American Politics

“Elections have consequences.”
President Barrack Obama

Almost 4 years ago, America elected Donald J. Trump as her 45th president. As was the case with all his predecessors, half the country voted for him, the other half selected his opponent. Unlike the case with all his predecessors, years after the elections, close to half of the country is still in a collective state of denial, unwilling to accept the people’s legitimate choice.
Never in the long democratic tradition of this nation has a president been so controversial, arousing such hysterical feelings one way or the other. Amazingly, extreme opinions have also been rampant among my fellow Vietnamese Americans (formerly refugees, referred to simply as 'Viet refugees' below, as opposed to Viet citizens being now in the US under foreign passports as tourists, students,...) who normally have been a lot more detached from US politics.
For those who have been reading this forum, obviously, I certainly have been more than involved in the red-hot debate about this president, and just as obviously, have been squarely on his side, to the dismay of many.
Full disclosure first: I did not vote for Trump, nor for Hillary Clinton. I did not like the prospect of having to select ‘the least bad’ candidate. The mere fact that this great nation has to make a hard decision to select the ‘least bad’ instead of welcoming the ‘best’ candidate is not something that many Americans could feel proud of. But then, one can only deal with the cards one has.
In my large family and even larger circle of friends, many have taken opposite sides, yet we have been able to have a lot of fun discussing American politics without grabbing each other’s throat. Maybe like they say, old friendship and especially blood, are thicker than politics after all. Trump comes and goes, friendship and family are not going anywhere.
The least bad? Well, that is my personal opinion. Many other people may have thought America did have a great choice between two exceptionally qualified patriots. Einstein spent his lifetime explaining to us relativism, didn’t he?
One more thing that I want to be as clear about as possible: I am not trying to convince anybody of anything whatsoever. As I have reminded many of my relatives and friends, we passed the age of being susceptible to ‘brain-washing’ or even ‘converted’ by somebody else long ago, notwithstanding the fact that I neither have the capacity to ‘convince’ anybody nor the wish to do so. On the contrary, I’d rather hear a different opinion, just for the sake of triggering some smart conversation within the confines of civility.
And maybe more important, for our American friends and our younger compatriots born or raised in this country, I just want them to hear from me to understand why some of the Viet refugees could support Trump.
It just happens that the Viet diaspora is no different than any other ethnic communities, widely disparate, ranging from hard-lined to soft liberals/conservatives, from die-hard pro to deadly against Obama/Hillary/Biden-Trump, you name it.
While I did not vote for Trump, I have been unwittingly sliding to his side, recognizing not just some of his surprising successes, but also witnessing the stupefying alacrity of all the attacks, not against his policies, but against him personally, as identity politics has so dominated American politics lately.
In any case, let’s go back to our discussion. Within the constraints of this short essay, I simply cannot discuss everything, thus can only limit myself to certain key issues that are important to us, Viet refugees.
Let’s first talk about what many of us, Viet refugees have blamed Trump for.
President Trump’s most questionable flaw within my Viet community is of course his apparent ‘racism’, favoring whites to the detriment of all other races like black, Hispanics and us Asians. Which is evidently a big concern for us. What is less evident for me is whether Trump is really racist or not.
Yes, he did attack Hispanic illegal immigrants. Yet, it sounds more like he has been attacking them as illegals, not as Hispanics as a race nor as immigrants in general.
Yes, he did equate white supremacists to AntiFa mob, but as far as I was concerned, I would have been real confused if he did not equate these 2 groups of lunatics. Yet again, it sounds more like he was attacking their extremism or fanaticism, not the color of their skin. Most AntiFa demonstrators are as white as so called ‘supremacist’ rednecks, aren’t they?
Is he racist against blacks? I have not seen any anti-black acts, nor heard any anti-black diatribes. But I do see things like lowest black unemployment rates ever. Would that count as something anti-black since that cut them off welfare benefits?
Trump had been in business in all his pre-presidential life, including a big chunk of it in the entertainment business, dealing with sport champions, beauty contestants, comedians, singers, artists, in areas of activities that undeniably have been dominated by blacks. He also was close friends to prominent blacks like Muhammad Ali, Don King, Oprah Winfrey, Diddy, Herschel Walker, to name just a few. Nobody had heard about him being racist against them, until he ran for president. All of a sudden, he became racist just because some people want blacks not to vote for him? Does that make a lot of sense?
