Friends Don’t Let Friends Vote Trump… Or Do They?

◼︎REPRINT FROM JUST SAYIN’ 1.0
◻︎ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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!)

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.

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 howthan 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.

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.

GABRIEL: 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:

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?

GABRIEL: 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.

BOB: 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.

GABRIEL: 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.

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?

GABRIEL: 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.

Of all Trump’s campaign promises, which 2 or 3 do you most want to see accomplished? Why these priorities versus others?

GABRIEL: 1. Illegal Immigration – This to me is mandatory as our country is now imploding within. America was built on immigration, so please do not think I am against people coming to America to live; it is the illegal part that bothers me. Society has laws for a reason, to keep order, consistency and safety of its citizens. Once law and order ceases, we are all in danger as a society. Many Americans believe that all people have basic human rights and if they illegally cross our boarders they should be protected and be able to live amongst us without question. I agree in theory but also disagree because they did not follow our laws, thus making them a criminal.

I want to share several personal experiences with you Bob to put this in perspective. Several years ago, my then 11 year old daughter was very interested in horses’ and riding them. She spent every weekend at a local horse farm riding horses and enjoying being outside and caring for them. One Saturday, we dropped her off at the farm for several hours of working at the barn with her riding teacher. Several hours later we got a call from the farm to come pick her up. Apparently while in the barn, one of the farm hands (who were illegally in the country) sexually assaulted my 11 year old daughter. The barn owner denied it happened and the worker disappeared from the farm before we arrived. We involved the police but the farm owner (who was a US Citizen) denied that she even had Mexicans working at her facility. Very odd that I saw 3-4 at any given time when I was there. The owner harbored the criminal because she wanted no liability for having illegals working for her. The police started an investigation, no charges were against this man because there is no record of him (no name, birth certificate, SSN … nothing). Eventually that farm closed but that does us no good. For the last 7 years my daughter has had terrible PTSD, anxiety, depression and has struggled in life, in and out of treatment facilities, suicide attempts, substance abuse and just not loving life. This POS was never found and I am sure moved onto other victims. This event would not of occurred if illegal immigration and harboring workers to save a buck was a federal crime being enforced by our current government.

Again, several years ago an illegal immigrant, with no drivers license, no car insurance and no ‘known’ employer, lost control of his truck totaled a young girls car and then his car went onto my property destroying a stone wall and many ornamental trees and plantings. He had someone who was able to get him released from our local police but not deported. In the end, I had to pay for all the damage (via my homeowner’s policy minus my $1000 deductible). This illegal walks away causing over $15,000 in damage and pays nothing. He walks away because he is not a legal citizen and now no one knows where he is.

I have many more personal examples of illegal immigrant who are here and are causing my family harm. I know I am not alone in this matter as I have read about countless others who have dealt with the horrors of illegals in America. I just want to re-state that I am all for immigration to America, but it must be legal. There needs to be records of which they are, they need to pay taxes, they need to learn our language, be productive parts of society and be proud Americans.

People laugh about Trump building the Wall along the Mexican border but I believe it is very important that Trump follow through on this item. Who or how it will be paid for is an issue that still needs to be determined but we need to stop the flow of illegals and drugs from our southern borders ASAP.

2. Repeal of ACA – They have not yet determined what the replacement program will be but it took many years to develop and implement the current ACA and it is just not working. I do not want to sit and explain the reasons on why it is not working for the majority of America, you can read 100’s of different articles on why ACA is a failure on your own time but it is important that President-Elect Trump have a replacement plan started. It will most likely take a few years to have this in place but would nice to see a plan in his first 180 days in office.

3. Rebuilding of our Military – I hate war and fighting personally. Ever since I was a boy, I did not like to get in fights with others, verbally or physically. Being a competitive wrestler, I enjoyed the sport of wrestling on the mat but once off the mat, I just wanted everyone to get along. Unfortunately there are always the bully’s, the guys with ‘alcohol muscles’, the people who disrespect your significant other … so as much as you want to keep the peace, there is always jerks who provoke and force you to fight. I find one of the best ways to prevent problems is to look ominous. If someone id 6 foot 5, 300lbs and muscular, most smart people avoid confrontation with him.

