Understanding Trump supporters in an age of winner-take-all politics

A Trump supporter reacts after a protester grabs the hat off his head outside the Target Center in Minneapolis, following a campaign rally led by President Donald Trump on Oct. 10. (Renee Jones Schneider/Star Tribune via AP)A Trump supporter reacts after a protester grabs the hat off his head outside the Target Center in Minneapolis, following a campaign rally led by President Donald Trump on Oct. 10. (Renee Jones Schneider/Star Tribune via AP)

A recent piece I wrote on living in the “Age of Trump” has sparked a number of conversations for me, some of them difficult. That is as it should be. The topic is a complex one, the stakes are high, and there is a great deal to be said. I cannot say everything, of course, but one omission from my earlier piece is significant enough to warrant a few additional words.

One of my goals in that piece was to call those who (like me) do not support Donald Trump’s re-election to consider how best to engage with those who do. I insisted that a commitment to conversation and even collaboration across that divide is indispensable. But I want more than building a bridge to the other side. In fact, I have important concerns in common with most Trump voters: concern for religious freedom, for example, and, even more important, commitment to legal protection for unborn human lives.

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I want more than building a bridge to the other side. In fact, I have important concerns in common with most Trump voters.

What I failed to say explicitly is that this commonality makes me keenly aware of a certain calculus that might lead one to vote for Mr. Trump—and also of what is entailed in the decision not to support him. In our two-party system, withdrawing support for Mr. Trump makes it more likely that a Democrat will come to occupy the White House. What would that outcome mean for legal protection for the unborn?

It is not simply that the Democratic Party platform supports the greatest possible access to elective abortion. (As many have noted, the ideal the party once espoused, of a world in which abortion was, in the words of Bill Clinton, “safe, legal and rare” has been shortened to “safe and legal.”) In the run-up to the 2020 election, every major Democratic candidate has unapologetically moved toward a more extreme position vis-à-vis pro-lifers, including support for the elimination of the Hyde Amendment (which prohibits federal funding of most abortions). The Trump administration, on the other hand, has been clear in its support of the Hyde Amendment and has expanded conscience protections for health care workers who object to providing elective abortions. Also, among pro-choice advocates, there is a tendency to frame opposition to elective abortion as health care discrimination—and, more colloquially, as misogyny.

Should we expect a Democratic presidential administration to soften these tendencies? Or would they only become more extreme? Trump supporters think they know.

As I have already said, this is not a line of thinking that leads me ultimately to support Mr. Trump. So many elements of his administration—his lack of concern for Americans living in desperate economic straits, including millions of working poor; his draconian immigration policies; his disregard of pressing questions of environmental sustainability; his apparent inability to grasp complex problems and their possible solutions; and ultimately what I perceive to be a fundamentally unprincipled and narcissistic stance underlying everything he does—make it impossible for me to support him.

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Do I see other concerns, though, that might motivate some Trump supporters? Do I recognize a concern that the only alternatives to Mr. Trump are political opponents who will not simply disagree with them but will eliminate any space for the exercise of conscience, will seek to silence them and perhaps punish them in other ways in a post-Trump world? I do. To return to the example I have noted, for pro-life voters, taking actions that serve to put a Democrat in the White House may mean they will be party to abortion in a way that their consciences simply will not allow.

This is not to say that those who oppose Mr. Trump cannot make the case that supporters should change their minds. But to make this case glibly or, even worse, derisively, simply fails to see certain realities.

That may just be the way U.S. politics works now: Winner takes all and takes no prisoners. If that is the case, though, it remains important to see clearly what is being asked when some argue that it is time for Mr. Trump’s supporters to “be reasonable,” to recognize the fundamental ways in which the American system of government is being threatened and to withdraw their support of the president.

The U.S. political system only works when we are able to recognize underlying commonalities with political opponents and forge creative compromises.

In the long term, what we need most is a culture more characterized by empathy, by peacemaking and by mercy. This is, after all, an indispensable form of living the Gospel message. To speak more practically, the U.S. political system only works when we are able to recognize underlying commonalities with political opponents and forge creative compromises for the sake of the common good.

But for now, here we are. I will continue to ask Trump supporters to reconsider. But I will do so with a sense of gravity and with the prayer that, whenever the White House is again occupied by a Democrat, the worst fears I have described here are not realized.

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Crystal Watson
1 month ago

I find it impossible to understand how conservatives can care so much about embryos and fetuses, and yet not care about the real human beings that Trump is destroying with his policies. The Democratic stance is *not* extreme - it allows women to make a choice about their own pregnancies, including the choice to continue them. The pro-life movement wants to force women to go without contraception, to go without abortions, even when medically necessary - that's extreme.

Sha'Pearl Jones
1 month ago

You probably won't like being reminded of what you already know, but it's not only conservatives who care about unborn children, who by the way are just as real as you and I are. The life issue transcends liberal vs conservative, Democrat vs. Republican. The right to life is the most basic and the most fundamental human right of all. If you do not support that, and you appear not to, then you really have no basis upon which to advocate for any other human right. Thus, your post is moot.

Crystal Watson
1 month ago

I am for the rights of people, existing people. Defining as people embryos and fetuses, the vast majority of which on this issue are tiny brainless, heartless, and spineless organisms without the ability to think or feel, is deceptive. The reason they do not have any rights under the law is because they aren't people - yet. I'm not sure what liberal pro-lifers you refer to, but the Democratic party's official stance is pro-choice.

Sha'Pearl Jones
1 month ago

I guess I'm not surprised that you are a science denier. You likely deny climate change too. Every abortion procedure stops a beating heart. A heart beat can be detected in an unborn child as early as 4 weeks into pregnancy. Your argument that unborn children don't have rights because they are not people is on the wrong side of history. That's a weak argument rooted in the same man made law which said that slaves (blacks) were less than fully human and thus had no rights. That bad law was corrected and so will the very weak foundation upon which Roe v Wade is based. It's only a matter of time. Science is on our side. A party's "official stance" is meaningless and does not negate the fact that there are pro life Democrats just as there are pro abortion Republicans.

