Since Donald Trump became president, liberals have been…let’s just say... EXTREMELY upset. On the other hand, even as someone who was not a fan of Trump, I have been very happy with his performance. In fact, so far, I don't think anything Trump has done is radical. It's more of a re-balancing towards sanity and common sense.
So, with that disconnect between how conservatives and liberals see things in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to answer questions liberals have for conservatives. So, I asked on Twitter.
John Hawkins @johnhawkinsrwn: “I'm doing a Townhall column where I'll honestly, w/out sarcasm, answer liberal questions to conservatives. Any libs want to ask questions?”
A few people, including Peter Daou, Dave Weigel and Robert Gibson were kind enough to retweet me and I received an enormous number of questions. Although I tend to doubt that liberals will like most of the answers I give, I will at least be polite in my responses and maybe it will do some good. Enjoy!
1) JC ?@JCrock_ Do R's honestly believe voter fraud is a real issue and not just a blatant excuse to suppress min vote. Please provide proof.
I don’t believe Trump is right when he claims he would have won the popular vote if not for illegal aliens voting. However, I do believe voter fraud is an issue. As to evidence, whether you like him or not, I think James O’Keefe has done a phenomenal job of pointing out vulnerabilities in our system that could be used for fraud. Furthermore, the Heritage Foundation has put out a pretty extensive list of voter fraud cases. Then there’s the study from Jesse Richman from Old Dominion University in Virginia that claims as many as 800,000 illegal aliens voted. Is he right? I don’t know, but it does seem like something we should take seriously enough to investigate.
2) Michele Passarelli ?@ShellyPass Why are conservatives anti-progress?
Conservatives love progress. It’s just that what we consider progress and you consider progress are very different. For example, building a wall? That would be progress. Reducing the number of people on welfare? Progress. Revamping our immigration system in order to improve the quality of immigrants we’re getting? Progress. Cutting into the deficit, reducing regulations, lowering taxes? To conservatives, those are steps forward that help the country progress towards a brighter future.
3) Christopher Wensley?@mipolitico If you're a Christian how do you reconcile Good Samaritan/Sermon of the Mount with Trump denying Arab children safe passage?
I am a Christian and I don’t think Trump has gone far enough with refugees. Currently, the number he’s going to allow overall is roughly in line with historical standards. Given that we have a huge deficit and bringing in refugees equates to bringing in people who will be on public assistance long-term, I don’t think that’s a good idea.
Moreover, getting back to the reality of the situation... What’s going on in Syria today is essentially the same thing that happened in Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia and smaller locales around the world. By the time Syria finally fades from the news, we’ll be hearing the same stories from some other country. As a Christian, do I want to see us help these countries? Sure. Should we be sending them food, clothing and other basic necessities? Privately, definitely. Publicly, I’m not as sure, but I won’t complain about us helping someone in need and maybe, in the most extreme of circumstances, even helping out with our military.
However, it’s not our job to bring in the billions of people on the planet who are desperately poor, in a war torn area or just have a horrible life. In fact, if we did do that, all we’d accomplish would be to turn ourselves into another one of those horrible countries. Put another way, our moral obligation to do good and help people does not extend to making them American citizens and handing them a welfare check.
4) mrcz0323 ?@mrcz032308 Why do so many people say Trump isn't racist? Or say they voted for him despite that and feel ok with it?
Of all the flaws that Trump may have, I thought it was particularly odd that this was the one that most liberals seem to have wholeheartedly embraced.
I have criticized Trump for what I thought at the time was a very lackluster attempt to distance himself from some of the crazier Alt-Right types who were worshipping him, but since then, he has denounced them in strong terms.
So, with that said, I don’t even know anything off the top of my head that he’s said or done that would make me think he’s racist. He’s certainly expressed doubts about Muslims, but they’re not a race. Wanting to put an end to illegal immigration certainly isn’t racist. If anything, he’s reached out to black Americans more than previous GOP nominees.
Respectfully, I think people tend to see what they expect to see in the political opposition. Whoever the next Democratic nominee is, Republicans will be worried about them taking our guns, raising taxes and expanding government and liberals will worry that whoever comes after Trump is racist, hates the poor and wants to kill Social Security. That’s just a feature of American politics.
