Colloquey in Red and Blue

This is a conversation I had recently with an old school acquaintance of mine. I cannot find much to quarrel about with his basic policy issues, i.e., border security, but I do not see how Mr. Trump has improved the situation in any significant way other than to create misery for innocent people. We went back and forth twice - his statements, my answers, his answers to me, and my quibbles back again. I haven't heard more from him on any of the subject since, but I hope we are not entirely finished. He is not a hateful person, and not the kind who would simply troll for trolling's sake. I could, as always, be wrong.

He begins:

Tolerance, free speech, freedom of thought, willingness to look at all sides, ability to accept others as they are, these traits escape some of us. We all like the echo chamber that says our thinking is correct, however, when it comes to politics, one half the country thinks differently than each of us. When we observe the other side, we wonder how they could think like they do.

I didn’t wait for the 4th of July to answer your kind letter, but here it is and I’m ready to go.
Tolerance, free speech, freedom of thought, willingness to look at all sides, ability to accept others as they are – these are all liberal values as I know them. Sometimes imperfectly performed, but values nonetheless. I like an interesting challenge to my way of thinking, but I rarely come across one. Right now, those who could do so (Jennifer Rubin, Rick Wilson, Bill Kristol, for a few) are concentrating on getting rid of Trump, whom they see as a danger to the nation as a whole. I hope we get back to a space in which I can think about what they write and/or argue with them about other issues.

I vote basic policy, I care not about personality or presentation. Listed are the policies I agree with which Trump promotes:
1- Border security

So do you approve of the way Trump has gone about securing the border? Family separations? Making it extremely difficult if not impossible for people to apply for asylum? Do you love the idea of the “big, beautiful wall”? And why?

-----Family separations and the pens were constructed under the Obama administration.

The Obama administration did not have a policy to separate families arriving illegally at the border. Family separations rarely happened under the Obama administration, which sought to keep families together in detention. Then, based on a court decision, it released families together out of detention. Jun 25 2019

Yes I like the wall and there is a proper method to enter the US legally, many of my friends have done this and become citizens.

Latest news on the border wall. Trump took money from the military to build it. People have found all sorts of ways over, around and under it. A wall will not keep out the people we say we want most to keep out. It will, however, keep people asking for asylum from crossing illegally. These people, who are often kept from crossing legally, usually look for the border patrol to turn themselves in so that they can apply for asylum. After Trump’s no-tolerance policy went into effect, these people were arrested and charged with felonies (I think the charge had previously been misdemeanors?), which required separation of children and parents.

There were years when no immigration was permitted, we have an enormous number of current citizens living in poverty, addicted to drugs, living on the streets. I believe in taking care of these people before bringing in more; if not the numbers will continue to climb.

And what, exactly, are we doing for those people?

Better border security also makes it more difficult to bring in drugs. Look at California and Seattle.

Profit will always find a way. We mostly grew our own in Seattle. Some of my best friends, etc….. Look at West Virginia. Pharmaceuticals coming in through drug stores, not over the border.

The party that wants open borders and illegals voting believe this will keep them in power.

Nobody I know wants open borders or illegals voting. There are no instances that I know of that illegals voting have been a problem anywhere. I lived in Seattle for 32 years, and for the last decade or so we have had all mail-in voting with no problems.

2- Improved trade agreements with Canada, Mexico and China.

Where and how has he done that? You do realize that it was American consumers who paid the tariffs, not China, right? What other agreements do you like?

----Yes, tariffs are an iffy subject. Tariffs are actually a tax and all taxes are simply passed on to the consumer in the cost of the service, good or product. Brazil and many of the Western European countries place huge tariffs on products and services they want their people to provide, even if it costs more, the idea is this will create jobs in their country. I believe tariffs should be placed on things when we are not allowed a level playing field as company against company; when an American company must compete against products produced and subsidized by other nations and/or the use of currency manipulation to lower prices.
China has done this with steel, so, Trumps tariffs rekindled the steel industry here.

China is a totalitarian regime, life is cheap and a disposable commodity. I have seen women working for $.50/day sitting by conveyor belts separating peanuts. Worker safety, environmental concerns are not a priority in China. I believe in lower taxes for our companies and small business, as you said, taxes are only passed on to the consumer. I agree that tariffs can become problematic.

