Nathan Bransford, Author

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Trump supporters, can we make a deal?

Yes, this is a political post. Context here. No hard feelings if you decide to skip to the next post.

Hello and congratulations on the election.

If you are indeed a Trump supporter, I would like make a plea to you: please read this post in full even if you think I'm a lunatic. You won the election! Throw me a bone! Heck, you could throw me two bones if you were so generous as to share this with another Trump supporter or two million.

Let me start by saying what this blog post is not:
  • This is not an attempt to get you to change your mind.
  • This is not an attempt to make you feel bad for voting for Trump.
  • This is not an attempt to explain why I'm right about everything in the world oh make that the universe.
(If you do want one of those articles, by all means you can click here and here and here and here and here. But that's not what this post is about).

I don't know your personal reasons for voting for Trump, but because I'm an optimistic person by nature and believe the vast majority of people to be good at heart, I trust that you went to the voting booth with good intentions, however much I might disagree with you. I'm not going to try to persuade you otherwise. 

But I am, shall we say, scared. I am like a dog lying on its belly, paws up saying, "Master please pet my belly instead of goring my intestines." I'm scared for the country. I'm scared even more for the people who are less advantaged than me. I could list all these particular fears for myself and for my friends and for people I don't even know, which is a very long list, but again, not the point of this post. 

The fear I want to focus on, as a proud American who will croon "Where at least I know I'm free" with the best of them, and as a former public school attendee who is mindful of the very long history of charismatic leaders stirring a fear of outsiders in fractured times, is this one: the risk to our cherished democracy and the principles it stands for.

That's crazy, you might be thinking. You liberals have lost your damn minds. You are in a bubble! (FWIW my parents are farmers and I grew up in a county that voted overwhelmingly for Trump but yes I do now live in Manhattan in a building that has more people living in it than my entire hometown). We elected a businessman, not a tyrant. There you go again, overhyping and lying. You lost. Get over it. Our institutions are strong. If Trump sucks he'll be impeached or voted out. Give the guy a chance. This attitude is why you lost the election in the first place!! 

I HOPE YOU'RE RIGHT!! If this all comes down to me being a lunatic I will happily check myself into the asylum. 

But since you were kind enough to throw me the bone of reading this article, here's what I ask of you, with the inauguration still two months away and with history yet to be written:

I want you to take a deep breath and close your eyes. Just kidding!! Hope you didn't do that, I need you to read the rest of the article. 

I want you to take a moment. (Eyes open, to be clear). Set aside Trump, set aside Obama, set aside Hillary, set aside our politically fractured environment, set aside additional metaphors about dogs and bones. 

In a totally hypothetical world, what would be a "step too far" for you against our democracy? What would make you stop, even if it's your guy or gal in the Oval Office, and say, "Okay, that's too far." Pretend it's your friend Steve who just became President of the United States (love Steve!), or the Newman guy in Jurassic Park who got slimed by the dinosaur with the weird gills.

Here are some hypotheticals -- NOT SAYING THESE ARE GOING TO HAPPEN -- but just to give you a sense of what I have in mind for potential "steps too far":
  • Crackdowns on educators
  • Censoring of political speech
  • Jailing of opposition leaders and/or reporters
  • Systematic efforts to bankrupt institutions or news outlets
  • Registries for minority or religious groups
  • Restrictions on the Internet and social media
  • Assaults on peaceful protestors and a blind eye toward prosecuting those responsible
  • Defying court rulings
  • Assassinations or detainment of dissidents
  • Postponement of elections
  • Internment camps
  • Nuclear war
  • Failure to recruit Bruce Willis to avert asteroid threatening Earth
Just take a moment, work with me, and think, "If, hypothetically, Trump were to do X, Y and Z from this list (or something else), then I would have to reconsider things." Even if you think there's less than zero chance of it happening. Even if it feels like an exercise in writing young adult dystopian fiction (which you should totally try by the way).

Okay. Do you have your list? (Do tell in the comments section - I'm curious! Passive aggressive "things Obama or Hillary already did" will be deleted, not the point of this exercise though I appreciate the attempt also I'm onto you!)

Trump likes deals, I like deals, we all like deals. The deal I want to make with you is that if I do my absolute best to keep an open mind about the future and, as I am repeatedly asked on social media, to "give Trump a chance," you will withdraw your support for Trump if one of your "steps too far" happens. 

It may be hazy if and when it happens. It may feel like it had some justification. You may not even remember reading this blog post (although, if so: how could you, future you, HOW COULD YOU). That's why I want to do this now, in a vacuum before things start getting wild. Let's make this deal while our heads our clear.

All I ask is that you remember this post, remember this exercise, remember your "steps too far," and resist if it happens however you see fit.

Thank you for reading. You're fired. Just kidding.

Enjoy this post? Please consider following me on Twitter or Facebook, subscribe to my blog, or check out my guide to writing a novel and the Jacob Wonderbar series!


signed...bkm said...

Nathan you don't know me but I am one Colusa-ite who holds your views and appreciates your ability to voice this side of what is taking place in this country...bkm

Joelle said...

I love this approach. I had a similar conversation with my mother when she did a 180 on her opinion of Trump after the primaries. I wish more people would address the issues this way, so that it comes off as thought provoking instead of a personal "attack".

Jerry said...

If you’re worried about Donald Trump going to far, there’s a simple way to stop him: convince Democratic legislators and any civil rights organizations you know (such as the ACLU) to offer to support any Supreme Court nominees on the list that he promised from before the election.

You probably disagree with a lot of what they stand for, but they are true conservative choices, and they will not allow executive overreach. Every one of the judges on that list will hold the President accountable to the constitution regardless of the President’s party.

