Getting to know you

Opinion: Ken Trainor

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By Ken Trainor

Staff writer

Those of us on the losing side of this election have been told we should reach out to the other side, try to understand who they are and why they voted the way they did. I can't help wondering why the onus isn't on the winning side to reach out to the losing side, but, as ever, we seem to be held to a higher standard.

Democratic Congressman John Lewis, speaking about what he learned during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, said, "You try to appeal to the goodness in every human being. And you don't give up. You never give up. Hate is too heavy a burden to bear." 

In a spirit of honest dialogue, therefore, assuming the best in the other side, here is a list of questions we invite you to answer:


Do you see any possibility of common ground between our two sides?

Do you believe our polarized nation can ever be united?

Do you see us as the enemy?

Is there anything we can agree on?

How about economic inequality? Has your life been impacted negatively by economic inequality like ours has?

Do you agree with us that the wealthy elite has profited excessively at the expense of the average American?

Is it possible for a billionaire real estate magnate to reduce economic inequality and create an economy that is more just and fair for everyone?

If we oppose what President Trump does and says, does that make us disloyal Americans?

If so, were you a disloyal American when you opposed President Obama's actions and words?

Do you support Republicans refusing to hold hearings for an entire year on Merrick Garland, President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court, even though the Constitution requires Congress to "advise and consent"?

Would you have supported President Trump nominating Merrick Garland, respected by Republicans and Democrats alike, as a gesture to help unify the country?

Or do you consider stealing a Supreme Court nominee from a Democratic president "just good politics"?

Hillary Clinton lost Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania by less than 1 percent of the vote in each state. If 1 in every 100 voters in those states had voted for Clinton instead, she would have won in the electoral college 273 to 258. As it was, Clinton won the popular vote by almost 3 million. In spite of this, do you believe President Trump has a mandate? 

If Trump had won the popular vote and lost in the electoral college, would you still defend the electoral college?

President Trump makes many statements that fact-checker websites show to be untrue, most recently his claims about the size of the crowd at his inauguration and alleging that massive voting fraud prevented him from winning the popular vote. If his supporters criticized President Trump for saying things that aren't true, do you think he might be more careful and considered before he speaks?

Are you willing to criticize him for saying things that clearly are not true?

Does President Trump act in accordance with your Christian beliefs and principles?

Is his recent ban on Muslims from various Middle East countries — and giving preference to Christians — in synch with your Christian beliefs and principles?

Does it make you uneasy that you voted for a man who was enthusiastically endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan?

Is it OK for Mr. Trump to brag about groping women — even if it isn't true, even if he thinks his comments aren't being recorded?

Do you agree with the old adage that a person's true character is revealed by the way he behaves when he thinks no one is watching?

Would you support President Trump if you found out he broke the law multiple times in his business dealings?

If he cheated on his wife — or former wives when married to them — would you still support him?

What are the chances of success for any president when well over half of the women in America are supremely pissed off at him?

What must he do in order for you to consider him a successful president?

How would you assess his performance as president after his first 10 days in office?

Should President Trump lift sanctions against Russia in spite of their incursions in Ukraine?

Do you support Russia's involvement in upholding the Assad regime in Syria after Assad used chemical weapons against his own people?

Which is more important: Improving relations with Russia or supporting NATO?

Do you object to the Russian government's attempts to influence the outcome of our presidential election?

What should be done about it?

What do we need to know about Trump supporters that goes beyond stereotypes?

Was your vote more for Trump or against Clinton or against the Washington establishment — or all of the above?

Did your vote truly reflect your values and your vision of government?

What is your vision of government?

Have you made any effort to reach out to Clinton supporters and find out more about them?

We look forward to hearing your answers to these questions and getting to know you better.