America has always been a strong nation and for the most part because no one wants to mess with the big guy. Unfortunately, we have not been eating right and spending time at the gym under the Obama administration. Trump wants to strengthen the Military by investing in new and updated military equipment keeping us on the cutting edge, thus keeping other countries always worried about causing potential issues with the big guy.

Do I want a war, NO! But we need to make sure we are ready in case someone else does.

BOB: Wow. I am so very sorry to hear your daughter’s story! I hope her situation improves. Immigration is a complex issue and while I don’t agree with the Wall I surely understand why you do. I don’t know how that experience might affect my thinking. I do appreciate you sharing!

With respect to immigration, I look at issues from the perspective of what’s best for the working class. I believe American workers gain immeasurably in strength and perspective the more they work shoulder to shoulder with people from around the world. It’s harder to think in narrow parochial terms when you have a chance to know people from elsewhere, their cultures and experiences.

Repeal of the ACA will be an interesting challenge for Trump and the Republicans. I think there are two primary problems with ACA. Well, three if you include the fact it was Obama’s initiative in the first place. That alone led many to align against it. The term “Obamacare” was originally coined as an epithet.

The first problem is that ACA is based on profit. Bottom line, whatever else happens, ACA must deliver an acceptable return on investment to insurance company shareholders. That’s ACA’s number one purpose, not delivery of health care. I favored a non-profit one-payer approach similar to Canada, France and England. The second problem is that ACA is a complex tangle of political compromises that were necessary to get it passed.

Where I say it’ll be a challenge is this: The Republicans say they want to keep what people like — pre-existing conditions, coverage for children to age 26 — but scrap the things people hate, like the penalty. I can’t see how that’s possible. I don’t like the penalty either but any for-profit program based on the insurance companies must have a pool of members who are young, healthy, and not drawing out benefits yet.

One option that gets mentioned is health savings plans, but this basically means everyone is self-insured. Even with the tax benefits, millions of working-class and middle-class families will not be able to save enough to sustain themselves through a catastrophic illness. During the primaries Trump suggested opening up the existing system of insurance companies for nationwide competition, saying this will lower prices. Well, I’ll eat my hat if such a system works. I think there would still be millions who need insurance and can’t afford it.

GABRIEL: I agree on your points on immigration, but not illegal immigration. I want immigration to America to continue but it is the illegal part that needs to stop immediately. Working internally with people from across the globe is good but what Obama has allowed to happen is out of control. Our country is flooded with illegals because Obama refused to follow Federal Immigration Laws that were in place and illegally rewrote those laws without proper approval (impeachment and prison was in order here). Obama allowed millions of our tax dollars to go to Sanctuary Cities which was against Federal Immigration Law (impeachment and prison was in order here).

Glad you also see ACA (Obamacare) is not working and I agree that this will be a tough thing to replace but it needs to be done.

BOB: I didn’t say that ACA (Obamacare) isn’t working, exactly. It’s a huge improvement compared to before. Forbes reports a net gain of about 17 million people now insured that weren’t before (net increase, counting those that gained and lost coverage as of May 2015). That’s significant, not to mention the provisions for pre-existing conditions and coverage for children up to age 26. But ACA has flaws and doesn’t fully meet the need. Many are still uninsured. Replacing it will be very difficult, if not impossible, so long as it remains based on private, for-profit insurance companies. I think a government-funded one-payer system is the only good option.

How do you feel the transition is going so far?

GABRIEL: I believe the transition is going OK, not perfect but nothing is perfect is it? I feel the majority of Donald Trump’s picks for his staff positions are strong. Kellyanne Conway, Dr. Ben Carson, Betsy DeVos, John F. Kelly … are some of my favorite additions to his staff. I do not believe there are really many talks between the Obama staff and the Trump staff during this transition. It seems like this will be more of an out with the old and in with the new transition. Seems like the two are very far away from their beliefs in what America should be.

BOB: My feelings about the transition are captured in my response to the next question.

GABRIEL: Getting nervous about your response to question #6, sounds like a flood gate is ready to open.

BOB: Not really. Just consolidating like thoughts.

I have to ask some tougher questions, sorry! I believe most people voted for Trump because they’re hurting, they want change, and saw Clinton as a vote for the status quo — or worse they didn’t trust her (email scandal, etc.). I don’t believe most Trump voters were racist, in fact many voted previously for Obama. However, Trump’s rhetoric, including about Mexicans and Muslims, has encouraged some racists like David Duke and the KKK. They feel Trump has helped give them a mainstream voice. Does this worry you?

