There have been more than a few casualties in the lead up to November’s presidential election and all of them used to exist in your social circle.
For several months now, Republicans supporting Donald Trump have had to endure the wrath of Hillary Clinton supporting friends and family members calling them a host of insults that range from “uninformed” (that one probably comes from a really kind-hearted friend, a nun perhaps) to “racist zombie” (that’s the cousin who will be washing her hair on the day of your funeral). Democrats, meanwhile, are the entire reason why this country is going to pot, according to their former Republican friends, and they definitely hate the police and America, but love Satan, who most assuredly would keep a private email server, too, if ever given the chance to hold political office.
Suffice to say, everyone is at everyone else’s throats and abnormal levels of vitriol are preventing most of us from hearing each other. In an effort to, in some small way, achieve understanding, we asked Trump, Clinton and a few Bernie Sanders supporters to ask and answer burning questions provided by (for lack of a better description) their political opponents. This first piece gives Trump supporters the floor — here are their answers to five questions provided by folks who identify as Democrats or Independents.
Question #1: Is Trump really an outsider?
Donald Trump claims to be an “outsider” who is going to come in and shake up the system. And yet, from the earliest stages of his political career, his has relied on political connections (first his father’s, then his own) to get public money for his projects. More recently, he has been a significant donor to both parties and their candidates. Like he claims, we have to assume he got something for his money. How does this information reconcile with the claim that he is an “outsider?” That seems very much like an insider to me.
Answer #1: During his career, Trump was bound by no party, yet he was embraced by politicians. After borrowing a million from his own father, he eventually, through trial and error, created and maintained a billion dollar empire. Trump isn’t a career politician taking donations from questionable sources and he is not ashamed of being wealthy. He doesn’t mind publicity and he’s certainly not afraid of the camera. He pulls no punches, makes few apologies and is in NO ONE’S pocket. He is pretty much loathed simply because he doesn’t beat around the bush. When it comes to speaking his mind he has little to no filter and he is often brutally honest. In my eyes these traits make him more approachable and more of an “everyman” than any other candidate that I’ve seen in a very long time. It’s his honesty that will “shake things up” if he gets elected. And the fact that he’s his “own man” is what makes him an “outsider.” — Deirdre R., 40, New York, N.Y.
Answer #2: Relatively speaking, Trump is as much of an outsider as you can get in politics, especially when you consider that only three U.S. presidents in history were elected without having any experience as politicians. Is Trump Johnny Cash? No. But next to Clinton, who is bought and sold by Wall Street, he is the closest thing America has ever gotten to a normal person who thinks for himself. — Amber V., 26, Nashville
Question #2: What about Trump’s temperament?
Do you feel that Trump has the temperament and experience necessary to carry out the duties attached to the Presidency, given that this involves working with many institutions within our own country and all around the world? Or do you feel that his potential to irritate, shake-up, or blow-up these institutions is beneficial? I’m interested to know what specific temperamental qualities Trump voters are looking for in our chief executive and why.
Answer #1: I feel that some elements of Trump’s temperament and experience can be beneficial to his role as President and, on balance, he is the best suited out of the two candidates on offer. His ability to disrupt institutions is especially appealing these days. Put simply, these institutions are failing us: governmental institutions within our country are smothering the private sector, which has led to historically low economic growth and diminished economic opportunities for all (indeed, the only other time when our country faced such dismal growth after a recession was another period when the unchecked power of the administrative state smothered the private sector: during the Great Depression); institutions outside of our country are being either ignored or used as tools by autocratic regimes. The architects of the failure of these institutions cannot be trusted to fix them. Trump’s stated bias towards defending the interests the United States and its citizens is especially refreshing. This is not to say that President Obama or Hillary Clinton do not care for the interests of the US at all; I believe they do, but they are more concerned with their reputation in the international community, which naturally leads to the sacrifice of our interests. This is evidenced by Obama’s desire to have the architecture of the Internet taken over by other governments (who do not share our views on free expression) and climate change agreements that do not impose any restrictions whatsoever on large emerging emitters of CO2 such as China and India. — Jacob B., 42, New York
Answer #2: Government is a huge business, and the fact is that Trump is a billionaire who has done well for himself. I think he’s more qualified than Barack Obama, who was a one-term senator who was usually indecisive when it came time to vote for legislation. At least Trump has run multiple corporations and has made a success at of himself. As for his temperament: I don’t think that this is the real Donald Trump. I think he keeps saying scandalous things to get where he is. But I would rather hear him speak than the politicians who clean up their speeches and, when I’m not looking or even when I am, lie, cheat, and pull underhanded crap. — Anna Maria C., 66, New York
Answer #3: I don’t think Trump has a temperament to be president, but I honestly don’t think he would keep the position if elected. I think that Trump would resign or be impeached and that Pence will continue his term. The only qualities that he has that people seem to like is a no nonsense, anti-professional politician with a slick tongue. He doesn’t need to be politically correct because no one is funding him. We are a hyper sensitive society, continually offended by just about anything. We are a whiny, petulant childlike society always wanting something for nothing, respect without earning it, education without paying for it, food without planting it and then wonder why the world laughs at us in all important areas of development. We are regressing, not advancing, and societal norms have a lot to do with that. — Kelly F., 30, Maryland
Question #3: Is Trump as successful as he claims?