Reader Comments

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Jenna Brown Russell  

Posted: February 7th, 2017 9:49 AM

I will quickly hit your other questions: Yes, the electoral college has never been more necessary. The insulated 'bubbles' of the populous coasts and Chicago should not be able to dictate the order for every state in the republic unchecked. Otherwise, why not give California 6 Senators? As for claims of marital fidelity--really? Just don't even. I appreciate your speaking for more than 1/2 of all American women, but am confident that the vast majority are not going around "supremely pissed off" because we are a sensible species capable of managing complex emotions while supporting progress in America wherever it may be found. But thanks for the mansplain. Of course Russia and Assad are bad. They should never have gotten reset buttons, "more latitude after the election" or feted by the Speaker of the House. Syria is not on Trump. Yet. Here's what I would like you to consider; as much as you dislike Trump (in my opinion the second worst candidate on the ballot), many, including myself, disliked Obama. BO was most assuredly not the crass buffoon that Trump is, but he was a destructive force. Yet we broke no windows, we started no fires. And I am certain, were we to have a contemptible corrupt, lying, angry, cuckold as President today, the case would be the same. Perhaps part of that is that we wouldn't have a bubble-dwelling media and Hollywood elite constantly spurring us to sycophantic outrage and condoning bad behavior as an appropriate response to being sad a candidate you dislike won the election. That said, I am excited about the (rare) press that is fleshing out substantive issues, for the democratic activism and participation in the process. I'm delighted to see people engage by visa suspension who were either oblivious or unconcerned about the 26,171 bombs the US dropped on those people in 2016. It has been lonesome in the meaningful watch of an engaged citizen, and I welcome the company. Your brand of it is not its most productive, but its yours. 2/2

Jenna Brown Russell  

Posted: February 7th, 2017 9:31 AM

Ken, assuming your questions are not rhetorical, I have the following responses for your consideration: I was very saddened by Romney's 2012 loss. I thought the risk to our nation from the rising debt charged to our grandchildren, the collapsing access to quality healthcare, the rise of ISIS and an emboldened Russia, and the divide of our citizenry from another Obama term would be devastating. And it was. I think Trump is a symptom of just how devastating it was. Yet none of the 'elections have consequences, sit in the back' victors, nor even dear friends, seemed at all concerned with my feelings, or bridging some divide. However, this election has been one of endless demands from the members who supported Clinton. In fact, we who did not are not only required to "reach out" and "fix it", we are affixed with the label of racist, sexist, homophobic, immigrant hater as penance, regardless of the voracity or hurtfulness of such hateful accusations. To your other questions, none of my neighbors, friends, family, who supported the Democratic candidate is the enemy. And I know of no people who could not vote for Hillary who frame those that could in that way. Ask yourself if you do the same for those who voted differently than you. There is enormous common ground. What we suffer is a lack of room to have a dialogue when such extreme hate and vitriol is occurring, one that is continued and conflated with not only every editorial, but obit, movie review and food column. As for "delaying any vote on a SCJustice once the campaign season is underway", I may not agree with it, but let us acknowledge that is very much the Biden rule, not "stealing" (and please bring some maturation into your vernacular). Economic inequality is an issue, but the solutions advanced by the last administration and our 60 year war on poverty are not successes. Read Ryan's treatise, he visited the communities, he's got a better way. Or at least a new ideas built on ground truths. (1/2)

Ray Simpson  

Posted: February 6th, 2017 7:32 PM

Tom Brokaw has given advice to his (former) party which seems appropriate here. "Democrats have a lot of reconstruction to do of their own party and that's what they ought to be thinking about and that's what they should be getting ?" they ought to be out in the middle of America saying what do we need to know from you rather than sitting in Washington, reelecting Nancy Pelosi after they lost the House three different times."

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: February 4th, 2017 10:13 AM

Bill Dwyer - Assuming you're a smart guy since you made a living of writing But you are a textbook troll. Case in point " I intend to mock them mercilessly at every turn for the fools that they are." At least Ken is trying to get a better understanding of how to repair the rift.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: February 4th, 2017 8:35 AM

@ Dwyer - Was Dr Sebastian Gorka speaking to you? He Said: "Look, there is a new President. And if you have fundamental issues with his policies, you may wish to rethink your place in his government. This is the Commander-in-Chief, and he has certain policies he will execute. That is something you need to take seriously, whichever agency you work in." You need to consider that you never make a positive contribution to these comments, but rather only try to destroy others ideas and beliefs. We don't give a rats patoot about some document someone revealed to you in some dark alley or some dirty joke told to someone twelve years ago. Your ideology adds nothing to the conversation and is, sorry to say trivial and mean spireted.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: February 2nd, 2017 9:07 PM

