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A Letter to Trump Voters

by Ralph Nader

Feb 15, 2020 | Election 2020, Politics

Gage Skidmore

I want to address this note to Trump supporters and others who may be considering voting for him. You are the ones stereotyped by critics as being all alike in your hatreds, resentments, closed minds, prejudices, and fears. While you may hoot and holler at his mass rallies, people like you defy these stereotypes back home where you live, work, and raise your families. When asked, you may call yourselves Republicans, conservatives, or patriots. Yet you want many of the same things in life as neighbors who call themselves liberals or progressives.

Both want clean and fairly counted elections. Both want law enforcement against businesses that cheat, bully, and harm their families, often by directly selling things on television that are bad for their children, bypassing parental authority. They are angry over big business and the superrich not paying their fair share in taxes, even as they can afford to buy politicians. (Who doesn’t object to all the maddening fine print in the credit card agreements, health insurance policies, and pension contracts that deny customers the benefits and services they’ve already paid for?)

Both want their cars recalled when there is a manufacturing defect. Both want safe medicines, clean food, air, water, and a safe, respectful workplace. They expect their taxes to be used to repair and upgrade their community’s roads, schools, drinking water, and public transit systems. Probably many Walmart workers voted for Trump, but that doesn’t mean they think it’s fair for them to be paid a wage they can’t possibly live on while their top boss makes $12,000 an hour plus huge benefits. During his campaign, by the way, Trump, the vastly overpaid failed gambling czar, asserted that American workers were “overpaid.” How do his supporters let him get away with that?

The commercial drive to overcome more important civic and human values doesn’t distinguish between conservatives and liberals, between Republicans and Democrats. They are all fodder for profit. Did you know that every major religion warned its faithful not to give up too much power to the merchant class? More than two thousand years ago, merchants, even then, were running roughshod over civilized values in their quest for profits or riches.

Today they know how to get you in so many ways and to get away with it. Only a democratic society can make these big corporations our servants, not our masters, by subordinating their commercial greed to the supremacy of the law and to civic values that allow people to enjoy freedom, justice, and decent livelihoods.

I’ve always been amazed at the success that so many politicians have with voters just using a few repeated phrases. Is it because they are boldly saying out loud what certain voters have been thinking about unpopular segments of the population, and keeping it to themselves? So someone like a Trump, even as he lavishes tax breaks on corporations, can make the quick sale exploiting real resentments about job losses by blaming them on imports and immigrants.

Many Trump voters blame their labor union leaders as well. Trump may be losing the trade war, with arbitrary tariffs costing us jobs, raising consumer prices, and losing farmer markets, but, hey, at least he’s trying to make sure foreign countries don’t take us to the cleaners. For “five minute voters,” who don’t give themselves a chance to dig deeper, as they do with the details of their sports teams, the key role of U.S. corporations who exited America for those foreign countries with their cheap labor may be missed.

And recall when Trump told them during the campaign that “the drug companies are getting away with murder” and yet has done nothing as president, well hey, at least he is talking about the rip-offs. (Drug companies are laughing as they collect more subsidies and tax breaks from Uncle Sam. Their “pay-or-die” business just got 13 percent more expensive on the average this year.)

Trump scoffs at the climate crisis. All those intensifying heat waves, hurricanes, rising sea levels, tornadoes, floods, droughts, and wildfires are no evidence of massive man-caused climate disruption, which he calls a “hoax.” Whom do you trust—your eyes and the climate scientists, whose warnings have been accurate for years, or the “beautiful, clean coal” booster—Donald Trump?

Presidential behavior, in a modern social media age, can be very contagious. And not just for preteens sassing their parents in ways imitative of Trump’s outlandish behavior or talk. For example, when talking politics with people, if I mention his chronic, pathological lying in tweets and speeches day after day, saying things that just clearly aren’t so, somebody always says, “Well, all politicians lie”—which may well be true. But just as there is a difference between coffee that is hot, boiling, or scalding, a difference in degree can become a deadly difference in kind. Especially when the lies and their false scenarios are stacked and baked by the power and delusions of the president of the United States.

