My support for Donald Trump to this point could be called reluctant at best. In fact, I haven’t written much about this election at all since the primaries ended.
Did I give up a little bit after Donald Trump secured the Republican party’s nomination? Have I been pouting these past three months? Maybe so, if I’m honest.
In light of that realization occurring to me this morning, and with as few weeks as remain in this election, now seems like a good time for reconsidering my support for Donald Trump and sharing some thoughts with you. But first I need to catch you up to speed.
I’ve gone through a bit of a process this election cycle.
In Our 2016 Republican Presidential Endorsements, we three writers each picked different candidates. Micah chose Dr. Ben Carson. I chose Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Marshall technically endorsed Trump, but in an entirely satirical and facetious way that caught some readers flat-footed alongside Micah’s and my sincere endorsements. Suffice to say, Trump was never our first pick. In fact, Trump was arguably Micah and Marshall’s least favorite from the start.
Perhaps voicing some of their concerns, but at least expressing my own, I wrote a few articles criticizing Trump. I blasted his reluctance to completely repudiate America’s leading murderer of babies in Donald Trump Supporting Planned Parenthood Is a Bad Deal. I denounced the fierce and mindless devotion many Trumpeteers displayed in response to any criticism of their fearless leader in Donald Trump Supporters Do Not Care About Character, Only Wealth and Power.
It’s true that I wrote a couple pieces defending Trump against some of the dumber attacks against him. But the closest I came to endorsing the man was back in February when I published The Lesser of Two Evils: Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. It was hardly what anyone would call glowing praise. Yet it made sense at the time because the Republican primaries were still underway.
I still believe if Rubio and Kasich hadn’t been such spoiled brats and stayed in like they did, Cruz might have pulled out a victory. And though I had written Character and Principles: Why Ted Cruz Should Be The Next President Regardless – a staunch endorsement of one of the few politicians I genuinely admire – I knew I needed to brace myself for the very real possibility of Trump’s eventual nomination.
And so I wrote The Lesser of Two Evils and tried to come to terms with the bombastic Mr. Trump.
Yet endorsements of Trump by men I respect caused me to second-guess my contempt for the Republican candidate for President.
More respectable men than Donald Trump – men like Dr. Ben Carson, Dr. James Dobson, and Dennis Prager – have arguably put their reputations on the line to stick up for and support Trump. They say he’s a different man in private; that he’s thoughtful, compassionate, generous, friendly, and genuine. That’s worth something to me. It at least partially offsets the unabated criticism from Cruz, Paul, and Rubio supporters like Glenn Beck and National Review.
During the primaries my position on Trump went from open-minded to concerned to outright annoyed. My patience wore very thin toward the end, however, particularly after cheap shots were taken at Dr. Carson and Senator Cruz. Trump spats with Marco Rubio and Rand Paul were sophomoric at best. Though occasionally entertaining, Trump made it hard to imagine him as President. Especially toward the end, I would have far preferred one of those four others I just mentioned.
Yet I’ve always considered Trump, warts and all, a much better candidate than establishment hacks Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and John Kasich. Echoing #NeverTrump, I would stay home before voting for any of those three.
The reason I say that is, perhaps not coincidentally, the same reason I’ve always been inclined to like Trump’s rough-and-tumble approach to politics despite it occasionally causing me to cringe. The establishment Republicans with their talking tough to their constituents but playing nice when it counts have been worse than useless. Proverbial wolves in sheep-clothes, they have sold America out as badly or worse than the Democrats. By their two-faced duplicity, they’ve repeatedly added insult to injury.
Trump, by contrast, appears as their antithesis. That too is worth something. In fact, it’s worth quite a lot when American politics have become as shady, manipulative, dishonest, and outright dangerous as they today are.
We don’t need a political messiah for President. We need a fighter.
Perhaps the best historical figure to compare Trump to isn’t Progressive Theodore Roosevelt or Andrew Jackson – as the likes of Glenn Beck have been doing incessantly as of late. Though I see some resemblances, I disagree. It’s neither Jackson nor TR I’m reminded of most when I hear Trump. It’s General George S. Patton.