3- Strong Military, China is continuing to build military strength

Yes, they are. But is Trump doing that? He withdrew some money from the military to build his wall, and just lately has ignored intelligence reports that our soldiers are in danger from bounty hunters paid for from Russian sources.

-----The bounty thing is fake news..

I don’t believe it is “fake news,” but I do agree that it is a problematic claim. My issue with it is that Trump apparently does not read intelligence briefings, and claims to have no knowledge of this report, although it seems to have been in one of them. Russia has, however, been a source of funding to the Taliban, and Trump should have been made aware of this claim so that, credible or not, he could make a statement to the effect that this behavior would not be tolerated. More importantly to me, Trump has withdrawn the US from many important international treaties and agreements, leaving China a clear field in which to extend influence.

-----I assume you refer to Iran. The Mullahs were not adhering to the deal, they hate America, Israel, and Christians. Ain't gonna change.

I am referring to the Iran Deal, the Paris Accords, WHO, threatening to withdraw from NATO, among others that don’t come immediately to mind. What is your evidence that the Mullahs were not adhering to the deal? Most credible sources that I have insist that they were. I have read, and it makes sense to me, that the slogan “Death to …” is the Iranian equivalent of “Fuck whatever.” If the car doesn’t start, an Iranian might say, “Death to this piece of shit.” But assuming that what you say is basically true (although not of all Iranians), it means only that we must be careful, trust only with verification, and refuse to hate back.

4- Second Amendment

It wasn’t until 2008 that the Supreme Court decided that the 2nd protected individual gun owners as well as “militias,” making many sensible gun control laws obsolete. Do you support the open carry laws that has people carrying guns openly into public spaces? And would you feel the same way if African Americans wearing Black Lives Matter t-shirts were also carrying long guns into public spaces? Why or why not?

-----What a man carries in his hand bothers me not, whether it be Bible, Koran, or gun. What a man carries in his heart and mind concern me. I prefer states with concealed carry but I am OK with open carry. I have CC for 38 states. Black Lives Matter is a Marxist organization which has killed, maimed.rioted and looted within our country.

Where in the world did you get that information? BLM was formed after the murderer of Trayvon Martin (k. 2012) was exonerated. His murder was followed by: Eric Garner, John Crawford, Michael Brown, Dante Parker, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile. And that’s just a partial list over five years. More recently, of course, there have been Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. And many, many more. BLM does not, however, mean that black lives *only* matter, just as save the rainforests does not mean burn down the taiga. If you truly don’t understand the history of race in America, you need to do some studyin’ up. So, your answer seems to say that yes, you would have trouble with a guy in a BLM t-shirt carrying a long gun? What about a guy in an Army of Northern Virginia battle flag shirt?

5- Appointments of conservative judges [over 200 to date] who make rulings basis how the constitution is written and do not make law through the bench

The original constitution endorsed the rights of slave owners and did not allow women to vote. As a matter of fact, it was several years before the franchise itself was extended to all adult white men. I cannot see the constitution as a dead letter. It has to be a living document that grows to reflect the people of the United States. Ergo rights that were never part of the conversation when the original was written and signed, i.e. abortion and LGBTQ rights. So might I assume that you object to these latter rights? And why?

-----I don't know what LGBTQ is,

How have you reached this age in this time and not know that LGBTQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer?

Yes I believe the Constitution can and should be changeable, albeit as a difficult process. The fifth amendment provides two ways the Constitution can be changed. It requires two-thirds majority of both Senate and House after which it is sent to the states whereby it requires three-fourths of the states approval. The second method is a Constitutional Convention, it has never been used. Changing the Constitution was meant to be a difficult task, since it is so difficult there has been a push underway to do it through the courts. Trump appoints judges who decide upon how the current Constitution is written, not how they want it written.

McConnell does that – except that he appoints judges that he thinks will decide cases in a way of which he would approve. I don’t believe Trump knows anything of the Constitution.

You mention voting rights for women, you are aware that no Democrats voted in favor of the Black vote. The Constitution was not changed to allow abortion, the determination was the Constitution allowed this right.

