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 Category:  Essay Non-Fiction
  Posted: August 6, 2018      Views: 81

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I need to admire you, before I can respect you. Fortunately, I'm easy to impress,

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Observing from another angle
"America After Trump" by Spiritual Echo

`I've tried to look beyond my (well-earned) disgust at the man currently occupying the oval office and asked myself a difficult question. What if he's right?

In a way, I'm trying to understand the Trump voter who somehow managed to look beyond the flaws and lack of morality, and examine the issues, both promised and the current reality, through their eyes. The 'deplorables', those folks that turned Trump into a  mouth-piece for their own hatred, are on their own. I know who they are.

People generally are single issue voters, and while everyone wanted only the best for their country, their motivation is grounded in problems existing in their lives. And herein lays another question; does the end justify the means?

Trump has overturned and created record-breaking presidential orders in his first year. Who will forget the first, his attempt to keep Muslims out of the US. He signed the executive order on a Friday afternoon, sending airport officials, immigrants in transition and students studying in the US into panic and chaos.

But what of all the regulations he is tossing out the window? Like most countries that are weighted down by rules impeding progress; too many regulstions hinders initiative and investment. In principle, I can totally support the housekeeping. Two things concern me. First and foremost, Trump is taking a perverse pleasure in erasing anything with Obama's signature. Second, he is discarding environmental concerns and laws--all in favor of manufacturers that were polluting the land and rivers for decades. Was Trump's walk away from the Paris Accord a statement of denial about climate change and a disregard for environmental issues?

Last week Trump got it in his head to ease the emission rules in California. Why? Who asked him for this? What influenced this foray to undo what was already working? Car manufacturers were not thrilled, nor were LA citizens who are old enough to remember the severity of the smog. Is Trump paving the way for some yet to be identified international automotive manufacturer that can't meet US requirements?

Prior to free trade discussions that began not so many decades ago, all countries were isolationists with independent manufacturing. Everyone tried to be self-sufficient, and when they needed to import goods or services, they paid a heavy price in the form of tariffs. It was a simple fact of life that gasoline and other essential goods were more expensive in some countries than others. Visionaries saw the benefits of trade based on strengths of global partners. The North Americsan Free Trade Agreememt (NAFTA) is a good example of a trade agreement that worked, and it's one that I have a great deal of experience with in my business life.

When the agreement was implemented, it was supposed to open new markets for all three Americas. What happened was devastating to Canada's manufacturing base. Until the US had free access to our buying offices, our factories had a guaranteed customer base. The US had perfected supplying a population ten times the size and their prices undercut anything domestic factories could offer. It TOTALLY wiped ot a segment of its industries. It ABSOLUTELY forced Csmdiam business owners to cut overhead costs. No one today thinks of Canada as a manufacturing country--for good reason. Manufsacturing shrank--dramatically. However, we are a country of natural resources. And herein lays the US dispute, it missed the mark with our lumber and the metals industry. Today, the US expects Canada to change its business practices with regard to our own resources. Right or wrong, Canada has  a controlled suply chain of agricultural products meant to protect our farmers. The United States wants Canada to change a policy that has been in place for yesrs.

NAFTA is thirty or more years old, and there is no doubt in my mind there are points of contention, but to approach negotiations with a 'my way or else' attitude is to completely ignore a partner's concerns is a terrible miscalculation. America First should not result in a WIN-LOSE deal, but rather a win-win agreement that is a benefit to both parties.

Let me be charitable and attribute Trump's 'bull-in-a-china-shop' approach, and give him credit for moving the NAFTA talks, and that ultimately a good deal will be made. I still question the worth of the hundreds of millions being lost daily because this president subscribes to intimidation as part of 'the art of the deal'. The losses are being absorbed by ordinary people who have been thrown into financial distress because of the 'style' of the POTUS--on both sides of the border. And, as Ryan is known to say, 'let's be clear' America ships billions of dollars MORE into Canada than it imports. The president's claims that Canada is abusing its 'friend' is a good example of his lies (he admits he made up the the trade number) or--to be charitable--how misinformed Trump continues to exhibit.

