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The optimist’s case for Trump

In an effort to get my head around Trump’s victory, I’ve spoken with several good friends with diametrically opposite political leanings, folks in the demographic that used to be called Northeast Republicans. The conversations have been long, heartfelt, passionate, and courteous. Here’s what I’ve learned.

The depth of disgust for the Obama years is deep.  One very knowledgeable colleague described economic growth under the President as “zero”.  While GDP growth has not been anywhere near as robust as one would like, it has averaged 2.1%. A detailed and dispassionate perspective is here. Job growth has been anemic indeed, labor force participation is low – but improving, while wages have improved markedly – if only recently. And, the last 8 years has also been a time of relatively low growth in world GDP, much lower than it was during the Reagan, GW Bush, and Clinton eras. Tough to grow a very mature economy when our buyers and sellers aren’t growing at all.

The discussions have been wide-ranging but all come back to this sense that the country is somehow on the “wrong track.”

Into this comes Donald Trump, a candidate with a chequered business career, well-documented behavioral issues that would disqualify him from being hired by most employers, is notoriously thin-skinned, and has policy positions that are, at the very least, confusing and ideologically inconsistent. And that’s leaving out the really ugly stuff.

Among his policy ideas/positions/stated plans:

  • building the wall – consistent with GOP orthodoxy
  • renegotiating NAFTA – not consistent
  • declaring China a currency manipulator – not consistent
  • raise the minimum wage – not consistent
  • ramp up fossil fuels – consistent
  • friendship with Putin – not consistent
  • spending a trillion dollars on infrastructure- not consistent
  • reduce taxes on the wealthy – consistent
  • repeal “Obamacare” – consistent
  • climate change is a hoax – consistent
  • add $10 trillion to the debt to accomplish varied goals – not consistent.

Point here is not to get into policy details, but rather to note Trump doesn’t toe the ideological line, rather he jumps back and forth with amazing rapidity.

When I ask my friends why they voted for Trump, it clearly isn’t about policy. Trump’s “policies” are decidedly NOT conservative. They say things like:

  • “I hope he surrounds himself with people smarter than him and listens to them”
  • “he didn’t mean those things, he just says crazy stuff”
  • “the legislature will do most of the policy setting work”
  • “he will get the best SecDef (Secretary of Defense) and he (Trump) will lead from ahead”

I don’t see it.  Trump won by ignoring all experts, by going his own way, by following his own genius. And that has brought him to the most powerful position on the planet. Why would he listen to anyone else?

If anything, these conversations have gotten me even more bewildered. Middle-aged successful intelligent professionals decided to vote for – and support – a candidate with many views directly contrary to theirs, with serious behavioral issues, and with a temperament they acknowledge is highly concerning instead of a pretty ordinary but highly experienced center-left politician with a long reputation for working well with Republicans.

The risk:reward thing is what stumps me.  Trump will have the nuclear codes.  He will have the “trade-war codes”. He has control over foreign policy. All areas with huge risks – some of them existential. Yet none concerning enough that my colleagues didn’t vote for him.

I very much hope my colleagues’ optimism is well-placed.

And very much fear it isn’t.

6 thoughts on “The optimist’s case for Trump”

  1. Hey Joe. I voted for Trump and your article described me in a few areas as far as not being happy with the direction the country was going under Obama. Pretty much everyone I associate with voted for Trump so I would like to understand how Hillary would have been any better given how corrupt she is. It is mindboggling to me how anyone could vote for her, just as much as it is to you how people could vote for Trump. Just curious on your thoughts on why you voted for Hillary. Was it just because you didn’t like Trump. Thanks for sharing. I am genuinely wanting to learn the mindset of the Democrats and Hillary supporters.

  2. You also have to understand how off track the DNC was in allowing the Clinton’s to subvert the nomination process while carrying the stain of their corrupt dealings and underhanded political games they played and play. Many bet big on them when in reality there was no way Clinton could win against a rogue like Trump. So the DNC and GOP are done, leaderless, rudderless they wallow in their own delusional reality that has nothing to do with what we the people face on a daily basis as a result of their legislative agendas and machinations. The media did their job well in promoting the DNC, Sanders and Clinton and insulting and ridiculing all opposition. This was a tried and true strategy, worked against Romney and the usual hapless and inept GOP runners. Last we have the big players that bet big on the Clintons and lost huge, Soros and the others are out millions and I would hate to be the Clinton’s now, as I am sure there will be some interesting discussions regarding the funding of their campaign. This was an excellent study of the little guy sticking a red hot metal poker into the eye of the Federal Leviathan, the media and the elite that have complete and total disdain for us. In the end if Trump just delivers on 20% of what his platform presents we will be more than happy. The best part of this was seeing the Clinton’s relegated to the dust bin of history, never to be heard from again!

  3. I think we Democrats underestimated the overall dissatisfaction with the federal government. My sense from Republican friends is they just wanted change and radical change. I believe we may have nominated the wrong person (I voted for HRC). Bernie had that same sense of a movement and was considered an outsider just like Trump. I think it was all about the desire for change. I am hopeful that Trump will be a decent president, but I am fearful that his changes will make everything far worse. Time will tell.

  4. Well, I certainly respect the opinions of others, but some of us don’t see Hilary as corrupt or a demon.

    Some of us are horrified by Donald Trump and what he says, what he does and how he does it.

    I know he got a lot of votes, but there are plenty of folks (including Republicans) that expressed the same concerns mentioned by Joe.

    I have lots of conservative friends and they too hate Hilary, think she is a liar, and feel that the last 8 years of Obama have been disastrous.

    Putting aside Trumps history and behavior, at the root of all this are ideological differences (even between friends) and I don’t see that we are going to convince each other that the alternative view is the correct one.

    For me it would be more comfortable if a less polarizing Republican had won. I might not like it, but I would have been more comfortable with Kasich, Bush, Rubio etc.

    Most of us “Democrats” are praying that the Presidency makes the man. I for one, am pretty scared. I can deal with the conservative agenda but…

  5. My advise to my kids, you and your readers is breathe.

    And then breathe some more.

    Donald Trump isn’t emperor or king. He is a president.

    He has limited exec authority.

    He will pick department heads.

    Will he be able to put together coalitions and get legislation passed? We will have to see.

    He has no ready coalitions, awaiting his decisions. Whatever happens, the ground work isn’t going to be done by him, I promise.

    Is he a political deal-maker? We will have to wait and see.

    He will oppose borrowing and a credit card government. I will support that.

    The rest of what he does can’t be worse than Hillary screwing up her post as Secretary of State to be “fired”–oops I mean forced to resign. If she didn’t have the chops to be the Secretary of State, how could she have the chops to be president? I wasn’t so upset about the emails on a private server as our Ambassador was fried with no planning or real response by her.

    Lots of my friends are doing the Chicken-Little-Sky-Is-Falling thing without a feel-good Democrat to borrow more trillions to make them warm and fuzzy.

    Tell your friends and neighbors to calm down and let’s see where this great country grows.

    And while that happens, breathe.

    1. Gene -while I appreciate you reading, I don’t appreciate your patronizing tone. I won’t get into a point-by-point rebuttal of your mischaracterization of Clinton’s SecState as this is long past the time for that..

      I do know that “great” countries aren’t led by racists who want our military to violate the Constitution.

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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