GABRIEL: These are not hard questions at all Bob and I like to be challenged on my thoughts. Unfortunately, idiots like David Duke and the KKK exist everywhere. Lift up any rock and you will find slimy, discussing and very disturbed people looking to cause problems between human beings. Some groups are organized and some are not. Neo-Nazi, Skin Heads, Anti-LGBT, Ant-Muslim, ISIS, Black Lives Matter … they are all over the place. I log onto Facebook and see hate and bullying daily, you know those people we call ‘trolls’, who are more than too happy to ‘rain on your FB parade’.

Presidential candidates cannot help who tries to jump on their coat tails and ride them to their own personal purpose. I am not aware of any racist groups, or racist people that Donald Trump has associated with in his past. I am sure if he did, the media would have found it and dragged him through the mud over it already. Now if it came out that he did associate with racist groups or people in his past and looked up to them and admired them, I would have a huge issue with it and it certainly would have changed my view of him as a candidate.

Not to switch gears into a different direction, but to put this question into perspective we need to look at our current POTUS. He idolized and followed a known racist named Jeremiah Wright since the 1980’s. His hate of the white man has been documented in videos, sermons, and writings all over the internet. Rev Wright officiated at the Obama wedding and baptized his children. Obama considered this terrible man as one of his mentors and continued to attend services and listen to his racist sermons until 2008 (after he had been elected President and assigned Rev. Wright a prominent position on his staff) when public outrage forced him to withdraw his membership in this terrible Wright community. I have watched in horror many of this man’s sermons on YouTube. It made me sick to listen to them and talk terrible about white people. If this was one of Donald Trump’s mentors, I would never have considered voting for him.

So basically after what we have been dealing with the last 8 years from what I consider a very racist person as our current President, I do not worry too much about Donald Trump.

BOB: My memory, in all honesty, has faded on the Jeremiah Wright controversy. To be honest I wasn’t that concerned at the time, nor am I now. I’m not shocked when some in the Black community are hostile towards whites. Slavery may have ended 154 years ago but systematic discrimination against the Black community continues to this day. The statistics show this plus I know a little of it from personal experience, even being white. Before my husband, my previous companion was Black. He would report things to me and on a few occasions I was right there when it happened. It didn’t matter that he was a medical student then and a physician now.

The individuals and movements I associate with understand that racism is deeper than a person’s skin color. Racism arises from and is sustained by economic and social forces. I feel confidant Obama understands this too. I also know, being an oppressed minority myself, that some in our communities are angry — and it’s justified, frankly. Ultimately I don’t think this anger is productive, but it doesn’t mean the person can’t bring value to the table. Just like you and I are doing here, discussion is necessary. In our respective movements we need to work through all kinds political questions, perspectives and feelings.

Getting back to Trump, I think the issue is serious. Like you, I’m not aware that Trump has associated with racist groups or people in the past. However, Trump headed Trump Management when it was sued by the Federal government for discrimination in 1973. They settled out of court with stipulations that Trump Management had to follow. Closer to home personally, Trump’s record with the LGBT community is actually rather good. Nonetheless I’m very concerned over what Trump’s administration will do on both these fronts — the Black and LGBT communities.

The administration Trump is assembling is a virtual Who’s Who of opponents to LGBT rights, Rex Tillerson excepted. Mike Pence tops the list. Over the years he has actively opposed laws protecting us and has advocated discrimination against us, and warns we will cause “societal collapse.” Combine this with his potential Supreme Court nominees, a Republican Congress and a Republican Senate, and I feel LGBT rights — my rights! — are in grave danger. Since the election, the Southern Poverty Law center has cataloged over 2,000 attacks against Blacks, Jews, LGBT and others, many invoking Trump’s name in some way. I’m concerned that Trump has barely acknowledged these.

To summarize on this point… I can’t look inside Trump’s heart and see whether or not he’s a racist. But the question is actually moot. Either way, I think there’s no question he’s creating space for racist, Islamophobic, misogynist and homophobic forces to rise. His 8-year birther campaign undermined Obama on racial lines. Now he’s virtually silent on the post-election attacks yet responds with considerable passion to SNL and Meryl Streep.

