May 28, 2017

Mariano: Area Trump supporters have their say

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Flickr / Gage Skidmore

President Trump

Editor’s note: Please continue to enjoy this free preview of Ray’s unique perspective and unmistakable candor, and be sure to check back in coming weeks to find out how you can keep on reading Worcester’s best commentary without becoming a Sun member when the preview ends. Ray can be reached via email at Mariano@worcester.ma.

Ray Mariano

It is no secret to anyone who knows me or anyone who reads my column that I am not a big fan of Donald Trump.

As a candidate, he certainly got my attention when he mimicked a handicapped reporter so disgracefully. When he bragged about his ability to grab women by their private parts, just because he was a celebrity, I was convinced that my fellow Americans would never, under any circumstances, elect him as our president.

I was wrong.

I often ask myself: How could anyone support this guy? What kind of a person would support someone who, to me, was and is such a “total disaster?”

The fact is that while the vast majority of my friends do not support Trump and many loathe him, I do have a few friends who supported Trump during the campaign and support him today. These are good, decent people and could never be included in anyone’s “basket of deplorables.”

I have always wanted to ask them why they supported Trump.

In a recent television interview, University of California Berkeley Professor Robert Reich, who previously served as labor secretary for President Clinton, said, “The best way to learn something is to talk to people who disagree with you, because that forces you to sharpen your views and test your views. And you might even come out in a different place.”

So I contacted my friends and asked them to tell me why they supported Trump. Here are just a few of the things they told me.

Trump voters have their say

Jay is executive director of a nonprofit. Before that, he spent several decades working in local government. He is an unenrolled voter. For him, “a Trump presidency is all about disrupting the status quo.”

Jay was frustrated that elected officials talk, but “little gets done.” He noted that Trump was not a politician and that he would not be confined by existing rules. He liked the fact that Trump seemed to bypass the media and other politicians and speak directly to the people.

Flickr / Michael Vadon

President Trump

Jay’s support for Trump has not been dampened by the lack of significant achievement in Trump’s first few months in office. He pointed out that most of the problems that our nation faces took years, if not longer, to develop, and crafting a reasonable response would take some time. He added that the stock market’s positive reaction to Trump was based on the overall economic optimism that Trump has created.

Nick is a surgical oncologist and a naturalized citizen. He is a lifelong Republican. He said he supported Trump as “the lesser of two evils.” He liked that Trump was not politically correct and that he spoke his mind.

Nick was disappointed when Trump nominated Rex Tillerson for secretary of state because he believes that position needs an experienced diplomat. And like almost everyone else I spoke with, he sees bringing Democrats and Republicans together as Trump’s biggest challenge.

Dennis works as a materials manager. He is an unenrolled voter. He too was tired of the “professional politicians” who he felt were “self-serving.” Dennis is disappointed that the president has not been able to get a better health care plan in place thus far.

Carlo is a police sergeant. He is an unenrolled voter. He felt that President Trump would rebuild the military, help veterans get the benefits they deserve, and put American interests ahead of those of the rest of the world.

Carlo is suspicious of liberal Democrats, who he thinks do not have America’s best interest at heart. He sees the president’s most important job as trying to find a way to bring Republicans and Democrats together to work on a common agenda.

Jim is retired and an unenrolled voter. A devoted grandfather, he worries about the safety of our country – and of the world. He was a young boy living in southern Florida during the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and remembers how frightened his mother was. Now Jim is worried about all the terrorist attacks he sees on the news, especially in Europe. He has put his trust in President Trump to keep his grandchildren safe.

Nancy (not her real name) is a small-business owner. She is especially interested in tax reform and in a reduction in the capital gains taxes.

Gerry is a certified residential real estate appraiser and real estate agent. He is an unenrolled voter. Like many of the people I communicated with, Gerry is very uncomfortable with Trump’s “abusive personality” and his “still attacking and insulting people.” He dislikes his remarks about the press.

Gerry voted for Trump with the hope that he would bring jobs, especially manufacturing jobs, back to America.

Going forward, Gerry hopes Trump will help America “gain the respect of our allies.” But he cautions that the president needs to find a way to bring the nation together.

What have I learned?

So, as Professor Reich might ask, what have I learned?

Flickr / Evan Guest

President Trump

First, I was wrong in thinking that Trump would never get elected just because he was such a despicable person.

In my analysis, like almost everyone else I failed to listen to voters who were so frustrated and angry with our elected leaders in Washington, and so desperate to change the way things were done, that they were willing to vote for Trump – even if he was a total creep.