5) blue in a red state ?@thewaybyelle Doesn't the president alarm you? What do you think about mass resignations & attempts to silence agencies?
Conservatives have a different view of these bureaucracies. I LOVE the mass resignations and as to silencing agencies, they’re not independent of the president. He should have the right to staff them with people who share his views, dramatically reduce their numbers and make sure they’re not undermining his agenda. If anything, other Republican presidents have been far too reluctant to make major changes in these agencies and it’s good to see Trump making some changes.
6) Noah Wasserman?@nmwass How do conservatives square a pro-life abortion policy with persistent attacks against the welfare state?
To start with, I think it’s morally wrong to kill a child and I can’t in good conscience ever be okay with that except under the direst of circumstances (danger to the mother’s life and more reluctantly, rape and incest). So then the question becomes, if I think that way, how do I not support the state taking care of a mother who can’t afford her child? Not every conservative would say this, but I do believe welfare, food stamps, etc should exist.
That being said, public assistance should be a short-term measure given to people in dire straits. I think if it actually fit that definition, you’d seldom ever hear conservatives talk about it. However, conservatives believe the system is being exploited by people who want to turn what should be a temporary measure into something long-term.
Not only is that bad for taxpayers whose charity is being abused, it’s bad for the people who stay on public assistance over long periods of time. I’ve actually had conservatives ask me if I think it's okay for them to take public assistance. I’ve always told them I thought it was fine as long as it was a temporary measure and they felt embarrassed by having to do it. At least if they think that way, it means their heads are in the right place about taking money that someone else worked to earn.
7) Privately Worrying ?@derivativeburke If conservatives believed in the marketplace of ideas, and observed voter fraud is low, wouldn’t they want everyone to vote?
A lot of conservatives look at it differently. Should we want people who are getting government assistance to vote? Should we want people who’ve committed felonies to vote? Should we want people who don’t know which party Joe Biden belongs to voting? Should we want people to vote who pick the candidate they support based on which one is taller? If anything, the country would probably be better off if we had a smaller group of voters who were more informed and more invested in the country, voting. So, it’s a different way of looking at things.
8) Sandycpf ?@Framerchick Why are they so against an investigation into Russian ties with Donald Trump?
I don’t think conservatives are against an investigation into Russia, per se. Donald Trump is probably against it because he’s trying to thaw relations with Russia and doesn’t back an investigation that may be used as a tool to undermine his legitimacy. In any case, there are going to be investigations. There should be. If Russia was attempting to interfere in our elections, that’s not okay and there should be consequences for that. All that being said, after our intelligence agencies so badly botched the WMDs in Iraq issue (“Slam Dunk”), I think people have a right to be a little skeptical until we get more information.
9) Political Troll ?@polititrolls What is up with the obsession some conservatives have with cuckoldry?
That’s a weird cultural thing that has become popular with the Alt-Right. If you see someone calling someone else a “cuck,” there’s about a 90% chance that you’ll find something on their timeline praising Hitler or freaking out about Jews. Online, it may seem like a lot of people, but they seem to be a small group of people in the real world.
10) Bae Talese ?@elongreen Why don't conservatives seem to give a damn about climate change?
Pete Sikora ?@PeteSikora1 Why are conservatives so into climate denial when their future is also at stake?
Put simply, we’re dubious of the evidence that says it’s occurring and believe much of it is driven by government grants, as opposed to real science. Moreover, many of the plans to fix it seem incredibly expensive, inconvenient or unworkable. Personally, I think we should certainly keep investigating global warming, but it would take much stronger scientific evidence to convince me that it was a problem we need to make major changes to address.
11) dorkasaurus_rex?@dorkasaurus_rex Would love to. What is the conservative view of Trump's infrastructure plan? Good, bad, socialism?
Personally, I think Keynesian economic stimulus has proven to be ineffective time and time again and I don’t think it’ll magically work just because Trump happens to be president. I’m guessing a large number of conservatives feel that way. Unfortunately, stimulus plans do tend to be politically popular and both parties exert a lot of pressure on members of Congress to back major initiatives of the president. So, it may pass – maybe even with major Democratic help, since they tend to be fans of stimulus spending, but it probably won’t accomplish much other than adding to the debt at the end of the day.
