Your discussion of Obama is very helpful in putting your support for Trump into perspective, historical and otherwise. Not to let Obama off the hook, necessarily, but some of the ills you associate with him are systemic. There's only so much impact that policy can have whether it's Obama or Trump occupying the Oval Office. I'll explain more thoroughly when I get to Question #8 and Trump's promises.

To me, it's not "bad-mouthing" America to focus on "how unfair things are between economic classes, race, religion, sexes." I think these are facts we have to face and address. But I also don't see these as American problems alone. I see them as world problems. We simply experience our own version as they manifest in this country. You also expressed some concern about Obama's ideals moving us towards a socialist society. That was often said, but I never saw Obama as a “socialist.” The closest he might be described is "social democrat" -- someone who supports a kinder, gentler version of capitalism with a high level of social services. Something resembling Norway or Sweden, perhaps.

Bob, since we did not know each other as children, your background as a young boy and your high school years make me understand you much more, thank you. Similarly, when I was a boy, my father worked in the city and we would drive through some terrible run down areas like you described in Cleveland, just awful that people have to live like that. Being involved in competitive sports since I was 6 years old, I learned that life is not fair. Being born to small parents, without great genetics and no god given athletic talent, it made me angry, upset and many times brought me to tears. My father instilled in me that you maybe small and had no great talent but what you have is drive and determination, which most kids did not have. I remember starting to lift weights by 10 years old, getting up at 5:00am before school to do push-ups, chin ups and run. Before long I was able to rise in my ability. I was never the best player but I was one of the better players. I took this same approach to whatever I did in life, school, jobs, hobbies ... and I quickly learned that if you put your heart and soul into a task, you can be good.

Why do you care about my sports? Because I feel life is not fair in general and there is no President that can change that fact. Just like my father could not fix my problems as a boy except to say, work hard and let’s see what happens. My dad could have told me that you do not have the talent and genes, so go try something else. If I got beat in a wrestling match or football game, he never said that the opponent was more talented or genetically superior, he would tell me that I needed to work a little harder and next time you will come out on top. Sometimes it worked and sometimes I was not able to surpass my opponents. The world is not fair and it never will be but if we all work hard, we can make it a little better.

Friends Don't Let Friends Vote Trump... Or Do They?

Friday, January 20, 2017

Donald Trump won the presidential election on November 8, 2016. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by almost 2.9 million — but Trump won in the Electoral College. There's debate about the merits of having an Electoral College, but unless changed by a Constitutional Amendment that's our system per Article II, Section I of the United States Constitution.

Today, with the Inauguration, it all became official. Donald John Trump is now the 45th President of the United States.

And boy are people upset! I don't recall a presidential election this divisive in my lifetime. It's the 'Great Trump Divide.' People are un-friending each other on Facebook. My nephew-in-law lamented on Facebook, "Now we are seeing friends and family being torn apart because they refuse to be civil to each other any longer." Many approached Thanksgiving with great trepidation. I'm wondering if we'll see a spike in divorces next.

‍‍‍© 2017 Robert C. Laycock

Just Sayin'

A Blog by

Bob Laycock

Typewriter courtesy of Alan Seaver

Cartoon: Imgur

TV pundits debate angrily and sometimes shout each other down. I haven't seen the equivalent quite yet, but could this old Saturday Night Live exchange portend the future?

60 Minutes on CBS assembled a focus group to discuss the election which illustrated how divided the country has become. This report aired on Election Eve.

There's a lot to consider here, on many levels. My goal in this report is not so much to talk about Donald Trump himself, though it's unavoidable. By now I think everyone knows where they stand and they aren't likely to change at the moment. What I'm concerned with is the divisiveness, intolerance and the lack of civility that is now so widespread. It's like a big nationwide road rage. I think it's vital that we stop and listen to each other about why we support Trump or don't support Trump.

What is it that we each want? What do we need? Where is there common ground?

