Session 2 – Transcript

Full Transcript of Session 2

Leading Questions:

  • What is your vision for the future of America?
  • To what extent do you believe President Trump is facilitating, or not, the accomplishment of your vision for the future of America?

Participant 1

I speak in the vein of a prophet. I’m a communications professor, so I’m using a communicator’s approach.” I begin with four bullets, taken from Trump tweets.

First, “How could a dummy dope like Harry Hurt, who wrote a failed book about me but doesn’t know me or anything about me, be on TV discussing Trump?”

Second, “Light-weight Senator Rand Paul should focus on trying to get elected in Kentucky, a great state which is embarrassed by him.”

Third, “Truly weird Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky reminds me of a spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain. He was terrible at debate.”

Fourth. “Frank Luntz is a low-class slob who came to my office looking for consulting work and I had zero interest. Now he picks anti-Trump panels.”

In a Monty Python skit, one guy asks another, “Is this the room for an argument?” The other one pauses and then replies, “I’ve told you once.” First man disagrees, “No, you haven’t.” Soon the two are firing salvos back and forth, contradicting each other to the point of absurdity. Before long, they’re arguing about if they’re having an argument.

Communication is a symbolic act. When we use words, the words themselves are not the reality. I say apple. It’s not an apple. My word is a symbol to represent the apple. Communication in this symbolic sense is an incredibly powerful tool to create shalom or strife. Trump as president, has the bigger megaphone on the planet. As president, his most powerful tools to bring shalom, to bring peace, understanding, healing, and comfort are his words, the way he uses symbols, but Trump does just the opposite. Time and time again his symbolic representation of the world brings not shalom, but anger, division, and rage. His symbolic actions, the way he uses words breeds disagreements and disrespect for others, causing common courtesy and decency to evaporate. The impoliteness and rudeness is becoming absurd.

Augustine wrote that, “No country can be happy while the walls may still be standing, but the morals are collapsing.” My grief with a man like Trump in the White House is that he represents so clearly the bigger picture of where America is now at. There’s the old saying that the people get the leaders they deserve. I’m afraid we deserve Trump. Our nation’s problems are not his fault. Our gun issues were in place before his election. Abortion, sex trafficking, tension in the Middle East, misogyny, pornography, lack of respect and decorum. All these things were in place before Trump was elected. To be fair, I think we often blame him for these things, and that’s not right either. However, Trump’s personal character and communication style is often the very embodiment of what we see wrong with our nation.

I think we deserve Trump, but that doesn’t make it easier to accept him. I long for a leader that we don’t deserve. One whose own moral compass is so true and whose communication abilities are so refined and powerful and rhetorical practice that even the biggest detractors will look to this leader and acknowledge his or her greatness. Trump is so far from being that person, it’s not funny. I don’t even detect a whiff of oratorical, moral, rhetorical greatness in this man. Instead, I see hubris, narcissism, impatience, raw uncouthness. What I see is the leader that we deserve, and that makes me very, very sad.

Where I do support him is in the fact that he’s getting things done that matter to me, but even in 2019, the end does not justify the means. Socrates wrote this long ago, “Who does not know that words carry greater conviction when spoken of men by good repute than when spoken by men who live under a cloud, and that the argument which is made by a man’s life has more weight than that which is furnished by words.”

Democracy needs authenticity. We don’t have it in the White House now, nor in the previous administration. I can only hope and pray that the next administration understands the power of authentic communication and that as a nation we might actually deserve such a leader.

Participant 2

I’ve I had a busy week. I had every intention of writing something, writing an essay, but you’ll get a bullet point list of things that came to mind when I asked myself what is my vision for the future of America. I do think that the world needs, and I want the United States to be a model of, a thoughtful, well-meaning, functioning democracy. I actually also am in favor of limited government, but more than that I want responsible government. I do like low taxes, for example. But cutting taxes while running up the deficit seems irresponsible to me. Decisions that are made apart from each other don’t seem responsible.

