Opinion: We turned over our letters page to Trump readers for a day. Here’s what they wrote
During the Cold War, a “red telephone” was said to have kept American leaders in constant contact with their Soviet counterparts. We know now there was never a red phone, just a hotline, but that’s beside the point: What’s important is that even at the height of tensions, Moscow and Washington understood the need to keep open direct lines of communication lest they stumble into disaster.
Consider today’s letters page my “red telephone,” an attempt to facilitate communication between the two sides of our profoundly polarized nation. Right now, perhaps more than any time since Donald J. Trump took history’s most fateful escalator ride in 2015, pro-Trump and anti-Trump readers seem to share only an abiding mutual mistrust.
In my decade editing this page, there has never been a period when quarreling readers have seemed so implacably at odds with each other, as if they get their facts and values from different universes.
As one small attempt to bridge the divide, we are providing today a page full of letters from Trump supporters.
Encouraging communication by publishing arguments from just one side may seem counterintuitive, but consider this: Our newspaper serves a population that voted overwhelmingly for Biden (more than 70% in Los Angeles County), and the vast majority of our letters come from liberal readers. Consequently, much of what you’ve been reading in this space since 2016 has been anti-Trump.
The Los Angeles Times opinion team, of which I am a part, has published many strong criticisms of this president. During his presidency the editorial board wrote two series, “Our Dishonest President” and “Beating Trump,” whose titles alone are sufficient to describe what positions they took. The board called for Trump’s conviction and removal from office following his impeachment earlier this year. And the board endorsed Joe Biden for president in September, before the debates.
Today’s a day to give the other side a hearing.
Liberal politics dominate Los Angeles, but this isn’t to say we can write off contrarian views. Trump’s supporters are a significant minority of both the region’s population and our readership. As of this writing, more than 5.4 million votes for Trump have been counted in California, 1.1 million in Los Angeles County and 667,000 in Orange County, where the president took about 44% of the vote and the Republicans appear have reclaimed two House seats.
The number of Trump voters in L.A. County alone would exceed the entire populations of eight U.S. states.
Trumpism is not going away on Jan. 20. For the foreseeable future, in a Biden presidency and beyond, his supporters and the rest of us will share a country; in Los Angeles, they will share a newspaper and, yes, the same letters page.
To the editor: As a Christian minister, I spent almost 35 years in Europe, but moved to California eight years ago. I registered as an independent voter, wanting my identity to be linked to my evangelical Christian faith and not to some political party.
A few years after, Trump emerged on the political scene. Knowing a little bit about the character flaws of Trump and the harmful political views of Hillary Clinton, I could not bring myself to vote for either of them in the 2016 election.
From that election to the present, I have been stunned at the bias, lack of common sense and civility, false accusations, name-calling and twisting of words that have come from the mouths of politicians and those of media personalities. Having tuned into media outlets, from left to right, I am reminded of five defining words: bullying, shaming, intimidation, hostility and vitriol.
Frankly, all I wanted were facts, not opinions.
Faced with the disturbing character of Trump and the damaging policies of Biden, what was I going to do about this election? With great hesitation and caution, I cast my ballot for Trump. He defends religious liberty and the lives of unborn children.
Sincerely, my life of faith and evangelical hope are not driven by politics, nor do they depend on an election but on God and His gospel. As it says in the book of Proverbs, God can turn the heart of any politician like a stream of water if he wills.
For this reason, I am on the right side of history.
Cecil Stalnaker, Santa Clarita
To the editor: Class, age, race, sex or gender? I’m more than just an African American.
I’m also an investor, and I, like any other investor, want to make money. I’ve almost doubled my net worth under Trump’s presidency.
Shouldn’t I reward the administration that has added to my net worth?
Robert S. Rodgers, Culver City
To the editor: I can only imagine the unbridled joy inside the Los Angeles Times now that Trump has lost the election.
The L.A. Times’ campaign to defeat Trump began in earnest last October with the multi-part series “Beating Trump” and increased in intensity as the election grew closer. Journalists with feigned objectivity blamed Trump and his administration for all the bad things in the world. On many days there were multiple pieces slamming the president and his administration.
Your objective was achieved: Trump will be leaving the White House.
Now, with the election behind us, it will be interesting to see if the L.A. Times can regain the public trust with a return to more truthful, fair-minded, fact-based, bias-free journalism, or if the agenda-driven reporting continues.
Glynn Morris, Playa del Rey
To the editor: It is nice to hear Joe Biden call for unity in America and for people to stop treating their opponents as enemies while his supporters are dancing with joy in front of storefronts that were boarded up in case his side lost.
Let’s start the call for unity with Michelle Obama. Last week she ripped into Trump’s 72.7 million voters as people who voted for hate, division and lies. She is a great example of the disdain that 72.7 million people have put up with from elitists like her.
Hollywood, Silicon Valley and most of Biden’s party have mocked Trump’s 72.7 million voters as racists, misogynists, white supremacists and more — this, while some Trump supporters have been violently attacked for wearing “Make America Great Again” hats.
It will take more than Biden briefly asking for respect between Republicans and Democrats for his side to listen to different opinions.
Deborah McMicking, Santa Barbara
To the editor: It is incredible that the president received so many votes. Even if he loses, he can go down to Palm Beach, Fla., knowing he got more votes than Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
Why did Trump get so much validation? He succeeded at putting money in the pockets of working people. The Trump economy allowed more reward in the marketplace. Can Biden duplicate that?
Also, millions of Americans despise the Trump haters who are on display every hour, on the hour. Some anti-Trumpers are so vile that they make us sympathize with the bombastic president.
Let me be very clear: The effort to “get Trump” and topple traditional America motivated the pro-Trump vote.
