Questions for Trump supporters
President Trump is now deliberately making two national crises even deadlier as he spreads both the coronavirus and racial tensions.
Why is this president inciting armed anti-shutdown protests on the one hand, and violence against peaceful anti-racism protests on the other? Obviously, not to be presidential and call to our better angels to unite our divided nation, but to rally his supporters to salvage his reelection because it’s always Trump above country.
And he does have a solid bloc of supporters to rally. Since his first month in office, over 90 percent of Republicans have stuck with Trump through all his madness, mayhem, division and destruction — even during his incomprehensible and disease-spreading dereliction of leadership amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Roughly 200 percent of his base, the red-hat MAGAs, are ride-or-die with Trump over the cliff. That explains why Trump’s cellar-dwelling approval ratings are still at nearly 50 percent.
What I don’t understand is why anyone still supports Trump.
So as a former journalist, I’m going straight to the source and asking my fellow Americans who are still in the tank for Trump a few questions that are troubling me:
1. Presuming you’re smart, decent people, what the hell?
Without repeating White House/Fox News spin, in your hearts and minds do you really believe Trump’s doing a great job leading our country in the right direction?
Deep down, don’t you worry that his oft-confirmed incompetence, utter disregard for basic rules, norms, decency and decorum, preening narcissism, Dunning-Kruger confident cluelessness, and overall despicable behavior are making America worse, not greater?
2. Do you think the President of the United States, commander in chief of our armed forces, and historically the leader of the free world and model for our children should act like Trump?
3. If you’re an old-school Republican, isn’t it getting impossible to compartmentalize Trump anymore, dismissing his unhinged, vile, malicious tweets, statements and mob-chanting Volksgemeinschaft rallies as just “Trump being Trump” because you like his economic policies?
4. Is your Trump support merely about pumping the Dow or cutting taxes and regulations — most of which protect people from harm — for more money at the ruination of the nation? When is enough quite enough?
5. If you’re a struggling white MAGA, is your Trump support merely about anger, resentment and hostility against your fellow Americans who Trump says hurt you? And Trump is the only one who hears you, speaks for you, and stands up for you?
Do you realize how he’s manipulating and “leveraging” you? Without benefiting you? To quote candidate Ronald Reagan in his debate with President Jimmy Carter, “are you better off than you were four years ago?”
6. Don’t you care that Trump is destroying the Affordable Care Act, potentially leaving millions mortally sick with coronavirus and other maladies without health insurance and facing medical bankruptcy?
It doesn’t bother you he blithely broke his major campaign promise to “immediately” replace ACA with a much better plan, and in fact, his health secretary said there won’t be a plan until after the election when the Supreme Court might overturn the ACA?
7. Can you defend Trump without deflecting to “What about Hillary?” or “What about Bill Clinton?” or “What about Obama and Obamagate?” or “What about the liberals?” or “What about the fake news mainstream media?” or “What about the Deep State” or “What about Antifa?” or “What about AOC and The Squad?” or “What about Maxine Waters?”
8. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement by Father James Martin, a prominent Jesuit priest and author, after Trump’s June 1 Bible-waving photo op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church?
“Using the Bible as a prop while talking about sending in the military, bragging about how your country is the greatest in the world, and publicly mocking people on a daily basis, is pretty much the opposite of all Jesus stood for.
Let me be clear. This is revolting. The Bible is not a prop. A church is not a photo op. Religion is not a political tool. And God is not a plaything.”
9. How about the response from the Catholic Archbishop of Washington, Wilton Gregory, who found it “baffling and reprehensible” that the church could “be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people, even those with whom we might disagree”?
10. If you call yourself a Christian and send “prayers” on Facebook, would you also share the statements of Fathers Martin and Gregory with family and friends? Do you respect Trump more than the clergy? If you disagree with their Christian views, what’s your argument? What would you say to their faces?
11. If you’re an old-school Reagan Republican, folks who always stood for conservative decency and family values and attacked Democrats for being morally corrupt and destroying society, how can you embrace or excuse this Republican president? Why is a guy who chronically lies, cheats and channels the vulgar, obscene, misogynistic “comic” Andrew Dice Clay ok?
12. Do you worry that when the president incites angry hearts and minds it can lead to death and destruction? Like you accuse “the left,” which doesn’t have the presidential bully pulpit, of fomenting?
13. You do know, of course, that our history of racial subjection didn’t end with Lincoln’s emancipation or even with the civil rights laws since the 1960s, right?
You must know how centuries of treating black Americans as second-class citizens — systematically denying them equal rights and opportunities for education, jobs, income, housing and other mainstays of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness — has set them far back from white Americans, right?
So you certainly realize saying “we’re all equal now” and blaming black Americans for the challenges they face is worse than ignorant of history — it’s the definition of modern racism? And saying you don’t see color, you’re colorblind, means you’re blind to people of color and the suspicions they face? As is focusing more on the protests than the provocation?
14. Do you believe taking down Confederate statues and flags is liberals erasing American history? While you declare slavery happened a long time ago, we need to let it go?
Do you not care when Trump rally-goers wave Confederate flags, willfully blind to the racist, anti-American, treasonous message, as the disgusted Republicans of the Lincoln Project have pointed out?
Do you get how offensive “all lives matter,” “blue lives matter” and worse, “white lives matter,” are for many of our fellow Americans if you care about them?
15. Can you say with a straight face that Trump doesn’t intentionally inspire white supremacists and racial hate, resentment and division for political purposes? Can you see how that makes Trump a racist? And how Trump supporters can’t escape the dark personal implications of supporting a racist president?
Of course you’re not racist! Sorry, I don’t mean to imply if you inferred.
But are you comfortable with the soul-splitting cognitive dissonance of supporting Trump’s policies and ignoring his racism? Aren’t you just a bit concerned about lying down with a dog and waking up with fleas?
Finally, I’m begging you:
When, for the sake of our country, civility, unity and respect for the majority of Americans who fear Trump’s division and destruction, will you say enough is enough, step up, speak out, and demand better from our president? And put country above self? Especially in this hour of maximum danger?
As the old question goes, If not now, when?
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.