What’s particularly important for this discussion, however, is whether Trump won the election based on racism. A lot of people on the left feel he did. I disagree, although I do think a portion of his voters were definitely drawn by racism, etc. I think the overwhelming majority of his supporters were working-class and middle-class voters seeking change. Those who were uncomfortable with the racist edge to Trump’s message supported him nonetheless because they saw him as the only choice on the ballot for change — meaning mostly economic change. Many of these people voted for Obama one or both times previously, and some were Black, Hispanic, gays and women themselves! So the issue is not “black & white” (forgive the pun!). The video with Van Jones in my opening above speaks to this point.

GABRIEL: I am sad to say that the idea of true equality in human being may never be seen in our lifetime. America is one of the minorities of countries that a White, Black, Jewish, Russian, Chinese, Hispanic, Gay … family can live together on the same street in peace. Do they all ‘love’ each other and are the best of friends? Probably not, but it is no different than a street of all whites or blacks. Some families get along, are friends and some are not. Many countries, you would be killed if you were not the same as your neighbor.

I understand you feelings being a gay man that you are most worried about gay right issues over all others. Most black’s worry about black issues and women are concerned about women issues. But this thinking in these terms is keeping America segregated. We need to think in terms of what is best for America, not what is best for me or my group. We have to remember that some people are in groups that you can not visually see to identify and some of these peoples issues are far worse than being black, jewish, Hispanic, gay or transgender. We just have to make America better for EVERYONE!

BOB: Oh golly! I didn’t mean to suggest that I’m “worried about gay rights issues over all others.” Not at all, though it’s true that I feel the LGBT issue most acutely since it’s the one that most impacts my personal life day to day. I discussed it here as one example of the danger I feel Trump’s administration poses to all minorities — Blacks, women, Muslims, LGBT, etc.

A lot of people feel that Trump is psychologically unfit to be president — that he is narcissistic, self-absorbed, pre-occupied with personal slights, is volatile, etc. It’s felt that he’s “unmoored” politically, that his opinions vacillate, he talks in hints or generalities, and frankly it’s felt he makes a lot of it up as he goes. How do you feel about this? Do you share any of these observations or concerns?

GABRIEL: First off, most people in powerful positions are very narcissistic and self-absorbed. It would be hard for someone to become rich and powerful without those traits in their back pockets. As we look back through history, even the Pope himself (who at one time was the most powerful man in the world) were rich, calculated, cocky, mean, confident and most likely psychologically unfit to be in such a high holy position. But that is what is needed most times to rise to such a position.

If we look around the world most of the powerful nations have someone in power with those attributes. Politics is not for the meek and mild person. If we look at our current POTUS and most of the candidates that ran in the 2016 Democrat and Republican primaries, they all carried similar traits. Outwardly some of the ‘polished’ politicians like Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Lindsey Graham that have been in the political world their entire lives are able to put up an imaginary facade that they are just like you and me, even though I have millions in my bank accounts, can comp my healthcare, living expenses and cars on the American tax payers and I do not hang out with people who make $50,000 a year. But I can make it look like I do and make you think I understand what it is like to barely make ends meet at the end of a month for a family of 4. Hillary Clinton was the most incredibly narcissistic and self-absorbed women that I had ever seen.

Is Donald Trump narcissistic and self-absorbed? Absolutely he is and would never agree that he is not. However, Trump is not what we traditionally have seen on the Political stage in America. He has been schooled in business, in reading people, the art of the deal and Project Management on getting a task done ‘On-Time’, ‘Under Budget’ and ‘Deliver what was ordered’! Originally, most of our Politicians were normal people who worked in our community and represented ‘we the people’. Somehow over the years the political scene changed and men & women have become career politicians. They study Political Science in college, get internships with other politicians, are schooled on what to say and what not to say, how to act and how not to act (in public), how to give a speech, how to shake hands with the public, how to do your job without causing yourself not to be reelected, how to rub shoulders with the right people to get ahead in the political arena … All the things that have no real substance but look good to the majority of the people who are not real versed on all the political issues.

To be honest Bob, for many years I have been so over the career politician. There is something refreshing about a ‘real person’ giving a speech about real experiences, not always giving a rehearsed answer that was practiced over and over with their staff. Meeting with selected media people to get your contrived message out to the public. Not being afraid to change your opinion after you learn additional information without people calling you a flip-flopper. Today’s politicians are like social media, they sit behind a desk acting like life is great, everything is great, they are in total control and you should feel at ease that they are addressing all your problems nationally and internationally. But in reality they have no idea what they are doing, are hiring consultants to help them figure out what to do next, hide their mistakes from the public and do whatever they can do to ensure that in the next election they can get reelected.

