Here are some
of Donald Trump’s many campaign promises
1. Build a wall along the southern border
that's taller than the arenas where Trump holds his rallies, taller than any
ladder and one foot taller than the Great Wall of China. This "artistically
beautiful" wall will be constructed out of hardened concrete, rebar and
steel, and it will be "the greatest wall that you've ever seen" -- so great
that the nation will likely one day name it "The Trump Wall." 2.
Make Mexico pay for the wall. If Mexico refuses, then the United
States will impound all remittance payments taken
from the wages of illegal immigrants, cut
foreign aid, institute tariffs, cancel visas for Mexican business leaders
and diplomats, and increase fees for visas, border-crossing cards and port
This will cost $25 BILLION
68. Deport the almost 11 million immigrants
illegally living in the United States. 69. Triple the number of U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. 70. Continue to allow lowly paid
foreign workers to come to the United States on temporary works visas
because Trump says they are the only ones who want to pick grapes. 71.
End birthright citizenship.
4. Get rid of Common Core
because it's "a disaster" and a "very bad thing." Trump says he wants to
give local school districts more control and might even
eliminate the Department of Education.
The 50 States, in
cooperation, went outside the Department of Education
to create COMMON CORE
5. Abolish the Environmental Protection Agency
6. Get rid of Obamacare .
10. Defund Planned Parenthood.
21. Pick Supreme Court justices who are
"really great legal scholars."
23. Strengthen the military .
53. Get rid of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street
Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
54. Simplify the U.S. tax code and reduce the number
of tax brackets
from seven to four. The
highest earners would pay a 25-percent tax. The
corporate tax rate would fall to 15 percent.
Eliminate the "marriage penalty" for taxpayers and get
rid of the alternate minimum tax. 55. No longer charge income
tax to single individuals earning less than $25,000 per year or couples
earning less than $50,000. These people will, however, be required
to file a one-page form with the Internal Revenue Service that states: "I
win." 57. Allow corporations a one-time window
to transfer money being held overseas,
charging a much-reduced 10 percent tax. 58. Get rid of most
corporate tax loopholes or incentives, but continue to allow
taxpayers to deduct mortgage interest and charitable donations
from their taxes.
The nonpartisan Tax
Policy Center estimated the plan would cut federal revenues
by $6.2 trillion
over the next decade.
It would increase the Federal Debt by
$5.3 trillion over
the next decade, and raise the ratio of Debt to
Gross Domestic Product to 105%.
17. Never take a vacation while serving as president.
18. Prosecute Hillary Clinton for her use of a private
e-mail server while serving as secretary of state.
20. Stop spending money on space exploration . Encourage
private space-exploration companies to expand.
25. Allow Russia to deal with the Islamic State in Syria
and/or work with Russian President Vladimir Putin to wipe out shared enemies.
26. "Bomb the s--- out of ISIS." Also
bomb oil fields controlled by the Islamic State, then
seize the oil and give the profits to military
veterans who were wounded while fighting. 27. Target and
kill the relatives of terrorists. 28. Shut down
parts of the Internet so that Islamic State terrorists cannot use it to
recruit American children. 29. Bring back
waterboarding, which the Obama administration considers torture.
Trump has said he's willing to use interrogation techniques that go even further
than waterboarding. Even if such tactics don't work, "they deserve it anyway,
for what they're doing." 12. Frequently use the term
"radical Islamic terrorism." 13. Temporarily ban most foreign Muslims
from entering the United States "until our
country's representatives can figure out what is going on." Trump would allow
exceptions for dignitaries, business people, athletes and others who have
"proven" themselves. 14. Bar Syrian refugees
from entering the country and kick out any who are
already living here. Trump says wealthy Persian Gulf nations like Saudi
Arabia should pay to set up a heavily guarded "safe zone" in Syria. 15.
Heavily surveil mosques in the United States.
Trump has said he's open to the idea of closing some mosques. 16. Create
a database of Syrian refugees. Trump hasn't ruled out creating a
database of Muslims in the country.
30. Leave troops in Afghanistan because it's such "a mess." And
increase U.S. military presence in the East and South China Seas.
31. Find an "out" clause in the Iran deal and then "totally"
renegotiate the whole thing.
40. Bring back jobs
from China -- and Mexico, Japan and
elsewhere. 43. Aggressively challenge China's power in the world
by declaring the country a currency manipulator, adopting a "zero tolerance
policy on intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer" and
cracking down on China's "lax labor and environmental standards." 44.
Rather than throw the Chinese president a state dinner, buy him "a McDonald's
hamburger and say we've got to get down to work." 42. Students at Wofford
College in South Carolina, where Trump attended a town hall, will all have jobs
45. Replace "free trade" with "fair trade." Gather together
the "smartest negotiators in the world," assign them each a country and
renegotiate all foreign trade deals. 46. Put billionaire hedge fund
manager Carl Icahn in charge of trade negotiations with China and Japan,
and pick an ambassador to Japan who is "a killer," unlike the current
ambassador, Caroline Kennedy.
47. Tell Ford Motor Co.'s president that unless he cancels plans to
build a massive plant in Mexico, the company will face a 35 percent tax on cars
imported back into the United States. Trump is confident he can get
this done before taking office. (Last year he incorrectly said this had already
48. Force Nabisco to once again make Oreos in the United States.
And bully Apple into making its "damn computers" and other products here.
49. Impose new taxes on many
imports into the country. Numbers thrown
around have included 32 percent, 34 percent and 35 percent.
50. Grow the nation's economy by at least 6 percent.
51. Reduce the $18 trillion national debt by "vigorously
eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government, ending redundant
government programs and growing the economy to increase tax revenues."