That list is, ultimately, why I was able to vote for Donald Trump. Because no judge on that list would allow any of the things on your list, or anything close to them.

Yes, all of those things on your list would make me “reconsider things” but the list is highly insulting.

“I don’t beat my wife, and you know it.”

“Yes, but work with me here. If, hypothetically, you did beat your wife…”’

It’s even worse because some of the things on that list were explicitly proposed by Donald Trump’s opponent. The Citizens United ruling was literally about censoring a film that criticized Hillary Clinton, for example, and she wanted to overturn that ruling and go back to censoring political speech.

It wasn’t Donald Trump who joked about droning Julian Assange, nor was it Donald Trump’s team who erased documents two weeks *after* learning that those documents were under indictment.

So, I’d ask you to consider the same question:

“Just take a moment, work with me, and think, "If, hypothetically, Clinton were discovered to have wanted to do X, Y and Z from this list (or something else), then I would have to reconsider things." Even if you think there's less than zero chance of it having happened. Even if it feels like an exercise in writing young adult dystopian fiction (which you should totally try by the way).”

The line about postponing elections is something that the fringe on both sides try to scare people with every two to four years. Trump is not going to postpone elections any more than Obama was going to postpone elections, and Obama wasn’t any more likely than Bush to postpone elections, nor was Bush any more likely than Clinton to postpone elections, and so on for as long as I’ve been paying attention.

Nathan Bransford said...


I appreciate the reply, but do you think you're replying in the spirit of the post? I understand the list may seem hyperbolic to you, that's kind of the point. So what's your line in the sand for Trump? When would you withdraw your support? What if, say, he didn't nominate someone from the list you liked?

Litigating what Hillary Clinton did or didn't want to do seems a little beside the point at this stage, no?

Jerry said...

Everything on that list is a line in the sand, as I wrote:

“Yes, all of those things on your list would make me ‘reconsider things’ but the list is highly insulting.”

The real line in the sand, though, will come before that list: will Trump stick to his promise to nominate Supreme Court justices who will vote against an imperial presidency? Or will he try to deviate from the list and vote for justices who will support executive overreach?

That’s where you come in. Do you believe those things on that list are likely enough to support conservative justices who will keep them from every happening? Will you write your legislators, and publicly post on your blog that Democrats should promise to support anyone from that list?

Or is this just general fearmongering?

Nathan Bransford said...


Ah sorry, I misread this line initially: “Yes, all of those things on your list would make me ‘reconsider things’ but the list is highly insulting.”

I think you're presenting me with a bit of a false choice because 1) I doubt Democrats are even going to have a say in the Supreme Court nominee in the first place and suspect the filibuster will be done away with to grease the skids and 2) I have less faith than you that the Supreme Court will be a significant bulwark to an imperial presidency no matter what they rule. The real bulwark, I think, is going to be whether Trump continues to have popular support with the Republicans in Congress and among the electorate, hence this post.

I think, in other words, you're suggesting I have cards I don't believe I hold. I don't think there's an equivalent "line in the sand" I could make.

That said, I would be supportive of someone who is a conservative-leaning judicial moderate and anti-imperialist and would say so.

Am I misunderstanding your premise?

Jerry said...

I don’t think you’re misunderstanding the premise. You are, however, trying to get around the premise in the way you asked us not to.

You’re asking us to consider whether our candidate might become a wife-beater, and not to try to evade the question with the obvious rejoinder that he won’t.

I’m asking you, well, here’s a very obvious way of stopping him. Would you support it?

Your filibuster response is an example of where you could do something: you’re afraid the filibuster will be done away with. You’re also afraid that Trump is going to do all sorts of horrible things.

But if Democrats were to offer to support judges from Trump’s list in exchange for keeping the filibuster, there would be no out for Republicans: they’d lose the next election if they disagreed. This would (a) keep the filibuster in place, and (b) keep Trump from doing what you say you fear he will do.

You try to evade the question by saying you don’t hold those cards, to influence Democrats, I’m guessing, but it doesn’t matter. You can offer to try, to write letters and blog—as you did here. If you believed that your apocalyptic list of fears had any basis in reality, I’d like to think you would try.

Nathan Bransford said...


My premise is pretty basic: What is the line in the sand that Trump would need to cross for him to lose your support?

To your credit, yes, you answered that one honestly and added that you'd also withdraw support if he nominated judges that wouldn't curtail an imperial presidency.

I think the essence of your premise is this: Would you support a Supreme Court nominee whose views you might otherwise disagree with if it guaranteed that Trump wouldn't become an authoritarian?

In principle, sure! If you told me I could go back in time and kill baby Hitler in exchange for one otherwise abhorrent Supreme Court justice I'd take that trade.

But in practice, and in your specific requests, I think your premise is way more complicated than mine. To agree that such a nominee would indeed be a bulwark and worth vocally supporting, I would need to trust the integrity of the list, I would need to trust the integrity of the person Trump nominated from the list, I would need to trust that even if that person had integrity and ruled against Trump that Trump would respect the court's ruling, I would need to trust that in the event Trump did not respect the court's ruling the Republican-dominated Congress would hold him accountable and impeach him, and then I'd have to trust that in the event Trump did not respect the court's ruling and the Republican-dominated Congress did not hold him accountable and impeach him sufficient number of Americans would vote the Republicans out of office.

That's bankshot after bankshot after bankshot.

Jerry said...

It’s true, there’s a lot of complications—everything in life is a tradeoff. My question was, do you think your fears are likely enough to make that tradeoff worth it.

Killing a baby is an abhorrent act. Baby Hitler hasn’t committed any crimes, and there is no guarantee that the nature of the times isn’t that someone else would take his place. Would it be worth trying? Absolutely: we know about the evils Hitler will go on to commit.

