Editor’s note: The essay written by Terry Esau, published in the Jan. 15 Pelican Rapids Press, inspired a string of responses. The essay explored the notion of “What Jesus would do at a Pres. Donald Trump rally?” 

The accompanying column was written by Roger Haglund, a Pelican Rapids native and 1960 graduate of Pelican Rapids High School.

Letters to the editor in the Pelican Rapids Press can be emailed to: news@pelicanrapidspress.com

Louis Hoglund, managing editor

As a lifelong Christian who has read the New Testament numerous times, I believe Terry Esau’s essay (Pelican Rapids Press, Jan. 14 edition)  accurately portrays that Jesus would not be welcome at a Trump rally.  

The events at the 2020 Prayer Breakfast show that I am right.    

Columnist Arthur Brooks cited the teachings of Jesus Christ during his remarks, urging attendees to follow Christ’s command to “love your enemies” and transcend “contempt.”  Trump, however, began his speech by saying, “Arthur, I don’t know if I agree with you,” and went on to spew vengeful remarks about those who were part of the impeachment proceedings.

 I would like to offer a few comments on the response of Scott Dirks in the Press (February 5).  Dirks covers many areas so I will limit my remarks to Dirks assertion that “Trump has kept most of his promises.” Trump made 663 promises while campaigning but by the first 100 days in office had already broken 80 of them and kept only 7 of them.  Most of these promises dealt with issues he promised to fix in his first 100 days in office.  Let’s examine some of the major promises Trump made.

“I will build a great, great wall on our southern border and I’ll have Mexico pay for that.” (There are some small sections of wall being built or repaired but Mexico is not paying.)

 “I will eliminate the United States’ $19 trillion debt in eight years.”  (March 31, 2016, interview with the Washington Post) (The national debt is now over $23 trillion and rising over $1 trillion a year.)

“Real change begins with immediately repealing and replacing the disaster known as Obamacare.” (Trump has not been able to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and he has not proposed anything to take its place.)  

“I would not be a president who took vacations. I would rarely leave the White House because there’s so much work to be done.” (June 23, 2015) (Trump has spent nearly 22 percent of his days in office at one of his golf properties at a cost to taxpayers of $115 million in travel and security expenses.)

“But one thing I can promise you is this; I will always tell you the truth.” (Trump statement on 8/18/2016)  (According to the latest tally by the Washington Post, Trump has made over 16,000 false or misleading statements since taking office.)

“Under my plan everybody is getting a tax cut, especially the middle class.” (Polls in 2018 revealed that two-thirds of Americans say the tax cut bill had little effect or actually hurt their finances.  80% of the benefits went to the very wealthy.)

“I will tear up Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran on day one.  This will be a totally different deal.”  (Trump didn’t actually tear up the deal until day 474.  Because we broke the agreement, Iran claims we can’t be trusted to keep our word and they will never negotiate with the current administration.)

“Under my presidency, we will accomplish complete American energy independence. Complete. Complete.” [Speech May, 2016, in Bismarck, N.D.]  (The increase in domestic oil production is due to the boom in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the late 2000s so Trump had nothing to do with it.)

“We’re going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.” (Trump did keep this promise on June 1, 2017, delighting coal companies and horrifying climate scientists who understand the dire consequences of global warming due to burning fossil fuels.)

Trump declared Wednesday (9/28/16) that his economic plan will make him the “greatest president for jobs that God ever created.”  (Wrong!  During Trump’s first 36 months in office, the US economy has gained 6.6 million jobs. But during a comparable 36-month period at the end of Obama’s tenure, employers added 8.1 million jobs, or 23% more than what has been added since Trump took office.)

“Great nations do not fight endless wars; we’re bringing our troops back home.” (In reality, there are now more troops in the Middle East than when Trump took office.)

 On the positive side Trump signed the First Step Act to make needed reforms to our system of criminal justice. It passed both houses of Congress with overwhelming support from both parties. 

Trump renegotiated NAFTA and it was approved by Congress after Democrats demanded stronger enforcement of labor provisions, stricter environmental protections, and other changes.

While it’s true that there has been a small growth in wages it is so small that Trump really can’t take much credit for helping low income people.  An average worker today still has less buying power than the person did in 1974. In May 1974, inflation-adjusted average weekly earnings for rank-and-file workers were $330, and they haven’t climbed higher than that amount since. In May last year, those wages were $315.74.

If you are a person who wants to see courts run by right-wing ideologue judges you can count that as a Trump achievement. Republicans are doing this to insure that they have a partisan federal judiciary that they count on to strike down Roe vs. Wade and other judgments and laws they disagree with.

 If you are a person who feels that people seeking to escape poverty and violence and who are seeking asylum in the U.S. should have their children taken from them and be turned away, then you can count that as a Trump achievement.  Congress should have passed orderly immigration reform long ago, but in its absence Trump has been free to create his own policy on immigration.

In summary, we see that Trump’s promises have had little positive impact on our lives.  Some, such as job growth and energy independence were accomplished without his involvement so he can’t take credit for them. At least two promises that he kept have made the world less safe: tearing up the Iran nuclear agreement and dropping out of the Paris Climate Agreement.  The tax cut bill was a gift to big corporations and wealthier people but it has also greatly increased the federal budget deficit.  Promises 1-5 and 11 were not kept.

 Mr. Dirks stated that the Esau article shows that we don’t “understand Donald Trump or his supporters.” 

We do understand.  

As the Democratic Party became more diverse, its working class base was taken for granted and largely ignored as new factions gained power in the party.  As I mentioned earlier, real worker pay has not increased after 1980 due mostly to policies put in place by Reaganomics, so Republicans also have been no help to working Americans.  Trump saw a golden opportunity in cultivating these disenfranchised voters and he presented himself as one of them.  He promised to “drain the swamp” of the political elites and build a wall to protect them from the migrants who he claimed were stealing their jobs and getting government benefits at their expense.  He gave them a vision of a new America that would “Make America Great Again.”  He is a master manipulator of the media and people’s minds. 

Roger Haglund