52. Cut the budget by 20 percent by simply renegotiating.
60. Use "common sense" to fix the mental health system and prevent
mass shootings. Find ways to arm more of the
"good guys" like him who can take out the "sickos."
Get rid of bans on certain types of guns and
magazines so that "good, honest people" can own the guns of their choice.
63. Allow concealed-carry permits to be recognized in all 50 states.
61. Impose a minimum sentence of five years in federal prison for any
violent felon who commits a crime using a gun, with no chance for
parole or early release.
62. Fix the background check system used when purchasing guns
to ensure states are properly uploading criminal and health records.
64. Sign an executive order calling for the death penalty for anyone
found guilty of killing a police officer.
65. Provide more funding for police training.
66. And provide more funding for drug treatment, especially
for heroin addicts.
67. On the first day in office, terminate President Obama's executive
orders related to immigration. This includes
getting rid of "sanctuary cities" that Trump says have become refuges for
Obama got 65.9 million votes in
2012 and Hillary got 61.1 in 2016--
around 5 million Democrats choose to effectively DO NOTHING.
In 2008, Barack Obama won the
presidential election with 69.5 million votes, and in 2012, he pulled in a
less impressive (but nonetheless sufficient) 65.9
In this year's election, far fewer voters cast their ballots for either
major party: Donald Trump won the electoral college and the presidency with
a mere 60.5 million votes, losing the popular vote to Hillary
The low numbers are surprising given that the
number of registered voters
reached a record 200 million in 2016, with most of the new voters
registered as Democrats. The fact that they didn't turn out
in high numbers contributed to Trump's win.
With high stakes in this election—most Americans had a historically
low opinion of Trump and even considered him
unfit to be president—pundits expected that the average American would
want to defeat the Republican nominee. And the only way to do so,
realistically, was to vote for Clinton. But millions of voters chose not to,
instead staying home or selecting write-in or third-party candidates. Why?
trolley problem might explain this voter behavior. In the classic
thought experiment, a trolley is barreling down its track, about to hit a
group of five people. You have access to a lever that can redirect the
trolley to another track, saving the group of five but dooming a single
person on the second track. The problem forces you to choose between taking action and killing one person or
remaining inactive and letting five die—it pits your personal
morality ("I don't kill people") against a cold, Spock-ian assessment of the
greater good ("I should save as many people as possible"). “The needs of the
many outweigh the needs of the few.”
Faced with a standard trolley problem, about
90 percent of people will choose the greater good, pulling the switch
and saving the larger number of people. This changes, however, when
involved. When they were given scenarios
with strong imagery or
emotions—they saw the victims clearly or
one of them was a relative—participants were
more likely to fall back on their personal morality and let the larger
Which brings us back to 2016's
incredibly emotional election. Third-party voters often phrase their
decision as a moral choice: They don't want one candidate to win, but they
"can't bring themselves" to vote for the other. (Clinton also had a
low favorability rating going into this election, although it wasn't as
low as Trump's.) That mindset turned this year's election into a type of
trolley problem: Voters knew that a Trump win would harm women, minorities,
immigrants, members of the LGBTQ community, and others. However, to "save"
these marginalized groups, they would have had to take action, transgressing
their personal ethics to vote for a candidate they disliked or even
The fact that millions of Americans
instead chose to protect their moral
self-image and do nothing suggests that
their emotions won out over logic.
For these voters, the ballot was a personal ethical decision rather than a
means to an end.
At any given time Coler says he’s got between 20 and
FAKE NEWS writers. And it was one of them that wrote the story that an
FBI agent who leaked Clinton emails was killed. Coler says that over 10 days
the site got 1.6 million views.
Coler says his writers have tried to write fake news for liberals — but
they just never take the bait.
"I am a single mother who can’t afford health insurance under
"The president’s mortgage-loan modification program, “HOPE NOW,”
didn’t help me".
Opposed to the decision by President Obama and the Democratic Party to
tap dance around the “Islam” in Islamic State.
"The revelations of multimillion-dollar donations to the Clinton
Foundation from Qatar and Saudi Arabia killed my support for Clinton".
(after reading Clinton email "that poisoned the well for me". In
it, Clinton told aide John Podesta: “We need to use our diplomatic and
more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments
of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and
logistic support to ISIL, and other radical Sunni groups in the region.” )
supported the tea party's quest to shrink government not out of any belief
in the virtues of small government but because they did not trust the
government to help “people like them.”
General sense of being on the short end of the stick. Rural people
felt like they're not getting their fair share. "Nobody’s paying
attention, nobody’s coming out here and asking us what we think. Decisions
are made in the cities, and we have to abide by them."
Weren’t getting their fair share of stuff, that they weren’t getting
their fair share of public resources. That often came up in
perceptions of taxation.
Were not getting respect. They would say: "The real kicker is that
people in the city don’t understand us. They don’t understand what rural
life is like, what’s important to us and what challenges that we’re
facing. They think we’re a bunch of redneck racists".
"Whatever, we’ve been in a recession for decades. What’s the big
They think "the problem is that it’s all going to the government.
So let’s roll government back.”
