Translating Trump, Part Two

3 Dec

In the last post I began to analyze the widely divergent views people have about our President-Elect, Donald Trump. I drew out the extremes and put them on a broad brush continuum which looked like this . . .

TRUMP IS HITLER<——————————————->TRUMP IS SAVIOR

A small percentage of people thinks in these extremes but all of us are influenced by the extreme voices out there, so I wanted to take a crack in this post at analyzing the character of Trump through the use of questions and answers. I am aware that in trying to  make sense of Trump I will probably make everybody angry in one way or another, especially when I say he is neither Hitler nor a Savior. So here goes my honest attempt to understand. I acknowledge I may be proven wrong about any of my assertions but this is where I stand today based on what I know.

Q & A SERIES ONE: Trump’s Character

  1. Is Trump a racist? Almost certainly not (I will not answer with 100% certainty on any of these questions by the way). Why do I believe Trump is not a racist? For starters, he has worked in business for decades with scarcely any push back on his words or actions with regard to race until the campaign. Second, many of his statements which are taken as racist statements can easily be understood under his “America First” rubric. Trump is not against immigration, he is against illegal immigration. He said early and often that nations have laws and they have borders. Yes, he broad brushed the criminal element of illegals from Mexico, but I don’t think he did that because of racism but because of a second key plank in his platform: security. After San Bernadino and other massacres at home and abroad Trump knew many Americans are fearful. He projected throughout the campaign a tough persona of law and order and cleaning up the streets. Thus he espoused tough policies on immigration and violence against police and “extreme vetting” for people trying to immigrate from nations linked to terrorism. This likely had less to do with hatred for people of color  than it did with reassuring Americans of all races that he would take their security seriously.  Follow up: But if Trump is not a racist, how could he appoint Steve Bannon as a chief advisor and not disavow more strongly white supremacists and the so-called “alt-right” movement? Here again I think there is an aspect of Trump which, when understood, sheds a great deal of light on what he does. Trump loves those who love him. Bannon was a friend and supporter and Trump trusted him. Further, Trump distrusts the media because they do not love him (except for ratings) therefore he does not buy the white supremacists narrative regarding Bannon and probably still doesn’t buy it in any serious way. But recently, he more forcefully denounced white supremacists. Trump knows racism is wrong but he is reluctant to reject the support of those who respect him, even if they are morally wrong in important ways. Trump tends to respect and trust those who respect him and tends to dismiss those who dismiss him (this probably also explains somewhat his apparent respect for Vladimir Putin). In short, I see no strong evidence that Trump is a racist apart from the confirmation bias of his interpreters.
  2. Is Trump a Sexist? If by sexist you mean one who has disrespected women I think the answer must be yes. If by sexist you mean one who does not think women are the equal of men or has been discriminatory against women I would be inclined to say no. Trump has worked with many women through the years in the business world, he has fathered strong women who seem to love him, and he has already appointed several women to his cabinet. I know of no accusations by women of being passed over for jobs and the like by Trump. But there is the Access Hollywood tape and the accusations of many women against Trump for various forms of sexual harassment and assault. Perhaps not all of these accusations are true but even circumstantial evidence points to the fact that Trump’s past is filled with what has traditionally been considered sexual immorality. This is disturbing and disappointing but is probably not disqualifying in the minds of most voters. Allegations surrounded the twice-elected Bill Clinton before he ever got into the Oval Office debacle with Monica Lewinsky. A tight-lipped media in the early 1960’s knew about and covered up the immorality of JFK and perhaps others through the years. The presidency has not been a bastion of sexual morality. This is one of the things I actually admire about Barack Obama. He seems to have a good family life and a stable marriage, much like George W. Bush before him. But this has often not been the case through the years and if Trump’s past is any indication, once again we have a President whose sexual morality is suspect.
  3. Is Trump a Homophobe? I see no evidence that he is a homophobe. In fact, Trump may be the most gay-friendly Republican to ever win the party’s nomination. I say this because of his ties to Hollywood. If Hollywood execs and performers knew Trump was a homophobe, the largely gay-friendly environment of Hollywood would have long-ago shunned him. I know of no instances in all his past of gay-bashing or the like. In addition, in the 60 Minutes interview right after the election Trump basically brushed off a question about gay marriage, saying he looked at the issue as a matter that was “settled” by law. Whether one believes any of this is good or bad is not the question. On the question of prejudice by Trump against homosexuals though, I just don’t see it.
  4. Is Trump a Xenophobe? Again, one’s notion of Trump’s view of other nations is so dependent on one’s preconceived ideas about him. Is he trying to “Make America Great Again” or is he trying to take over the world? Trump hammered several issues in the campaign which relate to this issue, most notably trade, security and patriotism. Trump sensed that deals like NAFTA were viewed by many as bad for America and so he developed the line that “we don’t win any more.” America loves winners, so Trump promised to help us win again. Trump also saw the fear many Americans feel as linked to radical Islamic terror. His stand against radical Islam is less about xenophobia than it is about keeping America safe. Finally, Trump saw America losing steam in an increasingly globalized world. His whole messaging in the campaign was an effort to infuse Americans with a sense of pride in their country, not to the exclusion of other nations but with a sense of priority for our nation. This message, right or wrong, resonated with many voters.
  5. Is Trump Crude, Rude and Socially Unacceptable? I would say yes, absolutely.  Trump is unconventional to say the least. The mockery of the reporter with the disability, the words about John McCain as a POW, various spats with reporters, while all perhaps part of Trump’s strategy to project himself as a take no prisoners strongman, did serve to undermine his message at times. He really walked a tightrope in the campaign. His boorishness kept him in the headlines, which was a good thing, but for the wrong reasons, which very nearly at various times was his undoing. In this matter of personality and demeanor, Trump is not different than many other Presidents. Have you ever listened to the LBJ tapes? Nixon? There has always been plenty of paranoia and neurosis in the Oval Office. The difference with Trump is the public nature of his personality and his use of social media. Right now Trump uses Twitter as a means of direct communication with the public and these tweets are often the cause of intense media firestorms. Time will tell if the media will develop Trump Tweet fatigue and whether this will dampen some of the more negative public aspects of his behavior.

Conclusion: I believe, in assessing  Trump’s character from a distance, I see a deeply flawed yet gifted man who bears little resemblance to either Hitler or a Savior. When I look at Trump’s character I do not see Hitler, I see a brash guy from New York City who happens to have a large bank account and just got elected to the highest office in the land. This article is my best effort to show why I don’t think Trump is Hitler. In the final article in this series, I will use questions and answers to try to explain why I also do not think Trump will be the Savior some hope he will be.

P.S. — If I wrote anything here with which you disagree, please know that I will not write you off as a person or demonize you or otherwise treat you with scorn. You are a human being and deserve respect, especially when we disagree.

 

One Response to “Translating Trump, Part Two”

  1. creatorworship December 4, 2016 at 9:48 pm #

    Good, balanced view. I await the third installment.

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