I believe that down deep we all basically want the same thing. It's more a question of how than what. And in the event we find we don't want the same thing, it's important to know this too. Either way shouting at each other accomplishes nothing, especially when we're family or friends. We can't be ripping each other up. We have to talk in civil discussion — which can even be intense. That's OK. Debate the facts and debate the issues. Go for it! But civility is key. Don't resort to personal attacks, and don't sever relationships.

Most of my friends, family, coworkers and associates are opposed to Trump. So am I. In fact most are not only opposed to Trump, they abhor him. But I also have a few valued friends and family members who support Trump. Obviously we have much in common. We're friends and family. We love and appreciate each other. But... then there's Trump.

I'm not saying here that anything goes. I can't give a pass to racism, misogyny, Islamophobia, or homophobia without really serious pushback on my part. I'm also not saying that I will relinquish my opposition to Trump.

What I am saying is that we all need to talk because we all have a common stake in this. Regardless of our votes I think we all have more in common than we might expect.

❑          ❑          ❑          ❑

My friend Gabriel (not his real name, for personal reasons) is an ardent Trump supporter. He agreed to discuss the issue with me. We got through it fine. We're still friends, and frankly I think this process drew us closer than before. I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

I also found parts of it challenging. It's easy talking only with those of like mind. Far too many of us do that! We only talk with people who agree with us, only read what we already believe, and only watch what reinforces our existing opinions. It's through dialog with an opposing viewpoint that we sharpen our thinking. It forces us to think, really think, about what we believe, why we believe it, and what the implications are. And you know what? We might sometimes find we're wrong, need to re-think something, or do some research.

Gabriel and I conducted our conversation in writing by email. It's quite long but I think it's a worthwhile read. I hope you'll agree — and then try doing the same with someone you know.

Trump is perceived by many as racist for the wall, his comments about Mexicans and Muslims, and now this. Many opposed to Trump believe the motive of people voting for him was racism. Is this true?

I don't think so. I definitely think that racism was involved for some, no question. But I think most voters wanted change — real economic change — and they didn't feel that Clinton represented that. Michael Moore saw this coming way back in Summer 2016. Unlike Clinton who kept telling everyone how good things are, Trump spoke to the real-life pain that too many workers live. He wrote,

When Trump stood in the shadow of a Ford Motor factory during the Michigan primary, he threatened the corporation that if they did indeed go ahead with their planned closure of that factory and move it to Mexico, he would slap a 35% tariff on any Mexican-built cars shipped back to the United States. It was sweet, sweet music to the ears of the working class of Michigan.

In this next video shot before the election, Michael Moore explains Trump's appeal to the working class and why he was going to win the election. (Hope you don't mind the word f**k too much!)

A Special Report

Next Page

Hi Bob,

Before I answer any of your questions, I want your readers to have a little information about myself so they understand who is answering these questions. I was born in 1962 (yes, I am old) and lived in a middle class family with my parents, my 5 brothers and 1 sister. My father had a good job in the city about an hour commute from our suburban home. My mother was stay at home mother and kept the house and made sure all the family needs were tended to. Even though we lived in a suburban middle class neighborhood, life was tough sometimes with 1 salary supporting a family of 9. We got our first color television in the early 1970’s and that was the same television (and only television) that my family owned for the next 20 years. We had no air conditioning in our home and 2 box fans that we all shared in the summer on those hot and humid days. I shared a single bedroom with 3 of my brothers in a bedroom with 2 bunk beds and a single 4 drawer dresser. Each boy got a full drawer in that dresser to store all their underwear, socks, t-shirts and jeans. We had 1 closet that was separated into 4 sections for a few dress items that needed to be hung up. We valued and cared for everything we owned because we did not have a lot.

Each child in the family was responsible for some chores around the house like cleaning the garage, cutting the lawn, taking out the garbage ... In return; we each got .25 cents a week in allowance. That was enough in those days to buy a pack of baseball cards, some wacky packages; a candy bar or we could save it for a future larger purchase. It was not a lot of money, but it was enough to keep us motivated to continue to do the house chores as part of the family unit. But just to put that in perspective, all my neighborhood friends got $1-$5 a week for their chores, so we were in the minimum wage category at my house.

