A tough president to support

Henry Stevens, Columnist

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Trump is a tough president-elect to support. If his rhetoric on deportations and foreign policies were not enough to dissuade me, then the man’s personality would easily succeed where his platform did not. Donald Trump is a bully. Listing what he has done seems ineffective simply because the list has been repeated hundreds of times now. Mr. Trump is the political equivalent of a new student coming to Galileo, promptly insulting every third person he meets, then being elected student body president. In the most recent days, many writers have been combing his supporters for reasons why Hillary Clinton did not win the presidency over a truly disgusting human being. There was only one answer that I found which I can see around us in Southside Virginia. Clinton never told us that she was going to give us our jobs back. Trump did.

Obama was successful in halting the recession, but only in certain areas. Think of it as a dart board where he had a few bulls-eyes, a lot of average marks, and one or two (think Obamacare) that totally missed. The number of jobs in America has been growing for around seventy months now, but unemployment rates have remained the same. We are no longer fighting a ground war in Iraq. Now we have ISIS. These sorts of complexities are not a sign of a great presidency, but I do not think we have had a great presidency nor will we ever have a great presidency. The thing to do is to count the successes and the failures. Trump’s narrative of the world only counts the negatives. Clinton’s only watches the positives. Donald Trump’s advantage lies in that humans remember failure better than success. An argument in the morning persists in our minds all day while a surprise gift in the morning fades by noon. Many of our primary memories are negative. Therefore, Trump began on a firmer foot, and only then did he hit the perfect area.

Donald Trump said that jobs were being stolen by the Chinese and by Mexican immigrants and that he was going to get them back. That satisfies two deep concerns for the poor and middle class workers who have seen a decline of industry in recent years. First, it names a culprit for our losses. Now layoffs are not our fault; they are the fault of the supposed Chinese cheaters and the corrupt governments that allow this cheating. Trump also singles out Mexican immigrants as stealing jobs that rightfully belong to Americans, and once again the culprits are not “honest, hard-working people” but rather the supposed thieving immigrant and the corrupt politicians. Second, he provides a direct solution for these offenses. Renegotiate NAFTA. Label China as a currency manipulator. Build a wall to keep Mexicans out. All of these (except maybe the wall) are infeasible for our nation to do, but Trump does not need his goals to be realistic. He needs them to be idealistic because real-life sucks, and ideals are what bring supporters out to vote. He may not do any of this, but he said he would. That is enough to get the support he needs.

The second area where Trump destroyed his opposition was in what I will loosely sum up as, “Government stealing.” Obamacare was the flagship, but the most ardent Trump supporters will be able to tell, with uncanny clarity, which laws they would like repealed because the laws unfairly tax or strain their families. The Affordable Care Act has proven to be flawed, and I will admit this. Even Obama says that it does not work the way it was intended. Trump has seized this failed law and attached a culprit: Hillary Clinton. Once again, many Trump supporters who are interviewed or are personally overheard, complain about the costs for health care skyrocketing. While Clinton assured people that their coverage was fine, Trump fanned the flames and argued that he could solve it. His solution to repeal Obamacare was a major point of his campaign, despite being extremely vague. Now that we have bought the expensive Obamacare plans, we are going to want to be covered, but without Obamacare, we will lose those plans. Trump has recently changed his position to only adjusting Obamacare. That still sounds more appealing than blindly accepting Obamacare as Clinton did.

Trump’s final, massive victory over Clinton came in image. Charisma cannot be bought, taught, or stolen. It is innate. Clinton tried her hardest to connect with voters, but Donald Trump’s ability to blather on through a quagmire of conspiracies and scandals allowed him to brush off all the issues he faced. His method was to return to the first two points and point the finger back at Clinton. She was unable to retaliate. He simply brushed off everything that came his way. In the end, she assumed her base would vote without an aspiring candidate to sweep them out, and Trump’s energy sent his voters out in frenzies. Trump is easy to support because he is swinging hard to the center when compared to his previous stances.

I was sitting with my family one evening when my grandfather said this: “The Republicans have elected a Democrat to office.” What he meant was that Trump has reversed on his campaign trail promises. When his less extreme, mostly fiscal conservatism is employed on one side, and his slightly more presidential behavior is brought out on the other. Donald Trump ceases to be the demon of every liberal nightmare and becomes a particularly orange Republican demagogue. Mr. Trump’s policies are vague, dangerously so, but since they are vague, there is a hope that they will be adjusted by the whims off realpolitik rather than idealistic demagoguery. He might just be corrupt, but we should try to think positively after this nasty election. I can support Trump in rebuilding American infrastructure. I can support Melania Trump in her campaign against cyber-bullying (though it is ironic given the nature of her husband), and I can support him in rewriting Obamacare. While I am worried about his supreme court justice appointments, and I am afraid that his cabinet looks to be full of political cronies rather than truly skilled experts as he claimed, I find some of his policies acceptable. I want to support this man because he is my president, and my country voted for him. We have always followed the elected leader, even if he was a lying toad. We have always been Americans.

Trump is impossible to support because he makes me hate my own American identity. There are many people talking about the “isms” and “obias” of a Trump presidency. Sexism, racism, homophobia, islamophobia, and xenophobia are the five horsemen of Trump’s social apocalypse. They are what makes him different from any other presidential pill America has had to swallow. George Bush did not blatantly support white power groups. Obama never urged his supporters to hate immigrants. No president has sparked riots by his election, save for Abraham Lincoln. It is grim to think of what came after Lincoln’s election.

Nevertheless, Trump has given legitimacy to the Ku Klux Klan, the American Nazi Party, and the myriad of other white power hate groups. Even if he does not support them, his rhetoric and his choices on the campaign trail have encouraged these groups. With Trump’s election, hate crimes have spiked. The University of Virginia has seen graffiti reminiscent of the Nazi slogans in 1945 with students being labelled as terrorists. Men have assaulted Muslim women by physically stripping their hijabs, and in New York state a swastika was spray painted on a baseball field dugout along with the words, “Make America White Again.”

I could agree with everything Trump says. I could be his son. I could be his sole heir and his chief advisor, and I would still be unable to support him because of what he has caused. America is not a white country. The old way is gone along with Robert E. Lee and Bull Thomas. I supported Obama because I agreed with his policies, but mostly because of the message of peace and forward thinking. His three slogans were thus. “HOPE.” “CHANGE.” “Yes we can.”

Now we have President-elect Trump saying, “Make America Great Again,” as if it was formerly, but now it is not. As if it needs to be fundamentally changed. As if the problem is not the people at his rallies. As if the problem is the “other.” Donald J. Trump’s message, no matter what its candidate intends, has become “Make America White Again.” This is why I cannot support Donald Trump, despite having seen his success and despite my agreement with Obama that we must move forward and focus on things to come. Until the day comes that Trump himself silences the hatred and fear that has exploded during and after his campaign, I cannot acknowledge him as my president. Until that day comes, he is a national disgrace no matter what he does.

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A tough president to support