How to talk to your Republican friends about Donald Trump

Donald Trump: If it does not fit, you must quit

There’s no sport in bashing Donald Trump nowadays. At least once a week, and sometimes once per day, Trump does or says something so shocking, insensitive or stupid that we just can’t believe it. The most recent shocker was Trump’s impromptu press conference days after the tragic pro-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that included a terrorist attack, where Trump blamed “many sides,” and said there were “fine people” on the pro-Nazi side. Eventually, we come to expect more such behavior from Trump.

It’s therefore easy for Donald Trump’s critics to bond with one another and trade attacks on Trump. But what if you have friends who are Republicans and Trump supporters? What can you say to them without wrecking the friendship? I have come up with the following statement that just might do the trick, and maybe even make your friends think twice about their support for Trump:

What I have created to say to my Trump supporter friends, when asked what I think of Donald Trump, is the following:

Just because someone is good at one thing doesn’t necessarily make them good at a different thing. For example, someone may be a great doctor, but that doesn’t mean he or she would be a great lawyer. The same idea applies to Donald Trump. Obviously, his background is in business, especially real estate. He ran private companies, where he had no “co-equal branches” to answer to. Likewise, he hosted a reality TV show where he got to make hiring and firing decisions that no one could second-guess. But that doesn’t translate well to being president, where the Constitution sets up three co-equal branches of government. The president doesn’t have a free hand to do whatever he wants. He’s supposed to execute what Congress comes up with. He’s answerable to Congress, the courts, the press, and the people. That must be very constraining for Trump. The job really isn’t a good fit for him.

Notice what this statement accomplishes, especially the last line. It does not say “Trump isn’t fit to be president,” which many of us think is the case. It doesn’t say Trump is lousy at the job, or way in over his head, or anything critical of him, really. Likewise, it doesn’t criticize Trump’s past, including his questionable business record, his racial discrimination or his predatory behavior toward women, even though there’s plenty to criticize. It’s a more neutral statement that starts with something incontrovertible, and remains non-controversial.

Now, for most Democrats, progressives and liberals, this will sound like it concedes too much. Why bend over backwards to be nice to Donald Trump? Why not say how we really feel, that Trump is unfit for the presidency in every way, from his temperament to his intellectual curiosity to his deep insecurities?

The answer is that, as stated up front, the goal here is to be able, if asked, to talk to your Republican friends about Trump, without immediately turning the discussion into a fight, which could even end the friendship. The statement I came up with is likely to accomplish that goal. And it may even get your friends to agree, and to think about getting Trump to resign a job for which he is obviously ill-suited.

Photo by Evan Guest, used under Creative Commons license.

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