On the first day of my term of office, my administration will
immediately pursue the following six measures to clean up the corruption and
special interest collusion in Washington, DC:
* FIRST, propose a Constitutional Amendment
to impose term limits on all members of Congress;
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, long an
opponent of term limits, threw cold water on this idea Wednesday, saying “it
will not be on the agenda in the Senate” and "I would say we have term
limits now — they're called elections." A constitutional amendment must be
proposed by Congress or a constitutional convention (the latter has never
happened). Since the president does not have a constitutional role in the
amendment process, this is not likely to happen without Senate leadership on
* SECOND, a hiring freeze on all federal
employees to reduce federal workforce through attrition (exempting military,
public safety, and public health);
According to the
Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are some 2.75 million civilian
federal employees as of November. That includes 593,000 Postal Service
workers. The number of federal workers has remained fairly stable during
the Obama administration and is in fact as low as it has been since the
mid-1960s. The federal workforce did grow a bit early on in the Obama
administration, largely owing to increased hiring at the departments of
Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs. Trump wants to exempt
public safety employees from a freeze, and if he wants to hire more
Immigration and Customs Enforcement patrol officers, it seems unlikely he
will be able to shrink the federal workforce much through attrition, as
retirement rates average around 3.5 percent a year, according to a
Government Accountability Office report.
Still, that report says some 600,000 federal employees will be eligible to
retire as of next September.
efforts to freeze the federal workforce are likely to find support on
Capitol Hill. Republicans have proposed shrinking the number of federal
employees by as much as 10 percent.
* THIRD, a requirement that for every new
federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated;
Reducing the number of federal regulations is
an unending quest for Republicans in Congress and conservative groups,
which charge regulations hurt businesses and slow economic growth. The
Competitive Enterprise Institute, which tracks the number of pages in the
Federal Register, reports it is up to 79,380 for the year, with a
month and a half to go.
So where to start for President-elect
Trump, who at one campaign stop said 70 percent of regulations "can go”?
One likely place: the environment. An EPA power plant rule aims to cut
carbon emissions by nearly a third by 2030. Trump couldn’t simply veto the
regulation, however, although Congress could vote to overturn it. But a
Trump administration could certainly weaken enforcement of the standard.
The banking sector is another place for
Trump to focus. During the campaign he said he wanted to "get rid of" the
Dodd-Frank law that reshaped the banking industry after the 2008
recession. If repealing the entire law seems a heavy lift, one possibility
would be to try to eliminate the so-called Volcker rule, which prohibits
banks from making risky investments.
Republicans make no secret of their
dislike of the recent Federal Communications Commission ruling that
protects net neutrality. The Trump administration could also attempt to
repeal a regulation that makes more workers eligible for overtime.
* FOURTH, a 5 year-ban on White House and
Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government
* 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.
On the same day, I will
begin taking the following 7 actions to protect American workers:
* FIRST, I will announce my intention to
renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205
Renegotiating NAFTA “would not be a trivial
matter," said Eswar Prasad, professor of trade policy at Cornell University.
The agreement, approved by Congress more than two decades ago, ties together
the economies of the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Changing it would hurt many
U.S. businesses and farmers that have well-established supply chains and
distribution systems based on it. Still, Trump could significantly undermine NAFTA by using his administration’s
enforcement mechanisms to hassle companies, "making life potentially
difficult" for anyone doing cross-border business, Prasad said. "Could NAFTA
be killed? Not in letter, but in spirit — yes," he said.
* SECOND, I will announce our withdrawal from
the Trans-Pacific Partnership
* THIRD, I will direct my Secretary of the
Treasury to label China a currency manipulator
* FOURTH, I will direct the Secretary of
Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to identify all foreign trading
abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every
tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately
* FIFTH, I will lift the restrictions on the
production of $50 trillion dollars' worth of job-producing American energy
reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas
and clean coal.
* SIXTH, lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks
and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the
Keystone Pipeline, to move forward
The Obama administration blocked construction
of the northern stretch of the Keystone XL pipeline by denying TransCanada
Corp. a needed State Department permit. A Trump administration could
greenlight the project by granting that permit. TransCanada says it is eager
to start work. Climate activists complain the pipeline will encourage
greater development of carbon-intensive oil from the Canadian tar sands.
* SEVENTH, cancel billions in payments to U.N.climate
change programs and use the money to fix America's water and
The U.S. government does not give billions of
dollars to the United Nations for climate work. The U.S. government gives about $10 million a year to the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), created in 1992
under a global treaty signed by President George H. W. Bush. Some of the
money helps support the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a
scientific organization that collects research on climate and advises the
In 2014, President Obama said the U.S. intends to contribute $3 billion
dollars to the Green Climate Fund, as part of a pledge by the developed
nations to help less developed nations deal with the deleterious effects of
climate change. The UN has promised to raise a total of $100 billion a year
for that Fund and start disbursing it in 2020. The Green Climate Fund is an
independent body accountable to the United Nations but not part of it.
In 2008, President Bush pledged $2 billion for climate aid to developing
Additionally, on the first
day, I will take the following five actions to restore security and the
constitutional rule of law:
* FIRST, cancel every unconstitutional
executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama
The president can revoke President Obama’s
executive action in 2012 that created an immigration program known as DACA,
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This policy allows certain
immigrants in the U.S. illegally who were brought to the country as kids
to receive protection from deportation and work permits. As of June 30, there have been 1.3 million cases approved.
It’s uncertain whether Trump will allow the
existing DACA permits to expire on their own or dissolve them the day he
signs the order. In either case, the young immigrants will lose their
protected status and be eligible for deportation.
* SECOND, begin the process of selecting a
replacement for Justice Scalia from one of the 20 judges on my list, who
will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States
and the ideology represented by those potential nominees ranges from very
conservative to even more conservative. There are some common themes,
however. A general hostility to claims of “reproductive freedom,” from
abortion to contraception; a hostility to government regulations, ranging
from rules aimed at protecting the environment from coal-fired utilities to
rules limiting access to guns.
