Criticizing President Trump Honestly

My plan is to finish the third (and hopefully final) draft of my novel today.  I’m excited to do this.  I’ve got a new ending in mind that I’ve lost sleep over.  This is going to be great!

Before I can get to this, I need to get this idea out of my head and onto the blog, because it’s getting in the way.  It’s an itch that I’ve put off scratching, and I don’t think I’m going to get any fiction written today until I resolve this.

Let’s talk about criticizing the President.

A Question of Patriotism

The idea was put in front of me recently that it is unpatriotic to criticize the President.  They said, “He’s our elected official, and we need to stand by him.”

I have to disagree.  He has been elected to the Executive Branch, and has been endowed with certain powers.  Freedom from criticism is not one of those powers.

In fact, I think it is our patriotic duty to be critical of the President when he (or someday, she) is not doing their job well.  The Constitution is law, not the will of the President.

Particularly cruel or unusual acts by The President must be met with objection.  It is our country, and it is our responsibility to hold our leaders accountable.  That’s what it means to be a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Besides, if our leadership can’t handle criticism, they shouldn’t be in such positions where they’re certain to receive it.

Don’t Focus on The Inconsequential

The color of Trump’s skin does not matter.

The size of Trump’s hands does not matter.

When we attack Trump, focusing on his physicality or other details that are not pertinent to his ability to govern, we are wasting time, weakening our arguments, and giving fuel for those that blindly support him.

There are plenty of actual, substantial areas to hold Trump responsible for.  We don’t need to keep going for the low hanging fruit.  Maybe it’s satisfying in the moment, but it’s not worth it.  Often the people talking about Trump’s orange skin or small hands would be appalled if similar criticisms were leveled on anyone else.

Let’s not be hypocrites.  Leave Trump’s physical peculiarities out of it.

Do Focus on Actual Issues

The latest absurdity to come from Trump is the ending of DACA.  This is an act of cruelty that does not make our country greater.  There is no good reason or justification for doing this.

It is easy to find other areas of substance that deserve attention.  Threatening to shut down the government if the budget doesn’t include a border wall, for example, is an easy topic for discussion.  Not only is the border wall ineffective, expensive, and an even dumber idea after the massive flooding of Texas, Trump’s take on paying for the wall is contrary to his campaign promise.  Mexico is not going to pay for the wall.  Mexico will never pay for the wall.

I could probably spend thousands of words focusing on issues of actual substance where Trump should be criticized.  These aren’t even Republican versus Democrat ideas, but actual issues where the Constitution is being ignored or violated (Emoluments Clause, anyone?).

I’m not going to go into it here.  Instead, I’m going to encourage you to find the issue that bothers you the most and carry the conversation forward.  Maybe you’re pissed at how much Trump has spent traveling to golf courses?  Maybe you (rightfully) think that Trump focusing on removing transgender people in the military is needless, expensive, and unwanted?

Seriously, Trump is the worst President we’ve ever had.  If you haven’t taken issue with something that he’s said or done, then you’re just not paying attention.

Stick to the Truth

Trump lies so often that I’m forced to question if he has some psychological condition.  Do you lie more when you’re senile?  He lied throughout his campaign, and he started off his presidency with lies about his inauguration crowd size.  Trump lies constantly.

That doesn’t give us an excuse to lie ourselves, or continue spreading lies.

When it comes to honesty, we have to be better than Trump.  That’s a pretty low bar.

In regards to the truth, try to find primary sources.  If someone says that Trump said something or did something, look for a video or pictures of Trump doing that thing.  There are plenty people on social media that are spreading misinformation.  Try to avoid the memes, especially when they’re not true.

This point goes a little deeper, though.  We need to be honest with ourselves.

An example is how we talked about Hurricane Harvey and Trump’s response.  A lot of time was dedicated to Trump’s first visit.  He commented on the crowd size.  He didn’t visit with any actual victims.  He was about as far as he could be from the most affected areas.

The bandwidth we gave to that particular visit isn’t particularly honest.  Were we supposed to be shocked that Trump showed no empathy?  That’s practically his brand.  At his core, he is a dishonest narcissist with no empathy, often motivated by fear and misinformation.  Did we expect him to change just because dozens of people died in one of the worst natural disasters of our time?

But maybe people thought giving that particular story more energy would help show Trump supporters just what kind of man he is.  If those supporters are blind to the other stuff, why would this change their minds?

Finally, Trump did wind up going back, and he did go to where there was damage.  He tried to help.  He still said some stupid stuff, but he apparently worked at a food kitchen and helped in some token way.

That second visit didn’t get nearly the amount of energy that the first visit did, and that’s where the dishonesty is most visible.  Trump did something that is contrary to the current trend of Trump bashing, and social media swept it under the rug or ignored it because it didn’t jive with the narrative.

The most troubling aspect of the times we live in is our disregard for the truth.

Trump is a terrible president and a reprehensible human being, from everything I’ve seen.  But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to ignore any good he might do.  From what I’ve gathered, his second trip to Texas was what his first trip should have been.  Maybe he was forced into it by his family.  Maybe he did it try to and change the Hurricane Harvey story.  I don’t know, and I can’t know for certain because we are letting our biases impact what we share and believe.

Please note that I’m in no way bashing the media on this point.  I think that some of what I’m saying applies to them, but I honestly believe that journalists are doing their best.  It’s journalists that made me aware of Trump’s second visit to Texas.

Changing People’s Minds

The whole point is to try and get that friend or relative that seems to be a blind Trump supporter to change their mind, right?  Or maybe you’ve got a coworker that isn’t looking at the news at all, and thinks that everything is just as it always has been, and it doesn’t matter if Trump is president.  Maybe you want them to care, right?

The reality is that you’re not going to change anyone’s mind.  Trump’s approval rating isn’t going to go much lower.  There will continue to be people that are all about party over country.  There will continue to be people that listen only to Hannity or Alex Jones.  Hell, there will continue to be racists like David Duke that are paying attention to everything Trump is saying, and the words are music to their ears.

If there is any hope to changing anyone’s mind, it’s through Trump’s own words.  That’s how I’ve come to the conclusions I’ve come to.  I didn’t read some op-ed or analysis of Trump’s presidency.  I listened to the man speak, all by himself, and found what he was saying to be antithetical to what makes this country great.

My mind can be changed about Trump, but it would take Trump himself to do it.  He would need to make up for a lot of his own history, from “grab them by the pussy” to his recent jabs at South Korea in the face of North Korea’s nuclear aggression.  Trump hasn’t given me any reason to believe that there is a great man inside him, waiting to emerge and be the president we deserve.  If anything, from his blatant nepotism to his hawking of $40 USA hats, I’m thinking that we should have taken an inventory of the White House before he moved in.


Now that that’s off my chest, I’m going to write some fiction.