I also recognize that I lead a life where I have the luxury of being okay with limited government. And I try always to maintain a pretty high degree of humility about people whose lives are so very different from mine, fellow Americans who live much less comfortable lives. As an example, I’m especially sensitive as I try to imagine the life of an under-educated ill-supported single mother and what she might need from limited government that’s different from what I need from limited government. I desperately want immigration reform. I think the current unwillingness to address the reality in favor of simply making pronouncements for political gain is just shameful. I also want prison reform. I think far too many people in our country are incarcerated. I think the system is decidedly unfair. I want reasonable gun reform. I’m not in favor of taking anyone’s guns, but the gun problem in this country is outrageous. I want infrastructure and clean energy investment. In a country with the resources that we have, to have bridges falling down or even just shoddy airports, it just seems ridiculous to me. And that seems like kind of a no-brainer for me and bi-partisan.

I appreciate the changes that the ACA made in terms of making healthcare more accessible; somewhat more accessible. I Certainly like the fact that insurance has to cover pre-existing conditions. I’d like to see that improved upon and certainly not eliminated. I’m heartened by increasing equality for women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ people. I worry that some of those efforts towards equality will go backward. Frankly it would be very heartwarming to me if the church were known as a leader in equality efforts for people who are disenfranchised, marginalized, oppressed. I wonder if there should be Supreme Court term limits or some other measure so that justices aren’t beholden to one party or the other for their lifetime appointment. I would like to see campaign finance reform. I would like to consider Electoral College reform. I might like a third party in this country. I am in favor of less willful ignorance. I think that, for example, the science skepticism that’s taken root in our culture is counter-productive. And I don’t know how we solve problems if we refuse to acknowledge facts and if we refuse to be educated.

I’d like to see less greed, materialism, selfishness, demonizing of the other. I read recently in a New York Op-Ed, “Political scientists have found that our nation is more polarized than it’s been since the Civil War.” And I’m really curious about how we might solve that. Like some of you said, I would like to see more civility, kindness, productive and generous disagreement. It’s okay to disagree. But again, I read somewhere that we live in a country where we all think that other party has gone off the rails. Well, we all think that about the other party. And I think we need to relearn how to disagree in a productive and generous fashion. I think we need to learn how to disagree within a context of problem-solving and focusing on the common good.

To what extent do I believe that President Trump is facilitating or not the accomplishment of my vision for the future of America? I don’t believe he’s facilitating what I envision because, to me, I just believe fundamentally that he’s a selfish, narcissistic, petty, greedy person who’s unsuited to be president of such a great country. He may do some things that I agree with at times, like Prison Reform Bill. But  I don’t think that President Trump does those things because there’s any overlap in his vision for America and my vision for America. I’m not sure what his vision for America’s future is. I think that his vision for America’s future is very self-centered. It’s hard for me to evaluate his efforts because I feel like so much of what he does is tainted by his lying and low moral character. I just don’t believe he’s fundamentally a good person who wants good things for his country. I would not want someone like him to lead other organizations or efforts that I care deeply about. And I care deeply about our country, so I don’t trust him to lead this country. And I wish he was not our President. I would love to see someone else be our president.

Thank you.

Participant 3

My vision for America is this:  America must become a country where abortion is as unthinkable as slavery. The parallels are unmistakable. And if you do not support slavery, you cannot, as a Christian or a human being, support abortion.

Here are some of the parallels. First of all, the Supreme Court said slavery was just fine in Plessy versus Ferguson. The Court said in Roe v. Wade that abortion is just fine, which means courts do not have the final answer on what is right. Second, slaves were treated as property. When a woman says, “My body, my choice.”, she is treating a fellow human being as property, which means she can do with it whatever she wants, whenever she wants, for whatever reason she wants. Third, slaves were abused. They were tortured; they were often killed. Abortion is the ultimate abuse, whether by burning, poisoning, stabbing, dismemberments, it’s an atrocious killing. No matter how many years there were slaves, 150, something like that, the number of slaves who died, or were killed as slaves, doesn’t begin to compare to the 60 million who have been killed legally by abortion.

