Feeling Pushed Towards Trump

Feeling Pushed Towards Trump October 23, 2020

This is a post about my feelings, and if you aren’t too thrilled with these feelings, welcome to the club.  I write about them not because I’m going to tidy up the loose ends at the conclusion with a neatly reasoned-out policy recommendation, but because I think I am not alone in feeling this way, and so I think my current feelings are pertinent to the public discourse.

Here is the feeling I am having: I am a never-Trumper who is probably going to vote for Trump.

Longtime readers know that I find Trump, as an individual and as a leader, to be abhorrent. You also know that I have repeatedly made the case for voting third party.  My reasoning is that we’re in a Don’t Blame Me I Voted for Kodos situation, and that voting third party provides valuable information and incentives to the major parties about how they need to shift their platforms, and thus provides a longer-term policy-directing effect.

The reason I am feeling pushed towards Trump, and at such a late date, and despite my strong inclinations otherwise, is that I no longer feel this is a Kang v. Kodos scenario.  From the right, I continue to see the usual callous indifference to the lives of ordinary people, but it’s just indifference.  The message I am getting from the left is that I am a target they mean to destroy.

I’m not real comfortable with that.

***

One of my frustrations revolves around the Affordable Care Act.  I absolutely agree that our health care system did and still does need reform.  I am grateful for the expansion of government-provided healthcare coverage to the poor, even if that expansion comes with significant weaknesses.  You can always improve on an imperfect first step without hating the first step.  However, I also know middle-income families who were literally being bankrupted by the no-win choice between paying a hefty fine or making a mandatory purchase of a product they could not afford and could not afford to use. Lowering the penalty to zero at least allowed them to not lose all their savings and go into debt while they continue to lack access to medical care.

Just yesterday morning I spoke to a friend who fears for her life when she goes into work as a gas station clerk in a part of town where armed robberies are a persistent threat, but she can’t afford to give up the job, because it’s full-time and thus comes with benefits, unlike most other unskilled service jobs in her area.  No one — left or right — in leadership is taking the initiative to unchain workers from the gig economy and the lack of employment mobility that comes from needing to hang on desperately to a benefits-providing job if you can get one.  The ACA was good for her family when she was a single, homeless mom.  Now that she’s married and her husband has regular work and she has regular work? The ACA has nothing for them but instructions to keep on going in every night and hope for the best.

With that perspective, watching Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination hearings was . . . repulsive.  Democrat after democrat came at her with sob stories, as if she, personally, were out to destroy the lives of people who benefit from the ACA.  Repeatedly she said she was not hostile to the ACA, and that furthermore there was hope that all the benefits of the ACA would hold up in court even if the penalty component were found unconstitutional.  What’s never on the agenda?  The obligation of Congress to write laws that are constitutional.

***
I value the US Constitution.  I think that it is a powerfully effective document for holding together our republic.  I think that the many amendments that have been added to it over the past two centuries are evidence that we are able to improve upon the original vision of the founders of this nation, and we are able to continue to rectify the injustices that were pervasive in times past.

So when there’s a party that is aggressively campaigning on the idea that a given act of Congress — no matter how perfect, and in this case we’re speaking of one that is dreadfully, life-destroyingly imperfect — is so vital to our nation that the Supreme Court needs to set aside the rule of law as laid out in our Constitution and just vote to uphold the act . . . . I have a problem with that.

Even if the entire ACA were overturned because the court found the unconstitutional sections were not severable, you could just take that 1000-page document, mark out the unconstitutional bits with sharpie markers, and pass it again (if in fact that’s what the American people want, after all these years of living with that law).  So what I saw from Democrats in the ACB hearings was indifference to the importance of abiding by the US Constitution. That is a threat to me.

***
From Biden himself comes, and has come, a more specific threat.  It’s an older promise, but which feels more ominous in light of seeing the rest of his party in action. He made it a point of his campaign platform that he’d require religious employers to provide services that are in direct violation of firmly held religious beliefs.

Now let’s review here: There is no reason that religious employers — whether part of a religious order like the Little Sisters of the Poor or just ordinary people who own a business or hire contractors — can’t simply pay cash to their employees cover the cost of the objectionable services.  If your religious beliefs keep you from paying for xyz medical service, then instead you can be required to give your employees a cash payment they can use to purchase a rider from the government covering that service, or to cover other out of pocket health care costs.  Problem solved.

This is easy.  Piece. of. cake.  Everyone can get the medical care they want, no one has to directly pay for services that violate their conscience.

Biden won’t do that.  He is determined to carry on the Obama-era mission to destroy religious employers who dare ask for an alternate way to resolve this conflict — a way that respects all parties.

As I say, this was already a grave concern earlier this year. The reason I am feeling more keenly this sense of threat is that I’ve now seen how brazenly the Democrats do not care about the constitutionality of the legislation they pass.  That combined with the ominous threat of court-packing to buy themselves enough justices to do their bidding . . . that’s a serious concern.

***
Another reason I feel more ill at ease is that I’ve seen how much the left will not tolerate the reality of religious belief.  One of the wonders of the US Constitution is that it protects the freedom of individuals to be wrong.  Majority opinion legislates, but minority rights are protected: You remain free to speak, to think, and to govern your private affairs according to your own beliefs, however unpopular.

This is the only way for a pluralistic society to survive.  What I am seeing is that the Left which Biden and Harris pander to cannot tolerate this pluralism.

I could spend all day producing examples from both the right and the left of how strong is the pressure to conform or be ruined.  What’s distinguishing here, as far as the presidential campaign is concerned, is that Biden seems to be on board with pandering to and carrying out initiatives that suppress individual freedoms.