Second, I learned that we will never bridge the enormous divide between us until we take the time to honestly listen to the concerns of those with whom we do not agree.

With one exception, the people I talked to did not go off on a rant. They were thoughtful and sincere. They are worried about the future of our country and the world that they are leaving behind for their children and grandchildren.

And while I disagree with them on many issues, I have great respect for their concerns.

As independent U.S. Sen. Angus King from Maine said recently, “The people who voted for Trump … have absolutely legitimate concerns.” He argued that Democrats would do well to take the time to listen to those concerns. He also argued that Trump should be listening to concerns from those who do not support him.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, that is our biggest problem. Neither side is actually listening to the concerns of the other. Instead, without even considering the merit of their concerns, we simply dismiss people we disagree with – and for good measure we call them names.

Of course there are fringe groups of racists and other deplorables who do not deserve the time of day. But they should not be used as an excuse to ignore everyone else we disagree with.

Several of the respondents for this column lamented the protests and the attitude of those who disagree with President Trump’s policies. They felt that those who actively oppose the president and his policies were being “un-American” or, at a minimum, “sore losers.”

I strongly disagree.

Related Mariano: Young patriots, raise your voices

Healthy, vigorous disagreements are essential to the vitality of our democracy. That requires an engaged citizenry.

However, for those disagreements to be productive, it requires that both sides honestly listen to the concerns of the other. It also requires both sides to work hard to find common ground whenever possible.

If we expect to protect the environment, fix our immigration problem and reform taxes, we need to craft policies that are supported by a clear majority of Americans. The good news is that national polls show that most people agree on solutions to the major issues facing our country.

In a recent column that appeared in the Telegram & Gazette, national columnist Dana Milbank acknowledged that there are consensus solutions for many of the problems we face. At the same time, he lamented the lack of bipartisanship in solving those problems. He blamed it on the Democratic and Republican parties.

But Milbank misses the point. The political parties do not drive the agenda in Washington — we do. The reason politicians in Washington do not talk to each other is because we do not want them to. We demand that they fight without compromise.

Related Mariano: What if Trump gets impeached?

Remember, in the end, our government is not about Trump or any other person – it is about us, all of us. Even if you think that Trump is a total disaster or that he should be impeached for obstruction of justice, our government will not work if we do not listen to each other.

As for me, while I still have difficulty understanding how anyone can support some of the policies that Trump has put forward, and while I find President Trump’s behavior to be disgraceful, I am willing to listen to the concerns of my friends and neighbors.

If I am really lucky, some of my friends and neighbors will also listen to me.

Perhaps, from time to time, as Professor Reich said, it will lead us to a “different place.”

Raymond V. Mariano is a Worcester Sun columnist. He comments on his hometown and global issues that impact it every Sunday in Worcester Sun.

19 thoughts on “Mariano: Area Trump supporters have their say

  1. In my view, the average US citizen is preconditioned to believe irrational things due to the dominance of religion. People are willing to believe in saviors instead of doing the hard work to stay in the real world. Unless we keep religion out of politics, ideological differences will proliferate. It used to be that most people could agree that the separation of church and state is what our country was founded on and the constitution was how we would roll. We have a right to peaceful protest, to be physically safe while doing so. Now we have politicians beating up reporters and denying the reality of their own aggression, saying that the reporters are aggressive. We’ve reached the level of victim blaming, shooting the messenger, and moralism at every turn. I am optimistic however because when there’s strong top-down oppression, people bond together around real issues and know exactly what they want.

  2. Hahaha your opinion of trump is so hypocritical having worked for housing and being verbally abused and looked down upon buy all of the the people in suits as we called them including by you it’s no wonder you don’t like him cause he did what you couldn’t not even as a politition thinking your better than everyone laying off a bunch of hard working guys claiming budget made you do it then that same week you bought two brand new $80,000 dump trucks that housing didn’t need you could have keep four people working for a year with that money and then you wonder why people vote against people like you

    • What you wrote is totally inaccurate. I never once bought two dump trucks. In fact, I may not have even bought two dump trucks in my entire 13 plus years as executive director. As for layoffs, those were dictated by cuts in our federal budget and even then the cuts were often made by vacant positions or people retiring. FAKE NEWS!

      • Typical – point the finger way, way, upstream, dictated by the Federal budget – I didn’t know you worked for the Federal government, and dictated to specifically lay people off. There are other ways to balance a budget, you just lacked the knowledge and experience on how to do it. You were in the drivers seat, not the Federal government.