But the price of a Fake President is a continuing betrayal—betrayal of the people who believed and put him in office. When he says the economy is so rosy, and it clearly isn’t for a majority of people having trouble paying their bills even after going into deep debt, they’ve been betrayed. Trump then acts as if there were nothing he can do to provide health care for 80 million people without insurance or underinsured . . . when in reality he is pushing Congress to repeal or reduce critical health insurance benefits for millions of people. You can look it up and see for yourself. Or when he says industrial jobs are coming back and factories are returning, and they have not, his lies hide his broken campaign assurances and evade accountability. And the cycle of betrayal continues . . .

for which his voters pay a big price when the cheering stops. His repeated lies about too many government regulations help his corrupt and conflict-saturated deregulators to sabotage public health and safety. Sure, there is sometimes too much paperwork, just as there are poorly conceived regulations that are sometimes too weak. But overall, for example, aren’t you glad to learn there is less lead in your children’s blood, no more lethal asbestos filling your lungs, and far fewer fatalities, broken bones, or amputations in motor vehicle crashes? Chalk all that up to federal regulatory law enforcement finally saying NO to corporate profits over people’s lives.

Sometimes it’s useful to know a little history about other people, no better than us, who stood up together for justice and got a better living standard across the board. I’m speaking of the people of Western Europe who pulled themselves together after their countries were destroyed during World War II. With their multiparty systems (more choices and voices), their larger and stronger labor unions than we have in the United States, and their many consumer cooperatives, as voters they demanded and received full health care; four weeks or more annual paid vacation; decent pensions, wages, and public transit; tuition-free higher education; paid child care; paid individual and family sick leave; and paid maternity leave.

Today in the United States, nearly 75 years after World War II, which we helped to win, we have scant few of these necessities for all our people. To these Europeans, the logic was simple. They earned their pay, sent their tax payments to the government, and wanted them returned in the form of these necessities that make a more decent life. You don’t find many conservatives in those nations wanting to turn the clock back. The famed conservative British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher kept that country’s national health insurance.

Then there is our northern neighbor, Canada. In the 1960s, while our country was wasting lives and money in Vietnam, the peaceful Canadians were laying the groundwork for full Medicare for All. Soon all the Canadian provinces had a health insurance structure called “single payer” (meaning the government provided universal, high-quality care). Everybody in, nobody out, with free choice of physician or hospital. No nightmarish networks. Lower drug prices. The Canadians cover everyone for half the price per capita that we pay in our gouging, profiteering system that still manages to leave 29 million people uninsured and double that number in underinsured fright.

If you’ve been to Canada, you’ll note they act and look a lot like Americans. But at a certain time in their history, without being absorbed in the quicksand of costly foreign wars, Canadians said, “enough is enough,” and created a very popular health care insurance system that reduced a lot of anxiety, dread, and fear from their quality of life and work. (Again, you can look it up—visit singlepayeraction.org for 25 ways full Medicare improves Canadian livelihoods compared to their counterparts in the United States.)

To get votes in 2016, Trump on the stump repeatedly promised that he would abolish the “disastrous” Obamacare and replace it with “great” health insurance. For two years, with Republican majorities in the House and Senate, he did neither. In fact, he had no replacement plan for Obamacare. Had he persuaded Congress to repeal Obamacare, he would have left 20 million additional people without health insurance. In a sense, he was lucky. There are lots of Trump voters in that group.

Let’s face it, Western Europeans—from Scandinavia to England, France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, and others—had higher expectations for themselves and their political systems than we do. Sure, their politics are fractious; they fight with one another and endure all kinds of shifting coalitions in their parliaments. But eventually they returned to their people a lot for their taxes—decent livelihoods; income security through retirement; paid leisure and sick time; and far less anxiety, fear, and dread than our trapdoor economy allows.

Many Trump voters read about the great labor leader, Eugene Debs, in their high school and college American history books. One day, near the end of his career in the 1920s, a reporter asked an exhausted Debs what was his greatest regret? He looked at the reporter and said, “My greatest regret? . . . My greatest regret is that the American people under their Constitution can have almost anything they want, but it just seems that they don’t want much of anything at all.”

I thought of Debs when I observed the muted reaction from the American people to the $4.7 trillion budget Trump sent to Congress in March 2019. It contained another staggering increase in the already bloated, wasteful, unaudited military budget. But he also wanted, dangerously, to cut Medicaid; food stamps; consumer, environmental health, and safety protections against cancer and other diseases; and Medicare (breaking his campaign promise). And he gave the superrich over a trillion dollars in tax cuts and handed your children the debt. “How Dare He!” did not ring out from all corners of our land.

And whatever happened to Trump’s big plans for repairing and upgrading America’s failing infrastructure or public works? His proposed budget barely even pays lip service to the problem. As a builder of hotels and casinos, he knows his proposal falls short, but he isn’t telling you. Fortunately for the people, the House Democrats declared his budget dead on arrival. The question remains: Whose side is he really on? Clearly not the side that truly loves America and Americans.

