On Tuesday, September 22 Jim White welcomed guest Tom Day on Healing America with Dr. Jim White. Tom Day is the research director for Five Forks Consulting, a senior consultant for Intueor, and an adjunct lecturer at the Harris School for Public Policy at the University of Chicago, where he teaches a graduate level course on regional innovation. Tom is an Iraq War veteran. He serves as the Illinois State Director of the Democratic Party Veterans and Military Families Council. After thanking Mr. Day for his time and his service during the Iraq War, White dove into the interview:
September 22, 2020
JW: We’re going to jump right into it. Share your perspective on the state of current affairs.
TD: We’re obviously in a very high-risk time in American history. We have a political environment that, in my judgement, has been inflamed by – it’s too simple to say it’s been inflamed by Trump. What Donald Trump represents is something far deeper that we need to understand. We need to uncover why it is that this man reached the highest office of our country. Why is it that some 40% of the country, even through the embrace of white nationalists and neo-nazis, even through the incompetence and the corruption, even through the 200,000 people who lost their lives as this man lied about what he knew about this virus. Why is it that this man still has this foundation of support? Even through the economic destruction that has happened over the last seven months. When you think a little deeper, the name of your book is Broken America, you are called to think about what fundamentally has gone wrong. It long predates November 2016 when Donald Trump was elected.
“In 20 or 30 years, we are going to be the majority minority. That is wonderful news for our country, we should celebrate the diversity. We are elevating the voices and the views of people who have been marginalized for far, far too long.” — Tom Day.
JW: When you heard the Commander in Chief stand at the platform and call service members “suckers”, the emotion you felt at that time if you can recall it, share that emotion.
TD: It was deeply personal. It was very emotional, I wept a bit. And that seems melodramatic, but let me explain to you why it was that I had such a reaction. No veteran is a loser, but a whole lot of us come from very different backgrounds than growing up as the favorite son of a successful real estate developer in New York. And I heard that the shame from people who come from less disadvantaged backgrounds, coming from a man who inherited hundreds of millions of dollars and lived the life he has lived. So many of the folks I served with, I think some 40%, are people of color. So many of us come from blue collar towns. Towns and environments that scarcely look like the town [Trump] grew up in. And to be called a loser frankly confirmed what I long suspected his view to be of people like me. And to extend those views to people that gave their life to defend this country.
JW: You were a journalist for some time in Afghanistan?
TD: I was a bureau reporter. It was a tough time for journalism, right after the financial market collapsed, I couldn’t get a job for seven, eight months. I found a gig working for the Macon Telegraph in Georgia. I convinced my editors to let me go to Afghanistan and cover it. I was stationed in Kabul. At the time that was a real hotspot for Taliban fighters coming in through what was perceived to be a safe haven for them. I told some great stories, and since then I’ve freelanced some opinions and some analytical pieces related to technology and veterans.
JW: What do you believe the average citizen can do to heal our Broken America?
TD: Well, we’ve got to elect Joe Biden in six weeks. Is Joe Biden perfect? No, he’s not. That’s the first step and there’s going to be a fight over this Supreme Court vacancy that’s going to extend into a new administration even if Trump is able to place his nominee on the court. There will be tremendous pressure to add additional seats, and that is going to further inflame tensions between the two sides of the aisle. But we are a changing country. 20 or 30 years ago, we were not nearly as diverse as we are now. In 20 or 30 years, we are going to be the majority minority. That is wonderful news for our country, we should celebrate the diversity. We are elevating the voices and the views of people who have been marginalized for far, far too long.
JW: What’s the future for Tom?
TD: I’m a father now, and a husband. I don’t know how many folks are open about this, who have run for office. I think the majority of us run for office to serve, but you have a sense that you have a limited time on this planet, and you want to leave a legacy. To me, my legacy is in the other room, my son Alec, he’s 22 months old. And that’s more than good enough. But on top of that I love teaching, that’s something I want to continue doing. I’ve authored opinions about how to strengthen our national security, and if I’m called to run for office, then yeah sure. But in the meantime, I’m going to try to be the best dad and best teacher and best consultant I can be.
To watch Jim’s entire interview with Tom Day, check it out at authorjimwhite.com/webinars. You can find Tom Day on Twitter at @thomaslday. If you tweet at him, he’ll tweet back at you. Join us next week on Healing America with Dr. Jim White for an exclusive interview with former candidate for Illinois Lieutenant Governor, Baxter Swilley.
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