By James A. Kidney
There is lots of fear, angst and anger about Trump in Congress, in the blogosphere, in op-eds and on “the street” among us little folk. But all of us could exercise a little intelligent strategizing on how to deal with the reality of President Trump in addition to protesting and complaining.
Let’s use our economic power.
Here is a look at an alternative way to deal with two Trump proposals, one announced and the other circulating in draft, if either becomes policy or law. On these, as well as other proposals, liberal wealth could be used to leverage the right wing agenda to reduce its influence and elevate better ideals of freedom and liberty.
One of these proposals is the one Trump announced while pandering to the right wing “Christian” crowd at the annual White House prayer breakfast. Trump said he plans to “destroy” the 64-year-old trade-off between political speech and tax exemption for religious institutions. It would allow churches to use their tax-free funds for political action.
The Nation Magazine, meanwhile, obtained what the White House confirmed is a draft of an executive order with the Orwellian title “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom.” The draft order “seeks to create wholesale exemptions for people and organizations who claim religious or moral objections to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion and trans identity, and it seeks to curtail women’s access to contraception and abortion through the Affordable Care Act.” According to The Nation:
The four-page draft order . . . construes religious organizations so broadly that it covers “any organization, including closely held for-profit corporations,” and protects “religious freedom” in every walk of life: “when providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts; or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with Federal, State or local governments.”
As this blog was about to be posted, news came that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner persuaded the White House to kill this proposal smashing civil rights because of “religious” views. But that doesn’t mean something similar will not be proposed to satisfy Trump’s right wing religious base, whether it be directed to gays, immigrants or others.
If either of these lemons, or similar fruit, become the law of the land, perhaps liberals, and conservatives who believe in protecting individual freedom, could make some strong lemonade.
As for the first proposal, which has not been withdrawn, fundamentalists should be careful what they wish for. Persons self-identifying as members of fundamentalist Christian denominations are among the least educated, as the following chart from a November 2016 Pew Research Center study shows:
Not unexpectedly, given lower levels of education, Pew tells a similar story about which religious sects have the average highest income among their members. Denominations generally considered to be more conservative, including Catholics, tend to have members with incomes below the national average.
Further, according to the Census Bureau, the Blue states that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 have household wealth far exceeding that of the Red states that supported Trump:
How do this figures portraying poorly educated, poorly paid, regionally limited Christian sects impact on Trump’s tax proposal? Clearly, if churches can support political candidates and parties with tax-free contributions, the presumably more liberal denominations can outspend the right wing by magnitudes — with the same tax free money.
This does not mean Trump’s notion is a good one. Separation of church and state should mean that contributions to a church are not distinguished from other income and expenditures. But we as a nation decided long ago that “the power to tax is the power to destroy” religious institutions. We can live with how things have been done for over 60 years. But if Trump and his supporters want to change the system, liberals with a religious bent can double down and spend tax free money to route conservatives in many regions of the country.
These statistics also augur an effective means of combatting a primitive interpretation of civil rights to mean “voluntary adherence” to laws protecting minorities, or any other proposal touching on commerce that is of similar fascist intent.
Businesses want their products and services to appeal to the greatest number with the assured ability to pay for them. Some Mom and Pops may want to assert their mean spirit against potential customers, but most businesses will not. Most could not care less what you do in the bedroom, what gender you claim, or about the color of your skin. The color they care about is green. If you have it, the business will be happy to serve you.
But how do straight white people or others know that they are purchasing from a firm that is tolerant of all and does not choose to “opt out” of laws promoting equality? Easy. Any business that does not discriminate will be encouraged post on its doors, its websites and its products a symbol signifying that all are welcome as customers and employees. In many areas of the country, this will be a business promotion and a competitive advantage. In a handful of others, it will not be. But until liberals retake the government, possibly with the backing of tax exempt political contributions through churches, the backwaters will be able to continue living in ignorance and poverty, as they have for over 150 years. Really, who cares?
The idea is not flawless, but use of the economic and educational leverage the Blue states have over the Red, especially in areas of commerce, can be an effective goal of organization to either defeat or minimize the impact, of proposals from the Trump crowd.
We are not helpless.
As for the sign to be posted showing tolerance? A suggestion from the web is at the top of this posting.