Beinstein column: The virtues of President Trump
I, like many Americans, have been exceptionally critical of President Trump. And with our First Amendment rights, dissent and free expression should always be encouraged in a country like ours. Nevertheless, after reading several books on Donald Trump, some of which were very critical, I was surprised to learn about all the good to him.
Trump is often accused of being a racist. And yet when he attended New York Military Academy, do you know he was outraged when he heard people use the N-word?
Trump, they claim, has no understanding of what it’s like to be a minority. And yet when his grandfather started to build a life for himself in America in the early 20th century, he faced all kinds of discrimination. Why? Because of World War I, people with a German heritage were often harassed and accused of not being loyal — job prospects became very difficult. In fact, it is why the Trump family said they were Swedish; it was to avoid the stigma of being German.
Donald Trump is supposed to be an egomaniac who has no understanding of his own limitations. And yet in his book “Think Big,” he says that under no conditions could he have succeeded as a tech entrepreneur like Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos. He said this is because he neither has the requisite computer intelligence to do tech well nor the passion to really be great at it.
Donald Trump supposedly cares only about money and other rich people. And yet everything out of Washington is that he insists this tax cut be primarily designed to help middle-income earners, not the wealthiest among us.
Donald Trump is attacked for being an Ivy League elitist. And yet behind closed doors, he does not even think his Wharton degree from the University of Pennsylvania amounts to much. In fact, in “Think Big,” he cites many people without a fancy education who have done much better in life than his former Wharton colleagues did with an Ivy League degree to boast about.
Donald Trump’s understanding of the Bible has often been mocked. His critics like to harp on a favorite Bible quote of his that evidently does not exist, “never bend to envy.”
And yet the concept of not bending to envy was, in the eyes of John Adams, one of the most critical aspects of America if it were to succeed. In his famous essay “A Defense of the Constitutions of the Government of the United States of America,” Adams wrote, “If ‘Thou shall not covet’ and ‘Thou shall not steal’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.” And in the dictionary, the word covet is synonymous with the word envy, so really, all Trump was insisting upon is that we observe one of our most sacred Ten Commandments.
I could go on and on about all of these different examples that contradict the caricature of Trump that is regularly drawn in our media. But the most interesting thing about Donald Trump is the extent to which he resembles another great Republican president, Ronald Reagan.
Reagan, with an Irish Catholic father, also understood what it was like to be a minority. Reagan, like Trump, believed in a very strong military but a military that should only be used under the most trying of circumstances; that is how he ended the Cold War without ever launching a single missile. Reagan, like Trump, deeply believed in infrastructure; he proposed a gas tax as a way to strengthen our highway system to create jobs and aid commerce.
And Reagan, like Trump, deeply believed in the virtues of work. Separating able-bodied people from those that are “truly needy,” Reagan always wanted to incentivize work and the possibilities that lie within the soul of every American. And lastly, Reagan, like Trump, desperately wanted to cut spending. With a Democratic Congress led by Tip O’Neill, spending cuts became impossible during Reagan’s tenure. But now, with an OMB chief who calls for compassion for taxpayers, spending cuts might finally happen at some point.
In short, it’s still too premature to see how things will work out for the Trump-Pence team. But for anybody who wants a stronger, more prosperous, more durable America, we should all want them to succeed.
Trump, it is said, has overcome all the odds. He went from Queens to the top of Manhattan. He battled several bankruptcies only to come roaring back with “The Apprentice” television show and even more real estate deals. And as a total outsider, he shook up the entire political system, enshrining himself as 45th president of the United States.
He kind of reminds me of America itself. From those brave colonists who overthrew an empire to a prairie lawyer who put an end to slavery itself, we have always found a way. Now, let it be said that Trump and we Americans also found a way, against all odds, to make that light of America shine even brighter in all those dark places around the world. God bless.
Alex Beinstein of Carbondale was a Republican primary congressional candidate in 2016 challenging incumbent Scott Tipton. His column appears monthly in the Post Independent.