Given two parties that will both focus on self-enrichment while give lip-service to trending ideals and throwing the odd biscuit to the American public, voting for a narcissistic womanizing demagogue seemed like a no-go until it became apparent that his opponent isn’t just going to leave you in your mess, he’s willing smear you flat if that’s what it takes.

***

I want to briefly discuss COVID-19.  I think Trump has utterly bungled the handling of pandemic, and that had previously firmed up my decision to vote third party.  That said, I find it dishonest to blame him for every single life lost, as if he were personally responsible for the varying policies from state to state, personally responsible for every person who decides to ignore public health advice, personally responsible for the utter nonsense propaganda from WHO and the CDC condemning and shaming those who wanted to use masks and face coverings early in the pandemic, and personally responsible, I suppose, for the virus itself. However, he’s done his fair share.  At least a few bodies can be laid at his feet, and as president he should have been a better leader.  No argument there.

Alas, I have seen nothing whatsoever that indicates a Democrat administration would be any better.  Early in the pandemic, when a whole slate of Democrat senators were campaigning in the primaries, they had nothing to say about how to handle the pandemic.  There has been no counter-plan. Even as late as last night’s debate, Biden had no real plan to offer.  Vague threats and promises are not a plan.

I wish we had candidates who were serious about public health, but we don’t.

***
Something else that is pushing me towards Trump is the double standard in certain Democrat-run states towards freedom of worship.  I’m not against public health measures in the face of a deadly pandemic. But when religious gatherings are subject to rules far stricter than any other equivalent public event, that’s a violation of religious liberty.  As a religious believer, yes, that makes me feel personally targeted.

***

The final reason my feelings are shifting so dramatically is seeing the role of the mainstream media in all this.  What distinguishes a Trump presidency from a Biden presidency is that under Trump, the press will investigate.  We’ll continue to have a working fourth estate.

In contrast, when a possible scandal concerning Biden came to light this month, Twitter actively suppressed the news, while the mainstream media stood by whistling and declining to get curious about what the facts might be. This would be the same Twitter that’s just fine with pornhub tweeting away.  It’s not about integrity. It’s about Biden at all costs.  Here’s those right-wing shills at Harper’s discussing the media blackout of news that makes Democrats look bad:

Once again, the suppression of bad omens is accompanied by the suppression or airbrushing of bad news. The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and NPR have all grossly underreported the destruction from riots and looting this summer. Many of the cities where protests occurred have Democratic mayors, and in most cases, these mayors understated the violence and chose not to call in the National Guard until the rubble was piled high. Instead, they addressed the rioters as if they were a slightly unruly group of students who probably meant well. An ABC News tweet on July 26 offered an unintentional parody of the tendency: “Protesters in California set fire to a courthouse, damaged a police station and assaulted officers after a peaceful demonstration intensified.” “Intensified” there functioned as a revolutionary euphemism for gutted shops, broken windows, stolen goods—just as, in the second stage of the French Revolution, “effervescence” became a euphemism for terror.

“They don’t hear us” has become “They don’t know about this” (because we are playing it down). But the image-saturated and scandal-rich online environment affords access to anyone. Readily available photos and video clips show police stations and government buildings on fire and city shops with broken or boarded-up windows. Conservative papers such as the Washington Examiner and the Daily Mail are online, too, and they say out loud and freely display the things the Times and Post hint at. The divided coverage of the riots has continued a pattern from an earlier stage of the university-to-media cultural revolution. One had to look to the conservative press to catch a glimpse of the miscarriages of #MeToo, for example, or abuses of authority in the early hunt for a Trump-Russia connection. On the other hand, one relied on the corporate liberal media for truths suppressed or ridiculed on the right, concerning the reality of climate change or Trump’s likely reasons for firing five inspectors general in April and May. The ideological division of labor in honest reporting, taken to this length, is new in this country, and it is ominous.

The most startling exhibit of a selective approach to facts and logic arrived as soon as the Floyd protesters broke the rules of the novel coronavirus lockdown. One began to see medically certified notices of approval and solidarity with the crowds. The most remarkable specimen may have been an open letter publicized in the first days of June and signed by 1,288 “public health professionals.” The mass demonstrations, this letter asserted, might seem to violate previous orders on the health restrictions necessary in a time of pandemic. However, the exception was justified because racism itself constitutes a health crisis, and perhaps a greater one than the pandemic. The double standard was jaw-dropping.

Read the whole thing.

***

Which reminds me: I’ve got a problem with the uncontrolled rioting and looting, which appears to be chiefly a problem in Democrat-run states.  I care about racism. I  care about police brutality.  I wish Senator Tim Scott’s limited-but-not-nothing legislation to begin tracking incidents of police brutality had not been shut down by House Democrats.  And I care deeply about freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and the right to protest.  I do think that peaceful protests need to be protected even in a pandemic.

But rioting and looting? That’s a problem for me.  That is a direct threat to the well-being of all Americans. What I am seeing is a clear partisan divide on who tolerates the violence who does not.

***

So, in sum, I am feeling pushed towards voting for Trump because on so many different levels it seems that my inalienable rights and my personal well-being are actively targeted by the ruling powers among the left, and that Biden and Harris are integral to that threat.

I remain deeply disturbed by some of what I see from Trump and his administration. I don’t like being in this corner.  But what I am feeling right now, a couple weeks before the election, is that a second Trump administration will be four more years of what we’ve gotten thus far, but a Biden-Harris administration will be four years of sitting in the bullseye while they do what they can to destroy my freedom as a religious person and as a private individual.

And that doesn’t feel good.

Photo: Strawberry Topshell, Clanculus pharaonius,  via Wikimedia, CC 3.0.


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