Robert Reich: What I Told the Trump Supporter

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A supporter at a Donald Trump rally in Miami on September 16. When Robert Reich met a Trump supporter on a recent morning, he asked, "Why are you supporting him?" Mike Segar/reuters

This article first appeared on RobertReich.org.

I finally found a Trump supporter—this morning when I went to buy coffee. (I noticed a Trump bumper sticker on his car.)

“Hi,” I said. “Noticed your Trump bumper sticker.”

“Yup,” he said, a bit defensively.

“I hope you don’t mind my asking, but I’m curious: Why are you supporting him?”

“I know he’s a little bit much,” said the Trump supporter. “But he’s a successful businessman. And we need a successful businessman as president.”

“How do you know he’s a successful businessman?” I asked.

“Because he’s made a fortune.”

“Has he really?” I asked.

“Of course. Forbes magazine says he’s worth $4½ billion.”

“That doesn’t mean he’s been a success,” I said.

“In my book it does,” said the Trump supporter.

“You know, in 1976, when Trump was just starting his career, he said he was worth about $200 million,” I said. “Most of that was from his father.”

“That just proves my point,” said the Trump supporter. “He turned that $200 million into $4½ billion. Brilliant man.”

“But if he had just put that $200 million into an index fund and reinvested the dividends, he’d be worth $12 billion today,” I said.

The Trump supporter went silent.

“And he got about $850 million in tax subsidies, just in New York alone,” I said.

More silence.

“He’s not a businessman,” I said. “He’s a con man. "Hope you enjoy your coffee.”

Robert Reich is the chancellor’s professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, and Time magazine named him one of the 10 most effective Cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. He has written 14 books, including the best-sellers Aftershock, The Work of Nations, Beyond Outrage and, most recently, Saving Capitalism. He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and co-creator of the award-winning documentary Inequality for All.