If you oppose slavery, how can you not oppose abortion? Slaves were dehumanized in the same way that the product of the womb is called the contents of the womb, a clump of cells, a fetus, a parasite. A California professor, on a screenshot I saved, recently compared an abortion to removing a cancerous tumor. Slaves were human. If you don’t believe that unborn babies are human, then it’s on you to tell us what they are. Is it animal, mineral or vegetable? At what point in the process does it become human? If we protect eagle eggs because we recognize that an eagle egg is an eagle, how can we not similarly protect unborn babies? What are they if not human?

An argument that I don’t use in secular situations, and I’ve been passionately pro-life for 30 years, is that Christians know that unborn babies are made in the image of God. That’s true from the moment of conception. Psalm 139:13 says, “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” If you want to go read it, go look at the memorial to the unborn, which the Sioux County Pro-Life Committee and I put up in the Orange City cemetery in the southeast corner. It also says in the New Testament, that John, the unborn baby, recognized Jesus, the unborn baby and leaped in his mother’s womb.

Why am I so obsessed with abortion? Because there is no other issue that matters so much. Whatever group of people you think has been damaged or marginalized in our country or anywhere around the world, if 60 million of them had been killed since 1973, tell me, and I’ll switch my passion. I think it says an awful lot about us as a people whether or not we can agree on that common sense acceptance that abortion is always wrong and it cannot be the one situation in which an innocent bystander is guilty for someone else’s problems, mistakes, choices, or, in the case of rape or incest, crimes.

How does my vision for America relate to my thinking about President Trump? I was not excited about him. In 2012 and 2016, I was for Rick Santorum. There were many others I would have placed above Trump. They kind of all knocked each other out. Then you look at the binary choice you’re left with: Hillary Clinton, who stands with Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is basically a money laundering machine for the Democratic party. Look at where the donations go. Follow the blood money trail. They sell baby body parts, just like slaves were sold and that is irrefutably proven. President Trump’s many faults we could elaborate, and some of you have, and I nod my head right along with you. He’s not the man I wanted. He’s the man God allowed to be elected.

The things that he has done of which I approve because they are helping unborn babies are the following: he has appointed two pro-life Supreme Court Justices and his State of the Union Address was the most pro-life presidential statement ever. If you watch the video, the sullenly sitting there Democrats, it tells you everything. He has rebuked the Democrats for their promotion and support of abortion. Democrats have voted 35 times not to let an unborn baby who survives an abortion to live. You know in the Dred Scott decision, at least if a slave got to a free state he was considered free. If a baby survives the trip from the womb, the slave state of the womb, and makes it through the magical birth canal to the land of freedom, a free state on the table in the delivery room, how dare anyone say it’s still okay to kill it? That’s exactly what Democrats have done 35 times. Don’t tell me how rare it is because it doesn’t matter; it’s an atrocity.

Finally, as I look at the candidates, I would like to prefer someone to Donald Trump, please. I’ve looked at all 20 of the Democratic candidates. There’s not a one who is pro-life. I looked locally when J.D. Scholten ran. I was there when they applauded when I asked, “What will you do to reduce abortion?” He said basically nothing: “It has to be a medical decision between a woman and her doctor.” That room at Northwestern College, as I put in my letter to the editor, burst into applause. I don’t like Donald Trump. I don’t like his character. I don’t like his abrasiveness. He is in many ways an ungodly man. I need a better alternative, and until there is one, I will once again vote for him in 2020, so help me, God.

Thank you.

Participant 4

What is my vision for the future of America? I do love my country. What a difference in the world such a vision of freedom for all to flourish can mean, but I fear the injustice that our power and privilege also bear. Do we (Do I?) see our freedoms as our own to hoard and to protect from the grasp of others or to share and multiply for the flourishing of the whole world?

I don’t think I ever saw both as clearly as I did the year we lived in South Africa in 1991. I missed home so much. I was surprised how much I missed home. I was so aware that I was an American, for good and for ill, with privilege, responsibility and a scandalous ability to ignore and float somewhere above the hardship of others. My weekly American sports fix was the NFL game of the week, only the action broadcast without huddles or time-outs, and with minimal commercials. I also missed the whole season of a Washington Huskies National College Football Championship, my college team. Who knew I was such a creature of my culture?