Just like in 2008, we need a change right now in America because the direction of our country is off. I am willing to give Donald Trump 4 years to see what he can do. Is he our savior? No, but he can stop the bleeding of America that is crippling us.

BOB: I don’t think most powerful people are narcissistic in the “classic” textbook sense. But I do agree that most political careerists have big egos. I also agree most are in it for themselves — and for the wealthy, whom they serve first and foremost. You and I are certainly not at the top of their list. I think we both know this.

Even when politicians do help us it’s often for ulterior motives. One of America’s most dramatic examples is Franklin Roosevelt, revered among liberals for the New Deal. The New Deal, Social Security, etc., no doubt helped people. But why did he do it? He did it because there was a revolutionary situation developing in the working class of this country in response to the Great Depression. Something had to give, and fast! The New Deal took the steam out that radicalization and probably saved capitalism in this country. Roosevelt appeared to be helping common workers, and in a sense he was, but primarily he was saving the wealthy and their system (the ruling class or “the 1%” as people say today).

By the way, you said earlier that you didn’t like the bank bailout in 2008. I won’t defend it either but it probably saved “the system” again, as it were. It helped prevent a full-blown worldwide depression equal to or worse than the 1930s. And like the Great Depression, this could have sparked a revolutionary working class radicalization again. Indeed we’re seeing early glimmers of that radicalization anyway — which helped Trump win the White House.

What if it turns out that things remain more or less the same after Trump or perhaps get worse (weaker economy, higher debt, war, etc.)? If it turns out that Trump can’t do what he’s said, where do you think you’ll look next? What would be the answer then?

GABRIEL: This is a simple answer that has no relationship to the President-Elect. If Trump does not live up to his campaign promises, the country does not improve economically, militarily, the flow of illegals is not slowed down … His ass should be gone after 4 years. I am hoping that we see some good plans in his first 180 days in office and some movement on things.

If in 2020 we do not see things moving in a positive direction, I will not vote for him again. I will cast my vote for someone else. As I said earlier, I am a registered Republican but I vote for the best person no matter what political party he/she is.

BOB: I’m sorry to say, Gabriel, that I don’t think you’ll see much come of Trump’s promises — and I don’t say this as a slam to Trump. No president can deliver what Trump has promised, which in effect is to roll the clock back to the 1950s & 1960s post-war boom — back when we boasted about “The American Century.” Only a huge new world war can do that, destroying a lot of stuff and creating the basis for a new massive expansion. Unfortunately a lot of people would die and now we have nuclear bombs — so I’m not going to recommend this economic strategy.

You said earlier that socialism usually doesn’t work. That’s a separate debate, but for now I’ll observe there comes a point when capitalism no longer works. Capitalism is initially a good thing, raising society out of feudalism and slavery, but eventually it exhausts itself without vast new territories to conquer for expansion and new markets. Capitalism is running out of gas. Wealth isn’t based on manufacturing anymore, which creates jobs and communities like the 50s and 60s. Now it’s based on trading paper. We saw in 2008 how fragile that can be. Today the Dow is flirting with 20,000 — a big new bubble getting ready to burst!

I submit that it’s time we move on to the next stage of human evolution, and post Trump I hope more will consider this. I invite you to consider my candidates in 2020! 🙂

GABRIEL: Bob, if we do not see the needle move up on the thermometer under Trump, then please send me your candidates of choice! I am in …

BOB: You can see that candidates I supported this year here in my blog.

Where would you like to see the United States in 5 years? In 10 years?

GABRIEL: Whatever decisions I make today politically is more for my daughter’s generation, not for me and my wife. I am getting older, I have worked hard in my life, and I have saved what I could, made investments in a home and became totally debt free when I was in my 40’s. I have enjoyed competitive sports into my 50’s. I have a wonderful family, a good job and a host of hobbies I enjoy very much. I only take a small credit for all of this, I give a majority the credit to my parents, my siblings, my school teachers, my sports coaches, my friends, my enemies, my bosses at my jobs, my opponents in sporting events and the bully’s in my schools. Without them, I would not have learned what hard work was all about. I know what it is like to fail over and over again at something and not give up. What it is like to lose, just to work hard and eventually win. What it is like to have no god given talent at something, but with an iron will pushing myself to accomplish something others said I could not. I could not have done this in most countries in our world. BUT being in this great country called America, I could work hard, continue to fail but if I wanted something bad enough I could sacrifice and attempt to achieve my goal (within obvious parameters, I could not be an NBA or NFL player because of physical limitations).