There are fairly big complications in your list, too. They all hinge on definitions. I expect that within the first year, President Trump will be accused of doing many of those things, in ways that are clearly egregious. For example, calling the immigrant detention centers that already exist internment centers; calling appealing a court order defying it; calling legitimate education reform a crackdown; calling opening up border crossings (he promised a big, beautiful door in those walls of his) but with biometric screening for criminals a registry for minorities; calling droning of terrorists an assassination; calling cutting public funding a shutdown attempt.

Perhaps, to see where I’m coming from, you could write a post tomorrow, and ask the same questions about President Obama’s supporters instead of Donald Trump’s, with no equivocation. He’s still president, he still has time to do those things. He’s just as likely to do those things as Donald Trump is.

I think (and you can tell me if I’m wrong) that if you came across this post about President Obama, you would consider it insulting and fear mongering. I also think that you would be right.

Nathan Bransford said...


On the definitions, I'd ask more for your definitions than what the media or someone else would say. I acknowledged in the post it will be hazy in practice.

Also, I realize as well as you do that I'm bringing bias to bear, but I still think there's some false equivalence at play if you think there's equal likelihood of some of these things happening under Obama as Trump. (For that matter, I wouldn't have written this post if, say, Mitt Romney had been elected president.) Obama has made some decisions I'm uncomfortable with, such as the extrajudicial drone strikes, but I don't think he has run up the authoritarian-meter during his campaign or office to the degree that Trump has.

Hope I'm wrong!

abc said...

I'm surprised Jerry is insulted by this list. This list isn't pulled out of thin air. This list is reference to things Trump has said and promised. To his character. To what we know are his past actions, which include lying, conning, threatening and more. He has hinted at the need to censor those who disagree with him many times. Obama has never done any such thing. I won't get in an argument with Jerry, but I find it absurd that anyone would see Hillary Clinton as a greater evil than the Donald (who has been found to be fraudulent, etc. etc. etc.). I might insinuate someone is a wife beater if he goes around bragging about how much he likes to beat his wife.

Matthew MacNish said...

Sadly, President Obama is already allowing:

"Assaults on peaceful protestors and a blind eye toward prosecuting those responsible,"

at the Standing Rock Sioux resevervation re: the DAPL. Hopefully having the veterans show up this weekend will make some difference.

Matthew MacNish said...

Oh crap I just realized that was a "Thing Obama already did." Feel free to delete it Nathan.

Anonymous said...

If you are so scared of Donald Trump becoming president i've heard that therapy dog helps.
Also, America is not a democracy but representative republic, so no danger for democracy here.

Anonymous said...

First, I appreciate your attempt to avoid name-calling and reach across the divide. It's greatly needed and in short supply these days from both sides. That said, yes, the hyperbole is nonetheless insulting. Your implications are clear, beginning with that irrelevant picture of Trump shaking Reagan's hand. (A more appropriate picture would have been one of Trump shaking Clinton's hand, just FYI--if you really cared to bridge the gap.)

But what really confused me was that a lot of the things on your list are currently happening under the current-administration-who-shall-not-be-named. And if we mentioned these facts (not just hypotheticals, but facts), our comment will be deleted?? Huh??

This one in particular shows that your list seems to be more about you adopting the current hysteria to further your position, rather than just listing "honest-to-goodness-justified hypotheticals":

"Assaults on peaceful protestors and a blind eye toward prosecuting those responsible"

We all know this is currently happening under the current-administration-who-shall-not-be-named-or-my-comment-will-be-censored. If you'd like, please explain why we should *not* be afraid and outraged by our current president and his actions/inactions, but we *should* be afraid of our next president's actions/inactions?

That said (again), to answer your question, no, I will not turn a blind eye to any injustices that may or may not happen under the Trump administration. I'd ask that you think about maybe holding yourself to those same moral standards (for the next few weeks--better late than never).

Nathan Bransford said...


Man - this really isn't a climate where people are given the benefit of the doubt, is it?

I was searching for public-domain images of Trump in Wiki Commons, and came across this one with Reagan. Thought it was interesting! Two presidents shaking hands. I didn't have some deeper motive for it.

My limiting to the future was just to try to cut out some of the inevitable partisanship and consider the question in as much of a vacuum as possible. Trying to be like "well this president did this and that president did that" so there was kind of beside the point of what I was going for. I already mentioned my own complaints about the extrajudicial drone strikes elsewhere in the comments.

Anyway, thanks for the response but why do you find this exercise so insulting?

Anonymous said...

It's not unreasonable for me to assume you choose the pictures you post with intent, no matter the climate. If you say that picture was chosen at random without any negative intent to provoke a reaction, then I'm certainly willing to take your word for it and apologize.

The fact that you felt the need to have this "exercise" with conservatives is the insulting part, though I do believe that insulting people isn't your intent in this case. I condone none of the things you listed. In fact, it concerns me greatly that many of them are currently happening now, where you seem to be ignoring that fact, and preparing for the possibility of them happening later once Trump is in office. (??)

I understand and sympathize with your fears for the coming years, real or hypothetical, because I've put genuine effort into doing so. I also have my own concerns about Trump (like I've had with every other president I've ever voted for) and will hold him to the same standards that I'd hold any other US president. I've never idealized a president I've voted for based on party affiliation, nor even a political candidate, and I certainly won't be doing that with Trump. I will not make excuses for him if he steps out of line in office. But make no mistake, I'm willing to participate in this exercise for *your* peace of mind, not because I need this exercise for myself. Like you said, I guess this really isn't a climate where people are given the benefit of the doubt.

