Politics & Policy

What Two Chinese Women Taught Me About Donald Trump

Trump arrives at a rally in Roanoake, Va., September 24, 2016. (Reuters photo: Jonathan Ernst)
This election is about much more than him personally.

Okay, first a confession: They’re not really Chinese women.

They’re Chinese-American women — both immigrants to the United States, one of whom I’ve never met, and one of whom is a good friend. One was a political prisoner in Communist China. The other left China as a girl and survived a rough childhood in the inner city. As an adult, she has dealt with numerous vicious, racist, personal, and public attacks for her political views.

These women aren’t just Americans, they’re super-patriots — and as you’ll soon see, neither is a fan of political correctness. “Chinese women” sounded more catchy and intriguing in a headline, and since censoring the intriguing for the politically correct would fly in the face of the arguments these women make, we’ll just call them “Chinese women” — PC police be damned. 

Since Donald Trump won the nomination, I haven’t written a lot about this election. Partly because it’s been very depressing, especially as someone who had opposed Trump and had strongly advocated for another candidate. And partially because I have conservative friends on all sides of the pro- and anti-Trump divide, and almost all of them have good arguments for their decision. 

Every day seems to bring out a new and depressing Trump revelation. One of the worst revelations is that we have a Republican party so completely incompetent that they couldn’t even ferret a lot of this stuff out during the primary when GOP voters could have actually used it to make their decisions. Was anyone surprised that Trump has (allegedly) behaved in this way? I mean he’s Donald Trump, not Mother Teresa. All I know is that a lot of GOP opposition researchers need to be fired.

But on to the heroines of our story. The first is my good friend Ying Ma. After listing a number of Trump’s terrible personal characteristics, Ma, a Cornell- and Stanford Law– educated professional, scholar, and author discusses Trump’s war on political correctness as the thing that ultimately drew her to the candidate:  

Yet I believe this same man will overthrow — not just tinker with — the wretched political correctness that governs this country’s discussions and policies about race, ethnicity, gender, and other immutable characteristics.

He will fight for Americans in a way that Republicans and Democrats have long been afraid to do, and he will think big, act boldly, and choose common sense over ingrained practices.

This self declared “deplorable” continued:

I am “deplorable” because I dare to have a dissenting opinion. Long before Trump became a presidential contender, my support for the rule of law and opposition to amnesty for illegal immigrants made me a xenophobe. My references to black-on-black crime in discussions about police-community relations made me a racist. My use of the term “radical Islamic terrorism” made me an Islamophobe.

When Trump came along, he gave me — and millions others — a voice. Not only does he reject this nonsense wholesale, he does so with hilarity, theater, and bombast.

Our second heroine, who has given me permission to share her words but wishes to remain anonymous, is a highly educated journalist of some public prominence. Her words (lightly edited for style), first sent to a private group e-mail, are shared publicly here for the first time.

Dear friends,

In the past year, I traveled around the country (at least 25 states so far) to cover the election. I spent a great deal of my time and energy to understand the Trump voters. I am quite convinced that we are experiencing another Jacksonian Revolution. The working classes, especially those in the Rust Belt, are so depressed and so angry. The elites have shown very little empathy and compassion to them. I spent some time in several small towns in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and southern Virginia. These were company towns two or three decades ago. Now they are turning into ghost towns. Half of the population, especially men, is not employed, although they want to work.

A man told me that he had to divorce his wife in order to qualify her for more welfare. A woman told me that her son could not afford college and joined the military instead. When she went with her son to the college-admission office, they were asked if he got juvenile criminal records or if they had minority ancestors. When the answers were negative, the school official told them that he was not qualified for any fellowship. Many of their stories made me cry. Washington and Wall Street treated them as if they were left over from globalization. Many union members told me that they would never vote for anyone in the establishment again. Why are they so “deplorable”? Why are they denied their livelihood first, and then their humanity by the Democrats who claimed that they represented the working people?

I have never been a Trump fan, and did not vote for him in the primary. I had just decided to vote for him when the Access Hollywood tapes came out. I am a woman and an immigrant. I am also a former political prisoner from China. The behavior of the media reminded me so much of Communist propaganda. This reminded me of the Donald Sterling case. If someone’s private conversation can be used to deprive them of their property and their reputation, who will we get as political leaders except those who determined to become politicians at the age of 18 and never utter anything unpleasant?

