A piece published several days ago in the Nexus talked of how Americans should not be surprised at the outcome of the presidential election, as Donald Trump’s “candidacy was much larger than Democrat and Republican” and that it was “a movement that brought together Americans of all backgrounds and races.”
I cannot help but wonder if the author followed the same election that I did.
The election that many millions of Americans and I witnessed was one that exhibited the most hurtful, divisive and deceitful rhetoric in recent memory. Yet Mr. Banuelos believes that Trump’s candidacy united the country. If the protests across the nation over the past week have not disabused him of that notion, then perhaps he should take a hard look at what his candidate has done and said throughout the course of his campaign.
This was a candidate who, in his very first campaign speech, declared that “When Mexico sends its people … They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Notwithstanding the fact that immigrants, both documented and undocumented, are less likely to commit crimes than the general population.
How can our Mr. Trump be a president for all people when he seems so willing to inaccurately paint a large portion of immigrant population as rapists and criminals?
This was a candidate who disparaged John McCain, a man who spent five years in a North Vietnamese prison camp for his country, calling the Senator unheroic because he “like[s] people who weren’t captured.”
This was a candidate who scorned a Gold Star family, insinuating that the wife was silenced in accordance with her Muslim faith (she was not), and that they “ha[d] no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the Constitution.” Notwithstanding the fact that the very first amendment in the Constitution (which he claims to have read) guarantees the right to freedom of speech, his blatant disregard for the norms of decency and respect knows no bounds and spares no one.
How can Mr. Trump be a unifying commander-in-chief if he has no qualms about denigrating veterans and their families?
This was a candidate who bragged about groping women without their consent, dismissing the boasts as merely “locker room talk” when confronted. Notwithstanding the scores of professional athletes who rightfully denounced his attempt to rationalize his words.
The author says that we should all agree that “legitimate acts of racism need to be called out and dealt with accordingly.” Perhaps he should start with all the Trump supporters who have verbally and physically assaulted women, Muslims and African-Americans after the election.
And these are only a handful of the dozens of outrageous remarks the president-elect has made in the past year and a half. These are stubborn facts recorded in articles and video footage. Yet Mr. Banuelos criticizes Democrats and the media establishment as the ones who “openly decr[ied] an entire segment of the American population,” as if his candidate had not done so all on his own.
He then claims that Mr. Trump won in response to an intolerant ideology that “is quick to label political opponents rather than engage in meaningful dialogue.” He is right in that regard — except he points the finger at the wrong candidate.
The author says that we should all agree that “legitimate acts of racism need to be called out and dealt with accordingly.” Perhaps he should start with all the Trump supporters who have verbally and physically assaulted women, Muslims and African-Americans after the election. Or he could start by acknowledging the support that his candidate has received from groups like the Ku Klux Klan, who are so enthusiastic about his victory that David Duke, a former grand wizard of that organization boasted, “our people have played a HUGE role in electing Trump!”
But perhaps, Mr. Banuelos, you argue that grouping you together with the KKK is an inherently unfair characterization, and you would be right. After all, no group containing millions of Americans can be fairly painted with broad brushstrokes. Yet you seem so unhesitatingly willing to do the same for those who opposed Mr. Trump’s candidacy by labeling the large proportion of Americans who opposed Trump as merely “the left,” as if they were a monolithic political force devoid of the differing beliefs individuals can still have with their ideological peers.
If we really are to unite together and put patriotism above partisanship, we ought to start by dispensing with the caricatures that have permeated our discourse.
As a conservative, the author’s embrace of Trump’s candidacy on the basis of conservatism puzzles me. I believe that America is safest when we embrace a policy of what Reagan called “peace through strength,” by establishing a strong and rigorous defense and standing resolutely with our allies.
Trump believes that our partners in NATO are disposable, and that our support should be contingent upon how much they’ve paid us, as if we ought to play the role of the mafia demanding protection money. If Mr. Trump truly believed in “peace through strength,” he should know that NATO has helped preserve stability in Europe for over half a century, and that our alliances are instrumental to our security, especially in this increasingly interconnected world.
Conservatism stems from the belief that the free market is the greatest economic engine in history, and when reasonably regulated, can create a rising tide that lifts all boats. Free trade facilitated Europe’s miraculous economic recovery after World War II and America’s stratospheric rise to the status of a global superpower. It has enabled those with lower incomes to have higher spending power by giving them access to cheaper products, and capitalism continues to be the economic force that lifts millions out of poverty in Africa and Asia.
Donald Trump represents the type of individual our Founders feared: a demagogue who appeals to our society’s worst impulses.
This is not to say that freer trade has not come without its costs. Millions of American workers have lost manufacturing jobs because of foreign competition, and we should rightfully find ways to help them. But Donald Trump’s policies will not do that. Instead he believes he can bring jobs back to America by threatening to hike up tariffs with China and withdraw from NAFTA, stoking the very real possibility of a trade war that would hurt the very middle-class and working poor families he claims to champion.
While conservatives believe in fiscal responsibility through lowering taxes and broadening the tax base, Trump instead proposes playing a game of fiscal acrobatics by favoring massive tax cuts and simultaneously promising to dramatically increase spending. His policies would recklessly add $11.5 trillion to the debt over the next decade in a plan so incoherent it would make a volume of Tolstoy or Dostoevsky seem easily comprehensible.
Mr. Banuelos ends by saying that, “Those who pretend their ‘existence’ is at risk by having a President Trump should remember he cannot do anything without the discretion of 535 members of Congress.” On this point, the author may well be right … If we discount the president’s power to veto legislation, negotiate treaties, deport illegal immigrants, detain suspected terrorists, order troops into combat, conduct drone strikes or launch nuclear warheads.
The executive branch may be checked by the powers of the legislative and the judicial, but let’s not kid ourselves about how “little” the president can do. The office carries a great burden of responsibility, one that I do not believe Donald Trump is fit to carry.
I’m ashamed of the decision our country has made on who should be president for the next four years. I believe that we have a special obligation to be responsible stewards of this country. Donald Trump represents the type of individual our Founders feared: a demagogue who appeals to our society’s worst impulses.
Yet on January 20th, he will become the next president of the United States, and one can only hope, against the preponderance of evidence thus far, that he truly becomes a president for all Americans. He would do well to remember what Kennedy said in his inaugural: “Civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof.”
Calvin Chiu isn’t quite ready to welcome the President-elect with open arms.