The frustrating part is that I feel like you do need this exercise. You idealized your political candidate to the point that you are still unable to see why anyone would have a valid moral objection to her being in office. The truth is, the only people who don't make moral concessions when they vote, have completely idealized their candidate, are in denial, or are very naive. That issue crosses political lines.

So, I'm asking you to remember this one random comment. Future Nathan, look back at Nathan 2016, and please don't hold anyone to a higher standard than you hold yourself. Remember that you made no impassioned blog post/tweet/denouncement of Obama when you started to feel "uncomfortable" with the questionable morals of his drone strikes, or when he ignored the abuse happening to the protestors at Standing Rock. Don't judge conservatives if their only concession is to say "I'm uncomfortable with that" buried somewhere in the comments of a blog post. If you find yourself outraged that conservatives could express concern about Trump, without completely denouncing him, remember the extent of your actions when Obama ordered those drone strikes that killed innocent civilians, knowing those civilians would die. And go easy on the judgment. Deal?

Nathan Bransford said...


I appreciate the lengthy reply.

I think you're still operating on a binary I don't accept, which is holding me to a strictly partisan lens. Just as I didn't write this post after Obama was elected, I also wouldn't have written it if Romney or Bush III was elected. This is a different president-elect.

Does it not feel different to you? Honest question. Trust me when I say I'm no Hillary idealist. But just as you think I've overly idealized her to the point of not imagining an alternative, do you think you have projected normalcy onto Trump, trusting that he will color within the lines or that our institutions will keep him in his lane?

Anonymous said...

It feels different, but not in the way you think it feels different. You've heard this before, but we (meaning America) have revolted, and, against all odds, have elected a businessman instead of a politician. Because we *want* things to be different. "Business as usual" or "normal" is not what I voted for, nor what I hope for. I want the corruption out of Washington DC. I want a political environment that can produce candidates willing to serve the interests of ALL Americans, instead of candidates who use an immoral "divide and conquer" strategy, to simply win an election. Trump picked his votes, and Clinton picked her's. The difference is, I don't condone that from my candidate. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to fine with what the DNC did you win an election, even consider yourself be part of the moral high ground? Like you, I'm not looking to change your political views here, I'm just looking for a little self-awareness.

Anyway, yes, I understand the reasons why *you* think things are different. Still, no, you can't use that to justify your own moral ambiguity, while condemning others for the same thing. Nice try. ;)

Anonymous said...

*edit to clarify my typo... what the DNC did to *try* to win an election...

JOHN T. SHEA said...

But Bruce Willis can't save us from the asteroid because you said he was a robot! And you linked to a cartoon where the dinosaurs said it might not be too bad anyway.

If the Donald actually does the things you listed he'll be the first politician in history to do what he promised! Hopefully he's just as much a liar as the rest of them...

Seriously though, thanks to yourself and Jerry for disagreeing without getting disagreeable.

Wendy said...

To be perfectly honest, I am positively speechless that a bloated orange racist, sexist, xenophobic buffoon has been elected POTUS.
Never have I been more grateful to live Down Under.
My condolences to you all.

Anonymous said...

You know, I see conservatives throw out arrogant, cringe-worthy comments online sometimes (i.e. therapy dog) and I think, as a conservative myself, I really wish conservatives would behave better as a whole and put actual constructive thought into what they say. For example, what does a political candidate's appearance have to do with serious issues effecting millions of people? Then I see a comment like that from Wendy, and I think, oh wait, it comes on heavy from both sides. The ugliness is completely unavoidable. (So, I guess thanks for the honesty, Wendy.)

Anyway, love these fair and thought-provoking discussions, Nathan. I've taken a lot of your points to heart. However, have to say, "but this is different" is often the argument used when someone points out hypocrisy. Maybe it's different to you. Feels like the same thing to me. Wendy probably thinks "it's different" when she makes disparaging remarks about Trump's appearance because... Well, he's Trump. Just like a conservative might think "it's different" when they make disparaging remarks about Hilary's appearance because... Well, she's Hilary. Most of time, I think people know it, they just don't care if THEY'RE a hypocrite. They only care if OTHER people are.

Anonymous said...

If you want to "change Washington" and get the corruption out, then you need to support two things. First, limiting the amount of money allowed in our politics as much as possible (strict lobbying rules or complete elimination of lobbying, publicly financed elections, etc.) and stop gerrymandering. The current iteration of the Republican party has no interest in either of those things. And thus, Donald Trump isn't cleaning up anything, as if you didn't already know that from all of the politicians and bankers he's hired to work in his administration thus far.

To be honest, Nathan, I think asking Trump voters if they support those two initiatives is a better test of what kind of future we might have. And then mobilizing any coalition you can get to enact those two things.

Anonymous said...

Hey anon @ 12:35AM

Here are a few things from Trump's "First 100 days" plan, copy/pasted (just steps that are relevant to your comment):

"FIRST, propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress;

FOURTH, a 5 year-ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service;

FIFTH, a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government;

SIXTH, a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections."

Just wanted you to know where the whole "drain the swamp" thing came from. Whether or not he accomplishes it, Trump provided a specific plan of action that sounds a lot like what you're proposing. (Hey, that's great, right?)

And, yep, I support those initiatives, so I already passed the test you came up with. As well as every other person who voted for Trump. (Sweet!) I guess now the test for you is whether or not you'll root for him to fail at this, against your own better judgement, just so you can be right about everything.

Anonymous said...

