Five Anti-Trump Critiques Liberals Should Drop

On dozens of issues, President Trump deserves criticism. In fact, one of the central challenges of the anti-Trump resistance is that he offers up so many examples of lies, corruption, destructive policies and incompetence that it can be difficult to remain focused on the things that most matter to swing voters who will decide the all-important 2018 elections.

With so much outrageous behavior in the White House, Trump resisters don’t need to overstep. Moreover, overstepping detracts or distracts from more persuasive critiques.

But like the conservative base, the liberal base frequently does overstep with their critiques. Let me count the ways:

Appearance. The President is orange complected, obese and has bizarre hair. We all can see that on our own. Repeating it ad nauseam doesn’t win any converts, distracts from consequential issues, and makes the messengers look petty and small. So just stop.

P.S. The same applies to Trump’s staff. Snarky jokes about the appearance of Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Steven Bannon detract and distract from real issues and make the messengers look like shallow bullies.

Junk. The obsession with presidential phallic matters is wrong on many levels. It’s pure speculation, has absolutely no bearing on his job performance, and makes critics sound like small-minded middle schoolers. Think of it this way: What would liberals think if conservatives constantly commented on some aspect of a Senator Clinton’s genitalia?

Daughter. The fact that Trump says his daughter is beautiful and smart doesn’t mean there’s something creepy going on between them. That’s a leap too far that too many liberals make with absolutely no evidence.  It’s not fair, and it hurts them more than it hurts the President.

Wife. Sorry, but you can’t make conclusions about a marriage based on body language alone, something that is done constantly by Trump critics on social media. Besides, plenty of Presidents with troubled marriages were effective. So move on to more important issues.

Golf. Yes, it’s outrageously hypocritical that the man who constantly criticized President Obama for golfing and vacationing too much golfs and vacations much more than Obama did. But Trump is a failure because he is incompetent, an ultra-conservative and corrupt, not because he isn’t sitting at his desk enough.  So let’s stay focused on making THAT case.

So please, my fellow progressives, continue to criticize President Trump and his shameless Trumpublican enablers. TrumpCare cruelty. Tax handouts to billionaires and corporations. Russiagate. Foreign bribes.  Deficit spending hypocrisy.  A racist, unnecessary wall financed by Americans. Obstruction of justice.  Medicare and Medicaid cuts.  Serial lying.  Climate change idiocy. Gun protection obstruction. The sexual assault admission.  Racist immigration policies.  Childish, dangerous warmongering.  There is a very long list of things that liberals should stress in the 2018 elections.

But these five things should not be among them.

The Wrong Bernexit

So you, like me, voted for Senator Bernie Sanders for President. Now maybe you’re considering switching allegiances to the Libertarian presidential candidate, Governor Gary Johnson?

I respect your decision to shop around and do thoughtful research.  Here’s something to inform your decision.

Gary Johnson Bernie Sanders positions table2

(Source for Sanders positions here.  Source for Johnson positions here.  Source for estimate of Sanders spending increase total here.)

Yes, Governor Johnson would do some very smart and important things, such as scale back the war on drugs and be careful about entering military quagmires. But most of the centerpiece policies championed by Senator Sanders are vehemently opposed by Governor Johnson.

Where is The Vision of “Progress” From Minnesota Progressives?

Can someone please tell me what Governor Mark Dayton, Al Franken and the DFL Legislature plan to do with another term in office?  Because I have no earthly idea.

I know what they have done in the past, and it’s impressive – an improved economy, health care system, and fiscal outlook.

franklin_roosevelt_new_deal_campaign_button-_Google_SearchBut progressives are also supposed to lead the way forward.  The dictionary says a “progressive” is “a person advocating or implementing social reform or new, liberal ideas.”

Where is the “new” part?  Where is the “advocating” part?

It’s entirely possible that I’m not paying close enough attention, because this campaign season is putting me to sleep.  But I can’t discern where these top DFLers propose to take Minnesota.

  • ACHIEVEMENT GAP PROGRESS?  For instance, the education achievement gap is a morally shameful and economically perilous problem.  What specific solutions does the DFL offer that are sufficiently bold to at least narrow that persistent gap?
  • CLIMATE CHANGE PROGRESS?  Climate change is the most urgent problem of our times, and Minnesota remains hopelessly addicted to dirty coal-fired power plants and cars dependent on environmentally destructive fracked petroleum.  I know the DFL supports more renewables and less fossil fuels, but how exactly are they going to realign financial incentives to make that more of a reality, and not just rhetoric.
  • COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY PROGRESS?  College is increasingly important for earning a good living, and increasingly out-of-reach for middle- and lower-income families.  What progressive ideas does the DFL offer to address this important challenge?
  • RETRAINING PROGRESS?  Many unemployed and underemployed workers lack the career skills to thrive in a fast-changing economy.  While increasing the minimum wage and funding job-creating bonding projects are great steps, what specific education and training help does the DFL offer to help those workers adjust to our economy’s new normal?

Does the DFL have a “secret plan” for more progress on any of these issues, like the secret plan President Nixon promised to end the Vietman War?  If so, why is it secret?    I just finished watching the PBS televention series about the Roosevelts, and I was reminded that Teddy, Franklin and Eleanor reaped political rewards by fearlessly advocating for bold solutions to society’s toughest problems.

Again, Minnesota DFLers  have earned reelection.  They have a strong record of paying back schools, implementing reforms that have a record 95% of Minnesotans with health insurance,  improving tax fairness, increasing the minimum wage, passing marriage equality, funding job-creating infrastructure improvements, delivering all-day kindergarten, and balancing the budget on-time, in a fiscally responsible way.  That’s very impressive work, at a time when extreme Tea Party-backed Republicans have offered only mindless obstructionism.

But we live in an impatient “what have you done for me lately” world.    To prevent an electoral setback a few weeks from now, DFLers need to fire up their progressive base enough to get them to vote at higher rates than they typically do in non-presidential year elections.  And in terms of a bold new progressive way forward, Minnesota DFLers haven’t offered much to fire them up.

– Loveland

Note:  This post also was also published by MinnPost.