12) requiem ?@awrichner Where is the line for you? what action could Trump take that would ensure you'd fight against him and his supporters?
G$ Climate Sci ?@ClimEducator_BG Where is your red line? What won't you sign off on?
Patrick Fessenbecker ?@pfessenbecker I’ll bite. What would have to happen to make meaningful conservative opposition to Trump occur?
The final straw that convinced me that I needed to write in Ted Cruz instead of voting for Trump was his public statement saying that we should kill the families of terrorists followed up by him promising that no soldier was going to be allowed to disobey his direct order to do that. In retrospect, that was probably just Trump saying something that he thought made him sound tough followed up with him lashing out in generalized annoyance after he was attacked.
So, that would be a bridge too far for me. Trump is just as bound by the Constitution as any other president and IF he does something that I believe goes outside of that, I think many of us will oppose that policy.
13) Ignatz ?? ?? ?@iggy_uffda Do you still believe Trump's business conflicts won't be a problem after seeing the countries included/excluded in the ban?
So, two separate issues. First of all, I know a lot of people have noted that Trump has done no business with the nations that are facing extreme vetting. On the other hand, as my friend Ed Morrissey has noted, the group of nations he picked make perfect sense, “Again: 6 of the 7 are failed or marginal states where Islamist terror networks hold ground. Other is Iran, largest state sponsor of terror.”
As to Trump’s business conflicts, I do think they’re a problem. After all, even if he’s having his kids run his businesses, the companies still have his name on them. Would it be easy to see big spenders pumping money into his business ventures in hopes of potentially gaining favor with Trump? Absolutely.
On the other hand, even as someone who didn’t support Trump, I have to admit that asking Trump to sell his entire business empire, especially when a great deal of the value is tied to his name, doesn’t necessarily seem reasonable. Additionally, Trump has apparently done all of what he promised to do on the campaign trail which was let his kids take over. It’s not a perfect solution, but I don’t know that there is one.
14) JC ?@JCrock_ Free press is fundamental to democracy. So why do R's only trust media that flatters current admin much like state run media?
A free press is fundamental to our republic. Unfortunately, we live in a world where almost every outlet has chosen sides. They hire people who agree with them ideologically and they choose what stories they run or bury based on which side it impacts.
Some of them have different approaches, but at the end of the day Right Wing News =’s Breitbart =’s Townhall and CNN =’s the Washington Post =’s the Huffington Post. When conservatives didn’t feel like they were getting fair treatment from liberal outfits, they moved on to conservative ones, while liberals were content to get their news from people who largely agreed with them. So, I guess you could say it’s more like there are TWO state run Medias out there servicing different halves of the population.
15) Matt Needham ?@MattNeedham91 Why should we allow Bannon to wield power & influence?
There were a lot of questions about Steve Bannon, so it seems appropriate that I discuss him even though it’s hard to give you a good answer. The reason I say that is that there are a couple of people that I like and respect (Ben Shapiro & Dana Loesch) who believe, with some justification as far as I can tell, that he’s not a great guy. On the other hand, I also have friends at Breitbart who’ve worked with him who say he’s a terrific person. So, on a personal level, it’s hard for me to know what to think. On the other hand, I do know Bannon was extremely successful at Breitbartand apparently, he was an integral part of the team that got Trump elected when almost everyone except true believers thought he was going down in a heap. So, for now, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.
PS: I think his notorious statement about making Breitbart “the platform of the Alt-Right” was probably a poorly thought out bit of pandering. In the real world, Breitbart is not a racist publication or an “Alt-Right website” in any meaningful sense. So, I don’t know what’s in Steve Bannon’s heart, but I haven’t seen any evidence that convinces me that he’s a racist, much less a “white nationalist.”
16) Bill Pieper ?@WilliamPieper How can a conservative square the funding request for the wall with past demands that spending be offset elsewhere?