Crystal Watson
1 month ago

I'm not a science denier or a climate denier. Although what sounds like a heartbeat can be detected at about 6 weeks, fetuses do not have actual hearts until after the first trimester ... https://www.livescience.com/65501-fetal-heartbeat-at-6-weeks-explained.html ... That is why "heartbeat" anti-abortion bills/laws put the word heartbeat in quotation marks. Science is not on your side, as you seem to be basing your beliefs on whim.

E.Patrick Mosman
1 month ago

Apparently you reject science:
"In 1981 (April 23-24) a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee held hearings
on the very question before us here: When does human life begin?
Appearing to speak on behalf of the scientific community was a group of
internationally known geneticists and biologists who had the same story
to tell, namely, that human life begins at conception - and they told their
story with a profound absence of opposing testimony.
--Dr. Micheline M. Mathews-Roth, Harvard medical School, gave
confirming testimony, supported by references from over 20 embryology
and other medical textbooks -- that human life began at conception.
--"Father of Modern Genetics" Dr. Jerome Lejeune told the lawmakers: "To
accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human
has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion ... it is
plain experimental evidence."
--Dr. Hymie Gordon, Chairman, Department of Genetics at the Mayo Clinic,
added: "By all the criteria of modern
molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception."
--Dr. McCarthy de Mere, medical doctor and law professor, University of
Tennessee, testified: "The exact moment of the beginning of personhood
and of the human body is at the moment of conception."
--Dr. Alfred Bongiovanni, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, concluded,
"I am no more prepared to say that these early stages represent an
incomplete human being than I would be to say that the child prior to
the dramatic effects of puberty ... is not a human being."
--Dr. Richard V. Jaynes: "To say that the beginning of human life cannot be
determined scientifically is utterly ridiculous."
--Dr. Landrum Shettles, sometimes called the "Father of In Vitro Fertilization" notes,
"Conception confers life and makes that life one of a kind." And on the
Supreme Court ruling _Roe v. Wade_, "To deny a truth [about when life
begins] should not be made a basis for legalizing abortion."
--Professor Eugene Diamond: "...either the Justices were fed a backwoods
biology or they were pretending ignorance about a scientific
certainty."

Crystal Watson
1 month ago

I didn't say embryos and fetuses are not alive - of course they are alive. But they are not people with all the rights that existing people have.

Jim Smith
1 month ago

Are you really a Christian, Crystal?
The gospel of Luke is not an ancient fairy story, but the first of a two part report on Jesus and the faith He established.
So, the virgin Mary consented to conceive the promised Messiah by the power of the Holy Spirit and became with child.
She immediately went to visit her cousin, who was more advanced in her pregnancy with the last and greatest prophet of the Old Testament.
The prophet recognised the presence of the Messiah and leapt in his mother's womb for joy.
You deny that there was a person in either womb. And, by the way, one the second person of the Blessed Trinity.

I prefer the version from Luke rather than your picture of two living blobs reacting to how the woman was feeling.

Crystal Watson
1 month ago

I'm a Christian, but I don't think the infancy narratives (Luke and Matthew) prove anything beyond the desire of the writers to show that Jesus was the son of God. They were added later, and they aren't considered historical. After a person is born, you can look back and ascribe their present personhood to the fetus that they once were, but that isn't the same as saying the fetus was at that time a person.

Judith Jordan
1 month ago

Sha'Pearl Jones:
You stated that if Crystal does not support the right to life, then she has no basis to advocate for any other human right.
Your statement is in direct opposition to Catholic Church teaching and its consistent ethic of life.

Sha'Pearl Jones
1 month ago

Absolutely wrong. The Church dies not teach that one can be pro abortion and anti capital punishment, as is the sick and twisted logic of many a liberal.

Judith Jordan
1 month ago

Sha'Pearl Jones
Here is an article from the NCR. You will see that the church teaches what I had posted.
http://www.ncregister.com/blog/mark-shea/the-seamless-garment-what-it-is-and-isnt

J. Calpezzo
1 month ago

Amen Crystal , like the slaughter of Kurdish children by his hand this week. See my comment below.

Jim Smith
1 month ago

So, Muslim fighters killing Muslim fighters and civilians and children are the fault of a leader of a nation far away taking about one hundred soldiers, sons of his constituency, out of harm's way from the mess that previous Presidents had arrogantly put them in.

If America was morally obliged to be the world's policeman, then you would have to consider he should send massive power to wipe out the terrorists in the Middle East threatening to drive all Israel into the sea, bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities, drive the Chinese out of the South China sea and warn them that if they try to invade Hong Kong on Taiwan it is the same as declaring war on America. Then there is the plague of Islamic terror taking over North Africa, the Yemen war and I could go on.

Better get a second job to pay for all the arms and equipment needed, eh? Your duty to stop all people in the world wherever in the world from fighting with each other. after all?

Judith Jordan
1 month ago

In this event, Trump is at fault for what happened to the slaughter of the Kurds.

Peter Schwimer
1 month ago

I have worked in the child welfare and health care systems for 40 years. In all of that time, I had one instance in which my conscience was challenged. How did I resolve it? I didnt accept the position at the university medical center of an Ivy league university. I dont know of anyone with whom I worked who found themselves unable to perform their tasks because of religious reasons who wasnt allowed to exempt themselves. Now maybe that's because the organizations we were employed by were very understanding or maybe it was because we made no bones about what we would and would not do. I really do not know. What I do know, is that I do not have the right to tell someone who does not hold the beliefs that I do what they and their physician can and cannot do. They alone get to decide what is best practice for them. We are all equal under God and the law. For those who believe that we need more strict antiabortion laws, I would point put that we also need better low cost healthcare, we need to provide better and more extensive services to the woman who decides to keep her baby, we need better and more extensive adoption and child care services. And that, as you can guess all costs alot more money than we are willing to spend. It means higher and higher taxes, higher fees. You name it. Are the folks who would reverse Roe willing to double the taxes they pay? Let me know when you think they will be.

JR Cosgrove
1 month ago

Not hard to understand if you are honest. The author does not understand the Trump voter as I know them. Maybe that should be her first goal, to accurately portray each side.

Fred Keyes
1 month ago

Pray tell, Cosgrove--what is it you know that contradicts even one thing the author here wrote?