My entire family was very active in sports (football, baseball, wrestling, basketball...) I got my first job outside the home when I was 13 and worked at a diner as a bus boy and dishwasher making $3.50 per hour. My mother was too busy to drive me to and from work, so I normally would walk (or run) the 3 miles to work. All through high school years I worked, went to school and was an active member of the sports teams. I was always ranked in the top 10% of my class in the rankings that were printed on my report card each quarter. Imagine that, it was printed on my report card that ‘You Rank 41 out of 321 Students.’

After HS, I attended college and received a degree in Computer Science. While in college I was an active member of the college power lifting team and started to compete in amateur bodybuilding. While a bodybuilder, I was able to win a dozen titles between the ages of 18 and 21. Bodybuilding has been a sport that I have continued on with until today.

Since college, I have always had a job in the business world working for over a half dozen different organizations, including many years as an independent consultant working for myself. I have been married for almost 20 years to my lovely wife and have an 18 year old daughter, 2 dogs and a cat. I currently have returned to college to get my certification as a Master Gardener in preparation to my golden years of retirement.

I am no one special, just a regular guy from a loving family who loves his own immediate family. Always working hard to put food on the table, money in the bank and to ensure my family is OK today, tomorrow and in the future, regardless if I am here or something happens to me. You never know what is around the corner for anyone, so I have things in order for them if I should no longer be here on earth.

Now that you know a fingernail of information about me, let’s move onto the questions you asked:

Gabriel

Gabriel

Gabreil

Gabreil

Gabreil

gabreil

Gabreil

Mist

beautiful

Bob

Thank you for this background information. Before we proceed I should probably share a bit of my bio as well. It'll give context to my remarks here. I grew up in the Cleveland area after my parents moved here in 1958. The summer of 1962 we moved to the "country" where we had about six acres and later added a swimming pool. It was an idyllic setting; I loved it. We were certainly wealthy by comparison to my friends, including a live-in cook for several years. It didn’t come free, though. She got my bedroom so I had to sleep in a hallway alcove outside the bathroom! There was no privacy but I don't recall it bothering me.

When I was very young my mother would drive us to doctor appointments in downtown Cleveland. I sat in the backseat. I was so short I looked up through the window more than directly out. I recall these drives vividly. I was very disturbed as we drove along Chester Avenue. This was a low-income area — I guess we called it "the ghetto" back then — and I could see the houses were in serious disrepair. I was maybe 5 to 7 years old but just knew this wasn't right. “People shouldn't have to live like this,” I thought. I don't know how many other kids my age worried about such things. I also recall haranguing my Dad that we should do something — at least donate apples from our trees. The property had once been an orchard so we had lots of apples! (Fate returned me to Chester Avenue decades later to work in that area as a Neighborhood Planner with the City of Cleveland.)

A few years later while still in elementary school there was a big newspaper strike. I watched footage on TV as the mounted police charged into the picket line outside the Plain Dealer. I was aghast and recall the scene like it happened yesterday. In 1968 I was transfixed watching as police attacked demonstrators outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. All these events were shaping me.

Later in high school a few friends and I organized an after-school meeting at one of their houses to discuss the Vietnam War. We passed out leaflets before homeroom. By First Period we were all summoned to the Principal's Office where we found ourselves in Big Trouble. We were told the speaker coming to our meeting was a communist and we should call a number to hear about it. I willingly agreed — only to call and discover it was a White Power hotline! That episode changed me. I've never been the same. The school administration accomplished the exact reverse of what they wanted.

Fast forwarding... My first job was working at a youth center that included a free medical clinic, crisis hotline, counseling and education. I produced the agency newspaper, ran a library and did drug education in area schools. In my free time I volunteered for the United Farm Workers (UFW) union supporting its boycott of grapes, lettuce and Gallo Wine. Later I worked on the paid UFW staff for a while and had the opportunity to meet Cesar Chavez. Our housing was provided and the pay was $10 a week. Thankfully at that income we qualified for Food Stamps!

