This has been a very curious election. I have never taken so much personal abuse from my friends and online acquaintances for my political views. I’ve been called racist, sexist, an embarrassment, a troll, and all kinds of bad names for expressing my views … and I’m still the same guy who was their best friend when I voted for Obama the first time around.
Now, I voted for Donald Trump very reluctantly. I’m not a fan of his style, and I don’t like some of his ideas. But at the end of the day I held my nose and voted for him … or more accurately, for his policies.
So let me see if I can explain my considerations, in order that people can stop thinking I’m some kind of ogre and realize that I have my reasons. Here are the issues that meant the most to me in this election, in order of importance.
#1 ISSUE: Means Of Production
There are three and only three ways to produce real tangible wealth. You can extract it from the natural world—dig a mine, catch a fish, fell a tree.
Or you can grow it—have a backyard garden, plant a tree farm, grow row vegetables.
Finally, you can manufacture it—start a factory, sew dresses in your home, build a boat.
That’s it. All the rest is services, perhaps essential services, but services nonetheless.
To understand this, suppose there are two couples on a tropical island. One person fishes, one has a garden, one gathers food and building materials from the forest, one makes clothes from local fiber. They could go on for a long time that way, they are creating real wealth.
But suppose on the next tropical island there are two couples, and one person is a barber, one is a doctor, one is a journalist, and one is a musician, noble occupations all but services all … that society will have nothing to eat, nothing to wear, nothing to keep them from the rain. Those occupations don’t create wealth, while the activities on the first island all do.
What does this have to do with the US? Well, in a move of unparalleled foolishness, and over the strong opposition of the unions, in 1992 the US signed the North American Free Trade Act, or NAFTA. This removed trade barriers, and to the accompanyment of what H. Ross Perot presciently called “a giant sucking sound”, a steady drain of US jobs started, and factories started getting sucked across the border to Mexico.
This free trade lunacy has been devastating to middle America, where if a factory leaves town the town can dry up and blow away.
Now, I wouldn’t mind if we lost some journalist jobs or barber jobs to Mexico. They’re service jobs. But we are giving away one of the three pillars of any nations wealth. Those three ways to create wealth are agriculture, extraction, and manufacturing, and we’re giving away one of the three, our manufacturing base!
Industrial-level stupidity …
Now, of the three candidates in this election, two of them wanted to repeal or renegotiate NAFTA and to reject the proposed free-trade Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The other candidate wanted to continue NAFTA, sign the TPP, and continue the disastrous free-trade policy. It was one of the few issues where Trump and Sanders agreed.
A nation is mad to give away one of the three means of production of wealth. I see the end of the free-trade madness as crucial to the continued economic strength of the US. Why should my neighbor have to compete with some joker in some failed economy who is willing to work for a pittance?
I see this as far and away the most important issue facing this country. Without all three means of producing wealth, it will be nearly impossible to dig ourselves out of the massive debt hole we are in. Let me recommend to everyone the most readable economics book I know of, “How Rich Countries Got Rich … and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor”. I was a full-on free-trade believer until I read it, and on the spot I did a 180° turnaround.
I note that Trump has already acted on this, saving the jobs of a thousand very grateful people at Carrier Airconditioning in Indiana. During the campaign he said Carrier could send the jobs to Mexico … but they’d face a 35% tax.
Not only that, but Obama has bailed out of the TPP talks, recognizing that it would never pass a Republican Senate. Trump has already saved existing manufacturing jobs, and prevented future job losses by ending the TPP, and he’s not even President yet! I am overjoyed, because along with Bernie I thought that the TPP was a colossal mistake that would ensure job losses forever. Now, one of my main economic goals has come to pass, the end of TPP, and he’s just getting started. How good is that?
And the folks whose jobs Trump just saved? He went to Carrier during the campaign, and many of the people supported him. So they were among what Hillary called the “basket of deplorables” … you can be sure that under Hillary the jobs of those deplorables would have been lost forever, and a thousand families would be wondering where there next paycheck would come from.
How can anyone, liberal or conservative, not applaud his success in that? “Free” trade is nothing of the sort. It is costing us our manufacturing.