JR Cosgrove
1 month ago

Nearly everything she says isn’t accurate. I doubt Trump voters put abortion or religious freedom as their top priorities though most support each. So their concern must be elsewhere. To imply that Democrats care for the poor and Republicans do not is incredibly disingenuous since Democrats have done nothing to solve the problems causing poverty. To imply the Democrats have a compassionate immigration policy is also disingenuous. If the author disagrees then she should ask for a polite discussion.

JR Cosgrove
1 month ago

It the author wants to understand Trump’s appeal, she should read Victor Davis Hanson. I doubt she will since her two recent articles indicate she is not serious about this.

Judith Jordan
1 month ago

J Cosgrove:
Since the author is wrong, why don't you tell us what a Trump supporter is like.

JR Cosgrove
1 month ago

Wrong question. I suggest you read Victor Davis Hanson. He wrote a book on Trump’s appeal and writes daily on what is happening. There is a difference between what a person is for and what they are against then what they are like. They represent a wide spectrum of people of all educational, economic, religious and demographic backgrounds. The author is either clueless or willfully distorting things but is using the same rhetorical trick as others on this site use. Why the distortion?

Judith Jordan
1 month ago

J Cosgrove--
I think Trump supporters have much in common, but also diversity. For instance, most Trump supporters I know would not support violence against non-Trumpers or minorities. Although, some Trump supporters have been violent. If you want to see a scary Trumper go to the militias’ websites. They can’t wait for the “civil war” and are anxious to shoot liberals. They also think they are great patriots like Trump pretends to be.

Judith Jordan
1 month ago

I looked up Victor Davis Hanson.. He is another source who is not credible.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month ago

Judith
Your statement that “You looked up Victor Davis Hanson.He is another source who is not credible” is a statement of forthright blind ignorance and partisanship.
One either reads Hanson and concludes you agree or disagree with his views. BUT one cannot not simply “look (him) up” and determine him to be “not credible” .
If one just “ looks up Hanson” one discovers he is an author of multiple books, a widely published columnist, a Senior Fellow at the Hover institute at Stanford, and a winner of The National Humanities Prize. I suggest you publish your own credentials which allow us to weigh your own credibility and ability to judge the credibility of Hanson based on “looking him up”

Judith Jordan
1 month ago

Stuart and J Cosgrove:

“Blind ignorance and partisanship.” WOW! I have been called various things in my life (not often), but never ignorant. But then Trumpers are Trumpers.

Perhaps I should have been more specific in my statement. Since Cosgrove gave Hanson’s name to explain Trump supporters, my comment was in response to Hanson being credible about Trump and it only applied to that area. Since the phrase “look him up” sends you into a tizzy, perhaps I should say “research,” although that would not be accurate; but, “look him up’ is not accurate either the way you define it.

Bill Buckley was considered very bright. I agree. However, he was opposed to the passage of the Civil Rights Act. His writings and talks about it showed his thoughts on it were surprisingly primitive and ill-informed. But I don’t think I ever talked about Buckley without mentioning his erudite mind.

There are other writers that are critics of Hanson, but I am not even going into that. I have already been forced to write more about him than I care about.

JR Cosgrove
1 month ago

I looked up Victor Davis Hanson.. He is another source who is not credible.

What does it say about a person who says one of the most educated and widely read persons in the world and an incredibly good human being is not credible?

Judith Jordan
1 month ago

J Cosgrove:

What does it say about a person who supports Trump, a man lacking any character, attacks anyone who disagrees with him, lies, cheats, assaults our democracy, and corrupts all he touches.

JR Cosgrove
1 month ago

You should try reading. You may want to reassess your evaluation. You just did exactly what Hillary Clinton did by calling Trump supporters deplorable. . Trump has an amazing way of revealing who people are. I can find similar sentiments that you have espoused about Busk, McCain, Romney, Ryan, Romney, Pence and other Republicans. Tell me what is not credible. It’s called Trump Derangement Syndrome TDS, used to be called Bush Derangement Syndrome BDS.

Judith Jordan
1 month ago

J Cosgrove:
I should try reading? You continually post things that have been debunked, or have no evidence, and come from the extreme Right. When I ask you about it, you seldom answer or you just repeat yourself.

It is laughable when conservatives complain about the so-called Trump Derangement Syndrome TDS. Do you think the conservatives have a Hillary Derangement Syndrome or a Bill Derangement Syndrome? Trump certainly has a Hillary Derangement Syndrome…he can’t stop talking about her.

Hillary apologized for her comment about the “deplorables” and never said it again. Trump said Hillary hates Catholics. Isn’t that the kind of thing Hillary did? Trump never apologized. Trump says that the Democrats don’t love America and the Democrats want America to fail. Isn’t that the kind of thing Hillary did? Trump never apologized. When Trump had his first State of the Union Address, he said he thought when the Democrats did not applaud for him, they committed treason. Isn’t that the kind of thing Hillary did? Trump never apologized.

I did not do what Hillary did that one time and what Trump does over and over. I said, “What does it say about a person who supports Trump…” I asked a question that I have sincerely been asking ever since Trump came on the political scene. It is truly astonishing to me that anyone can support him. I thought about the same of him years before he entered politics only I did not know that he is even worse than I had previously thought.

Trump has “an amazing way” of revealing people? He attacks anyone who disagrees with him. Is that what you call revealing? He praises everyone who agrees with him until they either say a negative thing about him; or, he dumps them because they have become a politically liability to him. Then all of a sudden, he hardly knows them. Revealing people? He has no loyalty to anyone. Bad sentiments about Bush, McCain, etc.? Of course, we can all find negative things said about anyone, but those men are nothing like Trump. His adult life has been one of corruption, lies, scams, cons, violating, and being fined for cheating and ignoring government laws and regulations.

Trump idolaters claim Trump opponents are blinded by hatred of Trump. This is misguided. What Trump opponents hate and deplore are actions that are continually illegal, or unethical, or immoral. Unfortunately, Trump embodies these characteristics.