My issue in this election is the First Amendment – freedom of speech is the foundation of this great nation. I was born under dictatorship. Freedom of speech first and foremost means that we have the right to say the wrong things. I’d rather have a president who says many wrong things, so I can keep my freedom of doing so. I spent a year in jail in China for speaking the “wrong words.” When I came to America, I immediately fell in love with this great country and its great democracy. Nowadays, people lose their jobs, their reputation, and even their livelihood for saying the “wrong thing,” even when they are speaking the truth. Should we feel alarmed?

I do.

God (or the impersonal forces of history, as you prefer) has ways of using the most unlikely people for the most useful purposes. Trump often does not behave like a good exemplar of moral values for anyone. But the issues raised by both Ma and her anonymous counterpart are important. The Never Trumpers may want to make this election just about Donald Trump, but this election isn’t about Donald Trump. That is not the way it will be interpreted. Our left-wing media won’t allow it. It’s about the iron grip political correctness has on our intellectual culture, one that has caused incalculable damage to the country and which the conservative movement, for all of its best intentions, and the Republican party (which often lacks even those) has been powerless to stop. It’s one of the biggest reasons that the GOP loses fights over issues even when we win elections.

There is virtually nothing that Donald Trump could have done that would horrify me more than I am horrified by the way the so-called mainstream media in this election has absolutely been in bed with Hillary Clinton and has worked as active agents to destroy Trump, including withholding vital and damaging information from citizens until it could be used to inflict maximum damage against their enemy candidate.

There is virtually nothing that Donald Trump could have done to horrify me more than I am horrified by the way support for functionally open borders and the adoption of PC views about racial, gender, and religious politics have become litmus tests for who is allowed to speak, who will have a job, and in some cases, who will be able to feed their families.

There is virtually nothing Trump could have done that would horrify me more than I am horrified by the way our bipartisan establishment has banded together to protect the odious and corrupt Hillary Clinton.

There is virtually nothing Trump could have done that would horrify me more than I am horrified by the way our bipartisan establishment has banded together to protect the odious and corrupt Hillary Clinton, who dredges up the same forces of race, class, and gender that Trump is accused of exploiting for political gain, but does so free of consequence because of her politically correct choice of heroes and victims. 

For all of Trump’s many personal faults, he took the fight on these issues to the Democrats when others wouldn’t or, despite their best efforts, couldn’t. And he is being attacked by the Left not primarily for his numerous deficiencies. (These deficiencies are the pretexts, of course, but if several of them were really disqualifying to become president, Bill Clinton would never have gotten within shouting distance of the White House, which would have meant we wouldn’t be suffering through Hillary today.)

No, Trump is being attacked because he took on the false moral authority of the media, exposed the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the Republican donor classes and party establishment, and took on the privilege of the many groups who use political correctness to decide what sort of speech and ideas are allowed in society. Those groups are terrified by Trump and are all lashing out at him in inchoate rage. It may have been purely by accident, but Trump has become the Emmanuel Goldstein for the entire political, media, and corporate establishments.

Trump’s character seems questionable enough that it is hard for many conservatives to be enthusiastic about the (increasingly unlikely) prospect of his presidency. But it will certainly be tragic if Trump’s numerous personal failings are the cause of a decisive defeat, one that will falsely convince GOP elites that they can continue business as usual without a substantial reform of their ideas and approaches. Conservative cowering in the face of the leftist assault on America must cease. Our voters, through Trump, are demanding, above all, that we stop apologizing for them and start fighting for them.

Rather than suffer a crushing defeat, it would be far better if Americans could see that this man, despite his deplorable characteristics, tapped a well of disaffection so deep that enough people were willing to ignore all of his catastrophic faults to cast a vote against business as usual. It may be the only way we can achieve change that we can really believe in.

I fully sympathize with those who cannot vote for Trump, but they must own the fact that not doing so will crush the goals and aspirations of our heroines and many like them, who are not fools or political naïfs. Defeat for Trump may mean a restoration of personal decency, moral rectitude, free-market economics, and political order, among other virtues, as values that Republicans can claim. But it also means a victory for the politically correct censors, a defeat for our working- and middle-class base by the oligarchical and feckless GOP establishment, the triumph of the open-borders lobby, a probable decades-long liberal majority on the Supreme Court, and hegemony for the most odious forces on issues of  race, class, and gender.

It’s a true dilemma for conservatives, and my sympathy only falls short for those who pretend that neither road has its virtues or costs. This election may be about many things, but we cannot pretend that it is just about Donald Trump. As two Chinese women taught me, we don’t have that luxury.


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