While working at the youth center for several years between high school and college I read and thought a lot about politics. I came to the conclusion that economic and social problems are rooted in the economic system — in capitalism. Many kids explore radical politics in college. I arrived there already a committed socialist. I checked out different organizations and joined the group that aligned with my thinking. I've been active in socialist politics off & on (currently off) ever since. At college I also finally came out and began a life of gay activism as well.

I've condensed and skipped so much, but better stop. I think you get the idea! Now on to my questions…

I know from your Facebook posts that you didn't like Obama, at least not in the latter years. I'm curious. Did you vote for Obama in either 2008 or 2012? What were your feelings about Obama at first? Then later on?

That is an easy answer but want to make sure you understand how I think politically in my past.

I am a registered Republican but I have always voted for the person I thought was the best for the job regardless of political party. I was a big fan of Ronald Reagan during my early years of voting and liked his leadership qualities. He made me proud to be American and felt he had good control over the country and the rest of the world. I then supported George H. W. Bush for many years but did not like many political decisions he made during his Presidency. In 1996, I voted for Democrat, Bill Clinton for his second term in office because during his first 4 years in office he was helping balance our budgets and was keeping our national debt in check despite the many terrible things swirling around him at the time like his known extra marital affairs with Jennifer Flowers and the North American Fair Trade Agreement he signed. Despite some personal issues Clinton had and some things I considered bad moves politically, I felt that he had implemented some good policies during his first 4 years like FMLA [Family Medical Leave Act] and he was tough on illegal immigration signing the IIRIRA [Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1966] to deport illegals and also reduce the number of legal immigrants by several hundred thousand per year. Plus Bill Clinton was just a very likable candidate, the type of person who seemed like he could relate to you and your situations in life.

If we move ahead to 2008 Presidential election, to be honest, President Obama was not a well-known candidate to me at the time and I had not done extensive research into his policies as Senator of Illinois. However, after 8 disappointing years with George W. Bush administration, it was apparent that America was looking for a major change. The Republican candidate that year was John McCain and I did vote for McCain in 2008, not because I had passion for him but because of his military background and the terrible 9/11 tragedy. In the back of my mind I knew McCain was going to lose to Barack Obama but because I felt that I did not have any solid background information on Obama, his youth and lack of political or business background did not attract me to Obama as a candidate. Once Obama was elected, I was behind him as our new President. He talked about his white mother and black father often, his difficult childhood and the fact that he was committed to work hard and not take vacations to get things in this country on track. America needed a change and I was able to say this man is well spoken, young and could be good for our country. What a better way to unite us all as brothers and sister with a man of mix race.

During his first 4 years of office, I found him to be talking down to citizens in his addresses to America and blaming everything he could not get done in office on former President Bush or no cooperation with Republicans. He also was getting involved with way too many social issues of America and not spending enough time worrying about terrorists that were starting to penetrate America and keeping us safe. The bailouts of the banks and the auto companies with our tax money were something I could never agree with. The bailout to me stood against everything I believed in. The way things worked in my mind was the strong survive and the weak fall away in business. He continued to ‘bad-mouth’ America, the country I loved by telling us how unfair things are between economic classes, race, religion, sexes ... His ideals seemed to be moving away from what I believed in and was moving towards a socialist society. I always felt that socialism is a great idea but it does not always work. America was built on hard work and I built what I had on hard work. More and more social programs were being built to give away tax moneys, immigration was on the rise but the saddest part was sanctuary cities were being created to allow illegal immigrants a place to go, live and be protected, which is against Federal Law and President Obama did nothing to stop it. My feelings as a citizen of the United States that this was not keeping me and my family safe.