        • 80% of our subsidy came from the federal government. I do not blame the federal government for the budget cuts or the layoffs. In fact, in my 13+ years we let very few employees go. Cuts were made through attrition. I left the WHA with a $9 million surplus which puts it in exceptional position financially.

  3. I am an independent voter but first and foremost, I am a conservative female. I voted for Trump for a multitude of reasons. …smaller government, fiscal conservatism, protecting our country, etc. I have to disagree that Pres. Trump’s first few months in office have lacked significant achievements. His achievements so far are exactly why I voted for him. The confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court was top of my list and will affect the direction of our country for generations. Pres. Trump enforced Obama’s red line against Syria’s use of chemical weapons- restoring our credibility on the World stage that Obama squandered. The jobless rate dropped to 4.4 percent in April, the lowest level in more than a decade .U.S. stock markets have shot up to historic gains, signaling that Congress is preparing to shake off eight painful years of economic lethargy under President Obama and shift into a higher, pro-growth gear. Millions of middle income Americans whose employers offer IRA’s, 401(k)s and other retirement plans are benefiting as well from the stock market’s surge. Pres. Trump restored religious freedom protections, he’s getting rid of the immoral death tax, he fired James Comey (which would have made the Democrats thrilled had it not been done by Trump), and- he just stood in front of 28 NATO members and told them what needed to be said…pay up and pay your fair share! America is tired of carrying your load. Border patrol apprehensions are down 70% since Trump took office- and with traffic down, more enforcement means higher smuggling costs.
    My biggest disappointment so far is Pres. Trump’s decision to not pursue charges against Hillary Clinton. The fact that Hillary was his opponent cannot be understated when pondering the reasons why he won. I have been campaigning against Hillary since early 2015. That woman doesn’t have an altruistic bone in her body and her lifetime of lies, corruption and deceit makes me wonder how Democrats can now believe they own some sort of moral highground because they voted for her over Trump. Sorry, just trying to be truthful, here.
    Many Trump haters are often miffed when Trump is compared to the actions of Hillary and others. But, to understand our confusion, we have to point out the constant hypocrisy. Pres. Trump’s stance on illegal immigration is no different from Pres. Bill Clinton’s yet, Trump is the racist. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNy4ixHFrdI Hillary voted for a border ‘barrier’, as well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ezaw-g6TIQI Hillary called our Gold-star parents from Benghazi liars and she was given a pass. Pres. Obama was anti-gay marriage until a few months before his re-election…but Pence is the devil, apparently….and there are hundreds more examples. I don’t expect you to read this and think ‘Oh, I get it now’. I’m just trying to enlighten you on our frustration and constant attacks-merely for being conservative.
    We may disgaree on many of these issues, but I admire the fact that you want to hear from the people and actually listen to our concerns….its a rarity these days. I like you, Mr. Mariano, and have supported your successes of the ‘A Better Life’ program. I am a middle-class wife and mother who was raised in the Burncoat area and have spent the bulk of my life here. I am no different than many others around me. I am not a bigot, a homophobe, an Islamaphobe or a ‘deplorable’. I want what most of us want- a great and safe America for my children and my children’s children. Thank you.

    • Very well said. As a conservative female I voted for this country with my vote for Trump. With all the talk focused on the doom of climate change, the message has been lost of what a crippling national debt will mean for our children and grandchildren – and that it matters which countries own America’s debt.

      Career politicians on both sides seem to have become a bit too comfortable in their positions and choose not burden their constituents with the unpopular reality that there is no such thing as unlimited spending without a cost. At the very least, the election of President Trump has kept Clinton or Sanders from keeping the spending spigot open.

  4. Large majorities of Republicans and Democrats agree that we need to get big money out of politics. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision of 2010 opened the floodgates to massive outside fundraising and spending (see: https://www.publicintegrity.org/2016/03/14/19420/analysis-how-might-citizens-united-decision-be-undone). The only durable way to reverse that precedent and create a level political playing field dominated by ideas rather than money is through a constitutional amendment to establish that artificial entities are not people, and money is not speech.

    Given that the current system is working for congressional incumbents, waiting around for Congress to propose such an amendment is not likely to get results. Fortunately, Article V of the Constitution provides an alternative means of proposing an amendment: an amendment convention can be called by 2/3 of the states. Five states (VT, CA, IL, NJ and RI) have already voted to call for a convention to propose an amendment to overturn Citizens United. Any amendment proposal, whether by Congress or convention, requires ratification by 3/4 of the states – a very high bar – so only an amendment proposal with broad, bi-partisan support would stand a chance of ratification.

    Amending the Constitution requires bipartisan cooperation. Doing so would revitalize our great experiment in self-government, and help bring us together to cooperatively address the big problems we all face as Americans.

