I was in my local cafe recently waiting for a friend to arrive. There were three work colleagues sitting next to me who had just engaged in a conversation about President Donald Trump. It started in the usual fashion (you might expect) with the lady closest to me ‘going off’ on a tirade about Trump’s awful immigration policies, his self- destructive foreign policy decisions and asking how on earth such a madman could be voted in as the person with their ‘finger on the button’ so to speak. This went on for several minutes before the quieter lady at the table interjected and my attention was suddenly engaged.
In a very calm and collected tone she reminded her colleagues that there were two sides to every story and people should generally reflect on this before jumping on a populist (belief) ‘bandwagon’. Before her colleagues had a chance to reply she continued. “You know America has a free and democratic electoral process that it boasts about globally as a matter of pride. And good bad or indifferent nearly 62 million people left their homes, made their way to a polling station and decided to make Donald J Trump their President of the United States. They all heard what he was and wasn’t promising and they made a choice. He just stood up there and said this is me, if you want it, vote for it and they did.” A fair enough point I thought as I pretended to read my book.
“There is also a lot of merit to his policies,” she continued “and if most people were not afraid to go against the anti-Trump rhetoric they just might see some of it. Take your immigration point for example”, she explained. “Most countries have systems in place where if you want to visit, work or live in that country you must require the necessary visas and permits to do so, a normal requirement. This is also the case in the US. However, they also have millions and millions of undocumented and illegal residents living and working there many of whom spill in over the southern borders every year. This would be unacceptable in most other countries. Many previous administrations have tried to tackle this issue without any major implementations or successes. The President is not saying you can’t come and contribute here but you have to do it correctly. Illegal immigration has to be controlled. It can have many negative effects on a country in regard to loss of entry level jobs to legal citizens, loss of tax revenue for government programs, increased education and medical costs to increased crime and terrorist activity to mention just a few. Trump’s administration is taking big and bold steps to prevent this issue from escalating even further. Now no decisions that are made are going to be met with all round approval but at least he makes decisions and takes action unlike most politicians who merely ‘talk the talk’ through each new administration.”
“People’s attitude to his foreign policy is another matter that gets to me”, she proclaimed. “At the beginning of his campaign Trump told the people he stood for the American economy and American jobs and whatever he could do to improve both. So he starts taking steps to do this. Trump looks at international trade deals and if they are no favorable to American jobs, interests and the economy he simply pulls out or renegotiates the deal. He does not merely turn up to global events to make friends with other G7 leaders with all the handshakes, pictures and smiles that come out of these summits. He has no problem in standing up to China, Russia, Korea, Canada, any one of the Arab countries or whoever and letting them know that the current trade deals are not good enough for America. He then begins to broker out better deals that are in the interest of American made goods and services leading to more American jobs and a stronger economy. This is what he had promised and indeed a large part of what his job requires him to do. Many global leaders would simply not have the ‘balls’ to take this kind of a stand. He has also put restrictions on American companies to do more business in the US. I doubt they would come back if asked nicely! These are many huge corporations who are flying under the all-American brand, while at the same time, are exploiting cheap labour and incentives in other countries to produce their goods. People are always giving out about the rich getting richer etc. Well here is a case where Trump is forcing them to put their money where their mouth is and bring those manufacturing jobs home to the American economy. Again, ‘balls’, that you won’t see very often in today’s politically correct world of politics. And the proof is there to be seen. US unemployment is down dramatically and economic confidence is celebrating a very successful high.”
What I like about Trump,” she continues (I am actively taking notes now as I’m finding this interaction fascinating) “is that he stands up and takes action regardless of what the socially acceptable picture is like or of any ‘heat’ that may come back on him. He will stand up to other countries and say, what you are doing here is wrong either morally, economically or both and he will take action if necessary. Whether that may be tariffs against China, sanctions against Russia, renegotiating the Iran deal, sitting down with North Korea. And it will always be in the American interest and not necessarily global relations but that is his job, he is not a global president for all of us. He is President for the Americans.”
“What about the wall,” one of her colleague asks (my friend joins me at this stage and we are both listening intently). “Surely you don’t support the wall”? She pauses and replies. “I agree with the ‘idea’ of the wall.” Her friends look baffled. “For all the many different reasons, radical extremists’ groups filled with hatred and evil ideology want to come to the US and murder, harm and cause as much mayhem as possible. Donald Trump did not create this problem, it was there long before his time but he does have to deal with it. These people want to enter the US and murder innocent people so measures must be taken to not only keep them out but to eradicate their organisations completely. I am sure he probably would prefer not to have to build a big expensive wall but these are extreme times and extreme measures must be taken to detect and defeat this major threat to innocent lives. Trump wants to crush this evil before it has a chance to kill thousands and propagate its cause and this is no small feat. It involves decision making which is not for the faint hearted. These decisions may cause an inconvenience to people’s lives and offend civil liberties of others. They can also cause great expense to the government and taxpayer but Trump did not invite ISIS or the cartels to invade their borders and incite all kinds of despicable acts but he does have to resolve these issues. He will even bring troops back from Syria letting the regime know that they now need to look after the security and future of their own people. These troops are needed back home to protect American lives from an equally major threat in their own home cities and on their own borders.”
“The highest levels of border security are unfortunately essential right now,” she explains, “for everyone’s protection. Unlike many of Trump’s predecessors, he ‘walks the walk’. Many won’t thank him for it but he does what needs to be done. Many people who may not publicly admit it but believe this to be true including the many millions of Americans who gave him the job in the first place, and don’t bet against it, but the many millions of Americans who just might give it to him again.”
She stops on that note and there is a silence at the table for what seemed longer than it probably was. Her two colleagues looking a little stunned and speechless at the same time. Then one of them perks up. “You make some good points,” she said. “I guess sometimes we are guilty of not looking at both sides of an argument and possibly focusing too much on the mostly negative populist opinions of the day.” Her other colleague was nodding in agreement and after a moment as they started to get up to go back to work she said, “yes indeed, there are two sides to every Trump!”
As I finally sipped my, by now, cold coffee I wasn’t quite sure what she meant but somehow it kind of summed it up perfectly.