My work ethic has been breed into me by all my adult mentors throughout my life. Strive for greatness, sacrifice for your goals and the ‘world is your oyster’. But most importantly I was taught to keep your priorities straight and in the right order:

Family, Yourself and Work

These are all important but if you switch the order of these, your life will suffer.

The world today seems to have forgotten 2 of the 3 items that I was taught as my priorities. The one item that remains today is YOURSELF above everything else, but how can one be truly happy when one only worry about themselves? John F Kennedy’s famous quote, ‘And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.’ has been forgotten by a part of American.

We are all Americans, the majority our origins are from another place in the world; England, Ireland, Austria, Russia, Hungary, Africa, India, China, Korea, Cuba … but we all have something in common, our ancestors (or ourselves) came here to make a better life and become ‘AN AMERICAN’. When they legally arrived they learned to speak English, schooled in our laws, worked hard to earn a wage (sometimes 2 or more jobs), paid their taxes, participated in American celebrations, valued family, said the Pledge of Allegiance, waved the American flag and were proud to say they and their family were Americans. Even though these immigrants were now Americans, they never forgot their roots, took pride in their country of origin, kept their religious beliefs and taught their children about the blood that runs through their veins. These new Americans passed onto their children, the work ethic that they had in order for them to make a success at whatever they wanted to be in this great land of opportunity.

Today, people are sneaking into the country, not wanting to learn English, not wanting to follow our laws, not looking to work hard, pay taxes, to be a productive part of the existing society. Many want to keep their origin country traditions and snuff out American traditions. They are more inclined to burn the American flag rather than wave the flag. America has been broken into hundreds of different special interest groups, a majority of Americans belong to one or more of these groups and their main concern in life are to ensure their special interest is taken care of. When elections occur, they want to know what the candidate will do for their group. The ‘I’ society seems to be more important than the ‘Us’ society. John F. Kennedy’s quote that I admired and lived by has died.

Where do I want to see things going 5, 10, 20 years and more into the future for America? I want to see immigrants still coming into our country to live the American dream. I want people that are here illegally out of the country and for them to go through legal means if they really want to be here for the right reasons. I want Americans to be proud to say they are American, proud to wave our flag. Respect our laws; respect our law makers and those who keep us safe. Build us back into the world’s strongest country, economically and militarily. I want to see the race relations improve, healthcare made more affordable and family values be brought back as an import part of people’s lives. I want to see our manufacturing jobs return, our educational system improve so our children can compete in a global workforce. I want the young people to understand it is OK to fail but it is not OK to give up. I want people to not always wear who they are on their sleeve. It is OK to have a private life and keep some of your life choices your own. I want the government to keep focused on governmental issue and stay out of social issues. The government of the United States was developed to enhance my life, not run my life. The most important job of our government is “to protect its people by providing justice to all its citizens.” In addition, I believe the government needs to protect its citizenry from foreign invaders.” The Government must apply Justice equally and defend itself from those who will do us harm. If our government will not do this, then what is the purpose of our government?

In short, I want a reversal of what has been happening over the last 8 years.

BOB: Gabriel, I can’t resolve my feelings around your response to this question. There’s so much here and I have to say it’s extremely well written. This is the third response I’ve sent you! I keep having to revise it.

My conflict stems from the opposite reactions your response has evoked in me. On some points I agree strongly — I’d say most of the first half of your response. After that, I disagree strongly on a fair amount — except I don’t, exactly. While I don’t agree with all your points I feel I understand the spirit behind the words and I’m confident it comes from a good place. If a stranger had said a few of these things, I’d be mad.