He is not on the side of struggling blue-collar workers who are abandoned or mistreated by their bosses. Even when confronted with Trump’s massive fakery, most of his victimized supporters say a version of, “Yes, but”—“but” meaning any excuse to justify their intuitive embrace of him. Trump loyalists may feel bolstered by low unemployment numbers (which actually began their steady descent back in 2010, several years before he came into office), but they overlook stagnant real income, the absence of benefits, and the lack of investment in public works and their communities.

They may be bemused by his antics with Kim Jong Un, the erratic dictator of nuclear-armed North Korea. And they may choose to ignore his transparent commercial ties with Russian crooks and oligarchs. (Don’t believe it? Again, you can look it up!) Why? Perhaps because his reckless behavior doesn’t appear to directly affect their families? They may revel in his intimidating attacks on our free press . . . or applaud when he attacks hardworking immigrants . . . but these are core features of our democracy; they need to be defended and not undermined, especially by the president.

They may see his abhorrent personal behavior with women as distasteful, but then . . . he’s only human, like many men they know. As far as his failed business career, cheating workers, including undocumented ones, customers, creditors, and the IRS—that, to many of his supporters, is Fake News. Besides, to them he is so rich that he can’t be bought (though, still, he refuses to disclose his tax returns, so while we know he has something to hide, we just don’t know what). As for his evangelical voters, they know about his infidelities, his many sins and nonchurchgoing life, and his past support for abortion. They shrug. To them, it’s enough that Trump is vocally championing their values and policies from the biggest bully pulpit in the land.

Finally, they may be what Matt Taibbi, in his new book, Hate, Inc.: Why Today’s Media Makes Us Despise One Another, calls “grudge voters.” One Wisconsin voter told him, “I usually don’t vote, but I’m going Trump because f*** everything.”
Pessimism never won a battle or an election. I am asking you to learn about what Trump has really been up to. I’ve co-authored a book, Fake President, which I hope will (a) better equip those who refuse to reward such a miserable person with cruel policies, (b) perhaps activate some of the 120 million nonvoters—nearly as many as all those who do vote, and (c) encourage betrayed supporters to vote with their heads rather than their fears.

Keep all this in mind, dear Trump supporters. Spend some hours studying the actual words of the presidential candidates and your congressional candidates. Politics is not entertainment. If you like politicians because they say what you think, also question whether they will do what you need.

A president who excites angry voters with racist rants while rewarding his wealthy friends with policies that further enrich them is not a populist, but a phony—the opposite of someone who “tells it like it is.” Did you know that the Trump presidency has brought us the first-ever reduction of life expectancy in the United States, the stagnation of wages, and an avalanche of cancerous particulates in the water and air of our country? Including his coal-country base!

It’s time to persuade a segment of reasoning Trump voters that he is fundamentally a Fake President who can’t be trusted and is destroying the best in America while bringing out the worst. That’s a theory of the case that will sway the jury of voters, if they are registered and informed. For the Fox Corporation isn’t America. We—the progressive majority—are.

With high hopes for our future,

Ralph Nader

A pioneer in consumer advocacy, Ralph Nader was named by Atlantic magazine as one of the 100 most influential figures in American history. Together with Mark Green, the former New York City public advocate, he is co-author of Fake President (Skyhorse Publishing), which aims to raise the bar of what all voters deserve.

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  1. Many of Mr Naders comments were either incorrect or out and out lies. You judge. Im not going down that rabbit hole. Anyone that listens to the news or reads it heard less than a week ago that our life expancy has increased by four years. The first time its done that indecades. Mr Nader take that wet blanket of hate you wrapped your boney old shoulders in, put it in the dryer and be quiet. You arent relevant or believable anymore.

  2. Did not read your nonsense, however, have a question. Why are the minority communities of the 60’s still minority communities when the swamp delegates of politicians have been running them for decades? What have any of you done for your community of minorities?

  3. Than why do people hide in containers on ships, wheel wells on planes, walk hundred of miles,in trunks of cars, thru tunnels, and any way they can to get here, from every country, After you just told all the things that are wrong with America you staid. America is not perfect, there is good and bad, but when Pearl Horbor was attacked and the mainland had no defence ,woman worked and built planes, ration food stamps, us kids collected old newspapers. we all helped and came out of that war becuse we were Amricans.If you work hard here , you can have a home and cars decent life . The best thing we have is to look up at God’s sky and take a deep breath of Freedom. I noticed you srayed.


  5. I’m afraid the average American is too brain-washed by the capitalist’s endgame: drip-fed on a diet of addictive television programming (Netflix etc), impulsive purchasing (Amazon), and politics that play out like soap opera or reality tv show. In a few decades middle America will look like Argentina or Brazil and only the wealthy will prosper.