* THIRD, cancel all federal funding to
Sanctuary cities are American cities that have
policies protecting immigrants in the country illegally from federal
immigration law, such as restricting police from turning them over to
federal agents. Trump has not said which federal funds would be withheld
from sanctuary cities. A few of these cities are Seattle, Los Angeles,
Chicago, Miami and Austin, Texas.
* FOURTH, begin removing the more than 2
million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to
foreign countries that won't take them back
Trump has vowed to expand the definition of
“criminal alien,” for example, to include immigrants in the U.S. illegally
who are convicted of drunken driving. Without the approval of Congress, a
President Trump could instruct his immigration agents to round up every
immigrant convicted of a crime and deport them all. There are currently 23
countries considered “recalcitrant” by ICE because they will not accept
criminal aliens sent home from the U.S. -- among them Afghanistan, Cuba,
Iran and Zimbabwe. Trump could instruct his State Department to withhold
visas for the citizens of these countries unless they agree to accept their
* FIFTH, suspend immigration from
terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of
people coming into our country will be considered extreme vetting.
Next, I will work with Congress
to introduce the following broader legislative measures and fight for their
passage within the first 100 days of my Administration:
Middle Class Tax Relief And Simplification Act. An economic plan designed
to grow the economy 4% per year and create at least 25 million new jobs
through massive tax reduction and simplification, in combination with
trade reform, regulatory relief, and lifting the restrictions on American
energy. The largest tax reductions are for the middle class. A
middle-class family with 2 children will get a 35% tax cut. The current
number of brackets will be reduced from 7 to 3, and tax forms will
likewise be greatly simplified. The business
rate will be lowered from 35 to 15 percent, and the trillions
of dollars of American corporate money overseas
can now be brought back at a 10 percent
Trump’s tax plan would cut income tax rates
while capping deductions for the wealthy. He would also reduce the business
tax rate to 15 percent and eliminate the estate tax. Workers at every income
level would enjoy lower taxes under Trump’s plan, but the biggest
beneficiaries by far are the very wealthy. Estimates from the Tax Policy
Center and the Tax Foundation estimate that the top 1 percent of income
households would see their after-tax incomes rise by 10.2 to 13 percent
under Trump’s plan, while “middle income” households -- those from the 40th
to the 60th percentile -- would see an increase of 1.3 to 1.8 percent. Tax
savings at all levels could be higher from economic growth, but the wealthy
still see the biggest bump.
The Offshoring Act. Establishes tariffs to discourage companies from
laying off their workers in order to relocate in other countries and ship
their products back to the U.S. tax-free.
American Energy & Infrastructure Act. Leverages public-private
partnerships, and private investments through tax incentives, to spur $1
trillion in infrastructure investment over 10 years. It is revenue
School Choice And Education Opportunity Act. Redirects education dollars
to give parents the right to send their kid to the public, private,
charter, magnet, religious or home school of their choice. Ends common core, brings education supervision to
local communities. It expands vocational and technical education, and make
2 and 4-year college more affordable.
The big question surrounding Trump’s school
choice plan is this: How will he pay for it? Not with new money, he has
been clear, but “redirects education dollars” is vague. The fact is, much
of the money the U.S. government spends in schools goes to districts that
serve low-income, at-risk students. Under Trump’s plan, at least some of
these so-called Title I dollarswould likely end up going to more affluent
districts or leaving the public system entirely.
Here’s the other headline in this graph:
“Ends common core.” Learning standards, including the Common Core, are
adopted (and replaced) at the state level, and the new federal education
law, ESSA, will make it very difficult for Trump to change that.Here’s why. He could try to use federal dollars
to push states away from the Common Core, but, again, the new law is clear
about the government’s right/ability to do such pushing: It can’t. For
more unpacking of Trump’s education plan,check this out.
Replace Obamacare Act. Fully repeals
Obamacare and replaces it with Health Savings Accounts, the ability to
purchase health insurance across state lines, and lets states manage
Medicaid funds. Reforms will also include cutting the red tape at the FDA:
there are over 4,000 drugs awaiting approval, and we especially want to
speed the approval of life-saving medications.
The GOP Congress has already demonstrated its
willingness to repeal the insurance tax subsidies and Medicaid expansion
portions of the Affordable Care Act, along with the requirement that all
Americans have health insurance, using a fast-track legislative maneuver
known as “reconciliation” that prevents a Democratic filibuster. President
Obama vetoed that measure, but President-elect Trump would presumably sign
it. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that could strip health
insurance coverage from more than 20 million people -- although the change
would most likely be phased in over a couple of years. Trump’s replacement
plan is less clear. Health savings accounts would allow more people to buy
insurance with pre-tax dollars, and selling insurance across state lines
might increase competition and reduce prices. But coverage will very likely
remain out of reach for many. The requirement that insurance companies
provide coverage to people with pre-existing conditions cannot be repealed
through reconciliation. But preserving that requirement without the
individual mandate to purchase insurance could create a costly situation in
which people wait until they’re sick to buy coverage.
Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act. Allows Americans to deduct
childcare and elder care from their taxes, incentivizes employers to
provide on-side childcare services, and creates tax-free Dependent Care
Savings Accounts for both young and elderly dependents, with matching
contributions for low-income families.
Illegal Immigration Act Fully-funds the construction of a wall on our
southern border with the full understanding that the country Mexico will
be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such wall;
establishes a 2-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for
illegally re-entering the U.S. after a previous deportation, and a 5-year
mandatory minimum for illegally re-entering for those with felony
convictions, multiple misdemeanor convictions or two or more prior
deportations; also reforms visa rules to enhance penalties for overstaying
and to ensure open jobs are offered to American workers first.