Sorry anon 12:35, but on the issue of political campaign corruption, you're actually on the wrong side of the debate. There is a huge disparity between what Clinton spent on her campaign (using Super-Pacs and lobbyist connections) and what Trump spent on his (using his own money and small donations from many). Google a graphic for reference. It's kind of mind blowing to see the visual. Most liberals won't even go there because they like to win the moral high-ground at all costs, and this is one area where your party loses. Big time. Surprised you brought it up. It's almost as if you didn't know your own dirty little secret. ;)

Anonymous said...

Obama has already crossed many of these "lines in the sand" that you drew for yourself, Nathan. So here's my deal. You denounce him as our president, and I'll believe that you are truly operating on a set of morals that surpass party lines. Otherwise, your "deal" has everything to do with the divide between parties, nothing to do with moral conviction.

Obama wants the DAPL to go through. We already know this. He already helped it get this far. All he has to do is wait it out a few more months like a true politician, say his hands are tied, play dumb as if he knew nothing about the very obvious environmental impact of this 3.8 billion dollar deal, and the blood will be on Trump's hands. At least in your starry eyes it will be, but not mine. I want this shady corruption out of our government. Otherwise, it doesn't really matter who's in office.

abc said...

I'm trying to walk a way but I cannot. I guess that the Trump voters showing up here don't realize that when we say this "isn't normal" we are taking about:

Someone who is openly xenophobic
A business man who seems himself as being a super excellent businessman but who actually came from money and has had numerous bankruptcies, numerous suits against him, as well as a huge scam parading as a University. (the evidence is there).
Someone who is so thin skinned that he cannot stay off twitter to go about attacking women, journalists, SNL, etc. etc. in a super spoiled brat kind of way. (You hurt my feelings!)
A man who has been shown to lie in the multiple of multiples. Video proof, written proof. Dude has no problem lying.
Gave opinion that women who have abortions should be punished.
Wants to get rid of freedom of religion.
Made comments hinting at dislike for 1st amendment.
Admitted sexual predator.
HIs children are now helping make decisions about the country's future. HIs children have no experience in politics, foreign affairs, or anything of the like.
He's a bully. He acts like a bully. He talks like a bully.
He was a big proponent and spokesperson for the birther movement.
His chief strategist is from a Nazi/woman hating publication.
He's shown little interest in briefings about the status of our affairs.
He has shown himself to be impulsive.
The majority of his cabinet choices show cronyism.
The wall is absurd.
Sees no issue with the huge number of conflicts of interest he does and will have.
There's more!

So, if he is not scary, what is scary? If he is not corrupt, what is corruption? Hillary has been attacked for the email server and Benghazi, among other things. She has never been found to be guilty of anything. While not perfect, she knows what she is doing. She has worked to change the world for better. She is extremely intelligent, eloquent, and good hearted. Whereas Mr. Trump has hundreds of unpaid workers, environmental devastation, and a list of corrupt and greedy acts on his list of deeds. How is that okay? How is that acceptable? Just because he's an "outsider"? Just because he wants to deport millions of brown people? That's what I hear when you say you voted for Trump. I hear that you are afraid of difference. I hear that you hate giving a small portion of your tax dollars to people of color. I'm sorry if I'm being hateful. I don't mean to be hateful. But I am being real.

Here's what I don't get. Being a conservative is different from being someone okay with Trump running our country. How is it that the "conservatives" who voted for him do not feel worried? Feel unease? He openly made fun of someone with disabilities. He bragged about sexual assault. He didn't see the need to prepare for debates. HIs economic plans do not make sense. He rarely gives any real answers to questions, just a lot of "it's going to be great". During the final debate he interrupted our former secretary of state to call her "such a nasty woman". These things aren't normal! These things aren't the sign of a good human being!

That's what it is. I disagree with so much of what Romney believes, but I believe he is a decent human being. I wouldn't be embarrassed by him representing our country with foreign leaders. I would never worry that he might do something impulsive out of wounded pride. Same with Jeb Bush. I would have really hated to see Jeb Bush win the presidency, but I wouldn't feel despondent. I wouldn't feel the fear I am feeling now. You cannot compare Obama and Hillary Clinton to this man. I know I'm throwing out ugly words, but they apply. Sleezy, corrupt, dangerous, manipulative, narcissistic (actual textbook), greedy. All of them.

Sorry, Nathan. Sometimes ( a lot of times?) I can't help myself. Yes, I know, yelling into the wind.

Anonymous said...

Sigh. I think it's physically impossible for Trump voters to engage in a political conversation without saying the words Clinton or Obama. It's all about dividing and us vs. them. So disappointing.

I'm not on the "wrong side" of the money in politics debate because my stance is that I will support any political candidate that removes money and gerrymandering from the system. Nothing was more disappointing to me, for example, was when Obama first declared he would publicly finance his 2008 Presidential campaign and then backed out on that promise. Citing $ spent by campaign, however, is always terrible analysis, because big lobbyists donate to both campaigns, just more to the person they think is going to win. And everybody thought Clinton was going to win. Even Trump admitted to that.

Trump's so-called "swamp drainage" is a joke so far. The rules on lobbying already exist (Obama also made a ban on Congressional officials becoming lobbyists). Term limits are not a solution - in fact, all putting term limits does is give more power to the lobbyists, who are typically much more influential on policy with green Congressional members than they are with veteran ones. Heck, there are lobbying groups that actually write the legislation and just hand it over to the law maker.

If he was serious about getting money out of politics - he'd propose laws that require all candidates take only public financing. He'd pass laws that brought transparency to political donations, particularly as they relate to PACs. And just in case you think those "conservative" judges are going to rule in the favor of donation transparency or eliminating gerrymandering, well, you might want to check the record on that. It is awful.