"Anarchy in the streets." Whew! What a relief, I can see you're still tucked snuggly in your fever dream, Ray. Thought we may have to bring you warm milk and rock you back to sleep.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: February 2nd, 2017 5:44 PM

I know that my political belief is shared by less than 10% of Oak Park Voters and my views are repugnant to many. I also know that my party controls the White House, Senate, House of Representatives 30 governors seats and the majority of counties in our country. As I remember civics the order of succession to the presidency, right now, includes zero Democrats. All this talk of removing Donald Trump is just drivel. We are seeing anarchy in our streets in the name of progressive values. I assume the progressive tolerance only extends to those who think as you do. Our state is the best example of incompetent management by one party rule and rather than tilting windmills, perhaps you effort would be better spent in Springfield.

Barbara Joan  

Posted: February 2nd, 2017 5:12 PM

is this supposed be journalism?

Jim Bowman  

Posted: February 2nd, 2017 3:10 PM

"Does President Trump act in accordance with your Christian beliefs and principles?"? I'd say "Judaeo-Christian."

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: February 2nd, 2017 3:06 PM

Ray! Ssshhh... Don't speak, you might wake up from your right-wing fever dream. You're right, Ray, there's nothing to worry about. Trump isn't easing sanctions on the Russians. It's all fake news. Go back to sleep. Sorry for disturbing you.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: February 2nd, 2017 2:56 PM

@ Hanline - as my memory serves me the "Tea Party had a few marches, no arrests, no violence and certainly no destruction of property. On top of that the tea party members were mothers fathers aunts and uncles who felt betrayed by their government and their progressive ideas and chose to speak up. No parallel at all! @ Dwyer - when do you plan to launch your attack on our president? We have only heard vague treats to this point and silly claims of some dark secrets that you plan to reveal.

Mike Hanline  

Posted: February 2nd, 2017 2:05 PM

"Because your side is the one marching, rioting and promoting civil unrest that is why we feel no pitty. We did none of those things during the Obama nightmare and you felt no obligation to feel bad for us." When progressives put a demagogue in office who values autocracy over democracy and sympathizes with Russia over our longtime allies and NATO, I would hope that "your side" would do the same. Also, do I need to remind you YET AGAIN of the numerous Tea Party rallies and all the vitriol directed at Obama during his first year in office?

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: February 2nd, 2017 9:44 AM

Excellent column, Ken. Once again Ray blathers on about how the alt-right is morally superior to progressives, despite the progressive Democrats offering the only real ideas. We're seeing that now with many Republicans admitting that they lied about intending to "repeal" the Affordable Care Act. Or that Democrats have "lost contact with the American people when Clinton got 3 million more votes than Drumpf. What can you do but laugh at people who make assertions that are easily proven wrong by the video evidence available to us all? I for one want no part of "common ground" with such people. You're a far nicer guy than me, Ken, so have at it. Me? I intend to mock them mercilessly at every turn for the fools that they are.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: February 2nd, 2017 9:23 AM

The answers to most of your questions were answered 60 years ago "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country. " In case you do not recall that was your own JFK!

Ray Simpson  

Posted: February 2nd, 2017 12:35 AM

Because your side is the one marching, rioting and promoting civil unrest that is why we feel no pitty. We did none of those things during the Obama nightmare and you felt no obligation to feel bad for us. It is the intolerance and superiority attitude of progressive ideology that prevents us from feeling bad for you in your grief. We are also looking at the dower faces of the Democratic Party's leaders and we know that your bunch have learned nothing from this election. I am sure there are some young new members of your party who would love a leadership role but your side is so invested in status-quo e and worries that the young folks might be offended by some of your buried body's that you cannot show a fresh face. In two years you guys will get another shot at controlling something, I am betting you will fail again, because you have lost contact with the American people and you just always look pissed off!

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