  6. How heartening your clear headed appeal to the deceived & betrayed, Mr. Nader! Except you didn’t cite specific references & they do not know Donald Trump’s secret teacher, the greatest demagogue who ever lived! His hypnotic method is so effective, you can prove who that dictator was, besides the dozen Trump has openly praised, with envy & admiration for the tyrants & they don’t check. You can prove anything like a smoking gun, but they don’t want to know.

    What is objective truth? It exists outside of the mind on it’s own, where everyone can determine it if we use the best evidence & reason. But re: political choices, many never learn how to find it. They go by ideas that make them feel good, that demagogues are skilled at using.

    How many “republicans” read The Republic of Plato now, his record of Socrates conversations with friends, arguing what the truth of various things is, even with passionate disagreements, but all winning when anyone proved an objective truth by best evidence & reason, by benefiting in common by the knowledge of it?

    How many American “conservatives” know Socrates, the inventor of the republic, who said “I disagree totally with what you are saying, but would defend with my life, your right to say it”?
    They threaten the lives of those who disagree with them now!

    How many American “conservatives” know the Athenian demo-cracy, where Demosthenes described corruptions it is yet as susceptible to as ever? How many know Diogenes, the homeless banker’s son, who said, when asked “What is the most precious thing in the world? said “Free speech!”? Such were the sources of half the ideas the founders of our democratic republic used to design it.

    Alas, what passes for American conservatism these days is that of the Christian right. They deserve credit for half of our values, since the American revolution could only succeed by compromise between liberals like Benjamin Franklin & Thomas Jefferson & Puritans like John Adams, all essential to our desperate cause against the world superpower of the time; Britain.

    By far, most of the founders were Christians, who define truth by faith before reason. That is good to find subjective, internal truth, if you get the basic message of Christ. I love Him too. But most of the USA’s founders read not only the Bible but Greek & Roman classic thinkers & their later followers in Europe, who developed use of evidence & reason to find objective, external truth. Science is based on their work.

    Is Donald Trump a Christian? A Christian lives like one. No Christian can say that of Donald Trump.

    “Donald Trump tells Wendy Williams That He has S.e.x. In Common With Ivanka” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0_axTST2aY

    Now don’t type me. I’m no neoliberal. A true liberal seeks to understand those who disagree with him, a value lost by most
    “liberals” today. I’m no “democrat”. I’m a green, since Ralph Nader
    exposed Dick Cheney & others for letting Saddam Hussein buy WMD tech from American companies. I’m voting for Bernie Sanders, who the DNC ripped off the People’s majority mandate from in 2016.

    Hillary Clinton, the seizure prone, amoral pillhead who would have started a nuclear war with Russia in her 1st year of presidency, her time is past, TG! But now the DNC’s favorite is Joe Biden, another “old boy” of democrat oligarchs, who’s morals smack
    of Pizzagate.

    “Joe Biden jokes about having child’s permission to touch him” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1xnunfpurA

    If you think pizzagate’s a myth, google “podesta art collection” (images tab). Russia was not the source of the emails & instagrams of Hillary Clinton, John Podesta, et al. Russians hacked the Democrat’s network later, at Trump’s brazen request.

    Jullian Assange, now rotting in Belmarsh Prison in London, said
    they came from America, pristine. Kim Schmitz, AKA KimDotCom, claimed credit for transferring them from the main leaker; dem party network admin Seth Rich, murdered among others for attempting to serve justice to the hellish core of the “democrat”
    party; to Wikileaks. Seth Rich sent them to Kim Schmitz, who sent them on to Wikileaks. They are not Russian disinfo, nor doctored by Russians & if every democrat saw them, there would be no democratic party.

    Assange & Schmitz are both fighting extradition to the USA for their heroic acts. Political prisoners don’t exist in a free country, but “democrats”, CIA, NSA & Trump all want them.

    Trump is literally the textbook case of malignant narcissim, the mental illness of Saddam Hussein, who Trump openly praised. A narcissist is incapable of deeply caring about anyone but himself, but Sanders really cares for the little guy Trump bamboozles.

    Is Donald Trump a “very stable genius”? Google “Duty to Warn petition”. Over 40,000 therapists, including those who, if they are not experts, there are none, have signed it, since public info of Donald Trump’s ideas & behavior far exceeds that which most therapists’ diagnoses are based on.

    The Declaration of Independence, mainly written by Thomas
    Jefferson, to sum up his collegues’ sentiments says “We hold
    these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.”

    Objective fairness requires we step back in our minds & judge a person by the same standard as anyone else who says the same words. What you would think of anyone else’s scientific under-standing & honesty who says:

    “I like this stuff. You know my uncle was a great person. He was at MIT. He taught at MIT for, I think, like, a record number of years. He was a great supergenius, Dr. John Trump.”

