President Trump should lead with the truth, own up to his mistakes, and reap the rewards of building a case built on objectivity and fact.
Saying that politicians are notorious for engaging in an adulterous relationship with the truth is quite an understatement. When discussing policy, answering questions, or addressing issues, today’s politicians cleverly weave around the truth, only touching on elements that they perceive to be relevant to their cause.
President Trump, a rookie politician, is a major league truth twister who has an ambiguous relationship with the truth at best. He often exaggerates or stretches his claims even when the facts are in his favor, never shying away from an opportunity to tweet a hyperbole. Trump often resembles a game show host, handing out cheap compliments like “great person” or “excellent policy,” though he never seems to describe an actual person or policy. This style of truth avoidance has undoubtedly led many to characterize him as a liar, opposed to chalking his spin-up to “politics as usual.”
Trump has had opportunity after opportunity to discuss any of his specific policies from a favorable position, allowing the facts to speak for themselves. However, time after time, he has shot himself in the foot, pushing something other than simple, objective facts.
Is there any value in this approach?
Perhaps it’s time to consider a change. Shouldn’t each member of our government engage in habitual truth-telling? As a conservative, I believe that living in a world of objective facts leads to intellectual honesty and solid arguments. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how the president has “played his hand” in a couple of favorable situations.
The Trump/Russia investigation can be considered favorable situation for Donald Trump because of its intricate details. The original allegation upon the president and his “inner circle” concerned Trump’s candidacy and campaign: the charge alleged the campaign of colluding with the Russian government in order to affect American voters, pushing them toward selecting Trump, undermining America’s democratic process. What have we been told the investigators have found? At this point, about a year into the investigation, there has been no evidence produced that proves collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
We have, however, heard about Donald Trump Jr. and his attempt to collude for the sake of opposition research. Paul Manafort, who will stand trial for several charges, was a poor choice for campaign manager. Attorney General Jeff Sessions seemed to give misleading answers to the Senate Intelligence Committee when asked whether or not he had ever met with Russian officials in his capacity as a Trump campaign member. There have been a few others, but none have revealed collusion between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign team and Russian officials.
Now, how has President Trump responded to the media and their incessant questioning on this matter? He has blown right past the truth and overplayed his hand. Looking through the various twitter responses from Trump, a common theme becomes clear. He likes to use the phrases “witch hunt” and “total hoax” a lot.
Taking the president’s words at face value, he is clearly alleging that the claims against him are entirely fabricated and even fraudulent. The problem with this approach is that he has not been totally exonerated either. The argument can be made that he tarnishes the facts that are clearly on his side, watering them down to a point where people are left to judge the situation based on their gut instead of hard facts.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
Another example of Trump’s foot-shooting tendencies is the way he handled the drafting process of the GOP tax bill, along with his commentary throughout that process. I remember looking for the plain language of the bill so that I could read it and make my decision on whether or not I supported the policy without the usual surrounding political “noise.” Spoiler alert! It was difficult. The President and the Republican party had concrete facts on their side all along. Political commentators always claim that sticking to the “nitty gritty” details bores people and turns them off. This may be true of lazy voters, but there are plenty of those who are interested in the undigested truth.
Instead of explaining the main economic driving force behind the bill, which was the corporate tax burden being cut from 35% down to 21%, many individuals on the right tried to build it up as a great tax cut for the middle class. The problem is that the individual tax relief paled in comparison to the corporate tax cuts, which weakens the argument that the bill, alone, aimed to substantially cut middle class individuals’ taxes. Democrats and any others who opposed the bill could poke giant holes in that argument with ease.
The selling point should have always been the corporate tax cut. Sure, the Democrats will always bang the “rich getting richer” drum, but what else is new? Explaining that jobs will return and wages will increase as soon as businesses are able to keep more of the money that they earn is a solid, winning argument. The left can take shots at that ideology all day, but the results will not lie.
When American citizens are climbing the pay scale at their current places of employment, or suddenly finding that job seeking becomes much more fruitful, they will begin to realize that corporate tax cuts do not mean “evil” corporations are going to take their money and hide. As businesses become more successful, they are able to reward their talent more handsomely. With more capital at their disposal, expansion plans can be converted from fantasy to reality. Once those businesses return to the U.S. and those who are already here flourish, there will be an increased need for new labor.
The factual foundation of conservatism, which inspires policy like the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, can stand on its own. There is no need for sensationalism. The “pitch man” inside President Trump does not need to come out when solid conservative ideology exists on its own.
In each of the aforementioned examples, the President had the truth on his side. He may not have had a grand slam, but there was definitely a home run. Our leader should not treat the truth with ambiguity. He should lead with the truth, own up to his mistakes, and reap the rewards of building a case built on objectivity and fact. The media zombies hungry for fake news will continue to try and remove their pound of flesh, but the American people will always learn the truth, and when they do, it will truly be a boon to Trump’s credibility, should he pivot toward the truth and away from unnecessary lies and exaggeration.