China is an entirely different story. Cheap Asian labor was discovered by America in the eighties and they ENTHUSIASTICALLY and WILLINGLY chose to transfer their manufacturing to China with not the slightest feeling or remorse for the lost jobs or factories in their own country. Known as the knock-off capitol of the world, there is NOTHING the Chinese can't duplicate. Buyers were more than willing to pay tariffs when the landed product earned more profits in America. Until competitors discovered the same supply chain and prices began to drop for the consumer--ergo the $5 T-shirt people take for granted or the inventory in Dollar Stores.

The Chinese soon caught on, and while still manufacturing for brand names, they changed the design--slightly--and developed secondary lines at a fraction of the cost to sell in the world market. This is a situation ENTIRELY created by America. They went, educated the Chinese and expected to hold factories hostage  with the enormity of the Amrtican consumption.

It is impossible to patent fashion or jewelry, but the tech explosion is certainly worth the anger of violating intellectual property. America invests heavily in research and product development, while the Chinese tear apart every new innovation and reproduce items within days or weeks rather than years. It's what they've done for decades, and should not be a surprise to anyone, let alone Trump ,who had his own clothing brands made in China knows full well.

I don't understand the accusations of currency manipulation. If anyone can explain this, please do. If items were sold in Yen or HK dollars, I get that the exchange rate could be quite different at time of sale verses invoice date, but they're not. All sales are conducted in US dollars.

Aside from the mess of current trade, the international alliances are crumbling by Trump's lack of diplomacy (charitable). Every single world leader accommodated Trump's vanity, flattering, stroking his ego and initiating contact to preserve the relationship between their country and America. Trump has not reciprocated, turning on his allies and embracing his adversaries. His behavior at the G7 and NATO meetings was horrible and his tone and obvious distain epitomized the stereotypical 'ugly American.' There is no charitable way to describe a man's rudeness and lack of grace, and I don't believe most Americans would be proud of his demeanor. His issues might have merit, but it almost seemed he believed the shortfall of defense funding should come to the US in a form of a check--again, an example of his ignorance about post-war (WWll) agreements and NATO financial expenditures.

Though millions of people may ultimately pay a high cost for Trump's domestic policies, the corrosion in trade and international relations may take a very long time to heal. Does it really make a difference if US taxes are reduced, but the cost of products skyrocket?

Who benefits except the very rich? I suppose the coal miners must be grateful, and in the short term, an extra grand in tax relief may have a positive effect. For sure corporate America should be singing Trump's praises, but it is yet to be seen if this trickle-down theory will ever create jobs and have the results promised.

There are shameful aspects to the first eighteen months of this president's term; the most blatant is the separation of children from parents. Trump has created hundreds of orphans whose lives have been changed forever. Reuniting children with deported parents seems like a hopeless cause. Once again, an example of his 'art of the deal'; create chaos and expect others to solve the problem.

The global migration is not just an American problem, but let's be clear (another salute to Paul Ryan), these refugees are leaving their homes because of intolerable conditions, be they the result of natural disasters or war. We need to be mindful that it was our bombs that reduced their countries to rubble, regardless of any righteous intent. In countries where western firepower has not yet arrived, evil dictatorships make normal life impossible. We live on an angry planet. I find it impossible to be angry at refugees who are simply wanting a better life--any life, for surely there's no doubt the 60 million people in transition are not all terrorists.

Instead of looking for solutions, and relying on the collective knowledge of world leaders, Trump continues to look for ways to get out the undesirable and protect America with a wall.

The wall may well be built as a compromise for other legislation Congress may  be desperate to enact, but it won't solve the problem and will act as nothing more than a memorial to Trump's tenure.