The Washington Post has estimated this wall
will cost $25 billion!
Mexico’s president made it clear to
President-elect Trump when they met this summer that his government is not
willing to finance a border wall. At one point, Trump suggested the wall
might be financed by taxing money that Mexican citizens working in the U.S.
Restoring Community Safety Act. Reduces surging crime, drugs and violence
by creating a Task Force On Violent Crime and increasing funding for
programs that train and assist local police; increases resources for
federal law enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors to dismantle
criminal gangs and put violent offenders behind bars.
Violent crime has steadily declined over the
last 2 decades (tho it rose slightly in 2015)
In 2014, the Obama Justice Department launched
the “violence reduction network,” matching troubled cities with a law
enforcement analyst and a federal grant official. The program now operates
in about 10 cities including Camden, N.J.; Chicago; Detroit and Flint,
Mich.; Little Rock, Ark.; Newark, N.J.; Compton, Oakland and Richmond,
Calif.; and West Memphis, Ark. It’s not clear whether Trump’s team wants to
expand on this idea or scrap it in favor of something else.
The Justice Department traditionally funds
training programs for local police and in recent years has offered federal
funds to pay for body cameras and bulletproof vests. In a time of tight
federal budgets, a popular Bill Clinton-era program that helps localities
pay the salaries of police officers for a set time frame has been scaled
In 2016, the Justice Department allocated
approximately $119 million to fund the COPS Hiring Program, which
enables law enforcement agencies to hire or rehire career law enforcement
officers and increase their community policing capacity and crime prevention
efforts. Some $12 million has gone to community policing and collaborative reform grants
in 2016 and another $12 million is funding the 2016
COPS Anti-Heroin Task Force Program and COPS Anti-Methamphetamine
Program grants to state law enforcement agencies.
Most law enforcement in the U.S. remains the
responsibility of state and local authorities.
Restoring National Security Act. Rebuilds our
military by eliminating the defense sequester and expanding
military investment; provides Veterans with the ability to receive public
VA treatment or attend the private doctor of their choice; protects our
vital infrastructure from cyber-attack; establishes new screening
procedures for immigration to ensure those who are admitted to our country
support our people and our values
Trump’s defense agenda as described here is
hugely ambitious. Republicans and Democrats have warred over the 2011 Budget
Control Act, which imposed automatic, across-the-board spending
restrictions, since it was first passed. Repealing it even with Republican
majorities in both houses of Congress would require new consensus about
exempting both defense and nondefense spending from the restrictions, as
well as an agreement about how to pay for any new spending that Trump
proposes. His VA proposal sounds a lot like the Veterans Choice program that
Congress enacted after high-profile VA scandals in 2014, one that enables
veterans to go outside the VA system. But as NPR’s Quil Lawrence has
reported, even that “fix” now is in need of a new fix.
Clean up Corruption in Washington Act. Enacts new ethics reforms to Drain
the Swamp and reduce the corrupting influence of special interests on our
As the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump is being sorted out, a common
theme keeps cropping up from all sides: “Democrats failed to understand white,
working-class, fly-over America.”
Trump supporters are saying this.
Progressive pundits are saying this. Talking heads across all forms of the
media are saying this. Even some Democratic leaders are saying this. It
doesn’t matter how many people say it, it is complete bullshit. It is an
intellectual/linguistic sleight of hand meant to throw attention away from the
real problem. The real problem isn’t east coast elites who don’t understand or
care about rural America. The real problem is rural America doesn’t understand
the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest
in finding out. They don’t want to know why they feel the way they do or why
they are struggling because they don’t want to admit it is in large part
because of choices they’ve made and horrible things they’ve allowed themselves
I grew up in rural, Christian, white America. You’d be hard-pressed to find
an area in the country that has a higher percentage of Christians or whites. I
spent most of the first 24 years of my life deeply embedded in this culture. I
religiously (pun intended) attended their Christian services. I worked off and
on, on their rural farms. I dated their calico skirted daughters. I camped,
hunted, and fished with their sons. I listened to their political rants at the
local diner and truck stop. I winced at their racist/bigoted jokes and
epithets that were said more out of ignorance than animosity. I have also
watched the town I grew up in go from a robust economy with well-kept homes
and infrastructure turn into a struggling economy with shuttered businesses,
dilapidated homes, and a broken down infrastructure over the past 30 years.
The problem isn’t that I don’t understand these people. The problem is they
don’t understand themselves, the reasons for their anger/frustrations, and
don’t seem to care to know why.
In deep-red white America, the white Christian God is king, figuratively
and literally. Religious fundamentalism is what
has shaped most of their belief systems. Systems built on a fundamentalist
framework are not conducive to introspection, questioning, learning, change.
When you have a belief system that is built on fundamentalism, it isn’t open
to outside criticism, especially by anyone not a member of your tribe and in a
position of power. The problem isn’t “coastal elites don’t understand rural
Americans.” The problem is rural America doesn’t understand itself and will
NEVER listen to anyone outside their bubble. It doesn’t matter how
“understanding” you are, how well you listen, what language you use…if you are
viewed as an outsider, your views are automatically discounted. I’ve had
hundreds of discussions with rural white Americans and whenever I present them
any information that contradicts their entrenched beliefs, no matter how
sound, how unquestionable, how obvious, they WILL NOT even entertain the
possibility it might be true. Their refusal is a result of the nature of their
fundamentalist belief system and the fact I’m the enemy because I’m an
At some point during the discussion, “That’s your education talking,” will
be said, derogatorily, as a general dismissal of everything I said. They truly
believe this is a legitimate response because to them education is not to be
trusted. Education is the enemy of fundamentalism because fundamentalism, by
its very nature, is not built on facts. The fundamentalists I grew up around
aren’t anti-education. They want their kids to know how to read and write.