By the 2012 election, things in America had started to change to a country that I no longer recognized. As a white middle class male, I no longer could state my opinion on what President Obama was doing. The minute I said anything negative about his policies, I was told I was a racist. That is very odd because many of my friends are of different races, sexual orientations, women, religions... I saw a bad precedence starting in America. In 2012, I was going to vote against Obama regardless of who the other presidential candidates were. The person who I was hopeful would unite the country, seemed to be tearing down everything that I believed made up of America. Our President was leading the sheep to the slaughter (just my opinion). As we both know, Barack Obama won a second term in office and my feeling was the country will continue to slide into a direction that I feel is not in our countries best interest. Race wars, murder, weak military, national debt, illegal immigration, hate crimes, bullying, flag burning, unemployment, under employment, ACA ... all things for the average working American was getting worse. Many individual special interest groups’ things were getting better but if we look at things for the overall good of America, we were imploding.

Gabreil

Bob

Gabreil

Bob

I certainly believe life will never be easy, but it can be infinitely more fair. This might seem a silly analogy, and perhaps it is. Families are generally collective. They pull together for the good of all. The weaker members are not set loose to survive on the street. I see no reason that society can't function more like a family except that the economic system — capitalism — is specifically geared to competition. The system guarantees there will be winners and losers. Indeed it requires that some people lose.

You voted for Donald Trump, of course. Was your vote more FOR Trump or AGAINST Clinton? Did you like Trump from the very start or one of the other candidates first?

Gabreil

Singer Jennifer Holliday talked on The View about the hate she experienced when she initially agreed to appear at Trump's Inauguration, including death threats. She subsequently cancelled her appearance.

When the 2016 Republican race started, Donald Trump was one of my front-runners. My wife and I were very impressed with Marco Rubio and Dr. Ben Carson as well. Rubio was a young, up and coming politician from Florida son of Cuban legal immigrants. Carson was a former surgeon and businessman that I thought was one of the smartest candidates I have ever heard. His thoughts on what was wrong in the country and how to fix things seemed spot on. It is very odd that these 2 candidates were my front runners (Cuban and Black) considering many people over the last 8 years called me racist for not thinking President Obama was doing a good job.

As the Republican debates started and the media began attacking all the Republican candidates, things started to change in my mind. Donald Trump had a presence and confidence about him that none of the others did. The one thing that I saw was his lack of Political Correctness, which was something that I have hated over the last 20 years or so. Growing up as a decedent from Poland, I heard ever Polish joke in the book and was told that Polish people were dumb. My mother was Irish; I heard all the jokes about how the Irish were always drunk with a red nose from the alcohol. It is good to be able to laugh at yourself! Laughter is a great medicine in life, but laughter has been disappearing from America everything is so serious and everyone gets so offended by words. Not sure when this started, during the Bill Clinton era, George Bush era, not sure but man PC stuff drives me crazy. We all need to grow some thicker skin; it is OK to joke about stereotypes.

It was obvious to me that regardless of Trumps mannerisms, he was tough as nails. No matter what the media threw at him, he caught it and threw it back. I then started to listen to his stances on illegal immigration, ACA (Obamacare), our Military, the economy, Political Correctness, Social Issues … His stances sounded very close to what I believed in. Was he ‘winging it’ at times? Absolutely! He is a human and does not have an answer to everything.

Unfortunately, I watched Marco Rubio and Ben Carson self-destruct during the Republican campaign and were cracking under the pressure along with all the other candidates on the Republican side. Rubio started to change his approach and decided to become a characture of Trump. Ben Carson was just too nice and polite to make it politically (very sad to say).

On the Democrat side, I thought Bernie Sanders was going to win the nomination. Hillary Clinton was a flawed candidate and was just not like her husband Bill. She was missing the ‘likeability factor’ and just did not seem to connect with people. I will be excited to the first woman President of the United States, but I felt that Hillary did not fit the mold. I know before I die I will see a woman POTUS, I am sure.

So to answer your question Bob, I would have to say YES to both questions, I was voting for Donald Trump and I was voting against Hillary Clinton.

