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Is Trump the Answer? It Depends Upon the Question

I am puzzled by the attraction of Donald Trump.

I understand that there is a huge population who thinks they have been abandoned by their country. The jobs they used to have are gone. Washington has been in paralysis for years. People believe our politicians seem focused entirely on re-election. “To hell with the country, I need to keep my job as (choose one) senator, member of Congress, governor etc.”

I think that view is harsh, at least regarding some elected officials. Governor John Kasich of Ohio is one who puts his country first. So does Senator Sherrod Brown, also of Ohio. There are a number of others, but as recent history has shown, we are also cursed with far too many politicians who put re-election and/or political dogma far ahead of the welfare of the nation. There is absolutely no excuse for Senator McConnell to block even the consideration of President Obama’s choice of the highly qualified Court of Appeal judge for elevation to the Supreme Court. Maybe he is not a good choice. Maybe he is a total disaster. We will never know because the Republican Majority in the Senate has blocked any consideration of his appointment ONLY because he was nominated by President Obama. So we are left with a Supreme Court that is, on many issues, paralyzed because McConnell and company will not consider ANYONE nominated by Obama. That is a lousy way to run a railroad.

We can agree there is a problem. But we still have to ask ourselves if Donald Trump is the answer. Is Trump likely to make it better? To do that, let’s look at some of the things about Mr. Trump that are simply not controversial.

The wall

Trump says he is going to build a wall on the boarder between the United States and Mexico and make Mexico pay for it. He has said nothing about how he would do any of that or when we could expect completion. That border is nearly exactly 2000 miles long. That is 600 miles longer than I-5 between Canada and Mexico. How long will it take to get the rights-of-way? We can’t just build it without rights of way unless we want to tear up our Constitution for a wall. I would bet the government owns some of the rights of way, but I have no idea how much. Donald doesn’t know either, and he doesn’t care.

What about engineering? Engineering for something like this is going to be a series of huge projects. You can’t compare this to going to the moon because that involved a single, very complex engineering project. This wall, to be effective, has to be tall enough to make it tough to get over with footings that go deep enough to discourage tunnels. It also has to withstand hurricanes, tornadoes and the like over all kinds of terrain and in all kinds of soil. That means thousands of engineering projects. If Trump were to serve two terms, there is no way his wall would be completed, or maybe even started, until decades after he left office. Trump is a strange guy, but he has to understand these things.

Concern for the middle and working classes

Trump claims he is the champion of the middle and working classes. There is no evidence to support that. (Please forgive a bias from my profession. I need evidence to accept statements of claimed fact). In fact, the evidence is to the contrary. Whatever Trump was selling, if he could get it made cheaper overseas, he jumped right on it. He would argue that is “just good business”. Doesn’t that sound a lot like those politicians who only care about re-election, not the country? “Just good politics” is not that different from “just good business”.

But the issue I find most troubling has to do with Trump’s treatment of a lot of small businesses, individual workers and anyone else he felt he could crush because of their disparity of economic resources. He just doesn’t pay them and hires lawyers to break them. He says it is simply good business because they did shoddy work, and one should not pay for shoddy work. That is how it should be, he claims.

I could agree with that if there was any evidence that he spent a dime getting the shoddy work repaired or replaced. Some of the people he stiffed provided services as waiters, janitors, even lawyers. It might be hard to show where they were inadequate. But many others were people who supplied materials or fixtures, and the fairness of his actions is easy to judge, using this simple thought:

Mr. Trump, if their work was so bad that you were justified in rejecting or reducing their bill, where is the bill from the people you hired to repair or replace what the people you are stiffing did? If you did not have to repair or replace their work, but are using it, how do you justify not paying as agreed? Their work belongs to them until you pay for it. If it can be used by you without repair, and you do use it without paying, aren’t you stealing their work? It is pretty simple, Mr. Trump: If it is good enough for you to use, it is good enough for you to pay for. If you are honest.