservative for fifteen years, though I have voted for the timid candidates which always have seemed to float (or be hand-picked) to the top of the GOP ticket. I have come to the point where I have uncontrollable dry heaves in anticipation of another meek candidate who I know will have a repeat of Romney’s Candy Crowley moment, when yet another candidate will prove he does not have the cojones to tell it like it is. Enter Trump and said “huge chip” to bet on him.
Yes, I admit this is a huge bet, but consider the alternative. I have witnessed, as has the rest of my conservative brethren, Dole, McCain, and Romney fail miserably in winning the presidency when they each were by broad and deep measures more worthy of the office than their opponents. Sandwiched in between we had a guy who named as his favorite philosopher “Jesus,” and who sold out our conservative values while in office. The definition of insanity comes to mind and I think the conservative voting public (along with others) realized that they would be insane to, again, go with the anointed one (Jeb) or even the fresh face (Rubio) or any of the others who were traditional politicians running for the office. We know how this story ends. It’s a gentlemanly challenge on our side, untruths on the other side, a willing accomplice in the media aiding the enemy, and a continually growing population which votes for the government cheese. Or we can place our “all-in” bet on the new guy with more cojones than anyone we have ever seen, politically.
So, yes, it’s a huge chip to bet, but it’s kind of like betting on “red” or “black” at the roulette wheel after losing so many times betting on a single number. We know our odds are slim to none doing what we have always done, and now we see someone who can finally wrest away the office from people we know will wreck our country—namely with Supreme Court nominations.
“This is beyond a publicity stunt for more visibility for the Trump name. This has gone beyond ‘let’s make a strong run for the ticket’ to make a point; he is the nominee now.” – Mark
Will Trump change his mind? He certainly may, but I don’t think so. Follow me, here. We both know he has no clue about policy, so he’ll have to get sharp advisers or he’ll be excoriated by those who vote him in, and, most importantly to him, in the records of history. Since what he has been saying in this race aligns with my values as a conservative, I think he must stay this course or he will ruin his own name. This is beyond a publicity stunt for more visibility for the Trump name. This has gone beyond “let’s make a strong run for the ticket” to make a point; he is the nominee now. Perhaps he did not suspect or intend this could be the outcome, yet it is. Furthermore, he has absolutely painted himself in a corner with the list of judges he would nominate, that is, if you even believe he has intentions to go moderate/liberal with that. I think this is a sign that he is as angry as I am with weak and meek candidates running against corrupt Democrats and even though he does not have the pedigree, he knows where to get qualified help. Isn’t there a reason that every president has a cabinet? They can’t all be experts on every policy, can they?
Let’s touch on your Alexander Hamilton quote, which is new to me. Why can’t the Republican Party oppose Trump if he does change his tune in office? Can’t conservatives still simply refuse to give a hearing to Supreme Court nominations if we don’t agree? It might seem insane to consider leaving the court at 8 for four years, but isn’t this what the checks and balances of the three branches were intended to do, to keep each other in check? Who cares if Trump has an “R” next to his name. I think the two-party system has been most of the reason why our country is in this mess and it is high time it goes on the scrap heap of history. It forces people to vote for people they disdain rather that cast a ballot for an individual with principles aligning with their own, and this is true for both Democrats and Republicans. What if you seek a certain freedom in voting for Trump, knowing that if he wins you will never be obligated to explain away your small part in allowing Hilary Clinton to take the office and certainly change the makeup of the Supreme Court for a generation? I would submit to you that the #NeverTrump crowd has it completely wrong. They will be the sorriest group on planet earth the day they realize they played a role in allowing Hilary Clinton to take power. When that realization sinks in, it will be a sad day for them. Sorry won’t begin to soothe their regret.
Thoughts on Carson:
- Smartest guy in the room.
- Foreign policy weakness. This can be shored up just as with Trump, through heavyweight advisers/cabinet
- Staying in race too long. I think he was waiting for others to drop who were far below him, having confidence that if he got more minutes in debates that he would win people over. I don’t fault him for this.
- Quickly endorsing Trump. Think about this. Carson is no dummy. He also seems to be a man of impeccable character and judgment. Recall that he said, “there are two sides to Trump—what you see on TV and what you discover in person.” He said that Trump was very introspective, a great listener, and very different one-on-one than he is in front of cameras. While they may appear to be polar opposites, do you really believe that Dr. Ben Carson would risk being called an Uncle Tom and tarnish his own good name and image by aligning with Trump if he did not genuinely see something worth backing? Do you really believe Carson would take a political payoff? I don’t. I don’t think a man of his stature would so cavalierly throw his good name in the mud for that.
Want to know something funny? When there were still 11-13 Republicans in the race (heck, maybe all 17), Kris and I both listened carefully to the debates and concluded that our dream ticket, as funny as it sounded, would be Trump/Carson. We are both so disgusted with the rampant, run-away, so-common-that-people-in-the-beltway-can’t-smell-it-anymore corruption that we wanted pure outsiders. What a team. A bull in a china shop with a brain surgeon in his ear telling him which way to run.