THIS IS WHAT TRUMP OPPONENTS HATE:
Being fined by the Department of Justice for refusing to rent to black people.
Being found by the NY State Attorney General of illegally using a charitable foundation to serve as a personal check book for one’s personal use.
Opening “Trump University” despite being warned by the New York State Education Department that it was a violation of state law for operating it without a NYSED license. Ordered by the court to pay $25 million to students who were defrauded by the fake “Trump University.”
Habitually refusing to pay contractors and workers thereby driving some of them into financial ruin.
Insisting on tough immigration laws while illegally employing illegal immigrants even as late as 2019.
Being fined by the Federal Trade Commission for violating anti-trust laws.
Filing for bankruptcy four times to avoid paying creditors.
Intimidating and abusing unwanted tenants by cutting off heat and hot water and making other threats.
Illegally paying hush money to a woman for sexual acts.
Violating the First Amendment by threatening selected press outlets with increase of taxes.
Claiming when the Democrats did not applaud him at his first State of the Union Address, that he thinks that makes Democrats guilty of treason.
Casually accusing Americans of treason who disagree with him.
Declaring, several times, that Article II of the U S Constitution permits him to do anything he wants to do.
Obstruction of justice as defined by Republicans during the impeachment trial of President Clinton.
Attacks, insults, and belittles anyone who disagrees with him, including honorable and respected individuals such as General Mattis.
Spreading conspiracies theories which are known to be lies.
Several associates being found guilty or admitting guilt of crimes which are still being investigated as to Trump.
Violating the emoluments clause of the U S Constitution.
Acknowledgement of asking for favors from foreign countries which is illegal.
Failing to plan for the withdrawal of American troops (even the military did not know) making it possible for the Turks to begin the ethnic cleansing and slaughter of the Kurds. One must assert that is an anti-life event.

There are many other instances too numerous to keep listing.
If these types of actions toward our country and toward individuals are acceptable, then there truly is no reasoning with the Trump idolatry.

bill carson
1 month ago

As long as you can lie about Trump destroying lives, you can give yourself cover for the one million plus babies we know Democrats care nothing about.

And, I guess it helps your Trump hate if you can add at the end, like this writer does, that you hope your worst fears about Democrats won’t bear out. LOL Tell us why they wouldn’t bear out?

bill carson
1 month ago

As long as you can lie about Trump destroying lives, you can give yourself cover for the one million plus babies we know Democrats care nothing about.

And, I guess it helps your Trump hate if you can add at the end, like this writer does, that you hope your worst fears about Democrats won’t bear out. LOL Tell us why they wouldn’t bear out?

I find it very odd that a writer like this holds a theology position. She’d be more out in the open if she applied for a position with the Warren campaign. At least Warren doesn’t lie about her abortion support.

Crystal Watson
1 month ago

I wonder how many Kurds are now losing their lives, getting murdered on the side of the road in Syria, because of Trump? How many migrant children have died at our southern border because of Trump? How many people will get sick because of Trump rolling back environmental protections? How many of them won't be able to get medical care when he takes away their health insurance? Etc, etc, etc.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month ago

Crystal
Your politically inspired myopia is of epic proportions: Why not count the hundreds of thousands of Syrians who died when Obama’s “red line” turned green! ....not to mention the millions of displaced Syrians that followed and their deaths by the thousands in squalid refugee camps
Why not count the tens of thousands of Libyans who died in the failed state created by Obama's bombing intrusion into that country. Let’s just pass over the thousands who died in Egypt as a result of Obama’s embrace of the Arab Spring and theMuslim Brotherhood.
Are you even passingly acquainted with the fact that the annual rate of Border deaths was significantly higher in 7 of the 8 Obama years than in the Trump years....See chart published by Military News June 27,2019?
Etc etc etc

Judith Jordan
1 month ago

Stuart:

Is it your contention that when American forces are going to be removed from a dangerous area that the president, any president, should:

NOT NOTIFY the military that the forces are going to move;
CREATE a situation that the military had to scramble to try to bring some organization to the removal;
ESTABLISH a situation that the military had to exactly pin point where American troops were in an effort to keep them safe from Turkish shelling;
BE UNABLE for the military to gather all our military equipment and had to leave some behind;
GENERATE a situation in which the military establishment is appalled and angry;
NEGLECT planning which left our American soldiers on the ground vulnerable, upset and ashamed over the way it was handled and their Kurdish protectors and friends were being slaughtered.

Please don’t respond about what Obama, Hillary, the Emperor of the Sun; or Daffy Duck did. Just kindly respond to this. If you want to discuss other leaders, we can do so in a later post.

Sources: General Mattis, numerous retired military officers and national security experts.

Tim O'Leary
1 month ago

Judith - I think Trump made a terrible error in not standing between the Turks and the Syrians. He has abandoned allies and left the area open to the Russians and the Syrians (probably not ISIS as the 2 nations will likely not recapture them, but kill them). His callous statement that ISIS fighters will go to Europe is also heartless. Trump is in many ways despicable. But Stuart is correct that most of those attacking Trump for this on the Democrat side are more interested in the political advantage rather than in the Kurds. For example, in the debate last night, none of the Democrats said they would go back and protect the Kurds if elected president. So, their position is blame Trump but don't do anything about it. Seems much more like political opportunism than care for the military situation.

Judith Jordan
1 month ago

Tim:

Please look below to see my posting to you and Stuart.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month ago

Judith
I think you will find that between 50 and 100 US troops were removed from the20 mile wide exclusion zone that Erdogan stated he wanted control of. I believe you will also find Erdogan statedTurkey would start its assault whether those 50 to 100 troops were there or not. The withdrawal of another roughly 1000 troops NOT in that “exclusion zone” was/is being done in an orderly fashion and when yesterday the Turks approached those forces they were met with Heliocopter Gun ships and halted..
There is no question that the military was surprised and in disagreement with the decision to leave....postponed from its original date some 12 months ago.
The choice on a long term basis seems to be quite clear ....either the Kurds or the Turks were going to turn to Russia and Erdogan would not abide a compromise as he views the Kurds to be an internal enemy of Turkey. Forcing Turkey out of NATO into the arms of Iran and Russia would be a far greater disaster than having the Kurds form a new alliance with the Russian /Syrians. As much as I despise Erdogan as an Islamist authoritarian and I sympathize with the Kurds desire for a new Kurdistan , the issue now with Assad’s victory is containing the Russian intrusion.
As for the reaction of our troops, I certainly do not blame them for their response to leaving “buddies in the Foxhole” but the larger strategic issue is keeping Turkey in NATO. The longer term issue of Erdogan operating in a manner unacceptable to his NATO commitments is now on the table with a combination of US and European moves which “hang over the Turkish economy” . If the Turkish economy does not stabilize and grow Erdogan’s internal support will continue to wither.Erdogan enjoys strong internal support in dealing with the Kurds PKK since they have been running a 30 year uprising complete with IRA style bombings etc.

