Reprinted with permission of the Courier-Journal:
Donald Trump was not my first choice, or even my fifth choice. I nonetheless take issue with thenarrative that his supporters are all ignorant bigots.I understand why many oppose Trump and are even repelled by him, but I caution his detractors when they rant “how can these people vote for him?” to consider that some, maybe many of “these people” are our friends, neighbors and coworkers.
I observed Trump voters recently while spending the day volunteering for Kentucky’s Republican caucus. Given Trump’s win, more of the hundreds of Republicans whom I encountered voted for Trump than anyone else.
I did not see any white supremacists. These were normal Louisvillians of all different ages and walks of life. Most were pleasant, patient with the delays, and thanked me for volunteering. They seemed optimistic, not angry. None of these people looked the type to riot or throw a punch.
My wish for Trump is that he become worthy of these supporters. He could start by doing the following:
1. Disavow violence. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave Trump this advice. But then Trump warned of “riots” if he comes close but falls short of the requisite number of delegates. Trump fans note that Trump did not call for riots - he just predicted them. That’s too cute by half. Lest there be any confusion that his comments were made with a wink and a nod, Trump needs to be very clear to his more aggressive supporters: insist that they refrain from violence, no matter how the left baits them.
2. Say “You’re fired.” Trump should get rid of his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. Video shows Lewandowski literally manhandling Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields. Fields tweeted a picture of the bruise that resulted. Then video at an Arizona rally this past weekend appeared to show Lewendoski grab the collar of a protester. The Trump campaign has denied the allegations.
Lewandowski is not the sort of talent Trump should retain; at best he’s a distraction. Cut him loose.
3. Say “You’re hired.” The presidency is too big a job for one man. Great presidents surround themselves with smart, serious people of impeccable integrity. Trump can reassure the wary by telling us, now, whom he would select for his cabinet. Yes, he’s running as the outsider. But if he wins, someone will have to actually run the government. It won’t be enough to just bloviate: someone must make sure that the laws are faithfully executed.
If Trump could persuade credible people to serve with him and identify them now, he would improve not only his odds of winning, but his prospects for successfully governing as well.
4. Hit the (briefing) books. Trump’s a smart, well-educated man. It’s said he has a tremendous work ethic and memory. If he chose to do so, he could quickly grasp the nuances of the many issues that will confront the next president.
As the campaign has dragged on, however, his mastery of policy has not appeared to increase. Sure, he takes pride in not being a professional politician. His lack of wonkishness is part of his charm. However, voters are entitled to some specifics as to how he would “make American great again.” One would think he would tire of repeating the same platitudes and would add some detail just to change it up.
Trump talks about the elites looking down on us. It’s a powerful point because it’s true. But by failing to give specifics, Trump is condescending in his own way. Talk to us like adults. We can handle the truth.
5. Renounce Bigotry. Perhaps I’ll be proven wrong, but at this point I remain unconvinced that Trump is a racist, notwithstanding his interview with Jake Tapper, in which he failed to disavow David Duke.
Ben Carson, for whom I have great respect, spent a lot of time with Trump this past year. Surely Carson would have discerned if Trump is a bigot. Carson would not haveendorsed Trump if he thought Trump is truly a racist.
Likewise, Bill Clinton would not have attended Trump’s wedding if he thought Trump was a racist. Trump has been in the public eye far too long to have kept racist beliefs secret. The guy is not known for his filter, after all.
Beyond just condemning the Klan, Trump should emulate Sen. Rand Paul’s efforts to grow the Republican Party by reaching out to minorities and demonstrating how conservative policies can help people escape poverty in a way that liberalism has failed to accomplish.
6. Pray. Many evangelicals are horrified at Trump’s statement that he has neverasked God for forgiveness. Imagine if he did. A sanctified Trump could be a powerful force for good. Hard to fathom? Sound improbable? So was an empty tomb on Easter Sunday.