With no record in military or government, Trump has staked most of his campaign on his record as a businessman. And yet, if you seriously examine his record, his business record is spotty at best. He has repeatedly declared bankruptcy, stiffed contractors and investors and pulled out profit while leaving everyone else holding the bag. None of his significant business partners spoke at his convention, and many other businessmen, including Mark Cuban and Mike Bloomberg, have described his self-claimed wealth as fictional and delusional. If business is his calling card, and his business record cannot bear scrutiny, then how can you vote for him? If he runs the country like he runs companies, that would be a disaster.
Answer #1: More recently, Warren Buffet derided Trump’s business record by pointing out that a monkey choosing stocks with a dartboard would have generated more capital gains than he has; it was also pointed out that if Trump had plowed the profits from his first build into the S&P 500, kept it there and didn’t do anything with it for decades, he would have far more money he does now. These assertions are true, but totally miss the point: the appealing part of Trump’s business record is that he has built real assets and businesses. Many of his supporters are hoping that, as a result of this experience, Trump sees the true cost of our unprecedentedly high and arbitrarily enforced regulatory burden and excessive and illogically collected taxes and will work to reduce both – these are things that someone who has spent a lifetime in the military, academia, or government, or engages in speculation, just doesn’t see. A business person lives them on a daily basis.
It is true that in the latter part of his career, Trump has pivoted toward licensing his name, but that name has value based on the reputation he has built, and this is a natural progression (does Bill Gates still code? Of course not, other than for fun. Does Mark Cuban still run Broadcast.com? Nope – he sold out (good for him) and runs a basketball team. Does Bloomberg still peddle workstations door-to-door? No – he started a second act dabbling in politics. — Jacob B., 42, New York
Answer #2: First off, Bloomberg has zero credibility because he disregarded democratic tradition and the concept of term limits by running for a third term and tried to beguile us by saying that maneuver saved the city. I will never entertain anything that sociopathic tyrant says. In terms of Trump’s successes as a businessman, his net worth is all that matters. If you open two dozen businesses and only one is as successful as Trump’s, you’ve succeeded. Every entrepreneur will tell you that. As the old saying goes “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”. So as far as I’m concerned he’s a successful businessman. Declaring bankruptcy is a legal loophole to avoid taxes. This is one of the benefits he has taken advantage of legally. Every business does this. Trump often talks about simplifying the tax code which means removing this loophole. He wants to eliminate the IRS as well by implementing a standard tax across the board, therefore eliminating all tax loopholes. Eliminating the IRS and simplifying the tax code would mean all companies would pay their fair share of taxes along with cutting out unnecessary government jobs in the IRS. — Christopher V., 37, Nassau Country
Question #4: How Trump talks about immigrants and women
Do you agree with the hateful things Trump has said about Muslims and Mexicans? If not, how can you make your peace with those statements? Are you comfortable with how Trump treats and talks about women?