#2 ISSUE: Corruption
If you don’t think Hillary is corrupt, you haven’t read the emails. The people involved condemn themselves by their own words. For example, Donna Brazile, the Democratic National Committee head, had to step aside because the emails revealed that she and John Podesta, the head of Hillary’s campaign, had secretly passed debate questions from the media to Hillary. Unscrupulous people in CNN, the “Clinton News Network”, passed the questions to Hillary’s people, they passed the questions to her, and she used them in the debate to pretend to be oh so much better prepared than Trump.
They say about corruption, “Fish rot from the head down”, and it is true—the rot went from Hillary downwards, and it sucked in John Podesta and Donna Brazile …
The emails also have someone saying, please tell Chelsea Clinton to shut up and stop boasting to the Bush twins about how Clinton Foundation funds, the very funds destined for the poor, were used to pay for her living expenses and her society wedding. The email said she’s blowing it with her big mouth, and it would hurt the campaign if it got out … ya think?
And of course this doesn’t touch the sale of access to the State Department via “speaking fees” and “donations” to the Clinton foundation. These are currently the subject of ongoing FBI investigations in five different cities … funny how now that she has no government access to sell, donations to the Clinton Foundation have gone right through the floor …
Now, when I lived in the Solomon Islands, I saw a curious thing. The nation had not been independent for long, and the British traditions of civil service remained. There was only minor, local corruption.
Then a man was elected Prime Minister who they said was so crooked he had to corkscrew himself into his pants in the morning … and they were right. The shocking thing was how fast and far the rot spread. Within a year or so, public officials at all levels had their hands out for a bribe. I was stunned by the transformation.
And having seen that, I was totally unwilling to take the chance of the Queen of Corruption sitting in the Oval Office.
#3 ISSUE: Immigration and Borders.
Our immigration system is badly broken. The problem is that it is broken in all its parts—visa issuance and border barriers and paths to citizenship and identifying overstayers and anchor babies and unaccompanied minors and inadequate vetting and detention centers and judicial procedures, it’s a mess from top to bottom. Both sides have agreed on this for years. I did not see Obama do anything to fix that. To the contrary, he seemed to be determined to let in more of what he saw not as “illegal aliens”, but as “undocumented Democrats”. I had no hope that Hillary would be better.
I am also very concerned about the ongoing resurgence of militant Islam, a virulent and lethal phoenix reborn for the thousandth time in the last fourteen centuries. Mohammed was a military genius who started a “forever war” against the west, and this is just the most recent example.
As a result, I found Trump’s claim reasonable, that our vetting procedures were inadequate and we should halt immigration from terrorist countries until we get a better vetting system. So I checked it out, and I found that the US wasn’t even checking the social media of the people they were letting in! The people doing the vetting were prohibited from looking at the Facebook pages of prospective citizens! So yeah, damn right, I absolutely want to shut down immigration from terrorist countries until that gaping hole gets plugged.
I also support deporting illegal aliens who’ve commited crimes, which he will do. Beyond that, I can only be guided by the fact that I’ve worked in other countries a lot, seventeen years and a bunch of jobs.
In all of the countries I worked in, if I were found working illegally in the country, they wouldn’t mess with the whole trial deal. No papers, no visa, you’re on the next plane out. Why is this a puzzle? Why can we not do the same, instead of detention centers and releasing people to await a trial that they will never attend?
#4 ISSUE: Lobbyists
Trump said during the campaign he’d implement a five-year rule saying people in executive government positions cannot work as lobbyists for five years after leaving, and can never work as a lobbyist for a foreign government. To my mind this will help greatly in curbing the incestuous relationship between lobbyists and government officials.
Again, he’s already acted on this, despite not yet being President. He’s told all his appointees that those are the rules if they want to work for his Administration. A politician doing what he said he’d do. How odd.
