Reprinted from the New York Times
My friends are worried about me. They insist something is not right and suggest prayer, counseling, even rehab. “Take a break,” they urge. “Get away for a few days and clear your head.”
They are wise and kind, and it would be foolish to dismiss their concerns. Truth be told, there are moments when I doubt myself. Am I making a huge mistake? Am I losing my mind?
Perhaps I am. My friends say that’s the only possible explanation for the fact that I might support Donald Trump for president.
The insanity defense is all that’s left now that the smart set has declared that it’s immoral and indecent to even think about voting for Trump. OK, call me immoral and indecent as well as crazy, because I’m thinking about it.
It’s been a long road to get here. When Trump’s name first popped up, I joked about moving to Canada. When he launched his campaign, I cursed him, certain he was going to create a circus just when Republicans finally had a strong field of candidates.
I was intrigued by many of them, starting with Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Scott Walker and Jeb Bush. Others I admired while believing they wouldn’t get far — Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Ben Carson, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki and Carly Fiorina.
I like those Republicans even though I’m a registered Democrat, just not that kind of Democrat. I voted for President Obama in 2008, believing he meant it when he said no red states, no blue states, only the United States. The barrier he broke added to his appeal.
Six months later, I was off the bus. It was already clear Obama had no intention of building a consensus on anything, although few realized he would be such a radical and partisan polarizer. He may love America, but doesn’t seem to like actual Americans. Other than himself, of course.
With the world on fire thanks to his abdication of global leadership, and with the home front nervous and angry, the 2016 race couldn’t come soon enough. I hoped a Democrat would emerge who realized that Obama had set us on a course that was dangerous and unsustainable, with our national debt exceeding $18 trillion.
Clearly, neither Bernie Sanders nor Hillary Clinton is that Dem, though I’ll vote for Sanders in the New York primary just to send her a message.
Following Obama, Clinton’s election would be a calamity. She would be beholden to him, and unable to shift much from his disastrous policies. And who knows what she really believes?
Besides, if the Clintons are rewarded with the White House again, it would be impossible to demand honesty from any public official in America. She’s thoroughly corrupt and, in the memorable words of the late William Safire, a “congenital liar.” Voting for her is a give up on the future.
So I’m stuck with Republicans, but my favorites were rejected, with only Kasich surviving by a thread. Frankly, I don’t blame voters. They’ve had it with vanilla men who play nice and quietly lose elections. If the nominee is another Mitt Romney, Clinton would win in a landslide.
As noted, I do admire Cruz, but he strikes me as more Barry Goldwater than Ronald Reagan. He’s whip smart, but too rigid ideologically and personally joyless. If I were president, I would nominate him for the Supreme Court in hopes he could fill Antonin Scalia’s shoes as the leading constitutionalist.
Which leaves only Donald J. Trump. He’s weird, erratic and I have no idea what he will say or do next. His nasty put-downs of rivals and journalists, especially Megyn Kelly, diminish him. His policies are as detailed as bumper stickers and his lack of knowledge about complex issues scares me.
If he weren’t the GOP front-runner, the gaps in his game would make it easy to dismiss him. But dismissing him requires dismissing the concerns of the 7.5 million people who have voted for him. That I can’t do.
My gut tells me much of the contempt for Trump reflects contempt for his working-class white support. It is one prejudice gentry liberals and gentry conservatives share.
It is perhaps the last acceptable bigotry, and you can see it expressed on any primetime TV program. The insults don’t all seem good-natured to me. I grew up in central Pennsylvania, surrounded by the kind of people supporting Trump, and I sympathize with their worsening plight.
For generations, they went all in for the American dream. Their families fought the wars, worked in the factories, taught school, coached Little League and built a middle-class culture. Now they are abandoned and know it.
Nobody speaks for them. The left speaks for the unions, the poor and the nonwhite, even shedding tears for illegal immigrants and rioters and looters. The GOP speaks for the Chamber of Commerce, big business and Wall Street.
Trump alone is bringing many of these forgotten Americans into the political system, much as Obama did with millennials and black voters. Trump has done it with full-frontal attacks on lopsided trade deals and a broken immigration system. His message is a potent brew of populism and nationalism that reaches across the partisan divide, and the public response is stirring the country.
In fact, many who despise Trump concede he is right that globalization and the open-border flood of cheap labor, while benefitting many Americans, has hurt many others. But instead of working to fix a broken status quo, many on the left and right echo each other’s venomous attacks against him. One day he is Mussolini, the next he’s Hitler, and he’s routinely accused of hate speech and racism.
What is his great sin? Breaking the taboo about what ails the middle class? Daring to challenge a power system that only pretends to have the consent of the governed?
The shame is that others didn’t beat him to it.
For his chutzpah, tens of millions of dollars are being poured into attack ads against Trump, and the urgent blue-nosed concerns about dark pools of money in politics have vanished. As long as he’s the target, all is fair.
Often, the avalanche of sludge against Trump looks and sounds like a reactionary confederacy fighting to keep its power and privileges. Naturally, the mainstream media is slashing away.
A Washington Post editorial claims that stopping Trump is the only way to “defend our democracy.” In other words, those troublesome voters are the problem.
A New York Times columnist raised the prospect of assassination. Sure, it was a joke. Make that joke about Obama or Clinton and see who laughs.
I would be delighted to support a more conventional candidate who has Trump’s courage and appeal, but we don’t always get to pick our revolutionaries. And make no mistake, Donald Trump is leading a political revolution that is long overdue.
Articles or opinions expressed by others are not necessarily the opinions or thoughts of this writer.