We watched Desert Storm emancipate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein from a TV screen on the other side of the world. I remember the night it started, wondering and praying about what the world was about to become. It was fascinating to watch black and white South Africans’ differing reactions to American action. It shed quite a different light on it to see those who supported apartheid support us, and black folks so oppressed by apartheid see a similar oppressor in what we were doing there.

We watched Rodney King get beaten by L.A. policemen. When we’d returned to Seattle, I remember the tension when those officers of the law were exonerated. I was riding a ferry from work in Seattle to our temporary home on Bainbridge Island later that night, when everyone was hearing the news and wondering if riots would break out there, too. I looked across the mostly empty ferry at a black man seated alone on the other side, wondering if I should go talk with him, but not knowing what I or he would say and deciding not to. I regret that. In conversations with black South African friends looking forward to democracy after apartheid, I often forecasted that they would see a black president of South Africa, but that I couldn’t see a similar future for America in my lifetime.

Like God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants would bless all the nations, it depends so much on whether we’re focused on our own freedoms alone, or also the flourishing of others also. I’m not sure that it’s ever really been true as much as a romantic ideal in our history, but I think we are best when we stand for liberty and justice for all, not just for me and mine.

I’m also kind of traditional when it comes to ethics and how we treat others. I believe it’s important to tell the truth, maybe even especially when it’s hard. I respect those who do. They’re often worth following. I think treating others with humility, respect, and decency is important, too. I’m not a big believer in the ends justify the means. Rather, I think how we do something is the fruit of what we seek.

I believe in a free press, but it grieves me to see those rights used to scapegoat and silence people with other views. I’m very concerned about the state of our ideological divides, and my own inability to talk with people who differ from me. Not so much because I’d be inclined to argue, as because I’m conflict-avoidant and tend to be silent about what I actually think to avoid a fight. That fear leads me to disengage more than to connect, and I regret that.

I strongly believe in freedom of religion and separation of church and state, though I think people of all religious backgrounds should bring their values into their politics. I don’t believe the founders sought to establish a Christian nation, but to prevent abuses of power, including majority power, to infringe the rights of others, maybe especially religious. Ironically, I believe this somewhat religiously. Somehow, almost miraculously, our government was established as a system that allows differing interests to check each other. 

I think Jesus cares more about how we love others than enforcing beliefs or behaviors.

I really love the outdoors and believe that protecting our environment is very important for ourselves and the rest of the world for future generations. 

That said, to what extent do I believe President Trump is facilitating or not the accomplishment of my vision for the future of America? I’ve actually been quite surprised about how traditional and unforgiving my critique of President Trump has been, but I think it’s because I see him as deconstructing almost everything about my country that I think is most important. I think it actually brings shame on the witness of Christians who support him. I know of too many people who have written off evangelicals. It makes me wonder how they see Jesus.

Make America Great Again, I believe, feeds a nationalistic spirit that is not good news for the world. Building walls and our own economic and military is no way to bless the nations. “Lock her up” is eerily reminiscent of a mob that would rather see others suffer than take a hard look at ourselves. His constant (and fickle) sorting of good and bad people, depending on whether or not they support him, is a toxic recipe for the nation. Although I disagree with most of his policies that seem to me to make the rich richer with little regard for the poor, most of my objection to President Trump relates to his character, and a process that seems like an assault on our most important institutions and resources, because it serves his own ego and interests. I believe he models a style of self-centered leadership that is staggeringly destructive.

But what concerns me most is not him, but the society that is obsessed with him, in support or critique, including myself. I think it should tell us something about ourselves if we weren’t so busy giving him our attention.

Participant 5

My vision for the United States going forward is I think pretty similar for most of us: we’re all going to be prosperous and live in harmony with all kinds of happiness and all that. Sort of Utopian ideas. I don’t know exactly how to get there. I think that the best way for us to get there is freedom within restraint. And economically, I think it’s very easy to get to that point. I think we’re in quite a boom right now, economically, and there’s unemployment numbers that we haven’t seen in 50 years.