The immigration discussion has me particularly unsettled. I am politically and philosophically for open borders: Anybody from anywhere in the world should be able to go anywhere else in the world they want. I believe that absolutely, and I have long opposed immigration raids that catch, victimize and jail or deport “illegals.” I stand by the slogan “No Human Being is illegal.” “Undocumented workers” (my term) suffer at the hands of the government for reasons rooted in class, politics, religion — and yes, racism. You wrote that you favor immigration, but through legal means. That sounds reasonable and a previous version of my response acknowledged the logic or legitimacy of a “practical process” as I called it. Then I thought back on my other views and my conviction that a “practical process” for immigration in this country isn’t really “practical” because it isn’t dispassionate and objective. Dang if I’m not stuck now! I’ve probably opened the door to a whole new discussion!

There isn’t time or space to resolve this now, so I’ll stop and leave my response here. We don’t need to settle all the problems of the world in this exercise, but your response to this question has given me a lot to think about. I will be doing so long after this is published.

Lastly, I’ll repeat the main point I made in my initial response — that is, in 5-10 years I’d like to see a society based more on human need than private profit.

Anything else you want to add, on any topic? Any questions for me?

GABRIEL: Bob, this was a very interesting thing for me to do and I thank you. I know by looking at your web page, you are someone who puts his thoughts into words in the printed form. I do not always write down my thoughts and feelings but this was a good exercise for me to perhaps start to do that once again.

I just want to say a few words to whoever might be reading this today. Even though many of us have different political, economic, religious or cultural opinions on things, what makes America great and different from many other countries is that we can have an opinion, voice it, write about it and discuss it without fear of government sanctions. I love to hear others opinions, I love to discuss differences in beliefs and many times I have switched my feelings on a subject after getting true facts from another. It is OK to have a difference of opinion but when difference of opinions leads to verbal attacks, labeling someone as a racist, sexist, homophobic, being an idiot and sometimes the threat of harm or personal attacks on others.

It seems like people today, do not like to have discussions with people who do not share their opinions. The easiest way I have found that they shut me down and send me away is by pulling the ‘cards’. If I say I do not like Obama because of something, the conversation is stopped by ‘You are a racist!’, if I think Hillary Clinton is not honest, is not a good candidate, I become a ‘Sexist’. If I agree that Mexicans should not sneak across the border at live here, I ‘Hate Mexicans’ … people twist words to end conversations like we had in the old days. We all have our own opinions on what we think and our own prejudices, it is how you react and vocalize them that matters. There is no human being on earth that has no bias and prejudice! We all form opinions immediately when we see someone, by the way their hair is styled, the clothes they are wearing, to the glasses on their faces, the car the drive, the way they speak and the obvious, color of their skin. Forming an opinion of someone before you get to know someone is normal and does not make us a bad person, it makes us human. Some of the nicest people I know today I formed negative opinions about in my mind before I got to know who they truly were.

In the end, we are all human, we are all Americans and we all want a safe and comfortable society to live in. Thanks Bob for giving me the forum to express my opinion on this political debate that has taken over the media this last 18 months. Even though you and I may not agree on issues, people and the countries direction that does not mean we cannot live peacefully together as citizens of the best country in the world, the United States of America. Happy 2017 my friend!

BOB: Thank you, Gabriel, for this fantastic exchange! I can’t express adequately how much I appreciate all you’ve put into this — your thoughts, effort and personal disclosure. This discussion proves to me, and hope to others as well, that civil discussion on important issues enriches our knowledge and our relationships.

I doubt either of us has persuaded the other very much here, but I certainly have learned a lot! And you’ve challenged me to think some things further. I’m grateful to have a richer understanding of where you, and probably many Trump supporters like yourself, are coming from. I think you are representative of many or most Trump voters, with variations of course. You want a strong and safe country, a good life for your family and all people. I do too. Where we probably differ is what that looks like and how to get there.

Likewise, hopefully you understand me better too. My views come from decades of reading, study, thought and active engagement in labor and social justice struggles, as well as a professional career in community development and protection of low-income people. Plus I’m an oppressed minority. This definitely informs my worldview. I haven’t discussed here the personal attacks I’ve endured as a gay person, a few of which have been extremely serious and dangerous.

Thanks again! I wish you a rich and satisfying New Year!


About five days before this conversation was first published my nephew-in-law posted some salient remarks concerning this topic on Facebook. He wasn’t aware I was preparing this work but consented to me adding his comments in an Addendum. Later, about 18 months after I published my conversation with Gabriel, my dear college friend Wendy wrote me after reading the post. She hadn’t seen it at first. I was very touched by what she had to say.

