What are they afraid of?
After watching Hillary Clinton’s Democratic Convention acceptance speech, my husband (a republican) and I (a democrat) wondered how her speech might compare with Donald Trump’s acceptance speech. For me, this was hard, because I find Donald’s arrogance and bigotry painful to watch. We did it, because we are trying to understand what might be motivating Donald’s supporters. Finding a way to communicate about politics, from our different points of view, is important to us as a couple.
At the end of our exercise, my husband concluded that Donald represents a dire threat to our nation. While we don’t agree on everything, we found we actually have many areas of common ground, including a belief in the American Dream, civil rights, fiscal responsibility and a mature, responsible, cooperative and communicative government. On our last vacation, we had the opportunity to visit Nuremberg and learn more about Hitler’s rise to power. Hitler presented that, he alone, was able to change Germany. He ignored the government structure, and took every opportunity to make his own rule of law. The lessons of a demagogue’s rise to power are haunting. After Hitler, the free world swore “never again.” Politics of hate, oppression, and discrimination cannot be tolerated.
In our search for “why Trump supporters support him?” or as I sometimes ask, “what kind of America do they want?” and the related question “what are they afraid of?” — here’s what we learned from Donald’s speech:
First, The Big Picture
Donald Trump calls anyone who disagrees with him a liar. Name-calling is not a one-party phenomenon, but the accusations by Donald are particularly stunning. When reviewing his words, we need to sort out fact from fiction, and embellishments from sarcasm. A listener can easily confirm that Donald is the presidential candidate who has engaged in the most egregious lying since the tracking of statements made by political candidates (check this as one source). What does this mean? That people want to be consciously oblivious? We found that an odd assortment of incomplete and inaccurate data has been cobbled together to build a flimsy framework for Donald’s plans for the country. His speaking points are consistently aimed to inflame and excite, as he engages in fear-mongering.
Anyone who disagrees with Donald is part of a rigged system. A system that he “alone can fix” (yes, he said that). For me, this sounds like a loser yelling “you cheated” because he is unable to fathom not getting his way. But it also could be the call of a demagogue — a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument — who finds the “system” irrelevant. He says he is the “law and order candidate.” Yet, this man has directly and irresponsibly inspired bigotry, violence and hate. He attacks his adversaries (like his attack on a judge), tries to silence free speech and could easily be imagined going rogue. He prides himself on his unpredictability. One can easily imagine a Donald presidency where he uses Marshall Law to provide his version of “law and order” and control the country by force — to get rid of his adversaries. This “I alone can fix it” approach would cause irreparable harm to our economy, security and standing in the world, and the freedom, safety and health of our people.
What are they afraid of?
Cultural Change and Growing Freedom and Tolerance.
Donald’s platform seeks to limit the rights of others, including a person’s right to use a bathroom, marry who they love, and more. In his speech, Donald dances in blurry rhetoric by making statements that he supports the LGBTQ community in one breath and then supports allies and actions diametrically opposed to this community. In Donald’s speech, he specifically supported a move against our constitutional separation of church and state when he talked about our Supreme Court (see below). It seems that Donald also has a dim view of diversity and all of its benefits. He does not denounce the support he receives from the white supremacy movement and appears to share their intention to remove blacks, Hispanics, and Muslims from our country.
A Supreme Court Unwilling to Roll-Back Laws.
Donald’s speech included his intention to appoint Supreme Court justices who support his views and philosophies. He specifically mentioned over-riding a law that prohibits tax exemptions for “churches” who engage in political campaigns, which is counter to our constitution and the separation of church and state.
Worsening of Our Economy.
Donald talked about employment, when he said “14 million people have left the workforce entirely.” It appears that he was counting the people who have retired, or who are students — or others who are not actually looking for jobs. What an odd thing to say, when actually, the nation’s unemployment rate has improved dramatically since the last economic downturn. Unemployment is still an issue — particularly in geographies where recovery has been slow, and Hillary has also made this a key focus of her campaign. The difference is that Hillary has a plan, and Donald has angry words. Donald also talked about incomes dropping — but his statistic measures income from 2000 to now. We all remember 2000, right? Before the Internet bubble burst? That time some folks said was characterized by “irrational exuberance?” Comparing incomes from that point to now, and especially, blaming Obama and Hillary for the difference — when the comparison point is years prior to any influence by the two, is a bit funny. But “funny” in an evil-and-manipulative sort of way.