They are anti-quality, in-depth, broad, specialized education. Learning is
only valued up to the certain point. Once it reaches the level where what you
learn contradicts doctrine and fundamentalist arguments, it becomes dangerous.
I watched a lot of my fellow students who were smart, stop their education the
day they graduated high school. For most of the young ladies, getting married
and having kids was more important than continuing their learning. For many of
the young men, getting a college education was seen as unnecessary and a waste
of time. For the few who did go to college, what they learned was still
filtered through their fundamentalist belief system. If something they were
taught didn’t support a preconception, it would be ignored and forgotten the
second it was no longer needed to pass an exam.
Knowing this about their belief system and their view of outside
information that doesn’t support it, telling me that the problem is coastal
elites not understanding them completely misses the point.
Another problem with rural, Christian, white Americans is they are racists.
I’m not talking about white hood-wearing, cross-burning, lynching racists
(though some are). I’m talking about people who deep down in their heart of
hearts truly believe they are superior because they are white. Their white God
made them in his image and everyone else is a less-than-perfect version,
flawed and cursed.
The religion in which I was raised taught this. Even though they’ve
backtracked on some of their more racist declarations, many still believe the
original claims. Non-whites are the color they are because of their sins, or
at least the sins of their ancestors. Blacks don’t have dark skin because of
where they lived and evolution; they have dark skin because they are cursed.
God cursed them for a reason. If God cursed them, treating them as equals
would be going against God’s will. It is really easy to justify treating
people differently if they are cursed by God and will never be as good as you
no matter what they do because of some predetermined status.
Once you have this view, it is easy to lower the outside group’s standing
and acceptable level of treatment. Again, there are varying levels of racism
at play in rural, Christian, white America. I know people who are ardent
racists. I know a lot more whose racism is much more subtle but nonetheless
racist. It wouldn’t take sodium pentothal to get most of these people to admit
they believe they are fundamentally better and superior to minorities. They
are white supremacists who dress up in white dress shirts, ties, and gingham
dresses. They carry a Bible and tell you, “everyone’s a child of God” but
forget to mention that some of God’s children are more favored than others and
skin tone is the criterion by which we know who is and who isn’t at the top of
God’s list of most favored children.
For us “coastal elites” who understand evolution, genetics, science…nothing
we say to those in fly-over country is going to be listened to because not
only are we fighting against an anti-education belief system, we are arguing
against God. You aren’t winning a battle of beliefs with these people if you
are on one side of the argument and God is on the other. No degree of
understanding this is going to suddenly make them less racist, more open to
reason and facts. Telling “urban elites” they need to understand rural
Americans isn’t going to lead to a damn thing because it misses the causes of
Because rural, Christian, white Americans will not listen to educated
arguments, supported by facts that go against their fundamentalist belief
systems from “outsiders,” any change must come from within. Internal change in
these systems does happen, but it happens infrequently and it always lags far
behind reality. This is why they fear change so much. They aren’t used to it.
Of course, it really doesn’t matter whether they like it or not, it, like the
evolution and climate change even though they don’t believe it, it is going to
happen whether they believe in it or not.
Another major problem with closed-off, fundamentalist belief systems is
they are very susceptible to propaganda. All belief systems are to some
extent, but fundamentalist systems even more so because there are no checks
and balances. If bad information gets in, it doesn’t get out and because there
are no internal mechanisms to guard against it, it usually ends up very
damaging to the whole. A closed-off belief system is like your spinal fluid—it
is great as long as nothing infectious gets into it. If bacteria gets into
your spinal fluid, it causes unbelievable damage because there are no white
blood cells in it whose job is to fend off invaders and protect the system.
This is why things like meningitis are so horrible. Without the protective
services of white blood cells in the spinal column, meningitis spreads like
wildfire once it’s in and does significant damage in a very short period of
time. Once inside the closed-off spinal system, bacteria are free to destroy
whatever they want.
The very same is true with closed-off belief systems. Without built-in
protective functions like critical analysis, self-reflection, openness to
counter-evidence, willingness to re-evaluate any and all beliefs, etc., bad
information in a closed-off system ends up doing massive damage in short
period of time. What has happened to too many fundamentalist belief systems is
damaging information has been allowed in from people who have been granted
“expert status.” If someone is allowed into a closed-off system and their
information is deemed acceptable, anything they say will readily be accepted
and become gospel.
Rural, Christian, white Americans have let in anti-intellectual,
anti-science, bigoted, racists into their system as experts like
Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly,
any of the blonde Stepford Wives on Fox,
every evangelical preacher on television because they tell them what they want
to hear and because they sell themselves as being “one of them.” The truth is
none of these people give a rat’s ass about rural, Christian, white Americans
except how can they exploit them for attention and money. None of them have
anything in common with the people who have let them into their belief systems
with the exception they are white and they “speak the same language” of white
superiority, God’s will must be obeyed, and how, even though they are the
Chosen Ones, they are the ones being screwed by all the people and groups they
believe they are superior to.
Gays being allowed to marry are a threat. Blacks protesting the killing of
their unarmed friends and family are a threat. Hispanics doing the cheap labor
on their farms are somehow viewed a threat. The black president is a threat.
