By Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published on June 4, 2019
On June 2, 2019, I published an article about the U.S. Navy's act of shielding the USS John McCain warship from President Donald Trump’s view during his visit to Japan last week. I thought this action was disgraceful.
I have been struggling to understand why Republican voters who support our military tolerate Trump’s non-stop insults of John McCain, scores of military Gold Star families (whose loved ones were killed in military action), and various decorated war heroes. After all, Trump was a verified Vietnam War-era draft dodger. When it was his time to fight for America, he ran from the battlefield.
A Facebook friend of mine named Carla Vann Nettles put this situation in perspective for me. In a comment she posted on my Facebook page, Ms. Vann Nettles stated:
“Like Donald V. Watkins, President Trump is unbossed and unbought! His supporters stand by him because he loves America. Serving in the military is not a requirement for being POTUS. If it were, how did Obama and Clinton get elected? In the big picture, dodging the draft is low on the list of why a citizen is unqualified to be president. I support both of you because you both have a lot of the same core values. Is President Trump, the draft dodging, womanizing, whatever comes across his brain comes out his mouth, name calling man perfect? Heck NO! Is he perfect for the job compared to the other candidates? Heck YEAH!”
Later, Ms. Vann Nettles added this comment:
“I’ll tell you something else that is extremely important to me, the POTUS and Donald V. Watkins. [Law enforcement] corruption and sex/human/drug trafficking. Therefore, I missed President Trump’s speech. I was completely consumed with the 19 paths from Mexico to the US that were cut off from the drug mules over the holiday weekend.”
I do not know Ms. Vann Nettles personally, but I have tremendous respect for her for several reasons. First, she expresses her viewpoints in clear and concise language. Second, she is not afraid to disagree with my viewpoints and when she does so, it is always done in a tasteful manner and in a way that enlightens me. Third, whenever other commenters direct harsh comments towards Ms. Vann Nettles on my Facebook page, she remains focused, thoughtful, and respectful in her response. Fourth, Ms. Vann Nettles always articulates a rational basis for her viewpoint. Fifth, I can tell from the tone and substance of her comments that Ms. Vann Nettles is very smart.
Many times, Ms. Vann Nettles and I agree to disagree on various matters of public interest. I like that. Sometimes, Ms. Vann Nettles articulates her position in a way that it makes sense to me and I wind up changing my viewpoint. This constructive dialogue often helps me to grow in my understanding of the world.
Ms. Vann Nettles symbolizes the broad, diverse base of readers on my Facebook page who focus on what we have in common as Americans, as opposed to what divides us. I enjoy reading her comments, even when we disagree on a particular matter.
It would be so beautiful if President Trump embodied Ms. Vann Nettles’ leadership qualities, intellect, and approach to public discourse. She knows how to listen, learn from, and tolerate opposing viewpoints without insulting those who differ with her. Likewise, Ms. Vann Nettles knows how to open up a closed mind.
Ms. Vann Nettles has plenty of class and character. She is a well-meaning American who loves this country. She is a unifier, not a divider. She speaks her mind freely and openly without resorting to coded messages. When Ms. Vann Nettles speaks, I listen.
Ms. Vann Nettles tolerates Trump’s acknowledged plethora of character flaws because the other candidates who are running for president do not share her core political values. These candidates need to pay close attention to Ms. Vann Nettles and the tens of millions of voters like her across America. It is the candidate’s job to understand the core values of mainstream voters and to address them in a persuasive manner. Until and unless this is done, Donald Trump – with all of his flaws – will remain the preferred candidate of choice for mainstream American voters. He has won their hearts and minds.
I know, work with, and enjoy strong personal relationships with hundreds of voters who support Donald Trump. These voters are NOT racists. They also openly support me with the same fervor and degree of loyalty. Above all, they are NOT “sunshine” friends. During the recent storms of adversity in my life, they never left my side. They understand what I am going through and why.
Like Ms. Vann Nettles, I respect leaders who are “unbossed” and “unbought.” However, the ones I support must have class and character. These essential attributes filter out murderous thugs like Russian President Vladimir Putin, North Korea President Kim Jong Un, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, all of whom are “unbossed” and “unbought.” For reasons I do not understand, Donald Trump idolizes murderous thugs. I do not.
Finally, the act of listening to opposing viewpoints from Carla Vann Nettles and the thousands of supportive Facebook friends like her helps me grow as a human being. It also fosters spirited and respectful debate on matters of significant public interest. This is a key ingredient for our participatory democracy.
PHOTO: Carla Vann Nettles, my loyal Facebook friend and supporter.