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Updated: My emails to a Trump supporter who made case Trump is best solution to problem of inequality

Followed by a sample of tweets I received that I had sent him as an example of his fellow-travellers. Scroll all the way down.

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  1. Message 1
  2. Dear [REDACTED],

    This is not the usual case of every candidate having extreme supporters. Over the last twenty years in this country we have witnessed the growth of genuine ethno-nationalist politics on the order of the National Front in France. (See  https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/birthers-trumpists-and-a-crisis-for-the-gop/2015/09/04/3b3e2074-5308-11e5-8c19-0b6825aa4a3a_story.html ). Trump has been committed to the ethno-nationalist paradigm for some time now. It is not clear precisely how he would move it forward in the presidency, but that is his single most consistent commitment. Add to that the temperament of a bully who disregards basic rights and you have a recipe for quite dangerous outcomes. I am not a supporter of Sanders, though you are right to compare him and Trump. Yes, in some sense, they have both got the right diagnosis. But where Sanders offers socialism, Trump offers ethno-nationalist protectionism ( https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/americas-seismic-division-on-race/2016/01/08/48a14f66-b61d-11e5-a842-0feb51d1d124_story.html ).

    I also agree with your diagnoses about inequality ( https://www.foreignaffairs.com/authors/danielle-allen ). But I could not disagree more with your solution. My own preferred candidate never did very well but here was my view:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ts-time-to-take-a-serious-look-at-martin-omalley/2016/01/27/1cf1f040-c465-11e5-a4aa-f25866ba0dc6_story.html .

    There are two pieces of work that need to be done: we need to hold the republic together, as a republic, including with a set of unimpeachable commitments to basic rights, constitutional proceduralism, and legality. And, yes, we need to address inequality. But if you give up the republic, as you are proposing doing, you will never be able to solve the issues of inequality over the long term.

    While neither Clinton nor Rubio is the best possible candidate, I believe that each of them, in contrast to Trump, will actually preserve the republic long enough for us (all of us, not just the politicians) to work toward long-lasting, durable solutions to the problem of inequality.

    I would, finally, enjoin you to re-read the Declaration of Independence. Re-read the Constitution. Re-read, above all, the Federalist Papers. Re-read Chernow’s biography of Washington. Have a look, if you have the time, at my own book on the Declaration (called Our Declaration). Consider what those texts can teach us about the relationship between leadership and the sustainability of republican forms of self-government. I truly believe that this is what is now at stake.

    Yours sincerely,

    Danielle
  3. Message 2 Dear [REDACTED],

    I agree with the need for serious alterations in our policy landscape. I agree in using legal and peaceful means, our right to vote, to achieve those. The entire point of my op ed was that people should use legal and peaceful means, their right to vote, which is by no means constrained by pre-existing party affiliations, to achieve good outcomes for our polity. Where you and I disagree is on Trump’s fitness to achieve good outcomes for our polity and on his aims. With regard to fitness, there are two inter-related issues: character and commitment to constitutionalism. Trump routinely displays failings on both sides. With regard to character, here is a good standard, from George Washington:  http://www.foundationsmag.com/civility.html  . The question of character is tied to constitutionalism because the rules of the constitution are, at the end of the day, formal versions of the commitments of character that are necessary to sustain democracy. The two—character and constitutionalism-- go hand in hand. With regard to Trump’s aims, he is not committed to tackling inequality for all, but only to making some better off, including, consistently, himself.

    Did you by any chance watch the South Carolina debate ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Un3OhYs-tCE )? When Trump shouts over Jeb Bush, he is literally stealing Bush’s right of freedom of speech. He is not exemplifying free speech but stealing that right from someone else. Free-speech requires turn-taking in public fora; otherwise it is a nonsensical idea. This small moment in the South Carolina debate is powerfully revealing of how much respect Trump has for the rights of other people.

    All best,
    Danielle

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