As we watch the Trump Administration unfold, we all have to make some choices about how we react to different things. I wrote earlier about how reacting to every tweet would soon render differences indistinguishable. I know for many it is hard to ignore some of the more unusual appointments and comments emanating from Trump Tower. It is useful, however, to recognize what is happening.
Every tweet is sent to the many fans of the President-elect. When these tweets produce the predictable outrage from members of the media or others that Trump supporters do not trust, that merely confirms in the minds of many that Trump is doing what he said he would regardless of the substance of his tweet or action. The best examples are Carrier deal in Indiana where he claimed to have saved 1,100 jobs with a promise to cut regulations and his call for flag burners to lose their citizenship and be sent to prison.
Everyone would like to think that manufacturing jobs will remain here now that we have a pro-business anti-regulatory President-elect with a Republican Congress that is the same. These 850 jobs (not 1,100) were saved for only two reasons: First, the citizens of Indiana will give the company $7 million dollars over the next ten years; second, when the President-elect calls and your parent company has several billion dollars in government contracts, there is a tendency to be cooperative. Absent the payment (which Sarah Palin derided as “crony capitalism”) and other contracts, it is doubtful that the result would have been the same.
As to the flag burners, there is a visceral dislike aimed at people who do this. However, no one is going to lose their citizenship over it nor is anyone going to go to jail for doing it. The statement by Trump reflected an emotional reaction in which normally President-elects do not indulge. But by now we know that this is definitely not a “normal” President-elect.
It seems to me that the most effective way of reacting is to point out where he is factually incorrect. Similarly, when he is foolish, point out why he is foolish. Further, we should avoid characterizing his supporters as fools or dupes because we wouldn’t find that description of ourselves appealing. Because he does not use words carefully is not license for any of us to do the same.
In short, let’s try and keep the discussion elevated at a level that we can be proud of. Getting down in the dirt won’t help and won’t work. He is better at it than anybody else. As has been noted elsewhere, never wrestle in the mud with a pig. You just get dirty and the pig likes it.