Oh, I believe a few did. In fact, 47 of them did. But I get your point. The Republicans had been “liberals” sorta kinda from Lincoln through Hoover. Roosevelt changed that ball game for awhile, but still played the game with the Dixiecrats, the Democrats of the Solid South. Lyndon Johnson broke that alliance and, as he predicted, lost the south to the Dems for by this time more than a generation. The Republicans picked it up with Nixon’s “southern strategy,” and Regan kicked off his campaign in Philadelphia, MS, on a “states’ rights” platform, Philadelphia being where three civil rights workers had been killed in 1964. The sold south now votes Republican. Roe vs. Wade and the legalization of gay marriage were not, you are correct, changes made to the constitution, but changes made to US law based on interpretation of rights protected by the constitution.

6- Signed executive orders that make it lucrative for industry to return to USA-the last 5 POTUS allowed industrial jobs to leave, America will never remain strong as a service economy

I’ve been concerned about similar issues, but it is obvious that the industrial economy of the 50’s is never coming back the way it used to be. Perhaps more heavy industry will return if wages around the world rise, but the materials we require and the energy we use to build them will be changing, and it’s hard to see where that is going. Also:

----I see it as a much deeper matter than wages. As an example, China will never pay the wages we do, they have so many people it is not necessary or wanted. I believe for security reasons we should require certain industries remain in the US. I feel most of our drugs should be manufactured here, along with any materials or high tech items required for military and country defense.
This pandemic we found out that China produces many of the drugs we needed and masks.

a) That doesn’t seem feasible. Many corporations (most?) would just up and leave.
b) American consumers will not be happy paying even higher prices for drugs or tech. How do you see that playing out?

Our producers do not compete on a level field with many other countries. China does not require their industry to meet anywhere near our emission requirements into water, land and air or meet OSHA standards. Germany and other countries subsidize some of their export products in order to keep their industries running.

Can I take that to mean that you approve of Mr. Trump’s efforts to slash EPA and OSHA standards?

7- America first. I have spent many months in Asia, I can tell you they put their countries first, especially China

America has been first for many years because it sees itself as first among many – because it has been able to use its resources and wealth to benefit others. Just as we individuals do best when we acknowledge the contributions to our successes of those around us. America First as Trump sees it boils down, as I see it, to Me First. Which is the code of the bully, not the code of the beneficiary. Not an entity to be admired. And as we can see, he has been quite successful in earning the distrust and the pity of much of the rest of the world. We are, however, first in new Covid case. USA! USA!

-------Well, like it or not, we live in a very competitive world where winner takes all. Most of us like to feel we are not, Me First, however at some level we all are. Empathy will sneak up on us occasionally, some of us more than others.

And yet somehow few if any of them have been as admired, as emulated, as we have been. People want to come here for more opportunity, yes, but also because this country has ideals that from time to time it tries to live up to. Our air has become cleaner, our water has been relatively clean to drink, and our companies have been forced to comply with safety standards. You may have noticed, our standing has slipped precariously along with our standards.And then there is this, from today’s NYT.

8- Pulling out of Climate Accord


---- We were expected to pay most of the load while China and some others were not required to meet the same emission standards as the US, all the while China is continuing to take our manufacturing jobs away. Bad deal for US. We have, along with Germany, one of the cleanest countries in the world.

Not anymore. Most of us have gotten used to living in a relatively clean environment, and I don’t think we want to get un-used to it. Also, climate change. Which ain’t gonna care whether we’re saving money or not.

9- Calling China out on intellectual property theft and currency manipulation to effect trade.

Okay, fine

10- Executive order to allow more fossil fuels removed, supports coal, and has America close to energy independent

Why? Coal is nearly obsolete. It’s awful for the atmosphere and global warming (I guess you are a doubter?). Emphasis should be on green energy and green improvements on old energy. China, by the way, is ahead of us on this one. Do you really want what little remains of wilderness to be dug into for fuel?

--------The worlds economy runs on fossil fuels. US and Germany were leaders on biodiesel and ethanol to supplement fossil fuels. The answer to replace fossil fuels has yet to be found. Ethanol, biodiesel, wind farms, electric cars all work at a cost to the tax payers, because these can not stand on their own without subsidies and in most cases enough could not be produced to fill the gap of fossil. Someone, someday, will figure out fusion and fossil will go by the way side, has not happened yet. Coal is alive and well, China is the worlds biggest consumer of coal, much of the high sulfur Illinois coal goes to China.

