Radical Republicans: The Real Trump Legacy
It was not until I read this op-ed by Paul Krugman in The New York Times, not my favorite editorialist or economist despite his having won the Nobel Prize, that I was able to identify what has been so upsetting to me in the weeks since Joe Biden’s victory. Why did the outcome of what appeared to be the most organized, civil and peaceful election in history with more participants than ever before despite the coronavirus pandemic become so controversial?
I have had many conversations with friends who voted for Donald Trump. Many justify it as a vote against the Democrats. The Biden and Harris ticket represented socialism to them. This despite the fact that all of these people are over 65 and would never part with their Medicare. But the very idea that Joe Biden stands for a socialist agenda is ridiculous in the extreme. Has there ever been a more middle-of-the road Democrat? Maybe, but not since John Kennedy or Scoop Jackson. I think that my Trump-voting friends have other ideas in mind when they pulled the lever for Trump. It is not about socialism although it may be about paying a bit more in taxes to correct the huge disparity in wealth in the country where all of the increase in economic value has gravitated to the top 10% in the last twenty or so years. It is no coincidence that my friends are all in that 10% and most closer to the top 1%.
Thus, reason number one that many of my friends voted for Donald Trump and probably would again if the Senate doesn’t drive him out of politics for good is personal greed. This all began with Ronald Reagan when we stopped being in it together and started grabbing for as much as we could for ourselves. A country cannot survive like that. Reagan’s motto was I got my million so f*** you, as one comedian said at the time. It’s no different now. These wealthy Trump voters ought to know better, but they voted for a madman anyway.
The second reason many people who should know better (and there were 75 million of them) is racism. Simply put, Trump launched himself in American politics on the birther claim and continued on with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rhetoric that appeals to wealthy white folks and apparently to some poor white folks too who want to be sure that they are at least ahead of the black and brown people. It’s the caste thing. How else can you explain all of these poor people voting against their own best interest?
Finally, my friends say forget about Trump’s personality or how he says things, consider his excellent policies. Which ones were these? The border wall was idiotic and never got constructed anyway. The Muslim ban was racist and based on Trump’s saying that American Muslims celebrated the towers falling on 9/11 which is false. His tax cut helped the wealthy and never did pay for itself any more than Reagan’s voodoo economics did. Trump’s policies around the coronavirus crisis were a disaster to both the health of Americans and the health of our economy. He managed neither very well and the vaccine rollout is dreadful.
The only good policies Trump articulated was his assessment of the role of China in the world and his breakthrough ideas about shaking up the Middle East. That’s it. I’ll give you the conservative judges, but any Republican would have done that.
So I don’t know whether it’s greed and the over-concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, the transparent racism with “good people on both sides” in Charlottesville, or his mishandling of the coronavirus crisis, but I simply do not see how you can find anything good about Donald Trump. Forget about his rhetoric. He has done the impossible. He has turned mainstream Republicanism into a radical group of rebellious rowdies, many of whom stormed the Capitol in his name.
To all my friends who voted for Trump in 2020, you only have one reasonable response. “I’m sorry.” Let’s move on.