Also, the corporate media are finished. Regular folks of all political views no longer trust them. Older Americans have a basis of comparison because they watched Walter Cronkite and Mike Wallace.
So, tens of millions supported Trump largely because they are angry about how he was treated. Yes, you can make an argument that he brought some of it on himself, but that hypothesis falls apart when the “Russian collusion” fiasco is considered.
These facts may not console the president or his supporters, but anti-establishment anger is growing.
Brian J. Goldenfeld, Oak Park
To the editor: Some people voted against the increasingly leftist Democratic Party agenda more than for Trump. Many voters declined to support Biden fearing that he will come under the sway of California-style Democrats.
That could mean the following:
- More regulations that discourage work, like excessive occupation licensing and severe restrictions on independent contractors.
- An over-emphasis on race, causing us to ignore other problems that give rise to differences in society. Racism seems the first cause cited by liberals when they discuss the pandemic, education or business.
- A lack of trust that adults can make decisions about school choice, wanting to be an independent contractor or saving for retirement.
- Environmental extremism that refuses to look at nuclear power or desalination.
- Favoring labor unions over the greater good. I worry about Democrats making it difficult for charter schools to grow or requiring prevailing wages for construction when we badly need new housing.
In one of your editorials, you say that the eyes you hope to open are “reading something else.” Consider the possibility that the eyes of your editorial board are not fully open. As long as you believe that others’ eyes are not open, you perpetuate the division.
No one is completely without biases, but I believe you show clear bias for the Democratic Party in your news stories. This from a conservative voter who did not vote for Donald Trump.
Steve Murray, Huntington Beach
To the editor: In your editorial on the “enduring support” for Trump, you recognize the many reasons for the massive turnout of Trump supporters this election. Combined with the people who voted against the president, they made this election the largest in our history.
Given that you recognize the disconnect, it seems that you would want to make your paper more inclusive. So, create an opportunity for more dialogue, and bring on people who can give you a wider range of views. Stop the constant, leftist haranguing that is not reaching people who voted for Trump and other conservatives.
I suggest having fewer columnists like the ones you currently publish, and bringing on several who have a different view.
This is going to be hard for the left to handle, and for the right as well, but given the probable makeup of Congress, healthy dialogue, compromise and a certain amount of pragmatism are going to be required. It can start with you — or not.
Greg Winters, Malibu
To the editor: The tenor of much of the reporting in majority-Democratic areas and at left-leaning publications is that Trump supporters are racist, ignorant, morally suspect, fascist, generally uneducated and likely to ignore facts.
So, let’s look at some facts.
The U.S. has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions over the past decade, without strict adherence to international agreements or draconian limits placed on fossil fuels. How exactly does that lead one to conclude that supporters of market-based solutions are in fact climate change deniers?
Many scientists have determined that lockdowns alone are not an effective large-scale tool for preventing pathogen spread, and that they cause immense harm to people’s physical and economic well-being. So, how does questioning the wisdom of lockdowns end up being classified as science denial?
In times past, classifying people based on their skin color, where they live and who they vote for would have been considered racist and morally repugnant. Today these characteristics are used by many “socially progressive” people to determine who is and who is not a racist. How exactly does this make sense?
It is not up to Trump supporters to change how they view science or facts. It is up to the L.A. Times to stop cherrypicking the science and facts it prefers as tools to be used in judgment of others, and to recognize that doing so is a political exercise, not a journalistic exercise. It is time for news organizations to return to journalism.
I studied politics, economics and business, and have been a high school government, economics and U.S. history teacher for many years. I am an independent voter who doesn’t attempt to sway my students’ beliefs; rather, I help them to develop their own ideas. The most important aspect of this development is to know, understand and respect opposing points of view.
How can you possibly convince your opponents if you don’t actually understand or respect what they are saying?
Joe Blackman, Sierra Madre
To the editor: One of your print headlines says, “GOP claws back an O.C. seat.” (“Republicans push back the 2018 ‘blue wave’ in Orange County,” Nov. 11)
Did you also say that the Democrats are “clawing back” the White House? The GOP won at least one seat in Orange County and will probably win another, which is a reasonable outcome in a conservative county during these turbulent times.
Your incendiary word choice demonstrates your ongoing distaste for and bias against not only Trump, but also the entire Republican Party. No wonder your readers disregard most of your political analyses and opinions.
In another example, your coverage of Proposition 16, which would allow affirmative action once again in many state programs, gives the impression that voters misunderstood the initiative. In fact, voters entirely understood the meaning of Proposition 16, which is why it was soundly defeated.
Californians prefer to keep the fair and level playing field established by Proposition 209. Again, this was a reasonable outcome.
Susan Schechter, Calabasas
To the editor: My vote for Trump had nothing to do with any dislike for President Obama. I am surprised that so many people called voters like me racist.
While I sometimes cringed at Trump’s words, I always understood what he actually meant. I believed him when he talked about his wishes for this country. I agreed with him about other countries paying their fair share, securing our border and creating jobs.
Contrary to many people’s opinions, this president has a sense of humor. However, his words were often taken out of context.
This president never disappointed me; in fact, he did much good while he was in office.
Elaine Vanoff, West Hollywood
To the editor: I’m a lifelong, mainstream liberal Democrat. But I grew up in a small, poor, all-white, working- class town. The place was once heavily Democratic, but now it is Trump Country.
Why? The problem isn’t the Democratic Party. It’s the left wing of the party, which has managed to turn off many Americans.
I do not need to be told that the people I grew up with are not well-educated and sometimes hold backward views, but they are among the best people I’ve ever known. They won’t respond to unreasonable positions (open borders, defunding of the police) or to smug condescension (“basket of deplorables”).
Until the Democratic Party realizes this and reins in its left wing, it will continue to underperform in elections.
John Lynn, Edwardsville, Ill.
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