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Why 'Decent People' Could Vote For Trump

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now let's hear a different point of view - in fact, a polar opposite view. Megan McArdle, a columnist for Bloomberg View, recently wrote "Five Reasons Decent People May Want To Back Trump," and she's with us in our Washington, D.C., studios now. Megan, welcome. Thanks so much for joining us.

MEGAN MCARDLE: Thanks for having me.

MARTIN: So let me just point out how you start. You said, (reading) why might decent people be supporting him despite his frankly - even joyously - vile authoritarianism, his encyclopedic lack of knowledge on any and all policy topics and his complete disdain for principle or the truth? That's a heck of a start. You say, well, there is a case to be made, and you are making it. And so let's go through your argument. OK, so you say decent people might support him because Republican politicians would like to get re-elected. Is it really that important?

MCARDLE: Well, I mean, if you're a Republican politician, it is. Everyone is full of reasons that other people should stand up and bravely lose their jobs. When it comes to their own job, they're more likely to compromise. And I think that that's also true of Republican politicians.

MARTIN: And you think that there are enough people in the Republican base who would be likely to retaliate against Republican politicians if they disavow him?

MCARDLE: I don't think that they know. Although I should say that since I wrote this, we have seen some developments (laughter) with some politicians starting to actually unendorse Trump. Paul Ryan has now said that people should vote their conscience, which is basically giving them license if they want to come out against him. So I'm not actually sure that Republican politicians are going to decide that this is in their best interest.

MARTIN: Clinton's emails - you say that (reading) sorry, Clinton supporters, the email server situation is bad. It's really bad.

Tell me why. Because many people say, hasn't email ever been hacked, unlike OMB's, the State Department and all these other entities?

MCARDLE: Well, you know, people keep saying it wasn't hacked. We have no idea whether it was hacked because it's not really clear that Hillary Clinton had the team available to detect a hack. But beyond that - look, what she did was a violation of records laws. Now, it's kind of theoretically possible she didn't know that. But I've had a bunch of people who wrote me and said, look, I work with secure documents. If I had done this, I would already be in jail. And, you know, how come she's above the law? And that is a history with the Clintons. They don't take the rules seriously when it comes to them. They're fanatically secretive. They're not transparent at all.

And there are real concerns about that kind of high-handed behavior, especially when we've had for the past eight, 16, however many year this wider and wider use of executive power. You get concerned that someone who'd started using her executive power even before she was in the executive - what would she do when she got there?

MARTIN: Immigration - you say that (reading) Trump supporters are not wrong to say that elites of both parties have basically conspired to keep both immigration and trade off the agenda, and nor are they wrong to be annoyed when any opposition to increase immigration or to legalizing people who are here illegally is immediately dismissed as racist.

Do you really want to deny that some of the opposition is racist?

MCARDLE: No, but there is a difference between saying some of the people who are opposed to immigration are racist and all of the people who are opposed to immigration are racist. Realistically, we are going to have an immigration policy. All we're arguing now is the price. How many people are we letting in?

MARTIN: But, you know, here's what I'm arguing about here, is that your argument that elites conspire to keep this off the agenda. But there are many decent people who have tried to advance immigration reform in both political parties. Why, then, is this this extremist reaction?

MCARDLE: That's exactly their point - is that meaningfully, sharply restricting immigration was simply not an agenda item either in the Republican Party because business interests like it and because sort of the suburban professional part of the party likes it, the establishment, or in the Democratic Party because...

MARTIN: ...So - but your point here is that you feel that in part, Trump is a reaction to the fact that people feel their reasonable concerns were never heard...

MCARDLE: Exactly.

MARTIN: ...That they were stifled to the point where they were ready to blow a gasket.

MCARDLE: Is that it was impossible to get it on the agenda, and not only that. When they said, I want this on the agenda, people said no. You're a racist. Shut up. And that is the easiest way to prime the ground for a populist backlash, is to simply say to people, not only are we not going to do what you want, we are going to say terrible things about you for merely asking.

MARTIN: Megan McArdle is a columnist for Bloomberg View. She's the author of "The Upside Of Down." If you're interested in reading her piece, you can read it at bloombergview.com. Megan McArdle, thanks so much for joining us.

MCARDLE: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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