So, we can pretend that Trump is "something different" while he's handing out administration jobs like candy to long-time politicians and banker lobbyists, hedging like crazy on his most outrageous campaign promises, and hell bent on appointing judges with backgrounds that have done nothing but protect secret money, empower gerrymandering, and uphold ridiculous voter suppression but the reality is he's just more of the same.

Nathan Bransford said...

"Term limits are not a solution - in fact, all putting term limits does is give more power to the lobbyists, who are typically much more influential on policy with green Congressional members than they are with veteran ones. Heck, there are lobbying groups that actually write the legislation and just hand it over to the law maker. "

To anon @ 2:33's point on this one, I interned with a lobbying firm in Sacramento when I was in college and saw firsthand the calamitous effect of term limits. When you have strict term limits in place the only institutional knowledge that exists largely rests with the lobbyists and even well-intentioned representatives rely on them disproportionately to do things like literally draft legislation and guide strategy.

I don't know why people think being a good representative is somehow different from every other job on the planet and doesn't have a learning curve. I am definitely in favor of competitive elections, but arbitrarily assigning term limits diminishes the effectiveness of the whole.

Anonymous said...

@Nathan - thanks for sharing that anecdote. The reason we have career politicians is two-fold. First, the barrier to entry to run for office in the U.S. is exceedingly high in terms of raising enough money. Second, the incentive is there for politicians to remain in the job because they are treated so well by those wishing to influence them.

Anonymous said...

Trump supporters: If this wasn't about race, then why is Steve Bannon Trump's evil genius?

Why are the KKK and Stormfront celebrating?

Why did "economically anxious" white people vote for a guy who makes all his stuff overseas and who thinks American workers make too much money?

Why did Trump pick Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III - a man who a previous GOP Congress rejected for a judgeship because of his naked racism - for a key Cabinet post?

This election was about rural and exurban white panic. Nothing more, nothing less:

And now because of that, a known tool of Vladimir Putin, a man who refuses to read his intelligence briefings (just like G.W. Bush refused to pre-9/11), a man who makes phone calls without first checking with the State Department (what every other previous president and president-elect has done since telephones were first installed in the Oval Office), a man who appoints rapacious profiteers to be billion-dollar foxes in the nation's henhouses, is going to be sworn in despite losing the poular vote by well over two million votes.

Enjoy it when he and Paul Ryan kill your Medicare.

The good thing is that Austria, at least, has seen the horror that Trump has already inflicted and decided to avoid it. (It helps that they actually allow their popular-vote winners to take office.)

Anonymous said...

To Anon who opened with a heavy "sigh"--
Obama is our current president. Stop acting like us talking about the current state of the Union under his administration is off-topic or deflecting. Obama couldn't *be* more relevant to this conversation. He's more relevant than Trump at this point. You can pretend that's a valid argument all you want, but the only one deflecting here is you.

You have shared nothing new with us. How could we possibly be alive in the world and not have already seen/heard/read all of these things or opinions, again and again. Your feelings of why "this is different" have been acknowledged several times in this conversation (me being one of those people who did, if briefly). If you just wanted to repeat these things again, to vent or get it off your chest, then fine, go for it. But don't act like your goal is to inform anyone. No one has been living under a rock. As far as the questions on your mind, we have already answered them at your request and at the request of others here. Maybe you've chosen not to accept those answers, but don't ask them again as if you're still waiting for an answer. I think the truth is, it feels like we're questioning *your* moral standings on a lot of issues (and we are), and you don't like that. So you'd rather pretend that you just can't get an answer out of us.

I appreciate that point. But myself and others were responding to Anon 12:35's "better test" for the future, wondering where Trump voters would stand on the issue of political corruption. We already passed that test when we voted. That's one of the major reasons why we voted for him. (!!!) So everyone should know where we stand on that issue. It's the people who voted for Clinton who have yet to pass the test. In that follow-up comment from Anon (12:35-2:33) I'm hearing a lot of justifications and excuses for how Hillary funded her campaign (Trump intentionally didn't, and wouldn't, go after that lobbyist money, because that was the whole basis for his platform, the whole reason he made it through the primaries [I guess some people are living under a rock]), so I have a sinking feeing that a lot of Clinton voters are going to fail the "better test for our future" for some very prideful and self-serving reasons. It's very disappointing, because this should be the goal of all Americans.

(Btw, if you wanted to pass the test now, you could simply say "I voted for Hillary despite my strong misgivings about the inherent corruption in the DNC, because I was with her on so many other issues and because Trump is [insert massive list of fears and complaints]. I made that moral concession, even though I see the corruption, I make no excuses for it, and I'm concerned about it." <--That's the big answer to the test. You're welcome.)

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 4:20--
Those are a bunch of statements disguised as questions, so I won't waste anyone's time trying to answer them. And if I wanted to get my "news" from your "Vox" articles, I'd get on Facebook and have them force-fed to me like everyone else. Maybe someone else will bite though. Good luck to you, mate. ;)

Nathan Bransford said...

Yeah... someone who refers to Vox as "news" without addressing the underlying facts/arguments therein is probably not someone I'm ever going to see eye to eye with.

And I don't think you're really addressing the point of my post, which is:

1) What are *your* lines in the sand (mine are totally irrelevant to what *your* lines in the sand are, but we can get into that if you really want to)
2) I'm curious if people will really hold themselves to those lines in a vacuum

I'm happy to get into a separate discussion about my relative levels of hypocrisy, but again, not the point. Those bullet points weren't *my* list, unless you really think I think Bruce Willis is going to save us all.

Anyway, "good day" to you (and not in the passive aggressive Willy Wonka sense).

G.F. Gustav said...

Hi Nathan. Glad to see you're back in the blogging business, especially with regard to the latest in books and publishing. Wonderful! I always find valuable tidbits in your posts. Thank you for devoting the time and energy to do this.

