This week’s column by Tom Cardella is a continuation of last week‘s.
19-Q-Why do you question whether the president and his supporters are true conservatives?
A-Don’t take my word for it. There’s a reason the conservative NATIONAL REVIEW devoted an entire issue to why they hate Trump. Just about all the leading conservatives — George Will, David Frum, Bill Kristol, Max Boot and many others have been more outspoken than liberals in denouncing Trump. Their main grievance is that Trump has greatly expanded the role of the presidency. They’re joined by other critics who believe that much of the expansion has been done illegally. He’s abandoned any semblance of free trade with his tariff policies. He’s sucked up to Putin and Kim. And as far as his moral values, he’s the antithesis of Ronald Reagan and much closer to Bill Clinton.
20-Q-How difficult will it be to recover from the Trump presidency?
A-He’s made America much more ideological. That won’t disappear quickly when he’s gone.
21-Q-But we’ve always had liberals and conservatives battling for America’s mind and soul, have we not?
A-Not in this way. Liberals and conservatives used to honor the same core values. They just thought we could achieve it in different ways. Most Americans themselves were never wedded to any particular ideology. Our greatest strength was our pragmatism.
22-Q-And that “pragmatism” is gone now?
A-Pretty much so. Some observers use different words to describe what has happened to us. We’ve joined “tribes” or “teams.” Core values have disappeared. Everything is ideological now. You’d think that you could get a consensus that Putin is our enemy, especially after Russia hacked our elections. Instead, how you feel about Putin is determined by whether or not you support Trump. In fact, this president has been given the power to define what is fact and what is fake.
23-Q-Let’s take some specific issues to test your theory. Border security?
A-Just about all of us believe in border security, although some of the Democratic candidates for president might not always sound like it. But border security would normally be a logistical problem to be worked out, but instead it’s another example of Americans deciding where they stand that’s based on whether they support the president.
24-Q-You mean whether or not we need to build a wall?
A-Yes, and how we should treat the migrant families seeking asylum. Building a wall has become an emotional issue, not a technological issue. Whether we should even have to provide toothbrushes and soap to detained kids, let alone why they are there in the first place, has shamefully become another test of loyalty to Trump’s ideology. Ideology comforts some people when the truth does not.
25-Q-Some would say that the president is non-ideological. Isn’t that the beef those conservatives you named have with him?
A-To believe that Trump has no ideology is to misunderstand him. Trump’s ideology is there for all of us to see. Power for power’s sake. Profiting from that power because what’s good for Trump is good for America. A raw form of nationalism, which racists find welcoming. An ideology does not need a knowledge of economics or Karl Marx or Adam Smith.
26-Q-Moments ago, in discussing border security, you seemed to slam the Democratic presidential candidates?
A-During the first debate, all the media attention went to Kamala Harris pressing Joe Biden on his previous votes against busing. But equally important was the moment when Julian Castro called for decriminalizing illegal border crossings and for providing undocumented immigrants with free medical care. All the candidates, except Biden, raised their hands in support of that policy.
27-Q-Was that a mistake?
A-It was a terrible strategic mistake. Although all of the candidates paid lip service to the need for the United States to control its own borders, the message sent was we’re the party in favor of open borders. That moment will wind up being an albatross around the neck of the eventual nominee who runs against Trump.
28-Q-What were you trying to accomplish with your column SAVE US FROM THE TRUE BELIEVERS?
A-The abortion issue is tearing this country apart. I was trying to find a compromise that we, as a diverse country, could live with. I was mistaken.
A-It’s too late. The screamers on both sides have effectively drowned out the rest of us. The polls have consistently shown that most Americans want such a compromise, but just as with gun control, we’ve allowed the extremists to control the debate.
30-Q-You mentioned “gun control.” Why is it, after all the mass shootings, we’re still not able to enact meaningful gun control legislation?
A-Partly, because of the gun lobby. Partly because, despite the hue and cry the rest of us raise every time there’s a mass shooting, our minds turn to other issues. The real passion is on the pro-gun side. If you’re a gun owner and you’re convinced that the other side is going to take away your guns, you’ll fight any sensible gun control legislation and always will. Gun control advocates have failed to convince gun owners that ANY step involving gun control is NOT the first step toward confiscating ALL guns. I’m not hopeful of any reform happening soon.
31-Q-Where do you stand on Medicare For All?
A-I’m for choice whenever possible…A woman’s right to choose…a parent’s right to choose the right school for their kids…and an American’s right to choose whether to keep their own healthcare plan or choose a public option.
32-Q-What’s the one thing America needs the most today?
A-A sense of humor.
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