Two billion Muslims are a threat. The Chinese are a threat. Women wanting to
be autonomous are a threat. The college educated are a threat. Godless
scientists are a threat. Everyone who isn’t just like them has been sold to
them as a threat and they’ve bought it hook, line, and grifting sinker. Since
there are no self-regulating mechanisms in their belief systems, these threats
only grow over time. Since facts and reality don’t matter, nothing you say to
them will alter their beliefs. “President Obama was born in Kenya, is a secret
member of the Muslim Brotherhood who hates white Americans and is going to
take away their guns.” I feel ridiculous even writing this, it is so absurd,
but it is gospel across large swaths of rural America. Are rural, Christian,
white Americans scared? You’re damn right they are. Are their fears rational
and justified? Hell no. The problem isn’t understanding their fears. The
problem is how to assuage fears based on lies in closed-off fundamentalist
belief systems that don’t have the necessary tools for properly evaluating the
I don’t have a good answer to this question. When a child has an irrational
fear, you can deal with it because they trust you and are open to
possibilities. When someone doesn’t trust you and isn’t open to anything not
already accepted as true in their belief system, there really isn’t much, if
anything you can do. This is why I think the whole, “Democrats have to
understand and find common ground with rural America,” is misguided and a
complete waste of time. When a 3,000-year-old book that was written by
uneducated, pre-scientific people, subject to translation innumerable times,
edited with political and economic pressures from popes and kings, is given
higher intellectual authority than facts arrived at from a rigorous,
self-critical, constantly re-evaluating system that can and does correct
mistakes, no amount of understanding, no amount of respect, no amount of
evidence is going to change their minds, assuage their fears.
Do you know what does change the beliefs of fundamentalists, sometimes?
When something becomes personal. Many a fundamentalist has changed his mind
about the LGBT community once his loved ones started coming out of the closet.
Many have not. But those who did, did so because their personal experience
came in direct conflict with what they believe. My own father is a good
example of this. For years I had long, sometimes heated discussions with him
about gay rights. Being the good religious fundamentalist he is, he could not
even entertain the possibility he was wrong. The Church said it was wrong, so
therefore it was wrong. No questions asked. No analysis needed. This changed
when one of his adored stepchildren came out of the closet. He didn’t do a
complete 180. He has a view that tries to accept gay rights while at the same
time viewing being gay as a mortal sin because his need to have his belief
system be right outweighs everything else.
This isn’t uncommon. Deeply held beliefs are usually only altered, replaced
under catastrophic circumstances that are personal. This belief system
alteration works both ways. I know die-hard, open-minded progressives who
became ardent fundamentalists due to a traumatic event in their lives.
A really good example of this is the comedian Dennis Miller. I’ve seen
Miller in concert four different times during the 1990s. His humor was
complex, riddled with references, and leaned pretty left on almost all issues.
Then 9/11 happened. For whatever reasons, the trauma of 9/11 caused a seismic
shift in Miller’s belief system. Now he is a mainstay on conservative talk
radio. His humor was replaced with anger and frustration. 9/11 changed his
belief system because it was a catastrophic event that was personal to him.
The catastrophe of the Great Depression along with the progressive remedies
by FDR helped create a generation of Democrats from previously die-hard
Republicans. People who had, up until that point, deeply believed the
government couldn’t help the economy only the free market could change their
minds when the brutal reality of the Great Depression affected them directly,
I thought the financial crisis in 2008 would have a similar, though lesser,
impact on many Republicans. It didn’t. The systems that were put in place
after the Great Recession to deal with economic crises, the quick, smart
response by Congress and the administration helped make what could have been a
catastrophic event into merely a really bad one. People suffered, but they
didn’t suffer enough to where they were open to questioning their deeply held
beliefs. Because this questioning didn’t take place, the Great Recession
didn’t lead to any meaningful political shift away from poorly regulated
markets, supply side economics, or how to respond to a financial crisis. This
is why, even though rural Christian white Americans were hit hard by the Great
Recession, they not only didn’t blame the political party they’ve aligned
themselves with for years, they rewarded them two years later by voting them
into a record number of state legislatures and taking over the U.S. House.
Of course, it didn’t help matters there were scapegoats available they
could direct their fears, anger, and white supremacy towards. A significant
number of rural Americans believe President Obama was in charge when the
financial crisis started. An even higher number believe the mortgage crisis
was the result of the government forcing banks to give loans to unqualified
minorities. It doesn’t matter how untrue both of these are, they are gospel in
rural America. Why reevaluate your beliefs and voting patterns when scapegoats
How do you make climate change personal to someone who believes only God
can alter the weather? How do you make racial equality personal to someone who
believes whites are naturally superior to non-whites? How do you make gender
equality personal to someone who believes women are supposed to be subservient
to men by God’s command? How do you get someone to view minorities as not
threatening personal to people who don’t live around and never interact with
them? How do you make personal the fact massive tax cuts and cutting back
government hurts their economic situation when they’ve voted for these for
decades? I don’t think you can without some catastrophic events. And maybe not
even then. The Civil War was pretty damn catastrophic yet a large swath of the
South believed and still believes they were right, had the moral high ground.
They were/are also mostly Christian fundamentalists who believe they are
superior because of the color of their skin and the religion they profess to
follow. There is a pattern here for anyone willing to connect the dots.
“Rural, white America needs to be better understood,” is not one of the
dots. “Rural, white America needs to be better understood,” is a dodge, meant
to avoid the real problems because talking about the real problems is viewed
as “too upsetting,” “too mean,” “too arrogant,” “too elite,” “too snobbish.”
