6.24.2021

Having Difficulty Moving On? Take the Trump Challenge

rock climber

I have been surprised to see little drop-off in interest in things like "the Resistance" on the political left since the orange one left office. I thought I knew what they were resisting before, but I'm not so sure now. It seems like it may have transformed from whatever it was into more of an identity movement (which would not be the first time we have seen something like that). But for those politically liberal freethinkers who are having trouble moving on, I recommend "the Trump challenge."

And just what is the Trump challenge? Push yourself to identify something Trump said or did with which you agreed. Challenging, isn't it? To be clear, I am not trying to suggest that there should be anything he said or did with which you agree. I just think exercises like this can be useful in stretching ourselves a bit. And isn't that at least one thing a freethinker should be interested in doing?

For me, one of the things that makes this challenge so difficult is that there was often a large gap between much of what Trump said and what he did. For example, I agreed with what he said about Scientology and how it should be taxed like the business it so clearly is. Unfortunately, he did nothing to bring that about. Had he done so, I would have supported it. Infrastructure is an even more important example because he made it sound like this was going to be a priority many times. This was another idea I could easily support that did not end up going anywhere (until his successor took it on).

This may be unpopular to admit, but I didn't disagree with Trump when he raised questions about why the United States seemed to be spending far more money to defend other nations than they spent to defend themselves. I rarely thought he handled this productively, but I think these were (and still are) questions that need to be asked. Maybe there are other countries who have been taking us for granted and ought to be contributing more. Since we do not seem willing or able to find an appropriate balance between "defense" spending and domestic spending, perhaps increased international contributions would make it easier for us to re-balance.

While it isn't easy for me to identify areas where I agreed with Trump, it is possible to do so with a little work. I think this is worth doing because it helps to protect me from responding irrationally and basing my reactions to his ideas on who he is. He strikes me as a thoroughly despicable person, but that doesn't mean that some of the ideas he promoted didn't deserve consideration even though many others clearly deserved condemnation. Guarding against tribalism, whether it is religious or political in nature, takes effort.