So as a response to the general theme of your questions and taking into account the salient facts I note that the military is frequently angry and disappointed with decisions made based on a larger set of facts than those immediately facing them. This is no different in this respect than numerous other examples ranging from Patton being restrained in Europe to MacArthur being fired in Korea. The question on the table is the larger strategic interests and whether the US should b3 involved at all

So Judith ...tell me whether you were in favor of Trump’s build up to assist the Kurds? Were you aware that Turkey opposed that build up , viewing it as direct support of the Kurds in Turkey? As noted above the Kurds were already fighting Isis and we assisted them for our mutual benefit

Judith Jordan
1 month ago

Stuart and Tim:

A retired Admiral was on TV today, can’t remember his name. He said in all his years of service, he has never seen anything that even came close to this. His comments have been repeated over and over by other officers and national security people. I cannot agree that this can casually be compared to other events.

Most authorities are concerned that ISIS escapes, groups up, and eventually returns...much later. And they will be free to create another 9/11. It is absurd that we have to worry about them since we had them as prisoners. Tim, none of the Dems in the debate said they would return to care for the Kurds? Catch up. There is no going back. Thousands have already been killed. To go back in would require a MAJOR war. We would be going in the opposite direction that we want to go. This has ruined aspects of our foreign policy for years to come. To my knowledge, not one person, not even Trump people, have suggested we can return. Why do you think General Mattis resigned? BTW, Trump has now trashed Mattis.

I know that American troops were moved for safety. The latest I heard is there is concerned that some are not safe yet, but things keep changing rapidly and perhaps they will be safe. Again, if Trump had planned his exit, all this would have been avoided. The House overwhelmingly voted a bipartisan condemnation of Trump’s withdrawal of American forces by a 354-60 vote. Finally, some Republicans are showing some moral courage re Trump.

When I first heard of the Kurds decades ago, they were fighting for survival. I have always had a fond feeling for them…yes, I know they are not pure. I have contempt for Erdoğan. Do you remember last year??? some Turks were here at their embassy in D. C. Americans were outside their embassy and peacefully protesting. Thugs were sent out to beat up the protestors. I was outraged. How dare they come here and treat our citizens like that and ignore our Constitution. They all claimed diplomatic immunity and left. Trump has invited Erdoğan here. That is a disgrace…it should be cancelled. Erdoğan is making a fool out of Trump and through him, the U. S.

Most Americans are angry, but Putin is happy. Why is it that so many acts by Trump make Putin happy?

Stuart, I agree with you that there are large strategic interests. I also want us to stop fighting all over the world. My complaint is the way Trump did it. Thousands were killed, murdered, because Trump did not bother to plan this. There is no excuse for this. If Trump is such a great negotiator as he claims, why didn’t he make deals with Erdoğan as to what he could and could not do. Trump just totally caved in. He is running our country the way he ran his business…bankrupt, morally and ethically.

You are telling me that people claim that most of the attacks against Trump by Democrats are for political advantage rather than concern for the Kurds. I am sorry those people are so cynical. It must be a terrible way to go through life. Everyone I talk with are totally appalled and sickened by the slaughter. I got so I could not bear to watch the carnage and turned off the TV. I guess it is only the “pro-life” people who REALLY care for life, while the rest of us sit in the Roman Coliseum and cheer as we watch the butchery.

Where are all the “pro-life” people. I have hardly heard a whisper from them.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month ago

Judith
You are singularly myopic in the face of this unfolding tragedy.
Erdogan announced to Trump that his military would start advancing to create an exclusion zone whether US Troops were there or not. Result ?....issue joined ..remove US troops or see them killed. Would you have preferred Trump leave them as a useless wall of 100 people? Erdogan views all Kurds as an existential threat because of the 30 year guerrilla war waged by the PKK
There are any number of military who disagree with the un named Admiral on what must /should be done in the face of determined Turkish aggression. Check out Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard on use of US troops as world police.

The “way Trump did it” was the only way left to protect American Troops once Erdogan stated his troops were moving in the morning! Please note that concerned 100 troops....Another 1000 outside the exclusion zone are being moved in an order.y fashion but it suits the Press to conflate the two.
The Kurds had no problem in promptly seeking a new shield from the Syrian Russian coalition to confront the Turks. By the way whose defaulted “Red Line” led to the unopposed wholesale introduction of Russian AirPower and forces as Assad allies?......What President declared Assad as “finished” and encouraged an Arab Spring Uprising in Syria but then refused to aid the Syria Free rebels? Who refused to establish a no fly zone to prevent barrel bombing of civilians by Russian Syrian air power?
How very convenient that the Dems who refused support for the Kurds during the Obama years now demand Trump continue to support them now that mutual goal of destroying the Caliphate trying to take over Kurdish land has been achieved
There are over 10,000 Isis fighters in the Kurd prisons and our European Allies have refused all responsibility to accept return of their citizens for trial or to assist in keeping them prisoners. Further there another 10 to 20 Thousand Isis camp followers (women and children) in vast tent cities in fenced in areas. The Europeans have no complaint and have been using the US Troops as pawns even while critiquing them and the prison camps conditions.

You also forget that Turkey took in millions of Syrian refugees whom Erdogan reasonably wants returned to Syria....and what better place than in an exclusion zone! Look to Jordan to force this same issue.
You conveniently forget it was Obama who in October 2916 said that the Russians would regret their intrusion into Syria “as a quagmire”....yet their Russian flags flew alongside the Syrian flag as the raced to confront the Turkish invasion of Syria! The cards being played were chosen and dealt by Obama’s timidity in the face Of the Russian rescue of Assad.