Several years China consumed more coal than everyone else combined. As I said earlier, they were not held to the standard we were on Climate Accord. I retired in 2007, so not sure what changes have occurred but in 07' most factories ran on coal and few had stack scrubbers, the ones that did were mostly ineffective. You could feel the particulate matter hitting your face when driving past these plants with windows down. I do know China has been increasing nuclear and hydro generation.

I don’t see how China or India can proceed much further with coal power, when it hits both their economies and their populations. It will, of course, go on, but coal power in the US is losing ground to natural gas and other resources. I run against the grain in my crowd because I think we could try new and improved nuke power, but probably nothing like that is on the table anytime soon.

Global warming? Ice age? I have no opinion on either one.

How can you not figure the possibility of global warming into your thinking?

11- Has said God should be in government, not church, just God

And you believe that Trump believes in God? I don’t, but I do acknowledge my heritage in Christian ideals, which I see as having been thought up and put into place by humans. I’ve told people that I don’t believe in god, but I do believe in religion. My latest interpretation of the concept of God. Any God. It is a human construct. It is a construct into which we humans - and I mean every human population the entire world over and throughout history so far as we know - have poured our yearnings, our projections of our best selves, our fear of punishment for those acts which we suspect may be wrongful to ourselves or others, our need for help which we cannot find elsewhere, answers to questions, longing for love and acceptance, a reason to act, a reason to sit quietly, a raison d'etre. And I sincerely believe that that God exists - because that God is Us. What different peoples choose to make of that idea and how they choose to employ it have social and political consequences with which we need to contend from time to time. But those choices do not negate the power of the idea itself.

o ------ I follow a similar thinking as you in this area. As you say, depends upon definition of God. God was defined to me as: "The total goodness residing within the collective soul of mankind." I have no idea if Trump believes in God, he says he does, that's good enough for me.

Your requirements for believing someone seem too low for me.

12- Trump and a Republican Congress passed the largest tax cut in history which allows middle class America to grow. We must have rich corporations and individuals to create middle class jobs, government does not. Big money will go where it gets the best return. Without rich organizations and individuals, an engineer would only build a better log cabin than his neighbor. These rich provide opportunities for people to be all they can and choose to be. We should covet the rich and encourage investment.

I don’t have much money, but I’m as rich as I need to be. Edison (currently reading a profile of him in a 1930 New Yorker) just fiddled around with stuff and lived off a few patents in order to get a working light built. Henry Ford did something similar.

------Until compassion becomes our worlds great driver, competition rules. If we want a healthy growing middle class we need the jobs and opportunities they provide.
Big money will go where it gets the best return.”

And the cheapest labor.I’m not knee-jerk anti-corporation, but I understand that they no longer have to prove that they are a benefit to the community (as was once written into the formation of any corporation).

----------Yup, most mission statements were bullshit. The company I worked for claimed to be "Supermarket to the World." Every meeting I attended it was profits that were the topic, not the number of people we fed. Corporations become a benefit by providing jobs, opportunity to become all you can be in a particular discipline, and produce products or service to the community. Employers create middle America, need them here, happy and healthy.

And most studies will tell you that Unions created the middle class, with employers fighting wage increases tooth and nail all the way. But that is likely another subject for discussion.

13- Lastly, Trump is first a business man. National economies are businesses, competing against other countries. Our policies should promote America first, Trump understands this and demonstrates it with actions such as tariffs, demanding other countries pay their fair share in units such as NATO.

You do know that he has failed in almost every business he has gone into, and that many of them were frauds and that even in his real estate dealings, he was known to hire cheap immigrant labor and often renege on the deals.

--------Don't know. Have not looked into his past. I understand Obama stated in a college thesis the ultimate American dream was to be like Donald Trump. Think Trump was a Democrat at the time.

Trump was always what it benefitted Trump to be. He’s not a “Republican,” either. Just ask the folks at the Lincoln Project.
If the American Dream is to be “like Donald Trump,” then I don’t want any part of it.
Also, have you been living under a rock? I don’t mean to be mean, but you really don’t know Trump’s business record?
He owned 3 casinos that went bankrupt.
Between 1985 and 1994, the Times story says, Trump’s core businesses lost money every single year, and the accumulated losses came to more than a billion dollars.
Other famous failures: The New Jersey Generals, Trump University, Trump Airlines, Trump Vodka, Trump Magazine, Trump Steaks.
“On October 3, 2016, the New York Attorney General's office notified the Trump Foundation that it was in violation of New York laws regarding charities, and ordered it to immediately cease its fundraising activities "in New York".

