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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 12/21/20

Greetings and Happy Winter Solstice! Today is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. The days get longer from here on into the Summer! THERE ARE THOSE WHO DISAGREE WITH ME—SHOCKINGLY! I often am asked whether Trump supporters read these Musings and, if so, what they think of my political analysis. Most of their responses can be summed up as “You’re entitled to your opinion; I’m entitled to mine; let’s just agree to disagree.” No one I know seriously disputes the election results, nor do they maintain that there is “widespread voter fraud” or a deep state conspiracy to deny Mr. Trump a second term. None of them cite Trump’s behaviors as laudable. No one I know has argued that his character, demeanor and pronouncements are “presidential” or even civil. They see the dispute as fundamentally unrelated to Mr. Trump and almost entirely related to ideological differences. While the focus of many Trump detractors (myself included) is on the deep flaws of this president and how those flaws manifest themselves in terrible policy, the focus of many educated Trump supporters is focused on the “dangerous policies” of the left. To them, each of them economically secure and not a member of an “at risk” economic, social or ethnic group, it is all about the policies of the left. They perceive the left will:

  • Dismantle capitalism

  • Become beholden to China (curiously, their response to Mr. Trump’s unusual attraction to Russia is to counter with the Democrats being puppets of China, on a basis I don’t understand)

  • Weaken American influence around the world

  • Open up the borders and allow in limitless numbers of immigrants, many of whom are criminals

  • Make healthcare accessible to all at great expense to the economy

  • Cripple America with regulation, particularly as pertains to accessing and distributing energy

When I think about Joe Biden’s career, it is hard for me to see him as the far left leader they perceive him to be. They get there through a rather circuitous route, conflating the views of Ilhan Omar, Louis Farrakhan, and others with the views of those close to Biden (in particular, Kamala Harris) and suggest that he is merely an instrument for implementation of their nefarious plans.


Another thing I get is that, while I claim to want to have bipartisan legislation and compromise, I don’t really mean it. Here is a comment received last week from a friend and lifelong principled Republican:

“I welcome your comments below about finding common ground and respecting different perspectives. However, several of your more recent Musings have been incredibly incendiary towards Trump and by default towards people such as myself who consider themselves Conservatives. Do you recall what you’ve recently written about Trump supporters? Rather than countering many of your claims / attacks about Trump and his supporters which I don’t believe our well supported with facts, I have refrained myself from engaging with you and sharing a different perspective. Given what you’ve said in your Musings it is hard for me to believe, you genuinely believe people from different perspectives should find common ground. Rather, I’m inclined to believe you are trying to tell Republicans / Conservatives why they should abandon their principles and just work with / accept Democratic leadership.”

I would respond to this in several ways, besides the obvious, “it is you who have abandoned your principles.”:

  • This are my Musings and I can say what I choose, even if they appear internally inconsistent

  • That said, I don’t see the inconsistency. I think Mr. Trump is wrong on most things (but not all things).

  • That said, I recognize that compromise needs to be made with people one agrees with; rather, it is made with people one disagrees with. I believe I have been consistent and point to an article I wrote when Mr. Trump was elected, urging him and the left to find areas of common interest and pursue policies that were in our nation’s best interest.

  • I still don’t see how Mr. Trump represents conservative principles at all. He is for reduced taxes and increased spending, creating a gaping national deficit that grows each year. He is for weakening international institutions. He is against trade agreements, which most economists believe essential to healthy economies within those agreements (and also reduce tensions between/among trade partners). He is against being a refuge for immigrants escaping oppression. He is openly and brazenly attacking and diminishing our democratic institutions. He cozies up to dictators around the world, emboldening them and the repression they visit on their populations. His are not conservative values.

  • Trump is part of the “red team.” I get that. But politics is not two dimensional—solely left and right. There also are questions of character and “soft power,” where Mr. Trump is lacking. And there is the “long game” versus impulsive leadership concerned only with this week’s polling—again, a place where Mr. Trump is lacking.

To be clear, I don’t see much room for well-educated, economically well-off friends to support Mr. Trump. Sure, your taxes may go up under Democratic leadership. Sure, Israel may be expected to be pressured slow down the settlements and deal differently with the occupation. And, yes, we may want to constrain corporate bad behaviors, hold police to higher standards, encourage clean energy, and provide a greater social safety net. But even if you disagree with these initiatives, none will destroy our democracy, nor will they erode America’s moral leadership throughout the world. When Mr. Trump was elected, I felt he was sui generis. As he has governed and the Republican party and media personalities have kowtowed to his whims, I now have come to accept that he pollutes weak people who are themselves self-absorbed with their pursuit of power. Pundits and historians will write about when this all began. Some will say it began with the Bork confirmation. Others will suggest it was the Republican “southern strategy.” Others will cite various other events but that hardly matters. What matters is that, whatever the myriad causes, they brought us Mr. Trump—the most dangerous individual to occupy the White House since Andrew Johnson. MORE SIX WORDS OF THANKS As I noted last week, the New York Times asked readers to say thanks at the end of 2020, in six words. Many of these are profound. Some of the responses touched on the tragic and touching, indicative of the troubles, triumphs and losses of others in this year: It’s just a cold, not Covid. My parents did not get it. Ambulance took him. He came home. I held my dying husband’s hand. Held my son as he died. Wasn’t too late to say sorry. Got sober during 2020, stayed sober. Wildfires took much but we survived. Special-needs child, graduated feeding tube. Out of prison with great job. Rediscovering myself by reading the Bible. Tried. Failed. Failed worse. Kept going. Warm regards, Glenn PS: Bradley Mindlin and David Hochman are not the only founding members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Foundation. I left off Nathan Hochman, another founding member!

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