How many times have we heard, “Abolish the IRS/tax code,” and how many times has that been forgotten in the next breath? What is wrong with everyone in this country paying x% of all income, whether it’s dividends or payroll or otherwise? A healthcare bill which must be passed so we can find out what’s in it and a tax code which would tip Fred Flintstone’s car a 1,000 times over is beyond insane. Enough already. Time for a bull in the china shop. Get out the wrecking ball.
Wholesale changes are long overdue and it won’t happen with an insider. Who cares how much china gets broken in the process?
In closing, James Lewis took the words right out of my mouth.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on mine. Hugs to Beth!
Steve (via email 6/29/16)
Agree on being able to have a discussion. Discourse is a lost art, and the ability to disagree without being disagreeable is needed if the current political climate is ever to be overcome.
Which, of course, leads us back to Mr. Trump.
I have to admit I am still at a bit of a loss as to how any degree of anger and indignation—justified or not, righteous or ignoble—can be used to justify voting for the singularly most incompetent and unqualified candidate that has ever received a major party’s nomination. (Yes, I realize that is a bold statement with stiff competition. I stand by the assessment.) The Republican Party is weeks away from nominating a cartoon character as its candidate and figurehead (and not one of the cool characters—Bugs Bunny would be a great president. More like a combination of the worst elements of Peter Griffin, Scrooge McDuck, and Bender the robot from Futurama.). It’s akin to saying that I’m mad at the way my HOA has been run, so I’m going to blow the neighborhood up out of spite. Regardless of how you think the GOP has been run over the last couple decades, voting for Trump is a “nuclear option” that arguably has already destroyed a major political party, and has the potential to destroy much, much more.
A major problem with Trump is that he has never listened to anyone. Ever. About anything. He is so enamored by his own voice, and thinks he is so smart (as he has told us repeatedly), that there is absolutely no reason to think that he would ever take advice from anyone that didn’t align with his own views. Anything that goes well is his doing, and if something goes wrong, he will be more than happy to throw his most trusted “advisers” (read: yes men) under the bus and then back it over them repeatedly. Instead, he will double-down on every bad comment or policy he has ever made. Judge Curiel. Make Mexico pay for the wall. Making fun of Carly Fiorina’s appearance. Even his comment that he has never done anything that has required him to seek forgiveness. He’s never wrong, and if he is, it is certainly somebody else’s fault. How many candidates that have actually had successful campaigns have had the turnover in their campaign staff that Trump has? As soon as the you-know-what hits the fan, he’s looking for someone to sacrifice. “You’re fired” won’t only be a catchphrase if Trump is elected, it will be the administration’s ethos.
Here’s a secret about campaigning versus actually serving as president—you run on domestic issues, but you will spend most of your time and effort on international affairs. Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush realized that fairly early in their terms. For all the red meat Trump keeps throwing out about this and that domestic issue, his major job once elected will be to take on the role of statesman and deal with foreign leaders and matters of global significance. Trump seems to think that because he once owned property in this or that country, he is a qualified diplomat and understands the intricacies of foreign policy there. I’m pretty confident that I could beat Donald in a straight-up geography bee, and the random guy I meet at the supermarket is likely to know as much about the Crimea as is Trump. Heck, he had no idea what “Brexit” was just a week or so ago. And again, I can’t see him hiring anyone as Secretary of State whom he would see as a threat to his superiority. (And, to be fair, I highly doubt a James Baker-type would even agree to work with Donald in the first place.)
” Donald Trump is still inept, whether you are listening to him in DC, Grand Rapids, or Outer Mongolia. … [To the question], ‘Is Donald Trump qualified to be President of the United States?’ The objective answer is always going to be ‘no.'” – Steve
You say this is well beyond a publicity stunt for Trump. I’m not so convinced about that. My sense is that this began as an ego trip—”Hey, I can run for president! I’m smarter than any of these losers! Wouldn’t that look great on my resume?”—that went farther than even he or his staff imagined. I firmly believe he is much more interested in winning an election than actually governing. I half-jokingly told Beth at the beginning of the primary season that if he were elected, Trump wouldn’t make it out of his first term—that he would either be impeached, assassinated, or that he would just decide that he was bored with the whole thing and walk away from it. I still think that might actually be the case.
I don’t think my proximity to Washington, DC, really makes much of a difference. (And, to be clear, suburban Virginia might be close geographically, but it is culturally very, very different.) Donald Trump is still inept, whether you are listening to him in DC, Grand Rapids, or Outer Mongolia. Whether or not I’ve lost touch with heartland America (I don’t believe I have, for what it’s worth) is inconsequential to the question, “Is Donald Trump qualified to be President of the United States?” The objective answer is always going to be “no.”
Here’s where I think we are drifting apart. For you, this election is a referendum on the Republican Party, their past failures, and their inability (or lack of desire) to keep in touch with what grassroot conservatives believe and care about. To me, this election is about one person and one person only – Donald Trump. For you, the candidate is just a delivery system to get your message to Washington. To me, the candidate isn’t just a delivery system, he’s an ICBM with a nuclear warhead that threatens to destroy the very structures of government, the two-party system as we know it, and possibly much more if he can manage to get elected.
Okay, the ball’s in your court now. I’ll be at the net awaiting your return. 😉