The racist label seems to require a lot more hard selling. So maybe the anti-immigrant label could be an easier sell?
For sure, we have witnessed all kinds of rationalization about how America being a country of immigrants should welcome all immigrants with open arms, about how Trump has been so ‘un-American’ with his ‘anti-immigration’ policy. But then, has anybody noticed that the main stream media (MSM) has always intentionally chosen to hit the ‘delete’ button on the word ‘illegal’ when writing about illegal immigration, so that whenever Trump criticizes illegal immigrants, it always comes out as simply ‘immigrants’ without the critically important word ‘illegal’? Does that strike anybody as something disgracefully dishonest or intentionally deceptive?
President Trump has been harsh against Islamic people, or so it seems from the way the MSM has been reporting on his Executive Orders. Has he? The EO’s restricting admission of people from some Islamic countries affect a grand total of 8% of the Islamic population in the world. None of the biggest Islamic countries has been affected, namely Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia, among so many others, so how could these EO’s be anti-Islamic acts? And look at the map: Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Libya that are on Trump's black list. Aren’t they countries with huge messy wars where nobody knows who are fighting against whom? Can we trust people coming from these countries with some kind of ID papers issued by some obscure warlords whose authorities are not even recognized beyond their own town in ruin? The Supreme Court accepted Trump’s explanation and agreed that the responsibility of protecting the country belonged to the president, not to some liberal judges more concerned with political correctness than the safety of their fellow Americans.
The MSM howled against a partisan Supreme Court. Did they do anything similar when that same Supreme Court twisted itself to save Obamacare?
Make no mistake, I welcome all legal immigrants from anywhere anytime. I just don't accept illegal immigrants. No personal hard feelings, just the laws of the land that need to be respected. No one is above the law, including presidents and illegals.
We, Vietnamese Americans, being immigrants ourselves, should be at the forefront of this fight for immigrants. We should be much more sensitive to any attack against immigrants, right?
Last time I checked, I was not able to find any evidences that Trump has been ‘racist’ toward us. Close to half-a-dozen Vietnamese-American soldiers have reached the rank of general in the US army. A Vietnamese-American lawyer has been appointed as Head of ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
But what I did find was the fact that the Democratic Senator Joe Biden was violently opposed to any way, shape or form of support for the South Vietnamese army to fight against the communist north invasion, and had made it clear he did not support admission of any Viet refugees in the US back in 1975. The pro-Biden crowd has mightily struggled to dig into all sorts of internet search engines to try to find a tangible proof of Biden supporting either our survival fight or our plea for asylum after our country had fallen. The only document they have been able to dig out was an absolutely inconsequential almost unanimous vote by the Senate to ‘welcome’ the Viet refugees who at that time were already stranded on American soil in Guam and Wake Islands, on May 5, 1975.
Yes, a significant number of us Viet refugees have been incarcerated and are waiting to be deported back to Vietnam, but please allow me to clear all the smoke screen blown by more than a few dishonest anti-Trump activists.
The US has had in place very clear laws dating back God knows how many decades or centuries, that state very clearly that immigrants not having yet US citizenship convicted of crime by a US court of justice under no circumstances can be eligible for US citizenship, thus could not stay in the US and therefore must be deported back to their original country after serving time if any.
The Vietnamese population in the US can be roughly separated into 2 different groups: those who arrived here as refugees under laws passed under presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan; and those who arrived here as normal immigrants under normal existing immigration laws, including laws allowing family reunion. Both groups are subject to the above-mentioned laws against admission of convicted criminals. Unfortunately, criminals do exist in both groups.
As a result, convicted Viet are not eligible to stay and become US citizens. All US presidents from Carter to Trump, have tried to deport these convicted people back to Vietnam without much success. At long last, president Clinton managed to have an agreement with the Vietnamese communist government after the US formally recognized the Viet communist regime in July 1995.