Related to Economic Concerns:
This is probably the most familiar difference of our two-party system, with the common thought being that republicans are more in favor of tax reductions than democrats. But this over-simplifies a very complex issue. “Whose taxes are we reducing?” and “how do we have a fair tax system?” should be the questions. I am a democrat, but that doesn’t mean I am pro-taxes. I am not. I support fiscal responsibility and a fair tax system. Hillary talks about taxes too, and her plans for change involve collaborating with both parties and crafting solutions that include fiscally responsible plans to finance any initiative. Donald does not explain how he would implement any of his initiatives. He just says, “believe me.” And as an aside, Donald has consistently refused to share his tax returns, counter to the norm of practice by Presidential candidates over the last 40 years. There is apparently at least one instance where his tax returns have been made public. It shows that Donald paid ZERO in taxes. We find it odd that a man could propose to have opinions about taxation, if he may not actually be contributing to those very taxes, at least based on the return that has been publicly available.
Donald called Obamacare disastrous but didn’t say why. Short on details on why Obamacare is “bad,” Donald mentioned “you will be able to choose your own doctor again” — which is odd, because even with Obamacare, you can do that now. Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, my family’s healthcare costs have been significantly reduced. I choose my own doctors. The Affordable Care Act has moved our country to a better place — where insurance cannot be denied based on pre-existing conditions or any other reasons. While improvements can be made, it has moved our country forward toward accessible healthcare and better managed costs. It is important to remember that one of the goals of Obamacare is that every American has health insurance. A sharing of the insurance costs by all seems to us to be a fairer system than forcing conscientious tax payers to cover the costs for those who decline insurance and end up in hospital emergency rooms they cannot afford — costs that are ultimately the burden of tax payer-supported public assistance.
Wasteful Spending Projects.
Donald says he will reduce wasteful spending, highlighting it as a contrast to the current administration. He seems to ignore that reducing wasteful spending was exactly what Obama did early in his presidency. See here for a detailed list of many of these actions. Wasteful spending is paid for by taxes or government debt — and our government leaders should always avoid it. Note that the rabid attacks on Hillary regarding emails — which have been debunked — has cost taxpayers an estimated $20 million. Despite the lead investigator stating that no reasonable prosecutor would bring a case against her, Trump continues to try to mislead his followers that there is an issue where there is none — inflaming hate with repeated misinformation.
Donald said the trade deficit is growing — and cited this fact as support for a problem that he is going to fix. Please, if anyone thinks this is alarming, read about our trade deficit — because it is not so simple. For a source that provides a detailed analysis of our trade deficit and its importance and relationship to our economy, check out Scott Linicicome. In Linicicome’s words: “The idea that the US-China trade balance proves that we’re “losing” at trade is the height of economic ignorance.”
Donald talks about Obama doubling our national debt. Anyone you know carry a balance on a credit card debt? Or have a mortgage? Think about what happens with debt over time. It costs money to carry debt, and money to retire it. If a debt is big enough, like our national debt, the cost to carry that debt could cause the debt grow over time — without doing anything to increase it. That is our reality. During Obama’s presidency the debt has increased in dollars and yet the increase has been at a much lower rate than his predecessor. I also find it compelling to think about what the debt is from, and what factors effect it, because — unlike a credit card — one individual (like our president) does not create the debt anew from the moment he or she steps into office. The debt and many factors and obligations associated with the debt are inherited from the actions of his/her predecessors and from economic forces in general. For more information on our national debt, here is an infographic, some background and an article about changes in the national debt. Despite his complaint about the increase of the national debt, Donald says he proposes the largest tax reduction of any candidate. Do you know what a drastic reduction in taxes will do to the National Debt? It will dramatically increase it (check those sources I cited above).
Safety at Home
Attacks on Police, Terrorism in our Cities.
Reduction of crime and terrorism is a cornerstone of both candidates in this election. For Donald and his followers, however, the fear does not include concern over the discrimination against minorities, or police abuse and brutality — particularly against blacks. Donald never raised a concern about the shooting of a black citizen through his car window during a routine traffic stop — or so many other terrifying abuses of police power against people of color.