#5 ISSUE: Obamacare
My gorgeous ex-fiancee is a Registered Nurse Practitioner, the next step below a doctor. So I’ve been able to watch this slow-motion train wreck from the inside. Yes, I want people with pre-existing conditions to be able to get insurance, and kids to be able to stay on their folks insurance … but Obamacare has not worked. The strains on the medical profession have been insane, the system is breaking down, prices are skyrocketing, half the exchanges have crashed, not enough people have signed up, doctors are bailing, the government paperwork requirements have doubled, nurses are quitting in droves beause of the stress. I don’t know if the Republicans can do better, but it would be difficult to do worse. I’m impressed by the plans put forward by the new HHS Secretary, but time will tell.
So those were my top five reasons. Now, is Trump a brash asshole? Indeed, he’s a jerkwagon of the first water. He loves to stir the pot and get things boiling. He is a showman, a reality TV star totally at ease in front of the cameras and totally willing to be outrageous.
Has he said sexist things in his life? Sure, as have most 70-year-old men, I oughta know. And you gotta remember, this is the guy who owned the Miss America Pageant … but I, and many people, looked at what he has done, and not so much at what he has said. He has been insanely successful in three very, very different fields—business, entertainment (an amazing 17 seasons starring in “The Apprentice” plus Miss America), and politics. Who else do you know who has accomplished that? I, like many practical people, value deeds and accomplishments more than memberships on very important committees and appointments to unmerited positions … and in that sphere, the realm of real-world accomplishments, there’s no contest between Trump and Clinton.
Next, does Trump hate gays? Absolutely not. He sent congratulations to Elton John when Elton got married, he carried the rainbow flag on the campaign trail. People can relax on this one. One of the people first named to his Transition Team is gay. It’s not an issue.
What scares me about Trump? Most of the complaints that I hear are about his unpredictability and his habit of shooting from the hip. That doesn’t worry me one bit. Me, I’ve been a businessman long enough to know that the “wild man” is a persona he enjoys and uses to great advantage, but it can’t be who he actually is when things get tough or he wouldn’t ever have succeeded as he did. The media still hasn’t figured it out. For example, that he tweets outrageous things to direct the conversation in one direction or another … but that doesn’t mean it’s a position set in stone. A very astute woman reporter whose name escapes me said “The media took Trump literally, but not seriously. His followers took him seriously, but not literally”. As a result, the media were up in arms saying “He’s changed his mind, it won’t be a wall, part might be a fence, part might be electronic, he’s breaking a campaign promise”, while people like me understood that “The Wall” was nothing more than tweet shorthand for whatever barrier we need to build along the southern border.
So I’m not concerned about his tweets or his unpredictability, that’s for show and to manipulate the media. You don’t make millions of dollars and put up skyscrapers with tweets.
About the only fear I have of a Trump administration is the possibility of a reversal of Roe v. Wade. Not likely, but possible.
But after some consideration, I realized that in that unlikely event, it will go back to state-by-state like it was when I was a kid. And once again some women will have to travel to get an abortion. Not the world I’d like, but I can assuredly live with that in 2016 because unlike in the 1960s, most states nowadays would allow some kinds of abortion. In addition, state law is in line with the American experiment, wherein we let the people in each state decide what rules they want to live under. Marriage laws in New York are different from those in Wyoming because that’s what people in each state want.
Anyhow, that’s my confession of my reasons for my reluctant Trump vote. My reasons are well thought out and rationally defendable, backed by examples and evidence. More to the point, the reasons are neither racist, sexist, misogynist, homophobic, alt-right, nor anti-Semite, and I’d sure appreciate it if people would dial back on the accusations of same. Look, Hillary famously described half the Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables … racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic …” and it cost her lots of votes. If Democrats continue with those kinds of false accusations, claiming that people who did not vote as you did are morally flawed in evil ways and are bad people, it will ensure that Democrats will not regain power for a long, long time. Such accusations lose you votes, as Hillary found out.
Me, I think it will all work out fine, and people need to do what Hillary and Obama both advised—take a deep breath and give the Donald some space.
Let me close with some images that encapsulated for me the bizarre factionalism in this election that did see me get unfriended … more than once …
The image below is from postsecret.com, where people post their secrets …
My best wishes to everyone, I do think we can make this all work out to the benefit of all.