You mentioned that you hadn't seen many responses by Trump supporters to this particular blog post. I suspect there are a couple of reasons for that.

One may be that not many Trump supporters follow the blog. (I don't know this, but it seems quite possible.)

The second is that these discussions generally lead nowhere. As we see above, people have very different movies in their heads about what constitutes "reality," and such discussions rarely influence them.

Indeed, the art of influence is truly a science about which few people are informed.

During the election cycle, I started reading Scott Adams' posts (he's the Dilbert cartoonist), at Scott is a trained persuasion expert, so he took the view of looking at everything through what he calls "the persuasion filter."

I found that very enlightening. I highly recommend a review of many of his posts. He's one of the very few individuals who recognizes that facts are irrelevant. People make decisions based on their emotional responses to the movie in their heads. We all like to pretend we don't, which keeps it hidden from most of us. But whatever position we take, we'll find all kinds of confirmation bias to "support" it. That's just how the mind works.

This is how Scott very accurately predicted the results of the Repub primary, and how he accurately predicted the results of the general election. He looks at everything through the "persuasion filter."

What's interesting for me, as a writer, is to try to understand how that works, and then exploit it in my storytelling.

If you'd like to understand more about how the mind really works, I recommend two books to you by the master of persuasion, Robert Cialdini. The first is his classic, "Influence," and the second his his destined-to-be classic latest book, "Pre-Suasion."

Take care, Nathan. Great to have you "back" getting more active again with the blog!

Madara said...

Hey Nathan,
I was going to reply to each of your items considering Trump going too far, but I simply want to say I seriously believe none of the items on your list will happen.

I hope the folks on the coasts understand why Trump won. The vast majority of Trump voters are not racist or bigoted, they are just sick of nothing getting better so they voted for the outsider.

Trump is still going to say some dumb things. We just have to accept his brain-mouth filter doesn't work like normal people.

I am more concerned about the talk of 'fake' news. Who gets to decide what is fake news? Facebook? CNN? Fox? People really should do their own research.

Anonymous said...

Nathan, thanks for acknowledging the Vox thing. Appreciate that.

I really thought I had answered your question, in the spirit of your post. I said yes, I would withdraw support of Trump if he crosses the line on many of the issues you listed. I realize now that I probably didn't answer it to your satisfaction, or understand the rules. Are you asking me to put forth my own specific hypothetical lines, other than what you came up with? Ok, here goes with the two big ones...

If he doesn't stick to the plan and clean up the political corruption, he's dead to me. And if he doesn't repeal ACA and replace it immediately with something better for ALL Americans (not *just* Trump voters, and not *just* Hillary supporters), I swear on this blog that I will withdraw my support of Trump and denounce him as president. It will be easy for me, in fact. I have no emotional attachment to this man. I'm rooting for Trump to fix these things, just like I'm rooting for the chemo treatments that are saving my sister right now, but that doesn't mean I like chemo, and the second it fails me, I'll hate it.

There are other lines I don't want him to cross (especially in regards to him cleaning up the immigration mess, and his energy plan). But then it gets tricky. Because what if he does exactly what I want him to do in regards to health care, but fails me in another area? Can I withdrawal support in one area, but not another? Because it sounds like you aren't allowing that as part of the "deal". This is an all or nothing game? If so, this deal sucks.

(I hope you can see how simple it is for you to draw many lines in the sand, since you're offering some sort of grudging support of Trump as your end of the deal, and would actually be relieved to withdrawal your "support." You're betting on these lines being crossed ASAP, else you wouldn't make the deal to "support" him to begin with.)

Now, I asked you the same question a few times in regard to our current president. That's something you seem to take issue with. It's fine if you don't want to answer (and you clearly don't). I'm ok with playing this one-sided game, I guess. But just because you won't answer doesn't mean I don't already know your answer. I'm not giving you a free pass or anything. If you unfairly call out a Trump supporter for merely being "uncomfortable" with some of his choices as president, without actually withdrawing support for "crossing that line," know that at least one person (me) will remember that you did the exact same thing.

Cheerio, kind sir!

PS. I know you really don't want to play the "draw a line in the sand" game with our current president, Obama, but for the record, I draw the line at him ordering the death of those children in Pakistan. (Have to admit, it felt good to draw that line and then judge you for still standing on the other side of it. Now I know what you like this game! It's genius!)

Falstaff said...

Nathan: When Obama was elected I had to think long and hard about what would bring me, myself, personally, into the streets. I finally decided that if he tried to have a third term on whatever grounds, I would go down to the Federal Building in my town with a sign. For Trump, I haven't decided, but I rather like Jerry's position that if he goes outside of the list of Supreme Court justice nominees he released before his election, I would want to scrutinize that very, very carefully. Your list of potential scenarios strikes me as completely tendentious, as if you were a ventriloquist dummy of the DNC. There are constitutional prohibitions against almost all of them. What I would ask you to do is conduct a deep self-examination about your own view of the fundamental law of the land. It is not Trump who has DONE any of them, but Obama already has, the most scandalous in my view being the administration's tolerance of the IRS trying to shut down political speech of Tea Party groups by denying them tax exemptions liberal educational groups easily got. Surely YOU must condemn that attempt to violate the first amendment, which was in fact fairly successful. No one has been held accountable for it, not Lois Learner nor her new boss Koskinen.

Anonymous said...

For Nathan, who fears the worst, and Trump voters, who expect a change - here's what's going to happen.