Answer #1: He hasn’t technically said anything hateful about Mexicans and Muslims as a people. Saying immigrants have to come here legally is common sense. We have 12 million undocumented immigrants in our country. That is unacceptable and impractical. Why are we responsible for EVERYONE all of a sudden? I’m all for legal and regulated immigration, but other countries need to take responsibility for their destinies. They need an infusion of Enlightenment philosophies and fight against tyranny, drug cartels and extremist warlords. Our government’s first priority is to keep its citizens safe, not illegal immigrants or refugees. If one doesn’t agree with that, then they nullify the importance of our Constitution. They can also be deemed as anarchists because of their disregard for laws. Why do liberals want to give a pass to illegal immigrants and proclaim laws surrounding this issue are irrelevant? These are the same people who want stricter gun laws that will essentially prevent law-abiding citizens from obtaining firearms as per our Second Amendment. Bad people do bad things. Bad people will get guns regardless of additional restrictions. It’s that simple. — Christopher V., 37, Nassau County
Answer #2: I agree with some of the statements about the Mexicans and the Muslims. Here are my reasons. Eighty percent of illegal Central American women are raped before crossing the border from Mexico. We know illegals have killed people because the democrats won’t pass Kate’s Law. Most Muslims aren’t terrorists; unfortunately most terrorists are Muslim. How do we figure which is and which isn’t? I don’t think Trump hates women. I do agree he does say stuff that he shouldn’t. I’m not thrilled with either candidate, but I am voting for Trump because I want a change and I truly do not trust Hillary. She has done too much to even think about voting for her. — Debbie D.V., 57, New York
Answer #3: With regards to Mexicans and Muslims he is playing on the fear of voters. Mexicans who are crossing the border illegally are taking their jobs and cost our government billions of dollars that can be used to help our own people. As far as Muslims, I do agree to a degree. Our government has shown no ability to be able to do a complete and thorough background check on immigrants coming into this country legally. Muslims area group like Jews who are identified not by their nationality, but by religion. With the common occurrences of terror attacks committed by Muslims and the issues overseas that European countries are dealing with in regards to Syrian refugees, I believe there should be a moratorium on these people immigrating to the US until they can be properly vetted. As a father and a member of a two income family, my wife and I work every day and we still struggle to get ahead. I feel that it is about time that we put ourselves as American first and stop sending money and jobs to other countries.— Brian C., 39, Glendale, N.Y.
Answer #4: Donald Trump is one of the most misquoted, misunderstood and verbally dissected candidates that I’ve ever seen. I don’t necessarily agree with what Trump says about Mexicans as much as I agree with what he says about illegal immigrants as a whole. Why are we so willing to give countless benefits, scholarship money and donations to people that (the majority of the time) don’t have any intention of paying it forward by working to gain their American citizenship? Meanwhile, the cases of Americans that are unable to find work, pay for college, go to the doctor, buy food or even pay rent continue to grow. Yet a Muslim family can find diplomatic solace, and be given almost immediate housing, medical and food assistance while they attempt to look for work in a job market that can’t even sustain enough work for the people that have been living here their whole lives. And when national security is at stake, I absolutely stand with Trump when he says that every single refugee needs to be thoroughly vetted (no matter how long it takes) before they are given free reign to any of our assistance. This doesn’t just go for Muslim refugees. When it comes to Trump’s comments on women, it seems that the majority of the derogatory comments that he makes are on a case by case or person by person basis. His words have never been an attack on all of “womankind.” Rather, when he is attacked, he attacks right back. He fights equally. So what if he tends to hit below the belt? Wasn’t he the same man that, when asked what he thought of women as a whole, was quoted as saying that he “adored” them? — Deirdre R., 40, New York City
Question #5: What about the wall?
Do you believe Trump will actually build a wall spanning the Mexican-American border? If not, why is saying this?
Answer #1: NO. But I do find it funny, that there are videos of Bill Clinton saying the same things in regards to immigration and illegal aliens from Mexico. I have no problem with people coming to this country LEGALLY. I also have a problem with the fact that if you go to another country you are expected to conform to their way of life. Here we let everybody do what they want. — Brian C., 39, Glendale
Answers #2: Of course not — Mexico would never agree to it. But everyone is missing the point: by making crazy statements about the wall, Trump has drawn attention to what really matters: finding a way for this country to get a handle on the crazy explosion of illegal immigrants that other countries would never stand for. — Andrea M., 28, Phoenix
Answer #3: Whether he does or doesn’t authorize the construction of a wall is irrelevant. As long as he protects our borders and prevents illegal immigrants from entering the country, then he is doing his constitutional duty to “insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, and promote the general welfare.” As far as the undocumented immigrants, we should not deport the ones currently here, but rather let them pay a back tax for a Visa to stay. — Christopher V., 37, Nassau County