President Trump’s Visit to Youngstown and Insight from Aesop, an Ohio Teacher and the White Rabbit-A Personal Perspective

By Cynthia Marek Lundeen

Appearing before a crowd of over 15,000 people at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown Ohio on July 25, 2017 President Trump continues to garner the enthusiastic support of his followers as well as to mystify his opponents who continue to generate theories as to why he won.
I have my own theory as to why he won which may be illustrated through a combination of a fable from Aesop, the ancient Greek philosopher and advisor to kings, wise words from my advance placement high school English teacher, and the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, but let’s first talk a little bit about the event.
Contrary to the characterization of all Trump supporters as being merely uneducated bigots, making the effort to speak to as many of them as possible yields some rather fascinating facts. I had the opportunity to speak with Vivian Luther (age 60) and her mother Marian Luther (age 92), both of North Royalton Ohio, and both of whom I first met at an event at which I was the invited speaker on the topic of millinery history. Discovering that Vivian was a Trump supporter would be a surprise to many, as she surely does not fit the typical narrative. With a college degree in Theater, having lived and worked as an actress in Los Angeles, California for over two decades, and having voted once for Bill Clinton, she noted that many of Bill Clinton’s policies were more similar to those of President Trump’s that those of Hillary. She also cited her support for free enterprise, small government and term limits as her reasons for voting for Mr. Trump.
At the encouragement of her daughter, Marian Luther began acting in 1980 at the age of 55. Garnering the leading lady role in her first little theater production, she continued to act for ten years. Both Vivian and Marian Luther attended the event in Youngstown, a particular testament to Marian’s support at age 92. Marian stated that she thought her fellow swimmers were going to drown her when she revealed her support for Mr. Trump at a senior swimming session. Vivian stated that she was cautious about revealing her support for Mr. Trump both during and after the election, depending upon the circumstances.
And this brings up the matter of Secret Trump Supporters.
In the event you haven’t heard of Secret Trump Supporters, it is a term given to people who are reticent to voice their support for Mr. Trump based on concerns of being ridiculed or labeled such things as racist. Interestingly, as voting results now show, many of those who voted for Barack Obama subsequently voted for Donald Trump. Knowing that Barack Obama, of both African and American descent, also has the Arabic middle name of Hussein, it is clear at the very least that those who voted for both President Obama and President-elect Trump cannot be considered racists.

Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, also his former campaign manager, had predicted President Trump’s win based upon these secret supporters who in many ways were analogous to the “shy Tories” of the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote. In fact, many leading political experts credit Ms. Conway with propelling President Trump across the finish line, but how did she do it? Even if you disagree with Ms. Conway’s politics, she is generally unfailingly polite and in the critical final months of the campaign focused Mr. Trump’s efforts on his message as well as conducting himself more like the Sun than the Wind, as in the following abbreviated Fable of the Wind and the Sun, by Aesop:
The Wind and the Sun were arguing about which of them was the stronger when they saw a traveler and devised a plan to settle the dispute. Whichever of them could make the traveler remove his coat would be deemed to be the stronger. The Wind tried first, blowing up a tempest, and with the wind whipping in his ears, the traveler only pulled his coat more tightly around him. Next it was the Sun’s turn to try. Beaming genially down upon the traveler, the traveler soon felt the Sun’s warmth and removed his coat. The moral of the story is that persuasion governs more effectively than force.
As an advisor to kings, it is easy to see why Aesop wrote these fables, as it is often difficult and awkward to gainsay the opinions of those in positions of power, which is a common theme across cultures and time. As Mr. Trump did win the election, it might be easy to believe that his brash style was a major contributing factor, however, it may be that this style, like the wind, made many resistant to hearing his message. Conversely, it appears that Ms. Conway’s focus on civil dialogue caused enough people to be open and receptive to Mr. Trump’s message in the final months of the campaign and was a significant factor in his success.
Yet many hold the belief the politeness and diplomacy are time consuming, and at the Youngstown event President Trump stated:
“It's much easier, by the way, to act presidential than what we're doing here tonight, believe me, and I said with the exception of the late great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that's ever held this office. That I can tell you. It's real easy. But sadly, we have to move a little faster than that.”
It is interesting to consider why politeness is thought to be time consuming, and in a famous line from British literature, the fictitious White Rabbit noted “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get” which is another way of saying “haste makes waste.”
One reason that politeness is sometimes considered time consuming is that politeness and etiquette can be abused. In a famous line from American popular culture the character Don Vito Corleone (The Godfather) said “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.” This seemingly polite statement might be interpreted as such a good offer no reasonable person would turn it down, but in fact, it carries an undertone of threat of serious harm if the offer is refused.
Of course, it is not only fictitious underworld characters that misuse politeness, and President Trump, in his book The Art of the Deal describes his initial meeting as a young man with the president of the exclusive private Le Club in Manhattan. The club president brought along a friend and the two drank to excess so that Mr. Trump states he nearly had to carry them home. Two weeks afterwards, the president of Le Club did not even remember meeting Mr. Trump, although he later did invite Mr. Trump to join Le Club. Mr. Trump stated that as a young man he was unaccustomed to seeing the behavior displayed at the initial meeting, which stood in stark contrast to that of his father, who he described as a “rock, very straight and very solid.” It can be quite a shock to a young person to witness those in positions of respect or authority behaving in an untoward manner, which can lead to the belief that politeness and respectability are little more than hypocrisy.
However, words and actions should be in alignment, and I can recall one of my high school English teachers often advising the class “Never reduce yourself to someone else’s level.” This struck a chord with me and her advice to maintain your own standards despite what others may do remains sound.
It is surely understandable that President Trump wishes to waste no time in effectively dealing with terrorism, international criminal gangs, improving the economy and other matters, but perhaps his message, sometimes delivered like the wind, only causes American citizens to pull the collars of their coats up around their ears. Notably, President Putin when speaking to journalists at the recent G20 Summit in Germany said what so many others who meet with President Trump in private say, which is that Mr. Trump in private is very different from his public persona.
It is time for President Trump to show this more cordial aspect of his personality in public; it should not be reserved only for those who meet him in private. The American people, whether or not they voted for him, deserve to see it for like the sun, it may bring the warmth for people to find common ground, or at the very least, not feel so bitterly opposed to each other. Uniting this very divided country would be a major accomplishment indeed.
Interestingly, in The Art of the Deal Mr. Trump wrote that when he was thirteen, his father decided to send him to military school, and although he wasn’t thrilled about it, it turned out to be a good decision. Possibly remembering that his father was right, Mr. Trump recently appointed retired U.S. Marine Corps General John Kelly as his Chief of Staff. Now with the influence of two “Kellys” General Kelly and Kellyanne Conway, we may hope to engage in the type of civil discourse which just might Make America Great Again.