Pointing out Aunt Bee’s views of Mexicans, blacks, gays…is bigoted isn’t the
thing one does in polite society. Too bad more people don’t think the same
about the views Aunt Bee has. It’s the classic, “You’re a racist for calling
me a racist,” ploy. Or, as it is more commonly known, “I know you are but what
I do think rational arguments are needed, even if they go mostly ignored
and ridiculed. I believe in treating people with the respect they’ve earned
but the key point here is “earned.” I’ll gladly sit down with Aunt Bee and
have a nice, polite conversation about her beliefs about “the gays,” “the
blacks,” “illegals,”…and do so without calling her a bigot or a racist. But,
this doesn’t mean she isn’t a bigot and a racist and if I’m asked to describe
her beliefs these are the only words that honestly fit. No one with cancer
wants to be told they have cancer, but just because no one uses the word,
“cancer,” it doesn’t mean they don’t have it. Just because the media, pundits
on all sides, some Democratic leaders don’t want to call the actions of many
rural, Christian, white Americans, “racist/bigoted” doesn’t make them not so.
Avoiding the obvious only prolongs getting the necessary treatment. America
has always had a race problem. It was built on racism and bigotry. This didn’t
miraculously go away in 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act. It
didn’t go away with the election of Barack Obama. If anything, these events
pulled back the curtain exposing the dark, racist underbelly of America that
white America likes to pretend doesn’t exist because we are the reason it
exists. From the white nationalists to the white, suburban soccer moms who
voted for Donald Trump, to the far left progressives who didn’t vote at all,
racism exists and has once again been legitimized and normalized by white
The honest truths that rural, Christian, white
Americans don’t want to accept and until they do nothing is going to change,
-Their economic situation is largely the result of
voting for supply-side economic policies that have been the largest
redistribution of wealth from the bottom/middle to the top in U.S.
-Immigrants haven’t taken their jobs. If all
immigrants, legal or otherwise, were removed from the U.S., our economy
would come to a screeching halt and prices on food would soar.
-Immigrants are not responsible for companies
moving their plants overseas. Almost exclusively white business owners are
the ones responsible because they care more about their share holders who
are also mostly white than they do American workers.
-No one is coming for their guns. All that
has been proposed during the entire Obama administration is having better
-Gay people getting married is not a threat to
their freedom to believe in whatever white God you want to. No one is going
to make their church marry gays, make gays your pastor, accept gays for
-Women having access to birth control
doesn’t affect their life either, especially women who they complain about
being teenage, single mothers.
-Blacks are not “lazy moochers living off their
hard earned tax dollars” anymore than many of your fellow rural neighbors.
People in need are people in need. People who can’t find jobs because of
their circumstances, a changing economy, outsourcing overseas, etc. belong
to all races.
-They get a tremendous amount of help from the
government they complain does nothing for them. From the roads and utility
grids they use to the farm subsidies, crop insurance, commodities
protections…they benefit greatly from government assistance. The Farm Bill
is one of the largest financial expenditures by the U.S. government. Without
government assistance, their lives would be considerably worse.
-They get the largest share of Food Stamps,
Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.
-They complain about globalization but line up
like everyone else to get the latest Apple product. They have no problem
buying foreign-made guns, scopes, and hunting equipment. They don’t think
twice about driving trucks whose engine was made in Canada, tires made in
Japan, radio made in Korea, computer parts made in Malaysia.
-They use illicit drugs as much as any other
group. But, when other people do it is a “moral failing” and they should be
severely punished, legally. When they do it, it is a “health crisis” that
needs sympathy and attention.
-When jobs dry up for whatever reasons, they
refuse to relocate but lecture the poor in places like Flint for staying in
towns that are failing.
-They are quick to judge minorities for being
“welfare moochers” but don’t think twice about cashing their welfare check
-They complain about coastal liberals, but the
taxes from California and New York are what covers their farm subsidies,
helps maintain their highways, and keeps their hospitals in their sparsely
populated areas open for business.
-They complain about “the little man being run out
of business” then turn around and shop at big box stores.
-They make sure outsiders are not welcome, deny
businesses permits to
build, then complain
about businesses, plants opening up in less rural areas.
-Government has not done enough to help them in
many cases but their local and state governments are almost completely
Republican and so too are their representatives and senators. Instead of
holding them accountable, they vote them in over and over and over again.
-All the economic policies and ideas that could
help rural America belong to the Democratic Party: raising the minimum wage,
strengthening unions, infrastructure spending, reusable energy growth,
slowing down the damage done by climate change, healthcare reform…all of
these and more would really help a lot of rural Americans.
What I understand is that rural, Christian, white Americans are entrenched
in fundamentalist belief systems; don’t trust people outside their tribe; have
been force-fed a diet of misinformation and lies for decades; are unwilling to
understand their own situations; and truly believe whites are superior to all
races. No amount of understanding is going to change these things or what they
believe. No amount of niceties will get them to be introspective. No economic
policy put forth by someone outside their tribe is going to be listened to no
matter how beneficial it would be for them. I understand rural, Christian,
white America all too well. I understand their fears are based on myths and
lies. I understand they feel left behind by a world they don’t understand and
don’t really care to. They are willing to vote against their own interest if
they can be convinced it will make sure minorities are harmed more. Their
Christian beliefs and morals are truly only extended to fellow white
Christians. They are the problem with progress and always will be, because
their belief systems are constructed against it.
The problem isn’t a lack of understanding by coastal elites. The problem is
a lack of understanding of why rural, Christian, white America believes,
votes, behaves the ways it does by rural, Christian, white America.