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THOMPSON: Trump, Republicans and the things they lie about

February 18, 2019 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


Donald Trump made it clear in his June 16, 2015 presidential announcement speech that lies would be the foundation of his campaign. Three-and-a-half years later we know lying is a hallmark of his Administration. Perhaps some people - you know, those who wanted to shake things up in Washington - should have listened more carefully….thought about it more critically.

Trump’s symbolism that day…descending on an escalator in Trump Tower…was prophetic. His campaign would have few high points unless you were a bigot, a hypocrite, a dupe or simply not very smart. The majority of Americans saw his campaign for what it was…a succession of lows…with three-and-a-half million Americans voting for the most disliked woman in politics rather than for the most unfit person to ever run for the office.

But ignorance and Russians were enough on Trump’s side…to win the Electoral College…America’s most un-American thing. We know now that almost everything Trump said - from day one - was a lie meant to stir fear and build hatred.

Trump seized on insecurity that day in Trump Tower. He no doubt thought, there are more white people in America…so why not scare them? And what better scary thing…an invasion of brown people. It started just moments after the escalator descent…with Mexicans.

“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists,” Trump cautioned, adding with a shrug, “And some, I assume, are good people.”

The truth was and remains…most Mexican immigrants - legal or otherwise - are good and decent people. How do we know? Every reputable study since 1990 reached the same conclusion: Native-born residents are much more likely to be convicted of a crime than legal or illegal immigrants.

And the U.S. government’s own statistics prove that legal and illegal immigrants don’t pose the serious threat Trump claims even today. But Trump continues to lie…and his supporters believe him. His anecdotal references to gangs, murderers, rapists and other violent criminals pouring across the border are overblown…way overblown.

Allow me an analogy. I can tell you personal stories of real people who died in traffic accidents while wearing seat belts. Some, in fact, died because the seat belts actually prevented them from escaping vehicles engulfed in flames or sinking beneath a lake’s surface. These were real people…and they really died.

Now, I might be able to convince an ignorant or incurious person that seat belts were dangerous…something you should never buckle and use. And yet, overwhelming evidence proves seat belts save tens of thousands of lives every year. See what I mean?

Trump and his Republican minions will continue to demonize brown people, of course, but America is just 22 months from another presidential election. They need another scary thing to lie about.

That new scary thing is socialism. The less-than-subtle first hint was a report by Trump’s Council of Economic Advisors last October with the foreboding title, “The Opportunity Costs of Socialism.”

Its ominous first sentence informs readers that socialism is rearing its ugly head on this…the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx..the father of Communism! What the 72-page report lacks in scholarship it makes up for in, well, fear mongering…mentioning “socialism” 144 times. Trump in the State of the Union speech a couple weeks ago reinforced the socialism-is-scary-and-Un-American strategy…equating Venezuela’s woes with what would happen in America.  To be clear…there’s a difference between the socialism of a dictator in Venezuela and “democratic socialism”

Republicans - fuelled by a largely ignorant electorate - know what they are doing. You can only scare people so long with the fear of brown people overrunning your country…you need new fears.

The problem with raising the spectre of socialism in America is that it’s just as big a lie as the previous strategy of lying about illegal and legal immigrants making America more dangerous.

Let’s think for a moment about America’s long history of socialism. Oh, yes, socialism has played a major role in America’s democracy and capitalistic society for decades. In fact, it’s as American as apple pie.

Any American who receives Social Security benefits - some 63 million people who get more than one trillion dollars a year - knows socialism…and so do the people who work, file Federal income tax and have dollars deducted from their pay checks. Every working American pays 6.2 percent in Social Security Tax through $128,400 of earnings…a maximum of $7,960.80 annually.

Medicare and Medicaid - also Federal government programs - provide health care insurance to more than 59 million and 75 million Americans, respectively. That, too, is socialism. I guess Americans could turn its back on the 30 million children, 20 million blind and disabled who benefit from these socialist programs…but that seems harsh…Un-American?

Lots of Americans fly…and every time a jet takes off and lands at thousands of airports in the U.S.…it’s Air Traffic Controllers who ensure aircraft don’t crash into each other. They are, of course, among the more than 2 million Federal government workers whose very existence is funded by taxpayers. Not capitalism…socialism.

There are thousands of public schools across America - elementary, middle and high schools - run by elected school boards. The students graduate and often attend public universities. Eleven states have government-operated liquor stores…operations paid by state and local taxes by everyone in those jurisdictions…whether they drink or not.

Thousands of recreation centres across America operate under local government…funded by all and used by some. Ski resorts - visited mostly by the American well-to-do - get electric power from the U.S. Rural Electric Utilities system. Most professional sports teams - baseball, football, basketball, hockey - play in publicly funded arenas and stadiums. That’s all socialism folks.

And how does America fund a health insurance system that every other nation has…how does it ensure the cost of a college education doesn’t cost students more than they can earn…how does it pay for democratic socialist programs?

I’m guessing with the same creativity applied to all its previous socialistic programs - some I’ve mentioned here. More than two-thirds of Americans believe the ultra wealthy in America should pay more…a 70 percent marginal income tax on those earning more than US$10 Million. Given that the 400 richest Americans have a net worth greater than the bottom 150 million Americans, it seems reasonable.

So, when the liar-in-chief in the White House or the Republicans in Congress who lie or enable Donald Trump start up about how scary socialism is…remember, like apple pie, it’s been around a long time and Americans feast on it every day. And if Americans are still scared…no problem. Just send back those Social Security checks, pay cash for those hospital visits, cancel your season tickets, don’t fly any more and send your kids to private schools…you know, be a pure capitalist.

— Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines. His essays are a blend of news reporting and opinion.


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