Facebook Post by Steve Creech
January 15, 2017

Since the end of the election we’ve been subjected to nonstop moaning and groaning about how Trump did not truly win the election because Clinton received more than 3 million of the popular votes than he did. We’ve also been subjected to a massive amount of shaming if we chose not to vote for Clinton (regardless if we voted for Trump or not). We’ve heard the cries of trying to get the Electoral College to change their votes and choose Clinton. Now we are seeing friends and family being torn apart because they refuse to be civil to each other any longer. I find it highly intriguing that those who are crying foul loudest now are the same ones who passionately defended President Obama when he first ran for and won the Presidency and dealt with “Birther” scandal and claims of socialist healthcare. Granted, the accusations against the President were baseless, but it still created a “us vs. them” mentality that we are seeing again now.

Clinton didn’t lose the election because of Trump. She lost the election because she failed to recognize that there was a subset of voters that felt they were being ignored by Washington and didn’t close the deal. She failed to excited the Democratic voter base enough to go to the polls and vote. It’s that simple. The fault was hers and her campaign team. It was the same thing that happened to Gore in 2000. He couldn’t close the deal either because voters lacked enough confidence in him to actually show up and vote.

Trump has rightfully won the presidency according to the laws of our nation. He won the Electoral College and will be sworn in as our new President of the United States on Friday. You may love the guy or you may hate him but nothing will change this fact.

Personally, I can’t stand the guy and the things he does and says. However, I was raised to respect the office of the Presidency and the person that it represents until he does something unlawful or reprehensible enough for me to no longer offer that respect (Bill Clinton, I’m talking about you). This philosophy is how I treat everyone in life regardless of who you are — race, creed, gender, religion, it doesn’t matter. When I first meet you, you automatically have my respect until you do something that forces a change in that status.

So now comes the part that is likely to piss some of you off. I know that Trump is a terrible man. But I am going to give him the measure of respect the President of the United States is due. Why? Because I was raised that way and because President Obama himself asked it of us on more than one occasion since the election. President Obama is a man who I hold in deep respect and regard. If he is asking this of us, then I feel we should honor that wish.

As his presidency moves along there are a couple of important things to remember; the President does NOT make the laws. The function of his office is to execute them. Laws are made through the legislature (Congress). There is nothing you can say that will affect what Trump says or does. If you truly want to enact change in our country, then get involved and contact your legislatures. Hold them accountable and keep their feet to the fire. That is how you do it, not shouting in your friend’s or family member’s face.

Message from Wendy Gaylord
August 2018

Better late than never on reading this. I love it. I wish it could be published everywhere. As a lifelong liberal much of what both of you said resonates with me because I consider myself to be a moderate, i.e., liberal on social issues but somewhat economically conservative. On that last bit, I mean that I don’t trust Democrats or Republicans to properly spend my tax dollars so I would prefer to pay as little taxes as possible until they earn more of my trust. 😉

First and foremost, though, is my heartfelt sadness and outrage for what happened to Gabriel’s daughter. No ifs, ands or buts.

As an LGBT activist alongside Bob I feel what he feels about these issues and I appreciate Gabriel’s support. Minorities get nowhere without our allies.

I have long thought that it takes a lot of chutzpah to run for POTUS, let alone BE POTUS and I see that in most candidates. I honestly don’t know how anyone can stand to do that impossible job so I make room for some arrogance just as I do for fighter pilots and surgeons.

When Obama first ran I really wasn’t that thrilled with him and I have to say that my vote for him was reluctant, not that I would have voted for McCain. I just wasn’t thrilled with such inexperience and youth. I take the view that experience and time matter and I think the lack of it is showing up in our current Congress. I voted for him again in 2012 but partly because there was no way I was going to put Paul Ryan in such proximity to the Oval Office.

In the end, though, I do think that most of our problems are completely solvable but for greed, lobbying, rent-seeking and the whole underbelly of capitalism. There is more than enough money in the world to solve pretty much everything except for the fact that, as Gabriel pointed out, there will always be good and bad in the world but I still believe that the good outweighs the bad, otherwise none of us would leave the house.

Both of you have done a fantastic job presenting a civil and thoughtful discussion and I’m grateful.


Title Image of Trump by Gage Skidmore.
Other images were gathered off the Internet in the spirit of Fair Use.


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