As for your in ability to watch TV overage of the Turkish invasion ...just exactly what did you do during the two year barrel bombing of Syrian civilians by Assad and Russian forces when Obama refused the Mc Cain et al pleas for a US no fly zone.?
Where were you Democrats then.....I hardly heard a whisper!

Judith Jordan
1 month ago

Stuart:

Why is it when anyone disagrees with you, that person is myopic, but you apparently see the grand vision.

I know about Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

You can’t possibly believe that Trump had no option to stop Erdogan. Why did Erdogan call Trump last year and ask to do this? The sane people around Trump talked him out of agreeing with it and Erdogan did nothing. Now Erdogan called Trump again. Trump could have said no again. Instead he said yes. What everyone had told Trump would happen, is what happened.

There may be military people who disagree with the Admiral, but I think they are in a minority. Also, General Mattis is highly respected in the military; I don’t think there are great numbers who disagree with him.

I have not forgotten Obama. He sought advice from numerous sources trying to do the right thing. Trump casually said yes and who knows what financial interests he has since he has property in Turkey. Below, I have posted an article by retired Admiral William H. McRaven. (He is not the same retired admiral I saw who remains nameless in my mind).

On TV McRaven said, he has worked with several presidents of both parties, He said everyone tried to do the right thing. Many of them did the wrong things, but they tried. He said Trump is the only president who does not bother to ascertain what is right or wrong. He just irresponsibly makes a decision without input. I believe that is one of the major differences between Obama and Trump.

You and Tim and others on this page, continually say you do not approve of Trump doing A, B, C. You really do not approve of saying D, E, F. But every time, no matter how vile or unethical, he is still your boy.

You cannot possibly believe that I do not watch the Kurds being murdered because it is Trump’s fault. But then, I can watch people being killed when it is Obama’s mistake. That is like when Tim said Dems only cared about the Kurds’ slaughter for political points. Amazing. However, it does go a long way in explaining how you both can support Trump.

Here is an article by retired Admiral William H. McRaven. McRaven writes about an America I grew up in and the country I love.
“Our Republic Is Under Attack From the President”
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/17/opinion/trump-mcraven-syria-military.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

Watch General Mattis’ funny part of his speech at the about him being an “overrated general.” Listen to the entire speech. It is very moving.
https://theweek.com/speedreads/872652/james-mattis-pokes-fun-trumps-insult-guess-im-meryl-streep-generals

You may see Mitt Romney’s speech in the Senate about Trump and Turkey on tape at https://www.axios.com/mitt-romney-trump-kurds-betrayal-f8b2b829-eefe-47c3-9c0a-1526269579fa.html

Enjoy!

Judy

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month ago

Judith
Yes you are still myopic....skipping over a year’s events between two call
One year ago Erdogan reached an understanding with the US and several European allies that an exclusion zone would be created to which the Syrian refugees in Turkey would be resettled. In the interim the US and Turkey had a skeleton force to patrol the Syrian Turkish Border to prevent movement of Kurds between Syria and Turkey. Turkey had no troops assed at the border but was threatening to bring them there. Erdogan has complained repeatedly that the US and its few European allies had done very little to establish the exclusion zone.....the US had withdrawn its 1000 troops from the area but no active steps were being undertaken to establish the zone. A few weeks ago Turkey massed troops on the border and told Trump it was crossing the border whether or not the US skeleton force was there.
As I said the issue was joined: the choices- leave 50 to 100 US troops in the way- withdraw to where 1000 troops were stationed or engage in a battle with a NATO ally and fulfill the Russian gambit of the past 60 years. At least now the Turks are facing off against the Syrian Russian alliance.
There is no question Erdogan means the zone will House Syrian refugees and that the Kurds would be excluded...a buffer of Syrians between PKK in Turkey and the Kurds in Syria.
My comment referring your inability to watch the Turkish invasion pivoted on your “I didn’t hear a whisper”.....so I ask again what did you do and say during the barrel bombing by the Russo Syrian airforce during Obama’s inaction.

Your reference to “Trump being our boy” because we pick the issues we approve of and those we disapprove speaks loudly of your blind partisan nature as a life long Democrat. Speaking for myself I have voted for Democrats, libertarians , Republicans and Conservatives during my voting lifetime.....all based on issues. I suggest you mentally review your own voting record
I think Mattis is a magnificent General and note that Obama fired him because he gave the same advice to Obama that he is now giving to Trump. I would have far preferred to confront Erdogan ...an Authoritarian Islamist...But the strategic position of Turkey as a NATO member between Iran andRussia far outweighs the Kurdish issue.. you might recall that Obama was “soft on Iran”

Judith Jordan
1 month ago

Stuart:
Two phone calls. I agree with your comments about the two phone calls except I am not sure of the last sentence.

You believe that Trump had no choice regarding Turkey. I agree with Romney, “Are we so weak and inept diplomatically that Turkey forced the hand of the United States of America? Turkey!?”

Trump invited Erdogan to the WH. Is Trump’s hand forced to do that too? Disgraceful.

You talk as if Trump actually knows what he is doing in the Middle East (ME). Martin Indyk is a diplomat and foreign relations analyst with expertise in the ME and has held virtually every senior ME job in the U.S. government. He claims that Trump’s moves in Syria are part of a Middle Eastern policy that is in total disarray. The Trump administration refused to listen to experts, reversed long-standing policy, and assumed that its knowledge-free approach would yield innovative, new results.

“The Trump administration likes to see itself as clear-eyed and tough-minded, a confronter of the hard truths others refuse to acknowledge. In fact, it understands so little about how the Middle East actually works that its bungling efforts have been a failure across the board. As so often in the past, the cynical locals are manipulating a clueless outsider, advancing their personal agendas at the naive Americans’ expense. The Trump administration’s Middle East policies cannot possibly create a new, more stable regional order. But they will certainly do a good job of continuing the destruction of the old one, and risking all that it had gained.”

Trump’s move re Turkey empowers people we want to limit such as Syria, Iran, and Russia, but then Trump likes to please Putin. You seem to think this move contains Russia, but most fear it gives Russia an opportunity to move in and realize its goals for decades. Now Trump acts like a cheer leader claiming that all turned out well and you have to let people fight like kids on a school ground. He pretends that is what he planned all along. The fact is he did great damage to our foreign policy.

