Everyday more information comes across my desk about Donald Trump and his family.
As that information crosses my desk, I have been trying to understand why so many people not only accept Trump, but truly and sincerely believe he is doing exactly what they elected him to do. And I have a question: What has happened to “American values?”
Thinking back on your childhood, what do your remember as your foundational beliefs? I remember family and religious values that stressed support of community: feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, and welcoming the stranger and the poor.
I naively believed that these values were universal. Today I look in horror at the values expressed by Trump supporters. As a prime example, look at the current health care proposals. Reduce benefits to children, the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and the mentally ill by cutting Medicaid funding nearly in half? What are we thinking?
Trying to understand what to me are new and disturbing views, I’ve been helped by the writings of George Lakoff, a retired professor of cognitive science and linguistics. Lakoff writes that people’s preferred styles of government often reflect the ways they were raised and the values they learned.
Some follow a “strict father” approach, believing that helping the needy reduces their self-reliance and rewards laziness, irresponsibility, and lack of discipline. In contrast, there’s the “nurturant parent” style, which aligns with progressive government approaches. People raised with this style believe that some citizens, despite their best efforts, need and deserve help from the community to survive and succeed.
Thinking specifically about cuts to healthcare, I do not believe people get sick simply because it is free. I know of no cancer patient that got cancer because someone else was paying for the treatment. I know of no dialysis patient that choses to go through dialysis two or three times a week simple because they are on medicare and it is essentially free.
On the contrary. A friend of mine works in a nursing home. She, recently enrolled a 103-year-old family member into the home. Her comment to me was, “I can now understand why staff stressed what would happen when she ran out of funds. Had she needed more support before her death, she’d have joined the 61 percent of the frail elderly in nursing homes covered by Medicaid.”
Are these working or elderly patients irresponsible? I don’t think most of these afflictions are the result of “lifestyle choices,” but instead are genetic tendencies that require support and care.
I understand the Strict Father Narrative. It is not my view, but I understand it.
The problem is Trump Supporters don’t understand my narrative. They call me names like “Snowflake.”
As we move forward with this new reality, I hope we can look for a middle way built on respect for both narratives.