Understanding Trump: separating man from president


U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during CPAC 2019 on March 02, 2019 in National Harbor, Maryland. The American Conservative Union hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference to discuss conservative agenda. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/TNS)

By Ajay Dugar, Columnist

Trump’s election was a slap in the face to the Democratic establishment. With many different news and polling outlets giving Hillary Clinton upwards of a 90 percent chance of winning the election, Democrats should have cruised to an easy victory. Yet, two years later, we have President Trump facing unprecedented resistance with widespread calls for removal (via the 25th Amendment), assassination and other despicable acts. What happened?

The answer lies in how we view individuals. There is a fundamental disconnect between how liberals view President Trump and what his actual presidency entails.

I understand how distasteful Trump is to many liberals. If you gave me the choice of grabbing a beer with either Trump or Obama, it’s Obama by a landslide. Young, eloquent and charismatic, Obama was JFK-esque as a presidential figure.

In stark contrast, we have Trump: a boorish, petty and ill-mannered individual constantly sparring with opponents on Twitter. But too often, we conflate someone’s speech and perception with their actions. By comparing the two presidencies, we can get a sense of why this is.

From my libertarian perspective, Obama’s presidency was riddled with failure. He divided Americans, with 60 percent of Americans indicating he worsened race relations during his time in office. He normalized doing business with American enemies, opening up trade with Cuba and Iran, while standing by while Russia invaded Crimea.

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He passed the Affordable Care Act without a single Republican vote with healthcare premiums for the average American doubling between 2013 and 2017. With Clinton promising a continuation of similar policies, the 2016 presidential election was a clear sign of Obama’s historically poor presidency.

Looking at Trump’s track record as president, he’s acted like any other standard Republican politician. He’s actively pursued deregulation, taken a hardline stance on trade, acted against illegal immigration and has pushed economic development, a la Reaganomics. These policies are nothing out of the ordinary for a right-leaning platform.

So why the disconnect? One obvious reason is tribalism. As human beings, we are naturally inclined to stereotypes and assumptions. In a 2017 Reuters poll, the news group asked voters a series of policy questions. It then asked the same questions to include President Trump’s position on the issue. Not surprisingly, on policies “supported” by Trump, Democratic approval decreased and Republican approval increased.

The media and the Democratic establishment are also to blame. Painting Trump supporters as racists, deplorables and Nazis is ignorant and normalizes the behavior of actual racists and white supremacists. Throwing these words around cheapens their meaning and significantly decreases the chance of productive dialogue. It’s gotten to the point where political surveys aren’t reliable anymore, with severe underpolling of Republicans. When you’re being screamed at about being a racist, sexist or fascist for simply supporting a mainstream political party, there’s a good chance you’ll be less willing to discuss politics with strangers.

The failure of Democrats to learn these lessons led to their underperformance in the 2018 midterms and leads me to believe their chances in 2020 aren’t much better. The sooner they realize Trump is just another Republican politician and not Hitler, the quicker they can hammer Trump on actual policy decisions.

Remember, words may show a man’s wit, but actions will show his meanings.

Ajay is a junior in Engineering.

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