According to that agreement, Vietnam was willing to take back the convicted Viet who arrived in the US AFTER that formal recognition date, and only them. Vietnam adamantly refused to take back the refugees who arrived in the US prior to that July 1995. Consequently, thousands of convicted Viet refugees arriving before July 1995 got stranded without any possibility to become US citizens but also not being able to be deported back as Vietnam refused to accept them.
In 2008, president Bush signed a memorandum of understanding reaffirming the Clinton agreement. After much confusion, the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington DC issued a statement clarifying that the agreement on the orderly deportation of convicted Vietnamese citizens did NOT apply to Viet refugees having emigrated to the US prior to July 1995, i.e. VN would not accept them.
Now, going beyond that issue, what are people blaming Trump for?
No president has ever been so harshly criticized by so many people for so many things. Yet, guess what? The overwhelming majority of criticisms has really focused on his personal character.
Some people say they could not have their kids look up to Trump as some kind of a role model. Well, in my view, politicians all the way up to presidents, should be the very last kind of people any kid should look up as role models, regardless of their ideology.
Hell, I’d be the last man calling Trump a saint! He is nowhere near any lowest bar for a well-respected Head of State, still. But then, how do we set those bars? Who does that? Based on what criteria?
Trump is a sexual predator? Is he any worse than some other presidents who did the deed in the Oval Office while blatantly lying to the entire nation and his family, when Trump has been loudly boasting while nobody has seen any act anywhere, except for a tryst with a paid for consensual adult while his wife was pregnant, long before he set his eyes on the White House?
Trump is a liar? If you never lie or don't know how to lie, don't get into politics. Politics is not for boy scouts or preachers. Even Jimmy Carter was lying when he said he would never lie. And for those who have watched Jim Carrey’s ‘Liars, Liars’, they should know there are lies and lies. Some lies are harmful, intentionally duplicitous, some lies are just hyperboles, some are helpful, some are even necessary.
How many lethal or even deceitful lies has Trump said? How do his lies rank with shameless lies like “You can keep your health insurance, your doctor,…”?
On this issue, one can’t help noting some kind of contradiction. Some say Trump is the biggest liar, some others assure he is the most honest politician speaking out his mind. So which is which? As far as I am concerned, between a smooth talker and a straight talker, I’d rather take the bitter pill. 
Of course, Trump is not perfect. But what about the alternative? Former VP Joe Biden? A man that Obama’s Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said had always been wrong about foreign policy? A man that the New York Times asked when was the last time he was right on anything? A man that 48% of the US people think has some form of dementia? A man who cannot open his mouth without misspeaking somehow.
So are we once again facing a choice for the least bad?
Now, let’s move beyond individual character which is so easily subject to partisan character assassination, and take a look at Trump’s decisions as president. How have they affected us, notwithstanding political ideologies. What has he done specifically?
Obamacare? Yes, he did try to scratch it but was only partly successful. No, he did not intend to chase away sick people to die in the street. He just wanted to correct certain obvious shortcomings that even president Clinton recognized. When the cost of healthcare increases across the board for all of us, when all of us must change insurance carriers, doctors, hospitals, drugs, or even treatment, and when scores of smaller health insurance companies file for bankruptcy or are being swallowed by larger ones, leaving vast counties with no insurer, there is something wrong that needs corrective measures. There have been no agreement on those corrective measures, which is why Obamacare is still around, except for the elimination of the enforcement and tax penalty. Should we continue to try hard to find a better system or should we be happy with this defective one and leave it untouched?
Tax cut? Taxation, besides being a tool for redistribution of income as called for by the liberal schools, is more than anything else a means to manage the economy, like promoting economic expansion and employment. Looking under that angle, what has Trump’s tax cut accomplished?
One can even ignore the performance of the stock market as it mostly reflects the investors’ speculative moves, and try to take a look at the broader picture. The last quarter’s number prior to that COVID calamity was a 3% growth in GDP, the lowest unemployment rates for all categories of workers, be they white, black, young, old, male or female, in all economic sectors. The new tax law brought back about a trillion investment dollar from abroad, helping create scores of new businesses and manufacturing plants. Isn’t that what good governance is all about? Isn't having a job more rewarding and more dignifying than collecting welfare hand-outs?