Bob

It's interesting that we see that same man but have very different perceptions. I see Trump as anything but tough as nails. I'm convinced his outward "toughness" is bravado to hide insecurity. He seems to need positive outside affirmation very badly. Whether people are good or bad depends on whether they say nice things about him. He's as much as said so in reference to Putin.

I see Trump as the classic schoolyard bully. I base this on several observations. As the expression goes, “He can dish it out but he can’t take it.” He name calls and insults people constantly, but freaks when he's the target. "Unfair!" he'll cry, and strike back. He doesn’t seem able to carry an intellectual debate. He quickly resorts to belittling the other person as “second rate,” “has been,” or “low talent.” And he can't let things go. He has to go tit for tweet every time he's satirized or criticized. The popular vote for Clinton seems to have him particularly rattled. At one point he tweeted, "I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally." Seriously? Almost 3 million illegal votes?

I hate saying these things. I can't recall ever arguing politics on such personal terms, but it seems everything about Trump and this election is unprecedented. And indeed I think Trump's personal deficits are unprecedented. There’s an emotional maturity missing. Trump is about to be President of the United States. The criticism will keep coming and get worse. All presidents get satirized on Saturday Night Live. He needs to chill out and toughen his skin, but I don't think he can. I truly believe these things hurt him too much despite his power and wealth. Remember Citizen Kane?

Gabriel

Love that you call Trump the schoolyard bully, I can see that in him for sure. I am insecure, my wife and my daughter are both insecure as well. Honestly, as I have gotten older and talk with people, I find that so many people have issues; depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD, workaholics, drinkers, pot smokers, mentally unstable ... Trump along with most Americans fit into one of these and I can see him as insecure. Our insecurities in life are what push people to great things. I have to force myself out of my comfort zones all the time, to try and break my OCD and insecurity issues.

Trump does not fit the mold of a typical political figure. Honestly, Trump could not stand toe to toe on a debate stage with a professional debater that has been schooled in the art during their political careers. So he took a different approach that no one ever tried before, he was not afraid to call someone a liar if they were. Twitter, FB and other social Medias were also available for the first time, something that America can relate to and he used it to the max. Was this the right approach? I would say NO, but obviously his unorthodox approach worked as he has become the new President of the United States beating all odds. We in America are afraid to offend others ... Trump is not and we will just have waited to see if that works or not as President.

Bob

Although it drives me crazy sometimes, I embrace my OCD! I wouldn't have it any other way. I don't think this website would exist without my OCD.

What traits and positions most attract you to Trump?

Gabriel

As I said in the previous question, Trump had a presence on debate stage that no one else had. If I had to pick a few items that swung me towards him, here are my top items:

1 – Mental Toughness

2 – His Business Background (potential for our countries economic growth)

3 – Stance on Illegal Immigration (The Wall)

4 – Repeal of ACA

5 – Rebuild of US Military – Peace through Strength

6 – Government retraction from social issues.

7 – His wonderful children

Bob

I'll comment on #6. I think government needs to be involved in social issues — as long as it's done to defend and expand rights. That’s generally been the case so far. Over time Congressional legislation and Supreme Court rulings have tended to expand rights. It's uneven, two steps forward and one back. Sometimes two forward and three back! But overall we’ve seen forward progress as Constitutional rights and protections are understood to include more and more people.

The Conversation

I began the discussion with Gabriel by emailing him 10 questions which he responded to. We exchanged emails a few times, discussing each question. You'll find the ten questions and our discussion on each below. Gabriel opened with a little background about himself. That seemed like a good idea so I did the same.

CNN's Van Jones has been talking with Trump voters since the election and is finding that racism was not the driving motivation behind their support. Indeed, many voted for Trump in spite of their discomfort with the racism. Many were former Obama voters. But now, without jobs or a future, they saw no choice but to try another path.

Comments are welcome
on the Feedback Page.

View other Blog Entries.

I have to say things don't seem on course to improve given the fight that broke out over MLK weekend between Tru‍‍‍mp and Congressman John Lewis.