I am always upset when children, civilians and soldiers are bombed. You seem to forget that Trump kept blasting Obama telling him to stay out of Syria. I don’t see the two situations as equitable. Obama did not step in and bomb when others were bombing. Trump cooperated with Turkey, an enabler, and so is also responsible for the slaughter of the Kurds. Trump had been repeatedly warned that this is what would happen. BTW, I was “glad” (one can never be glad over a bombing even when justified) when Trump bombed Syria over using chemical weapons.

Obama was “soft on Iran.” I assume you mean the Iran nuclear deal. Trump was a fool for leaving it. He has some kind of perverse obsession with Obama. He is overturning everything Obama did regardless of how insignificant or important. Trump frequently babbles about him. I assume that Trump looks at Obama who accomplished extraordinary things on his own, while Trump had everything but continually had to be financially bailed out by his father. Obama is a good husband and father. You know about Trump. Obama was in office for eight years with no scandals and no one indicted or jailed. (Please spare me the right wing crazies’ conspiracies about Obama) You know about Trump. “No drama Obama,” while we constantly see Trump screaming, yelling, and throwing grade school level attacks at people. It must make Trump crazy that, even with his over blown ego, he knows he can never measure up to Obama.

I too have voted for Democrats, Libertarians , Republicans and Conservatives. I once voted for a conservative who I disagreed with on almost everything. He ran for office in which his responsibilities were within a particular area and I agreed with his positions. Nobody could believe I voted for him. I could not believe I voted for him. But, I thought he was the right man for that office and I never regretted my vote. Being an adherent to a particular party does not mean one becomes a sheep in it. I was never like today’s Republicans who blindly follow Trump regardless of how illegal, immoral, and unethical he is.

See
6 reasons Obama is bombing ISIS in Iraq, but won't bomb Syria
https://www.vox.com/2014/8/11/5991173/why-is-obama-bombing-iraq-but-not-syria-here-are-6-reasons

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month ago

Judith
Trump aided the Kurds for the sole purpose of defeating Isis. He certainly never indicated he was in favor of a new Kurdistan . You might recollect that he pledged to not to just “contain Isis “ (Obama)but to do anything necessay to destroy the Caliphate including “bombing the shit out of them” .
Other than that purpose, Trump was/is opposed to being involved in the Middle East. ....and certainly not in Syria. The issues on the table are keeping Turkey in NATO and fencing in Iran. The latter requires the Saudi, Emirates and Qatari organizing and convincing the European Allies that their oil supplies depend on their getting far more deeply involved to protect that supply
Your suggestion that Trump’s recent action “invites the Russians in” simply ignores the fact that as a result of Obama’s failed red line the Russians were/are in Syria in force.......see the photos of the Syrian Russian tanks flying both flags as they head to the Turkish Border.

The “no Obama scandals” is a claim without merit.....they are in fact quite numerous..... from “Fast and Furious” to Lois Lerner In the Treasury blocking the formation of conservative not for profits...to Comey contrived “clearance of the Clinton email”....to Susan Rice’s Great Benghazi and Beau Bergdahl lies . But hold your breath, I think the really important ones are coming with the Horowitz and Durham Investigation reports.
Stop with “the overblown ego routine”...as I said before I think Trump is a blow hard , narcissistic, compulsive exaggerater/ frequent liar and self aggrandizer. I found both Clinton and Trump to have personality flaws of monumental proportions and made my required binary choice based on the issues.

Judith Jordan
1 month ago

Stuart:
Do you actually read the articles I post for you?

Trump not only did not contain ISIS, he has created an environment that helps ISIS grow stronger. The issue about Russia is that its influence will increase. Trump has destabilized the ME even more.

“Trump to have personality flaws…” Truly, it boggles my mind that anyone could vote for Trump. Everyone has her own conscience and I can only follow mine as you must follow yours. But, honestly, for me to support Trump, I would have to repudiate my religious, moral, and ethical values.

Meanwhile, Trump has such contempt for us, he does not even try to hide his crimes and unconstitutional acts any more. As he said, he “could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue…”. I thought that comment was an insult to his supporters, but they just cheer him. Trump just awarded a contract to himself (no bids) for his Doral Resort to host the next G7 Summit. It could have been Summit 8 as Trump wanted Russia to be invited. His act violates the emoluments clause. Plus, a president is prohibited from taking any kind of payment from the federal government that is beyond his salary.

Mike Mulvaney’s admission that Trump did a quid pro quo with Ukraine was amazing. I am sure you heard Mulvaney’s fantasy excuses. If it were not illegal and pathetic, it would be funny. My favorite is when Mulvaney reflected Trump’s earlier statement that, “It’s almost like they built this facility to host this type of event.” Sure it is. It is going to be real fun in June during Miami’s off season because of the heat and humidity. Trump’s comment about doing it “for cost” is a joke. June is the off season in Miami and his hotel would have had low occupancy. Now it will be a high occupancy and that is gravy for Trump. Plus, all the “repairs” he will do, we will pay for.

Your Obama “scandals” are right wing conspiracies nonsense. The Republicans investigated Benghazi ad nauseam and came up with nothing. The Right screamed that conservative groups were being reviewed by the IRS more than the liberals. Well, yes because that is when all the Tea Party groups were forming so conservatives had created groups across the country, unlike the libs. “Comey contrived” clearance of the Clinton email.” Oh yes, Hillary’s emails. Perhaps you noticed the State Department just closed its investigation of Hillary and found no deliberate mishandling of classified information re emails. OK. Let’s hear it. What is the conspiracy?

The Republicans have spent years and years and millions of tax payers’ dollars investigating both Bill and Hillary and they came up with nothing…over and over. The first investigator sent to investigate Bill came up with nothing. The Republicans did not like that so they sent Ken Starr to investigate. Starr also came up with nothing. So, he went after the women and there he found Monica. So, Bill was impeached. There was not one article of impeachment that had to do with crooked money or anything else…everything was based on Monica.