He also said he believes in term limits, which I also like.

Trump himself is an argument against term limits. We don’t need many more congresscritters who don’t know what they are doing.

He has also said he is for school choice which I also believe is best. I actually prefer the voucher system. Obama killed a voucher system in DC two months into his first term. These inner city parents made such a fuss he reneged and allowed the kids already in the program to finish, but no new allowed. Obama did this for the teachers union since many dollars are returned to the Dems. These politicians care little for our children, if they did they would allow their parents tax dollars to go to private schools when kids enrolled.

I am for well-funded public schools that are not dependent on property taxes, i.e., the wealth of the parents.

-----------We have many school teachers in the family. America spends huge money on education and gets poor results in science and math. I believe the answer is a voucher system that allows parents to place kids in any school they can get accepted. This would enable kids to attend private schools and parochial schools. D.C. had a voucher system in place for inner city kids when Obama took office. Within his first 60 days he cancelled the program. There was a push back from the parents and program officials, so he then allowed those already enrolled to finish, no new children allowed. These were 90% inner city black kids. The teachers union does not want the competition from private schools if tax dollars are allowed for tuition, so they send money back to the politicians from union dues to prevent this. Several of my Asian friends sent their children to private schools near Chicago that were Science and Math specific, started in 7th grade through 12. We have a 13 year old daughter who has attended Catholic School since kindergarten, she will attend High School this fall. She had 14 kids in her 8th grade class and as a group they tested as sophomore in High School on annual Iowa standards test. These kids are no smarter than most, they just want to learn and had an atmosphere with discipline, rules and good teachers who could spend quality time with each child.

And yet you and I were both beneficiaries of a very good public school system, which good I would hope can be extended to all children.

Oh,, I also like the way he deals with a very biased media.

Really. Yes, I’m a fan of MSNBC, but I also read the NYT and WaPo, Fareed Zakaria on CNN and good articles suggested to me by friends. I also read tons and tons of books. Recently finished a bio of Kissinger. Not the one by someone who hates him. I’ve read my way through old National Geos from 1888 to 1916. Then my D-drive broke down. Have to get a new one. Currently reading a bio of the literary Bronte sisters – learning much about ordinary English life in the early 19th century. What are you reading? What’s your favorite TV (not news) show?

-------I seldom watch National news, occasionally local news I catch. I like the History channel, Science channel and lots of series, kinda into Yellowstone now.

Suppose that’s why you don’t know so much that is common knowledge by those who do keep up. Doesn’t explain why you agree with Trump about the media if you don’t watch it. I watched Vikings on History, and the docudrama about Grant. Some good stuff there. Looked up Yellowstone, and don’t find it interests me. I love Marvel’s Agents of Shield, Outlander, The Walking Dead, Fargo, and I’m looking forward to next month when I’ll rent HBO for a while and watch Perry Mason, with Matthew Rhys, who was in one of the best shows ever written for TV, The Americans.

Your friends and I obviously view the world through a different lens; right and wrong is determined by the desired outcome, from my perspective, Trumps policies make America strong and build a big middle class. Now you know why I love Trump.

I don’t think America has ever been so weak. How many people have died of coronavirus that Trump refused to deal with? How many people will die before the year is out? The middle class is going to have to find ways to rebuild itself. There has been so much damage done, from the environment to civil rights, during this administration that Joe Biden’s administration will have to start from scratch.
I’m sorry, Jerry. You have explained it to me, but I see little in your explanations to convince me. To my view, Donald Trump is a terrible president, not necessarily because of his policies – with which I disagree – but because he is a terrible person, who wields his policies to more damage than good.

---------Yup, I did not share to change your mind, now you know how some of the other half think.

I know that wasn’t the point, but I was hoping that you could give me some cogent reasons for your support. You did give me a cogent explanation of how you saw certain issues, but none of them seem to have been addressed by Donald Trump in a positive way – and, in fact, in many instances seem to be antithetical to your purposes. Here's a great story about his business practices. Competitive? I suppose. Good business? I highly doubt it. If my dad had paid only 70% of the concrete he needed for his Anchor Steps, he wouldn’t have gotten any more concrete.

This has been fun.

Thanks, Barbara