Toldja So?

Posted: June 5, 2018 by Brian Johnston

Many of my more conservative friends have been waiting for their ‘toldja so’ moment with me. Noting that this is the first time in my life that I didn’t pull the trigger for the GOP Presidential candidate, people who know me well have been racking up talking points for why I should be liking what I see and why I ought to reconsider my vote when the opportunity to re-elect Trump comes in two and a half years.
On the surface there’s much to see and much to talk about. Let’s start with an issue close to my heart—North Korea. So far we’ve seen the release of three prisoners and a photo op of the destruction of the nuclear test facility at Punggye-ri, along with a potential summit coming as soon as June 12th. While these are clearly steps in the right direction and are directly attributable to Trump’s maximum pressure tactics, let’s be clear that so far nothing of substance has happened. While Trump has been the first administration in 35 years to truly move the needle in North Korean diplomacy as indicated by the willingness of our Chinese partners to enact and maintain economic sanctions, until there’s a concrete agreement of some kind, there’s not much of a win here thus far for the US. The North Koreans, however, are already reaping the benefits of a charm offensive that is clearly working, as most people seem to have forgotten about the suffering, starvation, and human rights abuse that all occur at the hands of this brutal regime. While I am genuinely optimistic about the potential to solve these issues, I temper that optimism with skepticism because of history and a lack of confidence in the constant rotation of personnel that comprise the Trump diplomatic team.
One of my friends asked me how I’m liking the boost to my check that has come as a result of the Republican tax cut. Can’t help but think that while I am surely in agreement that middle class America was overdue for a tax cut, I’m not certain that what we got is exactly representative of “The Art of the Deal.” The tax cuts for the middle class are set to expire in 2027, which should result in about one-third of families seeing a tax increase. The corporate tax cuts, however, INCREASE from an already-sick 34 percent in 2019 to a whopping 47 percent in 2027. While tax cuts certainly warm the cockles of my economically-conservative heart, they need to be tempered with fiscal responsibility and I’m not confident that these cuts meet that standard—it feels an awful lot like the failed trickle-down policies of the past. While unemployment is at historically-low levels, wages remain stagnant for the most part, and that’s not what we were sold here. Furthermore, I think America is still woefully underemployed, and if you wonder if that is true or not, pay attention the next time you go through the drive-thru after 7PM. If the person serving you is a senior citizen, you’ve got your answer.
Donald Trump seems hell-bent on starting a trade war, heck, he’s said as much. As I’m no economist, I’m going to defer on this one, because I don’t have a strong enough understanding of the impact of these potential tariffs on a macro level. Perhaps this is posturing to put us into a position of strength for negotiation and restarting manufacturing in America. But when our best allies and trading partners like Canada, Mexico, and the E.U. are screaming bloody murder, I tend to wish to tread lightly.
But none of this really gets to the core of my problems with Donald Trump, which are for the most part personal. I can’t get behind a man that brags about repeating his lies until they become fact. I can’t get behind a man that uses insults and name calling as his primary form of political campaigning. I can’t get behind a man that demands NFL players stand for the national anthem, but then disrespects gold star families and a former prisoner of war who has dedicated his life to serving our nation. I can’t get behind a man who claims such reverence for the military, but sought multiple draft deferments due to bone spurs that sure don’t seem to affect his golf game. I can’t get behind a man who eschews our relationships with our traditional allies for better relations with our adversaries. I can’t get behind a man whose entire campaign was based upon repealing and replacing the Affordable Health Care Act with something better for all Americans and then fails to do so. I can’t get behind a man who gives gun control a ridiculous amount of lip service after each successive mass shooting but is actually only waiting for the news cycle to end. I can’t get behind a man who man who legislates through executive order—especially when he enjoys a Congressional majority. I can’t get behind a man who fires Rex Tillerson, but cannot see why Betsy DeVos and Scott Pruitt have to go. I can’t get behind a man who marginalizes the EPA and throws in with nations like Syria and Nicaragua and away from the international community with the Paris Accord. I can’t get behind a man who conducts diplomacy from Twitter. I can’t get behind Stormy Daniels and ‘grab ‘em by the pussy.’ I can’t get behind a man who undermines our legitimate institutions of journalism simply with a turn of the phrase ‘fake news.’
There are many people who will say that with Donald Trump the ends justify the means. While the pragmatist in me tries to see some truth in a statement like that, the realist in me says that if I must deny everything that I hold dear in order to validate my vote, I’d rather stand tall on the strength of my convictions than to succumb to the lowest common denominator.

Brian Johnston
Author: Brian Johnston

Author, podcaster, optimist, guardian of The Proversation.


  1. North Korea 'Destroys' Punggye-ri?
  2. Analysis of GOP tax cut
  3. Tax Cut and the Deficit
  4. Tariffs on Canada, E.U. and Mexico
  5. More Tariffs on Allies Than China
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1 Comment

  • Allan Newson Reply

    Brian this is a very good piece. I’m a Democrat and I find it unbelievable that the President seems to be out for himself. The press conference after the summit was for a lack of a better word I can’t say anymore but, it starts with a r and with ed. Talking about how after the bombs went away from the beach in N. Korea it wound be a nice place for a high end hotel. Is that the only thing he thinks about, where to build another hotel? Ask Atlantic City how his hotel and casino was there and added jobs, a economic boom. We all know how that ended. He treats the country as a business, when he sees the shithouse is about to go up in flames he pulls out faster than a guy after prom with his date. He sees this country as a cash grab, when he feels the country is about go up in flames, how is he going to leave it like Atlantic City?

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