Thursday, May 04, 2017

An Open Letter to Trump Supporters

Dear trump supporters,

I understand why you voted for the guy. I really do. Forgive me if I am making assumptions here, but I think I understand the issues that brought you to him.

You feel like you've been left out of America, for reasons unknown.

You feel like everybody except you is getting some kind of break or special treatment, leaving you to twist in the wind.

You look at the recovery since the Great Recession, and you are disappointed at its pace.

You did not agree with President Obama on much of anything, and felt that Democrats and liberals were emasculating and watering down the United States.

You have felt like this for a while, but could never really get enthused about the rich old white guys the Republican Party was trotting out every four years. John McCain was a war hero, sure, but picking Sarah Palin as a running mate made you question his judgement. Mitt Romney was so far removed from your everyday concerns, and so hopelessly out of touch, you could find no common ground with him.

Then along comes donald trump. Yes, another rich white guy, but he sounded like he understood you and your problems, like he was able to connect with you on the issues you care about. His rhetoric was inflammatory. He pissed off the establishment. He pissed off the media. He made no bones about the fact that he didn't care who he pissed off, he was going to "make America great again." And he was so blatantly rude, so delightfully obnoxious, that you found yourself believing what he said.

You were able to overlook the lying, the allegations of child rape, the misogyny, the xenophobia. You were able to laugh when he mocked a disabled reporter. You believed him when he said that Hillary Clinton was a crook, and possibly a murderer. You believed him when he said that the allegations of Russian involvement were nothing more than sad attempts to discredit him. After the election, you accepted as gospel his assertion that millions of illegal votes were cast against him and that he actually won the popular vote as well as the Electoral College.

He said he was going to repeal the Affordable Care Act on "day one." Instead, the Republicans slapped together a poorly thought out bill that nobody in their right mind would vote for and dragged it kicking and screaming to the floor of the House for a vote. It was pulled at the last minute because over half of the members of the House of Representatives realized that supporting it would be political suicide in 2018.

He was going to halt Muslim immigration "until we figure out what the hell is going on." He tried it, twice. Both times his travel bans were thrown out as unconstitutional.

He said he was going to "drain the swamp," then proceeded to stock it with some of the meanest, nastiest, greediest Wall Street crocodiles imaginable.

He said he was going to build a wall on the southern border and make Mexico pay for it. Instead he is proposing that we end up paying for it after all … and he hasn't even addressed the question of what to do with the 800 miles or so of border that is in the middle of the Rio Grande River. Do we cede the river to Mexico? Do we attempt to force Mexico to cede it to us?

He was going to get rid of NAFTA, "one of the worst trade deals in the history of trade deals." This has been downgraded to "renegotiate NAFTA."

Look, I get it. All politicians make campaign promises that aren't kept. In many cases the intentions are honorable but circumstances on the ground forced their hand (I'm thinking specifically of George H. W. Bush's "Read my lips: no new taxes" pledge that, thanks to fiscal concerns and a recession in 1990, he was forced to walk back).. The only difference between trump and normal politicians is that he has taken lying and blatant self-interest to a whole new level.

Granted, an argument could be made that his willingness to lie his ass off, with absolutely no apologies, to get what he wants is some sort of salutary quality in a politician. After all, the argument goes, he may be full of shit, but he's open about it, so you know where you stand.

The problem is that all of us – you, me, your kids, my kids, your crazy Uncle Bert who wears his underwear on his head to prevent ISIS from reading his brain waves – are going to bear the brunt of his monstrously bad decisions. Healthcare, the environment, economic policy … everything will be decided with a constituency of one in mind: trump himself.

While there may be a few cases where his self-interest may coincide with yours, trust me when I say that is not by design but just a happy quirk of fate. And these cases will be few and far between.

Take the latest healthcare bill, for example. During the campaign trump said he was going to replace the ACA with "something terrific," something that would be cheaper and provide better coverage. It turns out that it will be cheaper only for healthy people … the more you need it, the more it's going to cost you, by virtue of something called "high-risk pools." In addition, while people cannot be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions, they CAN be charged up to five time more for the same coverage as someone who does not have a pre-existing condition.

Oh, and things like pregnancy are considered to be pre-existing conditions.

So now I say to you, trump supporter, where does this leave you? Unless you are in absolutely perfect health, you will be paying significantly more for your health care … and in some cases it will be so expensive you will choose to forgo it altogether. Which you will be able to do, since another thing trump wants to do is get rid of the individual mandate.

The long and short of it is this: the only difference between the Republican plan and the way things were before the ACA is that you will not be denied due to a pre-existing condition. However, the number of uninsured people will go up, health care costs in general will go up since people will be using emergency rooms more, and the population as a whole will be sicker.

Or let's look at employment. Congress just passed a bill – The Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017 – that, among its other provisions, allow employees who work overtime to receive comp time instead of time-and-a-half pay. While the language of the bill seems to put matters in the hands of the employee, there is one clause concerning the use of accrued comp time that is cause for concern: " An employee … shall be permitted by the employee’s employer to use such time within a reasonable period after making the request if the use of the compensatory time does not unduly disrupt the operations of the employer."

This looks reasonable on its face, but there is nothing in the bill to prevent the employer from telling the employee that time off cannot be granted because it would "unduly disrupt the operations of the employer." In that case, the employee will have basically worked for free, and won't get paid for it until the end of the fiscal year.

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely hate the idea of having to wait up to a year to get paid.

I guess the point of this, dear trump supporter, is I would like to make a request of you. It's a simple one, one that will not cost you anything, and which will not affect your standing with your peers in any way.

All I ask is that you take a good, hard, objective look at trump. Put aside the inflammatory rhetoric, put aside your distaste for liberals in general and Democrats in particular. Throw away party and ideological labels entirely, and just look at the facts.

Not KellyAnne Conway's "alternative facts," but true, objective, verifiable facts.

If, after this exercise, you still support trump, then you have my blessing. However, I honestly believe that, once you strip away trump's showmanship and outrageousness, his prevarication and bullying, you will see that the man has little to no clue of what he is doing, and the Republican Party is in a position to completely strip you of what little rights and dignity the past twenty years or so have left to you.

I'm not saying you have to become a liberal, or a Democrat, or both (although, I gotta be honest, I would not complain in the least if you did). In fact, if you wish to stay true to your conservative Republican principles, this exercise becomes even more important. After all, trump is transforming your party into an unrecognizable authoritarian, oligarchic regime, one that wants to build a new plutocracy for the 21st century.

I'm sure you don't want to see that happen to the country you love, and for which so many of you fought bravely.


Every Liberal Ever

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