And, I think a lot of that is due to President Trump’s policies. I think a lot of that is due to just the fact that the economy has been let loose, and it was restrained for a number of years after the last recession and we’re seeing that there’s still opportunity in America, and people are willing to take it, people are interested in taking it.

As to the African American and Hispanic communities, I’ve seen some numbers the last couple of days that their unemployment numbers have never been lower. This is true for women, for African Americans, for Hispanics, for all the demographics you can name. So, I think, I hope that is good for people. I would like to believe that there’s opportunity there, and the opening of the American economy to everyone through this boom that we’re going through is good, and maybe can open those doors to  some of the other issues that we face, like  the difficulties that Black folks or Hispanic folks see relative to inequality.

I see that President Trump has been good for the economy, and I think that’s kind of the bedrock of our ability to heal as a nation because I think most people vote as much with their wallets as with anything. So, the fact that people are doing well, hopefully, obviously not everything, not 100% of that is due to President Trump, but I hope that they can look at each other and see, “Hey, you’re doing well, I’m doing well. You’re not an inferior person because you’re poor, but you’re somebody who does appeal to me because you’re a fellow human being.” It’s easier I think to marginalize other people when they’re not able to take care of themselves. And I think that’s something that we haven’t done. I think that’s something that we have difficulty with.

And, as far as President Trump,  He’s definitely not my cup of tea when it comes to his personality and the kinds of things he says. I wish he would just stop Tweeting. But, I think policy wise, I’ve been pretty happy, and I think overall he’s been good for the country.

Participant 6

 I write, I would say maybe, in the tradition of a poet. In my upbringing I, maybe find affinity with the prophets, how they speak. My answers are written in maybe a more poetic language than a precise language just to clarify.

What is my vision for the future of America? I’ll begin bluntly and then clarify my answer. I do not care about the future of America. The America defined by its current borders, by its identifiers of citizenship, by its military might and presence in the world, by its inclination toward growing and maintaining economic power, and by its current manifestation of hierarchy systems and infrastructure. This America does not matter to me. In fact, I would not be sad to see the current reality of America embedded as I perceive it to be in systems of injustice completely dismantled into something that resembles peace and love for everyone, especially including those who have spent centuries as marginalized people.

In order for me to share my vision for the future of America I believe sharing my understanding of how I currently see America is important. I see an America that utilizes the world’s resources but does not share equally in the returns made off those resources. For an example of this I look at our use of technology as dependent upon mining in Congo and manufacturing in China compared with the wealth gap of technology companies and miners/factory workers in the Congo and China.

Even in our communities like Flint or Appalachian communities in West Virginia, which do not have access to safe or clean water, we have children in our communities who are food insecure, we have adults in our communities riddled with college debt without access to incomes needed to pay back the interest on that debt. In nearly every sphere of life access to food, shelter, medicine, education, there are obstacles and exploitation for many while wealth remains highly concentrated in a small group of power brokers whom hold incredible influence over policy shaping and maintaining unjust systems. As an example of this I would look at the history of redlining written about by Ta-Nehishi Coates in A Case for Reoarations and the current reality of mass incarceration written about by Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow.

We are a nation divided by class, race, gender identity, and sexual orientation. A small sample of examples that lead me to this conclusion are these stats: 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ; The unemployment rate for transgender people is three times higher than the rest of America; 54% of transgender people have reported experiencing sexual violence, and one in three transgender people live in poverty. This is not a picture of a country where all people are liberated and experience justice as The United States’ Pledge of Allegiance claims the republic stands upon.

What exactly is the republic standing upon? In my pessimistic cynical view,  our government stands upon centuries of explanation, greed, and violence. For me, this is the vision for the future. Jesus proclaimed in Luke 4 referencing the year of Jubilee, “He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,” and then those listening tried to throw him off a cliff. I believe that Jesus’ vision for the world is bigger than we can accept. It upsets us because it uproots the things that we secretly love more than him. To fixate on Jesus is to lose sight of the flag.