Both parties are concerned about increasing crime, but Donald’s version of the facts misstates and exaggerates to enhance a far worse impression — for example, citing percentages without absolute numbers sometimes, then other times, citing numbers without context or percentages. Here’s an example — “in the President’s hometown of Chicago, more than 2,000 people have been the victims of shootings this year alone.” That statement was made after saying that killings are up in our nation’s capital by 50%, and Baltimore by nearly 60%. Makes you think that the “more than 2,000” must be similar. Actually, the Chicago number is up, by 100 from the prior year, a fraction far less than 50% (but Donald seems consistently poor at math). Worse yet are his outright lies like: “The number of police officers killed in the line of duty has risen by almost 50% compared to this point last year.” Ah, actually no. It’s 8%. But any killing of police in the line of duty is devastatingly bad. Not to mention that lying in order to gain followers is also bad.
2nd Amendment Gun Rights.
Donald says Hillary wants to abolish the 2nd amendment. She has repeatedly stated that this is not true. This is one of those irrational fears. It is odd to note that this country has once before approved an assault weapons ban in 1994 (which expired in 2004). Having sensible gun laws does not equate with loss of the 2nd amendment. We have laws limiting the purchase of decongestant (Sudafed), and the storage of gasoline in our garages, for goodness sake. Hard to understand the fear-fueled hatred on this one.
Fear over Foreigners in the US.
Donald talked about sacrificing children on the “altar of open borders.” Open borders? America’s extensive restrictions on immigration and its Border Patrol agents who make hundreds of thousands of apprehensions a year flies in the face of this manipulative statement. He talked about a girl, “top of her class, 4.0 student” killed by a “border-crosser” who was released and “made his way to Nebraska… where he ended the life of an innocent young girl…” That sounds scary, like a killer was set free. But then a look at the facts shows that this death was the result of an auto accident, where drinking was involved. That is bad as well, but drunk driving is not an immigration problem. Drunk driving is a problem that exists for all of us, without regard to ethic origins or immigration.
Fear over Foreigners outside the US.
Donald said we signed an Iran deal which provided no benefits (not true, the benefits include restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, which is what this deal is about). Donald claimed the deal requires the US “to give back $150 billion” (ah, no not repayment, the US never had that money — that number refers to a, probably incorrectly high, estimate of Iranian assets tied up by economic sanctions which are only released if Iran complies with its agreement). He referred to Benghazi as our Libyan consulate — which it wasn’t — it was a Temporary Mission Facility, a presence that was not continuously staffed by senior personnel and was never given formal diplomatic status by the Libyan government (this guide has links to numerous sources about this extensively discussed topic).
In an unbelievable moment, Donald appears to accuse Hillary of creating ISIS. He talks about spread of ISIS, and the troubles in Libya, Egypt and Iraq. His rant, encouraging a crowd-chant of “lock her up” was a crazy mash up of strange statements that should be incredible to anyone alive and conscious of basic history over the last 20 years. Donald said, “In 2009, pre-Hillary, ISIS was not even on the map.” Um, Donald, do you remember what happened on 9–11–2001? You do realize that ISIS originated from al-Qaeda, and that there are many names and groups that align with the same terrorist philosophies, right? To Donald and his hateful crowd, one woman is solely responsible for all evil in the world. Yeah, I’m a mom, grandma and stepmom, and often the sole woman in the room in many of my professional negotiations as a lawyer. I understand the hate of the strong woman who does not back down from bullies.
No new plan?
After rallying cries about all these fearful things, Donald talked repeatedly about his plan that he would share that night. But he never got around to sharing anything about that plan, other than referencing his Wall and calling his followers to “believe him.”
So he stokes fear and hatred, slanders all who dare challenge him, and attempts to silence any detractors. During the Democratic convention, he even sent an email to his followers directing them not to watch the Democratic Convention. He tried to distract from the Democratic convention with a crazy press conference on Wednesday where he urged Russia to hack the DNC servers.
I vowed not to be a silent by-stander when I see evil in the world. My husband and I see it in Donald. We will not support him or his followers. And we will not be silent.