Now the Republicans are all weepy, scared, and cowardly. They cannot find anything impeachable about Trump. They cannot even answer if it is legal for a president, any president, to ask foreign countries to look for scandal on their political opponents. It is hilarious watching them. They would make a deal with Putin…whoops, Trump already has that franchise. They would do almost anything before they would answer that simple question that most Americans can answer. But we must march on. Trumpers are all excited to see the reports form Horowitz and Durham because NOW, FINALLY, they will get something on Hillary. And if this does not work, we can just grab a few more million tax dollars and have more hearings on Hillary.

Jeez, I almost wish you guys found something about Hillary’s emails so we can stop hearing about them.

Stuart Meisenzahl
3 weeks 6 days ago

Judith
Your diatribe illustrates beautifully your position as a self proclaimed “ life long Democrat” .
You are unable to distinguish between the message and the messenger in any fact situation. I liked Obama but I believed his most important policies were wrong. I generally am appalled by Trump but I think most of his policies are correct. You really need to try to separate your visceral reaction to Trump from your analysis of his policies and their success.
For instance: the Census bureau just reported that under 8 years of Bush Average Middle Class Income rose a paltry $400. Under 8 years of Obama it rose just over $1,000. Under about 2 3/4 years of Trump average Middle Class Income rose over $5,000. Does that matter to you?

Putin is only in Syria because Obama and Kerry literally invited him in after the “Obama red line fiasco” to allegedly supervise the dismantling of chemical weapons.
Obama predicted that Russia would regret adding troops and withdraw from the “quagmire”

The Obama Administration demonstrably lied about the precipitation on the Benghazi attack...Susan Rice!
How about ....“If you like your Doctor you can keep your Doctor ...like your plan you can keep your plan “ classic lie with a $1Trillion price tag.
If the Ukrainians did not know about any hold up of $$, (they say they didn't) then it is impossible to extort, bribe or otherwise arm twist the Ukrainians... quid pro quo is missing an essential element....NO “quo” !!!

Reread the State Dept report @500 violations of Security in Hillary email exchanges ....37 actionable against current employees...most not actionable because people are no longer employees.

I suggest you reread all the material on Isis, it’s geographic control, it’s economic control and it’s political control both under Ibama in December 2016 and compare it to under Trump in March 2019. No one disputes that the rise of Isis was precipitated by Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq....remember he took no action against what he called “the JV Team” and brushed off any need to intercede.

Judith Jordan
3 weeks 5 days ago

Stuart:
You assume because I criticize Trump that I cannot distinguish between the message and the messenger. You ignore the fact I also strongly dislike most of his policies. I think both the message and the messenger are deplorable re Trump.

Census Bureau. I have not brought this up because I know you will be negative. You know that economies do not turn on a dime. Obama inherited a bad economy and he worked on reversing that. It was getting better as he left office and that increase continued into Trump’s term. Perhaps you have forgotten all the screams from the middles class, including Trumpers, when their taxes increased due to Trump’s “tax reforms.”

I am not claiming everything Obama did turned out as we hoped. You can’t seem to find anything that Trump did is wrong on a political level. Perhaps you are the one with the refusal to distinguish between message and messenger.

You condemn Obama about lying re Susan Rice. Yet, you so easily accept Trump’s lies. You quote things he says as though it means something.

Keep your doctor. Are you able to consider the fact that when a huge program like health care is having major changes there may be things that a president wanted to do, but couldn’t for various reason…opposition from Reps; opposition from insurance companies; etc. Do you think when FDR was planning and implementing the New Deal they did not keep making important changes to make it work. I note the doctor issue is the one opponents always bring up; don’t they have others re Obamacare? Obama tried everything to get health care to everyone…a most laudable project. Reps fought him in every direction and tried to make it fail. Then when Obamacare ran into any problem, Reps angelic rose in mass to point out it doesn’t work. Fighting to keep people from acquiring health care is incomprehensible. Finally, you cannot believe that Obama sincerely wanted to bring health care to everyone. No, he has to be a liar.

But, if you want to talk about lies, Trump is always a sure source. Trump’s promise to give us wonderful health care, much better than Obama’s, everyone will be covered, and it will cost less. Where is his program? He didn’t even offer one. His first two years he had a Republican Congress and he couldn’t even pull it off then.

The Ukrainians knew about Trump withholding aid in early August. You just accept what Trump says.

Hillary. The State Department cleared Hillary re her emails. The report concluded there was, "no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information." The Justice Department's inspector general said that FBI specialists had not found evidence that the server was hacked. Despite, being told three years earlier by the FBI that there were no criminal charges against Hillary, Republican Senator Grassley insisted on an investigation. There followed a three year investigation of Hillary, which cleared her.

ISIS. You want me to review ISIS, but you ignore what is all over the news about ISIS and the gains of Turkey and particularly Russia. Everything I read seems to be in direct conflict with your readings. Why don’t you tell me what sources you read and I shall read them. Otherwise, we are in two different worlds.

Judith Jordan
1 month ago

Stuart:
Read Mitch McConnell’s article posted below. It is very good and would have reached the level of a statesman’s document and national unity, but he had to take gratuitous swipes at Obama and some Dems. Too bad McConnell impaired his own declaration.

Mitch McConnell: Withdrawing from Syria is a grave mistake
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/mitch-mcconnell-withdrawing-from-syria-is-a-grave-mistake/2019/10/18/c0a811a8-f1cd-11e9-89eb-ec56cd414732_story.html

Judith Jordan
1 month ago

Stuart:
Please read.
‘I can’t even look at the atrocities’: U.S. troops say Trump’s Syria withdrawal betrayed an ally
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/i-cant-even-look-at-the-atrocities-us-troops-say-trumps-syria-withdrawal-betrayed-an-ally/2019/10/15/4e79b600-eeca-11e9-b648-76bcf86eb67e_story.html

“U.S. veterans have supported Trump in part because of his often-repeated promises to extricate the U.S. military from a generation at war, numerous polls have found. But the calamity on the ground in Syria has wrought angry reactions from service members like few other recent foreign policy decisions. Troops have reacted viscerally in interviews and on social media despite Defense Department restrictions on them expressing political opinions. Some who served in northern Syria also have spoken out despite associations with secretive Special Operations units that rarely speak to the media and do not want their service members identified.”

Judith Jordan
1 month ago

bill carson
The Kurds are being slaughtered. This is a result of Trump pulling out without any planning. How can you say it is a lie that he destroyed lives?

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