When I listen to Trump speak on terrorism and foreign policy toward China, North Korea, Russia, Iran, and ISIS, the same chill runs up my spine as when I read Bill O’Reilly’s book Killing Patton or watch George C. Scott play the famed general in the 1970 film about the man.
These are happy warriors. The same insatiable appetite for battle animates both men.
For Patton, a long military tradition in his family compelled him to join the U.S. Army. Eventually he become one of history’s best generals, and arguably the finest battlefield commander of modern times. For Trump, though he lacks a military career and has spent his entire life in the business world, I believe he possesses that same essential cunning and aggression Patton had. He possesses that same martial spirit and love for battle which made Patton so bold and effective.
Like it or not – and many, many Americans are in denial and very much don’t like it, nor will they admit it to themselves or one another – America is going to need warriors for what’s coming. Between ISIS and the refugee crisis and Putin, between North Korea and Iran and China. And when America needs warriors, I should prefer those warriors be happy warriors who can endure the conflict and prevail in it. World War III is shaping up, and we will quite frankly need rough men like Patton to win it.
Reconsidering my support for Donald Trump so far, I think it’s been too tepid.
I have thus far supported Donald Trump halfheartedly at best, and for obvious reasons. The man is frequently rude and bombastic, and we’re all familiar with the incessant accusations of misogyny and racism. And those accusations are ridiculous and absurd, by the way, especially from the ceaselessly paternalistic Left.
Only it hasn’t been just the Left making such accusations.
The strongest arguments against Trump, at least to my mind, have come from Conservatives and Libertarians. My fellow Republicans who share in my distaste for the establishment have argued with merit that Trump could just be a fraud, a phony, and huckster. What if he’s been faking it this whole time?
Or more plausible still, what if conservative, Republican support for Donald Trump essentially amounts to accepting Statist, Totalitarian means to accomplish conservative ends? Glenn Beck argues that Trump is a Progressive. Trump could become our version of Obama. He promises to accomplish much as Commander-in-Chief. But would his accomplishing it the way he intends merely reinforce the dictatorial precedent of those who came before? And, if so, didn’t we want to abolish that precedent rather than cement it?
These are worthy and principled questions. Yet in reconsidering my support for Donald Trump, I have concluded we must take this risk or guarantee far worse with Hillary Clinton.
And when I say that, I am indeed speaking directly to conservatives who claim like so many conscientious objectors that they can’t fight this fight. As if it’s just too ugly for them. They don’t like how rude and heated it’s become. And, after all, can Hillary be so bad?
Yes she can.
Assuming she doesn’t die of a coughing fit during a staring contest with Putin or sell America to Saudi Arabia, that evil woman would literally destroy this once great nation.
Our choices this election cycle are between the witch from Hanzel and Gretel on the one hand, or General George S. Patton on the other.
Yes, we should choose a national leader who fears and honors the Lord our God in all his ways, words, and thoughts. Ideally this leader would be familiar enough with the Bible to not say things like “One Corinthians” when speaking at Liberty University. Just so, such a leader wouldn’t seem to be totally pandering to crowds when saying the Bible is his favorite book, “We love the Bible.”
And yet, here again, Trump reminds me of General Patton. In one story made famous in the 1970 George C. Scott film, a reporter once asked Patton:
“General, do you read the Bible?”
To which Patton replied, “Every God-damned day!”
Did Patton deliver an ideal answer? No he didn’t. Would I wash my son’s mouth out with soap and tan his backside for saying something like that, no matter how old he was? You bet I would.
But should we give a historical figure like Patton, instrumental as he was in defeating the Nazi tanks of Rommel and striking fear into the hearts of our cruel Axis foes just a little bit of grace where he was rough around the edges? I believe we should.
The key is contrast and discerning proportionality. The Nazis were absolutely evil, whereas Patton merely had some glaring unfortunate vices and character defects. It would be an insane surrender of discernment and good judgment to lump Patton in with the Nazis he fought simply because neither Nazis nor Patton represent our ideal of what a Christian gentleman should conduct himself like. But really, now, we’re better than that. Aren’t we? Our ability to discern is more finely tuned than that, isn’t it?
If not yet, it must become so. There’s too much at stake.
And that said, I hereby encourage your support for Donald Trump.