The majority of the federal government’s spending today is on things it shouldn’t be doing anyway. On the other hand, the first duties of the government should be protecting us from foreign invaders, securing our border and establishing order. Building a fence is an important part of that. Additionally, if Congress cooperates, it is actually possible to make Mexico pay for the wall via taxing remittances and holding back aid. Many people think that’s just an applause line, but it doesn’t have to be. Last but not least, the centerpiece of Trump’s agenda was promising to build a wall. That produces an enormous amount of pressure on Republicans to support it regardless of how it’s paid for.
No, because I don’t think income inequality is a particularly meaningful barometer of fairness or economic health.
How does Bill Gates or Warren Buffet having nearly infinite money make my life or yours worse? It doesn’t. If anything, the amount of taxes they’re paying and jobs they’re creating are good for the country as a whole. Would we be better off if they didn’t exist or were taxed into oblivion so the money could be redistributed? I don’t think so. We’re better off having them out there doing what they’re doing and thus, inspiring other people to try to match their level of success.
I grew up hearing stories from a father who lived through the Depression. You know, soda pop and peanut butter was a luxury, couldn’t afford haircuts, etc. Without question, things have improved across the board for Americans today. Quite a lot actually,
Between 1969 and 2007, incomes for Americans in the bottom fifth of the income distribution rose by 46%, compared with a 63% increase for Americans in the middle fifth.
18) Delll ?@DelDink1 Why do conservatives assume that Black people's views on society are a result of brainwashing by the left rather than by our own experience?
I think because a lot of what we hear said doesn’t square with our experiences. I grew up in the Deep South, saw almost no racism publicly and heard very little privately. When I did hear it, it mostly came from really old guys who came of age in a different era. Racists definitely exist. Let me repeat that; racists definitely exist. Are they a common thing or are they largely pathetic Cletuses along with a few pseudo-intellectuals and some doddering old guys who can’t get their heads out of the fifties? For the most part, I think it’s the latter.
Additionally, almost every conservative alive now has experience with being called a racist for no good reason. When you don’t bear any ill will towards any race and you’re constantly being accused of it on the flimsiest of grounds, you start to believe there’s some going on other than people just recognizing reality.
19) John Hare ?@johnahare Is there any point at which the electoral college/popular vote split would become a concern?
Whichever way you go, there are issues. The Electoral College was intended to force candidates to spend time in small states and it does this very well. I also believe it’s probably a better system overall than going the popular vote route.
For one thing, going by the popular vote would cause the candidates to spend most of their time in states like California, Texas, New York and Florida. Additionally, can you imagine the nightmare that would have ensued in the 2000 election between Gore and Bush if that election were decided by the national popular vote? You could have had lawsuits in every state and it may have taken months to hash it all out.
Additionally, keep in mind that the popular vote has only diverged from the Electoral College 4 times in history. Moreover, many liberals may assume that Gore and Clinton would have been elected if the popular vote were the deciding factor, but that’s not necessarily true. Keep in mind that the type of campaign run by the Republican in those elections would have been entirely different if the popular vote were the deciding factor.
Last but not least, if and when the Democrats take Texas in a presidential election, you will immediately see both sides flip on whether the popular vote should be the deciding factor.
20) Chris ?@howlingchris Why are you more comfortable with banning foreigners than banning assault weapons?
First, we have a Second Amendment that guarantees us the right to own firearms. Getting beyond that to assault weapons in particular, they have a bad rap but the numbers don’t match the hype. You don’t have to believe me because even the New York Times admits that it’s true.
The law that barred the sale of assault weapons from 1994 to 2004 made little difference.
It turns out that big, scary military rifles don’t kill the vast majority of the 11,000 Americans murdered with guns each year. Little handguns do.
In 2012, only 322 people were murdered with any kind of rifle, F.B.I. data shows.
As to foreigners, like many conservatives, I believe that whether we allow someone to come into the United States is entirely dependent on whether it benefits us or not. So tourists, diplomats? Sure. Immigrants who come to the United States, embrace our country and add to the tax base? Yes. Immigrants who come here and take advantage of our welfare system? No. Illegal immigrants? No. People who are probably fine on the whole, but are much more likely than average to have a few terrorists in their ranks? At a minimum, they need more vetting. Again, the whole point of allowing someone to come to this country should be to benefit the people who already live here.