    “I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I under-stand it,” the president went on. He started talking about his tour of the CDC he’d taken before his talk to the press. “Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president.”


    As for Donald Trump’s secret teacher: Google “after the gold rush 7 takeaways marie brenner vanity fair” (#4).

    Thanks for your piece Ralph Nader. We know some Trump sup-porters are smart & not cynically motivated. You can never tell how many you peel off by appealing to their intelligence with respect.

    • Mark W. Laszlo, I disagree 100% with your outlook on what Donald Trump is doing. I may not like the means by which he says things, but he grew up in a blue collar neighborhood, and he can drive a bulldozer for a full days worth of meaningful work.
      He is speaking in the lingua franca of the common man. He is not of the effette snob class that has entrenched itself within the Washington Beltway.

      If your democratic candidates cannot get non-politicians to run for office, then the party will sink. People do not subscribe to double talk based on the audience the political office holder/candidate has or is running for if they cannot connect to the people on their level. It is harder for a Ph.D to talk to a house painter than for a house painter to talk to a Ph.D.

      Trump hired and fired many people during his administration because they could not get this idea. He also fired them because, since they had been working for the government for so long, they could not talk to people who worked outside of the government sector. Lockheed-Martin may need superior engineers, mathematicians and physicists but the first people they go out and hire are retired Senators, Congressmen, and flag rank officers from the military. Now, you tell me if that is not a entrenched corps of snobs.

  7. Well Ralph, while we are a representative republic, we ARE a democratic society in terms of who we elect to the “merchant class.” We vote every time we open our wallets, and with our wallets, together with our voter registration cards, we collectively STILL hold the majority of the power in the country. Yes…corporate entities exert tremendous control over our reps in Washington, our government bureaucracy, our media, and, through these things, over us. But they largely do so via our acceptance and cooperation…and our blind ignorance. We voluntarily relinquish our power to those who would control us because it is easier to simply accept what we are told, make whatever minor adjustments we need to make and carry on making the same, unthinking purchasing decisions, indulging in daily habits which support those who would control us and ignoring little things like our rights and freedoms guaranteed in our constitution being chiseled away at on a regular basis, and at an accelerated rate during crisis situations.

    Even when we realize that we are being controlled, we STILL are lazy, and tend to pass our personal power and responsibilities over to the government–our ever-growing, tremendously-expensive, non-producing and totally-dependent “protector and provider” which has, in truth, become the favorite tool of those nasty corporate entities to gain control of us. Government intervention, regulation, mandates, subsidies, and legislation, while sold as protective measures to benefit the general population are very often sponsored and lobbied for by corporations seeking a competitive edge and long-term profits, and ultimately result in little benefit to common citizens. They help enrich our representatives, cement the power of those who buy their support, diminish competition and often make life even more difficult for the people.

    This is more than a matter of politics as the self-service in Washington and our other levels of government is evenly-distributed across both sides of the aisle. Ultimately, it is a matter of personal responsibility and attention to every daily decision we make and to who it ultimately benefits. We HAVE to educate ourselves using a variety of sources, we need to make a habit of thinking critically about every advertizement, political speech, news report, and social media post we hear or read.
    We need to look very carefully at every candidate we think about voting for and consider not just their words and demeanor, but also look into their record and consider the long-term effects of their proposed policies rather than simply the immediate personal benefit they might offer.

    Since our government has been thoroughly co-opted, expanding it in size or reach is only expanding the power and reach of those who seek to control us. Our immediate focus should be on reducing the ability of outside interests to gain control, and then to reduce the size of government and, simultaneously, increase our independence and self-sufficiency. A good start would be to replace every representative who has served more than a few terms and elect people with proven integrity who are not seeking careers and also want to limit government.
    Additionally, we need to impose permanent term limits, put strict limits on campaign funding, limit lobbying, increase transparency in government at every level and demand accountability from all who would represent us. A strong third or fourth party would also likely be helpful in distributing power and control.

    The bottom line is, the power always has been in our hands and it has only diminished through our unthinking cooperation and belief in the lies and misrepresentations we are fed on a daily basis. Wake up and question everything!

  8. Well said Mr.Nader. A first class analysis.
    For some reason I am still shocked to see that anyone can support a full bore liar like Trump.
    For some reason i am still shocked that some people stupidly cannot accept the scientific fact that climate change is man made.
    For some reason i am still shocked that some people think Climate change is a hoax when it is the greatest threat to the human race in the history of mankind.
    For some reason I am still shocked that some people think this terribly contagious disease called Covid 19 is a hoax.
    Amazing, just amazing.

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