This is my vision for the future. A future where we believe that selling our possessions and providing for the poor was not a suggestion, but rather the definition of the early church. A future where we believe that loving our neighbor does not mean bombing, killing, raping, cheating, deceiving, manipulating, ignoring, starving, exploiting, torturing, or deporting them. Where we believe that loving our neighbor as we love ourselves means we cannot deprive them of anything we would not deprive ourselves, a future where we believe that love transforms and not war. That intentional resurrection restores, not government. That conversation builds relationships, not sanctions. That reconciliation happens through corporal works of mercy, humility, vulnerability, and forgiveness, not corporal punishment and isolation. A future where we believe that the right response to others means bringing joy, enabling peace, practicing patience, enacting kindness and goodness, maintaining faithfulness, all with gentleness and self-control. A future where we reject the idea of self-interest alive in the marketplace and instead choose to use our community to pursue and fulfill the interest of the marginalized.

A future where we refuse to argue about the origins of things or the truth of science, but rather choose to live in such a way that allows the created order to continue to exist and thrive. A future where we acknowledge our short comings and failures of and believe that each moment is practice for the next. That only through intimate accountability can any community pursue their dreams, fulfill their imaginations, and remain faithful to their soul.

Lastly, I whole heartedly reject the idea of impossibility. I believe that another world is possible, that another way is possible and that possibility exists because we exist as a whole and Christ exists as our enabler. If the blind are to see, let them see our lives as good. If the deaf are to hear, let our words bring them hope.

To what extent do I believe President Trump is facilitating my vision for the future of America? This is the last part of my answer. I do not see any evidence at all that President Trump is facilitating anything I wish for my neighbors. The most hopeful and thankful I’ve been since he took office was when he signed The First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill aimed at reducing recidivism and refining sentencing laws and harsh penalties. However, I find him lacking in the empathy I believe it would take to truly tackle the deep and wide injustices embedded in the criminal justice system. To defend this claim I need only to point you towards the way he has spoken and continues to speak about football player protests and anyone who allegedly commits a crime in America. Trump has exhibited behaviors and rhetoric that actively dehumanize people of color, people who worship differently than him, anyone who does not identify as a cisgender man, impoverished people, people from other countries, disabled folks, and the list goes on.

A man who cannot exhibit love in his words or deeds does not have my trust in his capabilities to lead us toward an America steeped in love and peace. That said, I do not at this current time believe any one person is capable of leading in this way, but rather that we as a body following Christ can do the work here and now in our communities. I’ll conclude by quoting Mennonite pastor Melissa Florer-Bixler. “I would not have chosen Jesus. Violence is so attractive, hierarchies are efficient, coercive power achieves quick results, but I have met Jesus and that is that.”

Participant 7

It is my turn to address the topic of my vision for America and how I think President Trump is doing in achieving some of those goals.

I’ve titled my little piece, “Features of a Desired Future.” Different spheres that impact my life are: the religious sphere. I hope for protection for religion, not official anti-religious bias; I hope for protection of life, not 60 million more abortions; I hope for a common morality, not just individual truth; And I hope for natural law standards, not legal progressivism.

And do note that I have natural law in the religious sphere, because historically they do come together. Law was not politicized classically, although it is today.

In the political sphere, I’d like to see authority in the citizenry, not authority in the government. The government should only have delegated powers, not sui generis, its own powers. I like liberty within limits, not liberty without limits. I prefer and hope for civil discourse, not gridlock and demonizing the opposition, either direction.

I like policies and ideals, not identity politics and parties, and I prefer cooperation, not conflict or violence.

In the economic sphere I prefer wealth creation, not wealth redistribution. I prefer merit based rewards, not entitlements and victimhood. And I hope for freedom of opportunity, not an artificial equality.

My rationale? I believe that liberalism has failed. For the last 50 to 70 years, both political parties have leaned towards the center to gain the independent voter. But the center has collapsed. It was useful only for getting elected. After election, sharp differences reappear as we sink back into our gridlock. I believe that for the foreseeable future, politics will be played at the edges of the spectrum. Bernie Sanders is a populist on the left and Donald Trump is a populist on the right. Both unrealistic extremes are not suited for the long haul.