- On the economy, taxes will be lowered, both personal and business, with the wealthiest receiving the greatest breaks but there will be something for most everybody. This will increase the deficit, and supposed cuts to spending will never come to fruition, instead taking the form of modest, high-profile cuts to "poor people benefits" like Medicare payments to states, etc. The supposed "trickle down" will never materialize in enough new jobs/tax revenue because markets are not perfect and are not influenced by only U.S. policy. Many regulations will be removed or the regulatory agencies will be manned by industry-friendly folks (hi Sarah Palin) and this will lead to gigantic investments in those industries (buy your stock in oil companies Nathan) only for those industries to experience a bubble, that will burst in the next 5-10 years once the lack of regulations lead to corner-cutting that ultimately results in massive over-valued assets and/or a much needed investment to get the industry infrastructure/oversight back to par. Healthcare, Education, and pretty much anything else that previously was considered to be part of the public utility (think federal parks) will be partially privatized. This will create a polarity of results for the populace, with the right celebrating the successes (my insurance cost just $5; my kid's charter school is the bestest!) and the left condemning the failures (20% of the population uninsured; only the wealthy having access to certain schools).

- On foreign policy, our rhetoric will be much "tougher" and threatening and that will likely manifest itself in sanctions on enemy states, racial/religious profiling that results in a couple of Supreme Court decisions, and quite possibly, the dreaded "boots on the ground" somewhere. Terrorist attacks will not wane, both here and abroad, unless something changes dramatically in the social-political worldview of much of the Middle East. Regions that were once considered hotbeds, like Syria, will calm and others will emerge. American soldiers will die, likely by the hundreds, potentially by the thousands over the next 4-8 years. Worldwide Nuclear proliferation will continue.

- On the Supreme Court, we'll get 1, and as many as 4, new justices that will be championed as not "judicial activists" even though they'll be counted on to be active on conservative issues. This will be the lasting legacy of the presidency. Of course, many a judge has been nominated to the Supreme Court and expected to rule on one side of the spectrum or the other, only to do exactly the opposite on many issues (Hi justice roberts! I see you there Justice Kennedy). So, we'll just have to wait that one out.

In the end, no swamps will be drained. No metaphorical wars will be won. No buttons will be pushed.

In 4 years, and likely again in 8 years, we'll hear the right wing of this country clamor for even lower taxes (dang democrats wouldn't let them lower as much as they wanted for this to really work), less regulation, and more privatization (we just didn't go far enough for this to work for everybody!). The left will tepidly suggest healthcare and education fixes that are governmental in nature, but will shy away from full support of socializing those institutions because the right has so thoroughly and successfully defined socialism and liberalism as evil and destructive to American society (while simultaneously praising the U.S. military...). The left will want to re-institute the 2016 tax rates, back when the deficit was growing at a much slower pace, and specifically will target the wealthy (who can't possibly pay enough to make up for the lost revenue).

So, no worries Nathan, you've seen this movie before. It just comes in a crude, Twitter-loving, but entertaining package.

Falstaff said...

I agree with the anticipations of Anonymous, but hope that the foreign policy will result in reduced terror attacks, but since the cancer has metastasized and is in 21 countries now, killing all ISIS leaders and troops won't be easy. At least Trump knows a threat when he sees one, unlike Nevil Obama.

Nathan Bransford said...

The urge to call out people for being hypocrites sure is strong.

Anonymous said...

I hear you, Nathan. I hate it when people just fixate on a single accusation and repeat it over and over and over and over with unflinching relentlessness, ignoring any valid point or concession you try to make. Ahem.

Nathan Bransford said...


lol thanks for proving my point.

Anonymous said...

Haha. I think I actually proved both of our points simultaneously. ;)

K. R. Schulteis said...

I am only a tad bit late on this reply. Let us just say, I typically avoid political discourse on the internet like it's nuclear waste. However, the tone of this post was more open than many I have seen and much more open than most of the reactions I have witnessed in person, so I have decided to take the risk. To answer the primary question... Every single one of the items on your list terrifies me and would definitely be crossing a major line for me. And therein lies the crux of much of the problem with this past election.

I am not a registered anything. I am a centrist by nature but tend toward a more rebellious streak, as in "Don't bother me and I won't bother you, but if you need a hand and I'm able, you don't even have to ask." So I do not have much use for anyone demanding my respect. Frankly, if you have to demand it, you probably aren't worthy of it to begin with. But I digress.

As a moderate who sees the world through an optimistic lense, I fear all of those same things, because they are diametrically opposed to all I think is right. Now here is the irony.

Many Trump supporters saw these things happening to them. Where I live, special investigations were conducted in secret (similar to a grand jury investigation elsewhere) where private citizens were subjected to potential prosecution for political activity, allowed no access to legal counsel (because they were not yet being charged) and when the investigations were found unconstitutional, the subpoenaed private information was leaked to the public. The entire ordeal lasted for years and was terrifying because the prosecutor was Claiming criminal activity for what the courts determined was speech protected by the First Amendment. This lovely attack had direct linkage to the IRS targeting of conservative groups. So... yes, such things terrify me. Because I have seen them. But it was not Trump who did it. It was not the Republican Party.

So, I for one, can totally empathize with that fear because I know the possibilities are not mere fantasy. Yet, I take heart in this: our president is not King. Our military is not blind to some "cult of personality," and our system, flawed as it may be, does not thrive on quick action. Trump can say any buffoonish thing he wants (and I fully believe he does so for effect because even bad publicity gets your name out there -- repeat after me: the guy is a master media manipulator) but in the end, all it really takes is a vigilant populace to prevent these dire scenarios. But it will not work if we are at each other's throats and hurling names at one another. It will not happen as long as both sides dig in their heels and insist on believing it is "us versus them." It is "THESE United States," and I hear a great big fat "WE" whenever I see or hear that phrase. /end soapbox

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