Living inside American borders, it may be difficult for the average person to objectively see the future when they are faced with their own issues. There has never been a time in history when people were subjected to a daily onslaught of politics. We shouldn't have to digest this reality show; it's why we vote. Once we have done our duty and exercised our civic responsibility to vote, we should be able to relax, go back to a life of our own design. But, in large part, thanks to modern technology and twitter, it is impossible to escape inclusion in what seems to have become a 24/7 campaign industry, we can't. Loyalties are constantly being tested. Tribalism is growing as the divisiveness is being cheered by adversaries. Ah...we can't even agree on that fact--who is America's enemy?

I believe that Trump is his own worst enemy, tangling up in so many lies it was necessary for Kellyanne Conway to invent a word to describe presidential official statements--alternative facts. If that wasn't enough credibility to pass muster, the press who reported  tothese alternativee facts were deemed the enemy of the people. While many continued to defend a free press as a constitutional right, Trump has chosen to label anything that discredited anything that does not speak about him in a favorable light as fake news. We are repeatedly told to ignore what he says and watch what he does. Am I the only one who has a problem dismissing the president's words?

It is impossible, lest we forget Trump's ongoing bromance with Putin, America examines the relations and documented interference with the election by Russia. From the very beginning of his presidential campaign, he wouldn't utter a single word against Putin while all the while tearing apart other world leaders. Trump's refusal to disclose his tax returns might well reveal financial dealings with Russian banks. In the world of international finance, this is not so unusual. After all, there was a time when Trump could not get financing for his businesses in America. If in doubt, check out who finances and holds a large percentage of the United States debt. Many people might be surprised to find out it is China.

Trump's refusal to disclose any information and furthermore, has questionable distance from his own business while serving as the POTUS, had led to investigations. Was Trump naive? No matter how deeply this information is buries, if found to be true could lead to questions about his motives in courting Putin.

A witch hunt? That's what Trump wants the public to believe, all the while denying the proof of seventeen United States security agencies that have offered and shown Russian interference. He's muddied the waters, trying to divert attention to voter fraud--not the same thing at all. Cornered, he's reluctantly relented and now continues to beat the drop--"no collusion," he bellows out to adoring fans.

Even if there hadn't been any initial malice in his personal financing, his lies and denials, Russians expect a little mutual back rubbing for their investment, a fact everyone in the intelligence organizations knows and understand, even if Trump does not.

Trump had a hard time signing a bi-partisan bill to impose sanctions on Russia. It sat on his desk for more than a week. If, as we've been told to ignore what he says and watch what he does then Trump's reluctance speaks volumes. Ultimately, he had no choice but to impose the new sanctions, and though Putin may have been displeased, he recognizes he is better off with the flawed president than without.

The Mueller probe is essential in protecting the ideals of American democracy. With more than thirty indictments against Trump's people already implemented, it's hardly a witch hunt. At best, Trump may be completely exonerated. The worst scenario would be to uncover that Trump promised and attempted to grant Russia special considerations as part of Trump's interest payments on his loans.

By now, Mueller has Trump's tax returns, and based on the indictments already served, he is leaving absolutely no stone unturned. Every American should be very proud of this investigation, proud of the American way that demands justice for all. If Trump is found totally innocent, America can exhale, knowing their democracy works and no man or woman is above the law. If wrongdoing is discovered, the same collective relief will prevail and faith in the system will be restored.

But it is here where the morality of Trump collides with the honor of serving as America's president. It is not wrong to want change or sit on opposite sides of an aisle. This may be an interesting interlude in American history where Trump's flawed character precipitates healthy change for a country that may have slipped into complacency. No matter how it turns out, provided Trump does not blow us all up in the process, he may make his mark as the man who changed America.


Non-Fiction Writing Contest contest entry

Author Notes
I'm a self-admitted junkie when it comes to political theater, but that doesn't prevent me from forming both an emotional reaction as well as an intellectual curiosity as to the motives of the actors. Trying to look at situations objectively when I vehemently reject a politicians integrity or values is challenging. Long before Trump even considered running for the presidency, I'd formed an opinion about the way this man conducted business and treated trades and minorities.

salute to Paul Ryan...Let's be clear--He overuses this phrase in his speeches and on-camera appearances

Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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