  5. From the comments you quoted, it seems to me that may Massachusetts Trump voters voted against something, rather than FOR Trump. I was a strong Sanders supporter, but did not, like many of my very upset co-workers, vote out of spite . I still have some hope for the Democratic party, despite the awful showing in the last presidential election. And though many of us believe that the REAL change agent was Bernie and not Trump, we continue to work within the party. I was unenrolled for a very long time, but found that being alone in the wilderness was not very effective – “critical mass” helps a lot to get anything done.
    I am a refugee from Nazi Germany (we left in 1933, 2 months after they elected Hitler – with only the clothes on our backs) so I get very nervous when a candidate says the sort of things Trump said, and still says, though in somewhat more muted tones…
    Bernie Sanders was an independent, and still is. But he caucuses with the Democrats most of the time, and has been consistent for decades about his support for the “little people,like us, and for the young who are going to inherit the mess we are making……- So much of the divisiveness we see now comes from name=calling. labeling, and refusing to define what we are really talking about..

  6. I am a married middle class working mother, I did not vote for Clinton or Trump. I did vote, but I will not say who for. My concerns were that the middle class are not listened to by either party and used as pawns for our government’s use, instead of being at our service. The middle class has been taxed to death, forced to pay more and more. The rich have their tax shelters and the poor pay no tax. We are left with the burden. Here’s hoping that that our representatives in Congress return to our founding principles, and are held accountable to us, the real engine of America. Tax reform is a must!

  7. I second the nomination: Colleen for President!
    Yes, so true Colleen, “…we have to point out the constant hypocrisy.”
    I, too, like Mr. Mariano and have supported his programs.
    Surely, I would be proud to cast my vote for Colleen or Mr. Mariano.

  8. I voted for Trump ,some of my reasons:We did not need more refugees in this country,we did not need more tax dollars to support said refugees on my back,I do not need to pay 4 dollars for a gallon of gas simply because we’re buying it to support countries that don’t really like us,while we have resources here that are plenty,we do not need a tax code that costs me 150 dollars a year at my expense because the Gov said so,I USMC carried a gun for us overseas to foreign countries and it was all well and good,but here at home you want to disarm me and leave me defenseless,simply put I was tired of corruption,bought politicians by other countries,who undermined our self worth and the politicians who rolled over at my expense.Trump has so far made efforts to stop the refugees(even though the Dems are opposing all these good things ) Trump said either build in the US or pay for it when you import (love it)again at tax payers expense Dems don’t care,coal is good ,global warming is a crock of shit,only an idiot would feed tax dollars to this cause at my expense(Dems don’t care,they’r not paying for it,at $40,000 yearly income life was ok when Obama took over 75,000 became poverty,refugees had more rights than Patriots and more benefits easily acquired through lies,Patriots homeless and no relief.There was so much wrong with the status quo it was sickening.When all else fails a change to the status is needed regardless of the outcome,that is why the AMERICAN people voted,and Trump made sense,the bullshit about the rudeness is just that bullshit.I’ll take that to Hillary introducing 500,000 more refugees to the country and another 1,000,000 following that.So yea Trump has made locker room remarks where oh people were appalled,but how many government official were arrested and or jailed prior to him even coming on the scene???? I applaud Mr Trump our now residing President for having the balls to put up with all the bullshit thrown in his direction ,and keeping his head high and proud he’s dealing with it and moving forward.If the Dems could only stop the witch hunt and give him a chance it is our turn to feel happy and proud to our choice of President.I suffered with Obama for 8 years I didn’t vote for him on his second term ,but on the same token I did not take to the streets and sabotage hard working people like the losers are doing now,and there’s rumors that politicians are behind this turmoil who oppose our president.I want to see people on benefits be drug tested just like me on the job, I want to see them get back to work,I want to see no more homeless veterans,I don’t want to see people who get food stamps drive a better car than I do.This is not because I am prejudicial in any way ,you don’t feed your neighbor before you feed your family,why is it that people live behind walls in this country yet they resist border control.why do people lock the doors when they go out and yet want to open the borders,hypocritical to say the least. Common sense has left us disappointed,let down and plain abandoned by our leaders of yesteryear.This is our peaceful revolution to the status quo.

  9. How can you listen to liberals and progressives that partake in violent demonstrations or restrict free speech? Why should we even listen to others who want to bring socialism or sharia law to our country? Should we continue to allow and listen to those who control failed governments like Cuba, or city failed governments like Detroit? When are the liberals and progressives going to admit that their ideas do not work?

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