‘Donald Trump Is No Moderate’

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  • Poll on Biden’s Handling of the War in Gaza
  • Wealthy Donors Seeking Influence
  • Helping Lower-Income People Pay Bills

Credit…Matt Chase

To the Editor:

Re “The Secret of Trump’s Appeal Isn’t Authoritarianism,” by Matthew Schmitz (Opinion guest essay,, Dec. 18):

According to Mr. Schmitz, the key to understanding Donald Trump’s electoral appeal is not his authoritarianism but his moderation. There may have been some truth to this eight years ago, when Mr. Trump’s policy views were often poorly defined. However, it is clearly no longer true in 2023.

On a wide range of issues, including immigration, climate change, health care and gun control, Mr. Trump has endorsed policies supported by the right wing of the Republican Party. And when it comes to abortion, whatever his recent public statements, while he was in office, he consistently appointed anti-abortion judges committed to overturning Roe v. Wade.

As a result, Mr. Trump now appeals most strongly to the far right wing of the Republican Party. Donald Trump is no moderate.

Alan Abramowitz
The writer is professor emeritus of political science at Emory University.

To the Editor:

Matthew Schmitz’s longwinded guest essay still misses the point: The bottom line of Donald Trump’s appeal to his supporters is the permission to indulge their darkest impulses and harshest judgments of “the other” — everyone in the world outside of MAGA Nation.

Rich Layton
Portland, Ore.

To the Editor:

Matthew Schmitz could not be more wrong. There is no universe in which Donald Trump is a moderate. Moderates do not gut the system that they have sworn to uphold. Moderates do not consider calling in the military against American citizens, as Mr. Trump did during the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. Moderates do not start riots when they lose elections.

Trump voters are either fellow grifters or people who do not understand how government works and are taken in by his shtick: the incurious and the easily fooled. It’s as simple — and as dangerous — as that. We have work to do to make sure he will not regain office.

Christine Potter
Valley Cottage, N.Y.

To the Editor:

I was shocked to read a piece that wasn’t the usual drone of let’s count all the ways that Donald Trump is a disaster for the country. I’m so grateful that you are actually inviting a broader variety of opinions. It is just as valuable to understand why Mr. Trump is loved as why he is hated.

I read the article twice, and it was compelling at times. I’m still not a fan of Mr. Trump, but am grateful that finally your paper is respecting its readership to handle different perspectives.

T. Palser
Calgary, Alberta

To the Editor:

Matthew Schmitz seems to think that he needs to explain to us that people are willing to overlook the clearly authoritarian tendencies of a candidate if they like some of his policies. Thanks, Mr. Schmitz, but we’re already well aware of this. Italians liked Mussolini because he “made the trains run on time.”

This is exactly our point. This is how dictatorships happen.

Robert Stillman Cohen
New York

To the Editor:

When you have to argue that the secret to someone’s appeal isn’t authoritarianism, the secret to their appeal is authoritarianism.

David D. Turner
Clifton, N.J.

Poll on Biden’s Handling of the War in Gaza

President Biden addressing the nation from the Oval Office after visiting Israel in October, following the breakout of its war against Hamas.Credit…Tom Brenner for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Most Disapprove of Biden on Gaza, Survey Indicates” (front page, Dec. 19):

You report that the people surveyed trusted Donald Trump to manage the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over President Biden by a margin of 46 percent to 38 percent. This is puzzling, since during his tenure as president, Mr. Trump was an extreme Israeli partisan. Indeed, everything he did with reference to the Middle East heavily favored Israel to the detriment of the Palestinians.

Some of the actions that he undertook that were adverse to the Palestinians included: the appointment of an extreme Orthodox Jewish bankruptcy lawyer, who was an Israeli partisan, as ambassador to Israel; moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, contrary to both decades of American policy and Palestinian opposition; terminating American contributions to the U.N. fund for Palestinians; supporting the Israeli settler movement; and negotiating the Abraham Accords without any consideration of Palestinian interests.

Mr. Trump is one of the people least likely to fairly manage the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Richard J. Weisberg
Norwalk, Conn.

To the Editor:

The Biden administration is beginning to understand that while most Jewish Americans believe in Israel’s right to exist, this does not mean that American Jews overwhelmingly support the Israeli government’s relentless killing of innocent Palestinian civilians — at this point, more than 10,000 of them children.

Increasingly, as the traumatized Israeli pursuit of Hamas costs more death and destruction, cracks are appearing in Jewish community support for the Biden administration’s military and political backing of the current Israeli government. President Biden is well advised to pay close attention to these cracks.

As the article points out, nearly three-quarters of Jews historically vote Democratic. Unless Mr. Biden takes a harder line against the continued killings and steps up more boldly for a cease-fire, Democrats could lose Jewish votes.

John Creger
Berkeley, Calif.

Wealthy Donors Seeking Influence

Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., on Tuesday.Credit…Adam Glanzman for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “College Turmoil Reveals a New Politics of Power” (news article, Dec. 15):

Having spent a lifetime working for and with nonprofits, I am disgusted by wealthy donors who expect money to buy a voice in university affairs. Donations are gifts, not transactions, and I have always objected to 1) listing names of donors, whether on buildings or in concert programs, and 2) tax deductions for charitable donations.

Yes, we will lose some ego-driven donors along the way, but we will eventually prevail by keeping it clean.

Michael Rooke-Ley
San Francisco
The writer is a former law professor.

Helping Lower-Income People Pay Bills

Jessica Jones and her three daughters moved in with Ms. Jones’s mother two years ago after her landlord did not renew the lease on a subsidized apartment. She said the displacement has wreaked family havoc.Credit…Elizabeth Bick for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Soaring Rents Are Burdening Lower Incomes” (front page, Dec. 12):

Congress should exempt the first $40,000 of income from the Social Security tax, which would immediately give lower-income families some relief.

The lost income to the government should not be seen as lost but as support to allow people to stay in their existing apartments.

This would also be the time to apply the Social Security tax to higher incomes that are currently exempt above $160,200. And to cap or reduce the excessive interest rate — which currently averages 24 percent — that many people pay on their credit card bills.

Studies show that lower-income households use credit cards to buy necessities like food and to pay utility bills. Those interest rates often translate into money that ultimately ends up in the pockets of high-income people who are invested in the market.

Let’s all give a little, so people can live with dignity.

Ann L. Sullivan
Portsmouth, R.I.

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