President Obama once advised Michigan workers that their jobs were gone for good, in the trash bin of modern technology development. Then how do we explain the current revival of large swats of manufacturing jobs in the Rust Belt? Does it behoove the president as a leader to take actions to make things happen or should he just be a spectator watching historic developments from a bench?
Some people have been screaming against Trump’s new tax rates. Is that because they are required to pay more taxes? Not exactly. It’s just because they look around and see some other people having larger cuts while completely ignoring how their paychecks compare. For these people, nothing less than taxing the top 1% to feed the remaining 99% would do.
Foreign policy? They say Trump has done a terrible job.
He is being too cozy with dictator Putin? How is Trump more cozy with Putin than Obama?
He fails miserably in his trade war with China? How does he compare with Obama who sat back and watched trade deficit jumping to over 500 billion?
He fails to reach any agreement with North Korea? How does that compare to Obama sitting back and watching Kim Jong Un testing all kind of missiles and nuclear bombs?
Between sitting back and do nothing and trying to do something, what's your choice?
Is Trump a legitimate president?
When candidate Trump talked about reserving the right to assess the validity of elections results, the shocking protests from all corners, including from president Obama and candidate Hillary Clinton, were deafening yet fully understandable as Trump’s statement sounded like an assault on the American political foundation.
Yet, when Trump won the election fair and square, the losing side screamed election frauds, , recount, change the rules, abolish the archaic electoral system, Russian intervention, “Not My President”, etc… Calls for impeachment were heard even before Trump was sworn in.
The MSM and the liberals have loudly screamed about possible ‘collusion’ with the Russians.
Did the Russians attempt to interfere with the US presidential elections? Who’s naïve enough to believe they have not? There are hundred of ‘registered foreign agents’ operating in Washington DC; what can they be doing exactly, except trying to interfere with American politics, elections and whatever else? The question is did Trump –or Hillary for that matter- collude with them? After 2 years of costly scrutiny by a Special Counsel, what evidence has anybody seen besides some indictments for corrupt acts that have absolutely nothing to do with Russian collusion in presidential elections?
Right now, guess what? Mrs. Hillary advised Biden never to concede until all the votes are counted, recounted ad infinitum.
Next time an American diplomat lectures a third-world leader about the democratic process and need for free elections, he’d better think twice unless he is ready to accept being lectured back himself.
To be honest, coming from Vietnam, a country that never had, thus never understood, free elections, I’m confused!
Not only do some people refuse to accept the elections results, they also turn nasty against anything that does not please them, including suppression of freedom of speeches through blockade of events where unwanted opinions are presented (see Berkeley), and personal harassment against people they don't like in their daily banal chore such as dining out.
Extreme opinions have turned vicious with people engaging in violent acts against each other collectively in mass demonstrations as well as individually in despicable stunts such as Robert De Niro’s obscene rants or Kathy Griffin’s bloody Trump’s head.
Many have tried to defend these utterly disgusting expressions of political view by blaming president Trump for being the one who somehow has awakened the worst bestial instinct in many people. This line of defense can only remind me of the classic defense commonly used by rapists, “not my fault, she provoked me or even invited me with her way of walking, looking, dressing, whatever…”
The most salient fact in the current political climate is clearly the MSM’s attitude, or approach, as sources of information for the public. When a Harvard study reveals that the MSM reporting on Trump is over 90% negative, gone are all pretensions of objectivity that so characterized the well-respected American media for so long.
That CNN guy, Don Lemon expresses his surprise to be called biased. He asks how he could be biased when he just tells the truth? The classic example about that kind of dumb defense is a coin with 2 different pictures on its 2 faces. Two people on opposite sides will see 2 different pictures, so which one is the truth? Is talking only about the one side one sees not biased?
A few years back, when a congressman yelled “You Lie” at Obama, the entire world was shocked at such a lack of respect for a president and the presidency. Nowadays, “F… Trump” has become the new norm for expression in political liberal discourses. Even a congresswoman can call the president a “motherfucker” in full House session, it is considered well within acceptable civility nowadays in Congress, under the Democratic party’s rule.
And the public at large does not seem to be much upset. One can only wonder whatever happened to the celebrated American sense of fairness and objectivity and civility? Whatever happened to the American democratic system of government?

That is the current state of American politics, from my vantage point.
Or am I missing something?