Presently there is no national consensus, only conflict and confrontation. And this is the perfect environment for populism. Populism is not a concept, it’s only a strategy, and we’ve seen it work for President Trump. The collapse of the center, that is disenchantment with no results in education, racial reconciliation or economic progress, has shifted control of domestic policy from a do nothing Congress over to the courts and the bureaucracy, neither of which figured large in the design of the founding fathers.

The Supreme Court was designed to arbitrate between the Executive and the Congress. It never was designed as an independent oracle of law or policy. Legislatures, that is the people, should make the law, and courts only administer the law. Now our courts have assumed the role of declaring unconstitutional anything which violates or impedes the progressive agenda. We’re now discovering previously unknown constitutional rights and freedoms, which would make the founding fathers blush.

We are abusing the concepts of equal protection and fundamental personal rights. We need to consider adding a method for the governed to override or veto unacceptable court decisions, just like we have the power of recall and of referendum on people and on issues.

Who does America belong to? Where should the final authority reside? I believe it should be in the citizenry. The contrast for the two kinds of liberalism that have been classically understood in our nation since the middle 1850s would be Edmund Burke and John Stuart Mill. Burke is liberty within limits. Mill, liberty without limits. Cultural safeguards protecting liberty versus government as the tool to expand liberty. And Burke believed that human nature tended to destroy community when unrestrained, and Mill believed that human nature would eventually improve community with enough education.

And how is President Trump doing? President Trump is facilitating the accomplishment of my vision for America in the following ways. He is attempting to keep his campaign promises. He is appointing Supreme Court nominees from the early list that he published while he was campaigning. Both verbally and administratively he is promoting the lives of the unborn.

He is attempting to reduce and roll back extreme regulations, reordering of the economy through trade agreements, tariffs and taxes, and he is attempting immigration reform efforts. I disagree with his style, but I like his results and I commend his efforts.

Participant 8

Here is my vision for America is. I guess I’m a very constitutional conservative, I guess is the term I would use for myself. So I’m somebody that would like us to return back to our original founding purpose as a country, which would be a constitutional republic.

And the parts of that that I greatly appreciate, and I think that we’ve lost sight of, would be some of our small government. Government not driving and being involved in so much of our lives. Certainly touching that on our liberty that we each should cherish and have in this country, where we have the liberty to use our talents, our gifts, our money, what we earn the way we see fit. So, I guess my vision for America is certainly a small government, limited government, and certainly one driven by the Constitution and what that was all set out for us.

So that entails the idea that we’re governed by laws, which is the idea of a constitutional republic, not driven by a democratic system of the mob or the majority ruling, which I think is very important. In our DNA we can see some of the challenges that we have when we allow just the moment to drive our politics, instead of the law and reason to drive our politics.

So if I go into how I believe Trump is facilitating or not facilitating that. I’m certainly not someone who feels he’s doing that as well as I would like, but I do feel that he is doing a much better job in that then what we have seen in my memory of a president. So some of the places that I don’t think he’s doing what I like, we certainly are expanding our deficit, spending more than what we bring in. I certainly don’t appreciate that, I don’t feel that’s part of what government should do.

An example of where I think we’re going away from limited government, some of the laws that recently, he has been promoting, like a family leave law, where we as tax payers will be paying for people to take leave from their job. Again, that’s the idea of limited government not dictating how my money should be spent in other people’s lives.

Some places where I think he’s doing a good job and helping go back to a limited small government, he has certainly reduced a lot of regulations that were definitely stifling a lot of innovation, a lot of jobs, a lot of growth in this country. Which also has led to the creation of many, many jobs, which has been very good for us as a country, and helped many things.

Another area where I greatly appreciate his work has been fighting for religious liberties. We saw some of that being taken away from us in the last administration. We certainly are seeing that being relaxed, where we have liberty, not just my religion, but anybody’s religion to worship as they feel fit in this country.

Another area I feel he’s doing a good job is that limited government is certainly reducing taxes on us, allowing us to keep our money, allowing us to spend the money where we see fit. Instead of the government taking it and spending our money.

To close, I would say I am much more in favor of what he’s doing to facilitate my vision of America, but certainly there’s not 100% agreement in what’s happening.