I do not support Donald Trump. But what if I did? He legitimately won the election under our democratic system; only a quarter of the country voted for him, but that is the system we have. His rhetoric is divisive and untethered from evidence, but that is the rhetoric we decided was acceptable. The choices he makes, whether we like it or not, will shape our country and possibly the world for many years to come.
One thing I am sure of is that being politically divided and unwilling to change our views is a self-reinforcing feedback loop. It’s easy to use division to justify more. But I don’t want to do that. I want to have solidly-evidenced political positions.
I don’t plan to say “oh, give him a chance,” because our country already decided to give him that on November 8th, and because I do not personally expect him to become any more respectful or honest as president than he was in the year preceding the election. Nor do I intend to shut up about what I disagree with, because critiquing the government is patriotic and quashing dissent is undemocratic.
So he’d have my critique even if he already had my support. But what would he have to do to get my support? Under what conditions would I say “Well, I didn’t expect it, but he’s doing a good job”? If my opposition to Trump is partisan, there will be no such conditions. But if my opposition to Trump is based on his policies and actions, I should be able to say under what conditions I would change my mind.
Here they are:
1. If Donald Trump tries to improve the American economy by putting forth policies that have clear evidence for creating good jobs with a living wage, I will support him in that. Despite the overall recovery from the 2008 recession, too many parts of our country have continued to decline, and too many people are working multiple jobs and still unable to make ends meet.
2. If Donald Trump takes steps to fairly and humanely deal with our country’s immigration challenges, without demonizing immigrants, rolling back civil rights, or offering blame instead of practical solutions, I will support him in that. A Trump supporter recently convinced me, with the evidence, that illegal immigration is a slight net-loss on our national economy. I therefore support well-evidenced policies that would make immigration a net gain instead.
3. If Donald Trump puts forth any proposals that would lead to an overall reduction in global carbon emissions without causing major social or ecological harm, I will support him in that. Climate change is an exigent threat to the American economy and way of life, and we’ve neglected it so long that nearly any step in the right direction would have my support.
3. If Donald Trump fulfills his campaign promise to remove the influence of rich special interests in our political system, I will support him in that. The interests of the super-rich are not the interests of the American people, and our representative government has weighted representation far too much towards those who already have power and far too little towards the majority of our citizens.
4. If Donald Trump takes steps to expand civil rights for Americans regardless of creed, belief, gender, age, class, race, ability, or national origin, I will gladly support him in that. It is the ideal of constitution that all citizens are equal under the law, and if anyone who takes an oath to uphold the constitution is duty bound to fight against prejudice, bias, and marginalization of any American.
5. If Donald Trump ever admits he is wrong and changes his mind because of solid evidence, I will support him enthusiastically in doing so.
So those are my conditions, in no particular order. Those are the things Donald Trump could do to win my support. There are a few more issues, and I could go on about any of them, but those are the ones that seem most critical to me after watching this first month.
And those are things anyone on any side of the political spectrum ought to be able to agree with to some extent—at least, they are things people on all sides of our politics have claimed to agree with. When I call myself an independent, this is what I mean; this is the bar. Given the choice between two candidates of any party, I would go with the one who manages these and reject the one who does not.
So, Donald Trump, you want to keep your job? I’m your boss and this is your job description. This is how I’m going to continue to judge whether you’re a leader, or a failure, or a fraud.
Make the rest of your presidency a real presidency, where you are loyal to the entire country instead of a radical base, and I’ll forgive how poorly you’ve behaved this past year. I’ll forgive your rhetoric of prejudice and division. Come 2020, you might even get my vote.
But carry on your current path, stoking fear and hate and attacking my fellow Americans with morally bankrupt nonsense? Well, then I will defend them against you and stand in your way at every turn.
Because you see, you wanted the presidency, but you didn’t respect it. I do. And that’s why, if you want the consideration due that office, you have to earn it.
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