Evolution of a Trump Supporter

I’m not a wishy-washy or indecisive person but jumping aboard the Trump Train has, at times, felt more like riding an emotional roller coaster than an iron horse. One day I’m the person talking others into voting for Donald Trump and then, just when I’m ready to throw my full weight behind him, he’ll say something or I’ll read an article or have a conversation with someone, and I start second-guessing myself.

I am not alone. Millions of conservatives, who supported candidates other than Donald Trump but are committed to vote for the Republican nominee, suffer from this affliction. We understand what Trump is doing and what his appeal is -- and we wholeheartedly concur. But, we question his devotion to conservative principles and have concerns about how he will govern. We want to stand by our conservative convictions but we also want to be pragmatic. We aren’t #nevertrumpers. We will vote for Anyone But Hillary. We do not want to stay home on Election Day. We do not want a third-party candidate -- and we certainly don’t want to vote for Gary Johnson. We do not want this vote to go to the House. We do not want to do anything to hand a victory to Clinton. We want to vote for the most conservative candidate who can win -- and that clearly is Trump -- but we don’t want it on our shoulders if he turns out to be a dud.

The schemes of the #nevertrumpers do not appeal to us nor are they viable. Their never-ending quest for a better, more palatable candidate is at best a pipe dream. Their insistence that Trump will ruin the country, fails to acknowledge that that country is already long gone, has been decimated by eight years of Obama, and will never recover from a Hillary presidency. Their concern that Trump would usher in the death of the GOP is blind to the fact that the GOP is already in a death spiral. And their fantasies about some kind of spoiler candidate who would throw the vote to the House, is guaranteed to sound the death knell for the GOP and ensure that the 2018 elections are a bloodbath.

Even worse, they have put their playground politics ahead of national security by refusing to join forces with the one candidate who isn’t afraid to say Islamic. Radical. Jihad. If they truly believe that a Clinton back in the Oval Office, a Democrat-controlled Congress, and a Supreme Court stocked with young, healthy progressives will teach the rest of the GOP a lesson, then they should just buy a pitcher of Kool-Aid pitcher and get it over with: they are not Republicans or conservatives.

There was a time when we might have been somewhat sympathetic to some of the concerns expressed by the #nevertrumpers, but their relentless, tone deaf pushback has only served to antagonize, and drive us further into the embrace of Trump. A few examples will illustrate.

When Paul Ryan hemorrhages about Trump not being P.C., he sends a message to the millions backing Trump because of his anti-PC approach, that he really doesn’t have our six. Not only is Ryan doing the unthinkable and downright treasonous -- siding with the Democrat-Media Complex -- but he has become a general in the P.C. Army, wielding his cudgel of political correctness against…his own kin.

Then there is Romney, the Pusillanimous. After repeatedly failing to fight back about his wealth, women in binders, the 47%, and Obama’s lies about Benghazi, it turns out he’s more Romney, the Raging Pugilist -- only he’s throwing punches at the wrong guy. Add to that his comments about “trickle-down racism” and we are left with a man who has little regard for the people, doesn’t believe we can think for ourselves, and openly maligns Trump and his supporters as racists. With friends like that who needs Democrats.

While an entire cadre of writers at National Review fits the bill, Jay Nordlinger is this week’s stand out: he’s leaving the GOP because the GOP left him by allowing Trump to be the nominee. What rock was this self-proclaimed quintessential conservative hiding under when the Tea Party was agitating -- nay, begging -- for the GOP to adhere to conservative principles? Where was he the last 30 years when conservatives reluctantly voted for moderates like Dole, McCain, and Romney, and for some, both Bushes? What planet was this National Review sweetheart living on such that he missed the noise conservatives made whenever a candidate they supported turned out to be a quisling once inside the Beltway? Got Martha McSally?

The GOP left conservatism in the dust decades ago, but I guess Jay Nordlinger’s been too busy typing about being a true blue conservative to notice.

GOP leadership and punditry can ignore the people they ask for money, votes, and support, only for so long. They can water down conservatism only for so long. As some point the masses will rebel and that is happening with the ascendancy of Donald Trump.

But why do so many informed, intelligent conservatives support a guy who is so unpolished? So inarticulate? So inconsistent? So unprepared? Someone who, in the words of the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel, is clearly winging it?

Conservatives and a significant part of the general voting public have tired of the polished, perfectly groomed candidate. Their handshakes and slick-talking don’t matter anymore. Their scripted talking points and sound bites are so rehearsed and predictable, as to be rendered meaningless.

And what did voting for the “most presidential” or “most conservative” candidate get us, anyway? An endless string of electoral heartbreaks. How many times can the average grassroots activist make personal sacrifices to get out the vote for a candidate who secretly harbors intentions to betray the very people who got him elected? We will not be jilted again.

Trump is the exact opposite of what we are used to. When it comes to messaging, conservatives are chronically cerebral with a long history of appealing to the rational brain as opposed to the emotional brain. Maybe Trump has the right idea: your average Joe doesn’t have time to decode a speech, read between the lines in a campaign ad, or research the finer points of policy. Appeal to the gut. It worked for Obama.

Maybe, we just want to believe that the person inhabiting the White House loves this country, will do his best to keep us safe, will work hard in the best interests of the majority of citizens, and will seek policies and a way to govern that balance the most amount of freedom with the least amount of intrusion. Maybe. It’s. Just. That. Simple.

Trump is the same guy we’ve always known -- not a prepackaged stiff in a suit, with perfect hair and a glimmering smile. A billionaire, yes, but the kind of guy you really could have a beer with. When he wears his hat, it looks at home on his head -- not out of place like Al Gore in lumberjack garb. And his speech is his -- not that fake preacher drawl Obama acquired halfway through his campaign or the “I ain’t no ways tired” other worldly thing that came out of Hillary’s mouth.

Sure, Trump has a shtick. But there is an authenticity to his shtick. It isn’t feigned. It isn’t newfangled. Donald’s political shtick today is the same shtick he had as a real estate developer, a casino builder, and a reality show host.

Truth be told, Trump is as much a cult of personality as Obama is -- and maybe that is how we win elections in the 21st Century. Obama had little to no real political experience, but was uber-successful in marketing the persona of Barack Obama. He accomplished little in Illinois and the Senate but he used his election successes to leap frog to the presidency at warp speed. He is the penultimate empty suit whose penchant to divide borders on OCD. He is a master at condescension and insulting his political rivals and their supporters, and is adept at sleight of mouth and doublespeak. He has no compunction manipulating everything that happens in the world to promote his agenda. But mostly, he is a marketing phenom who stirs emotions, instills pride, and promises something greater than each of us.

He does sound a bit like Trump. Obama might be a cocky empty suit with an answer to everything, but for Democrats, he was their empty suit. And he promised them Hope and Change.

Trump might very well be a brash political novice with answers that sometimes make us cringe, but he’s our political novice. And he’s promised to Make American Great (Again).

We’ve tried it the formulaic way time-after-time and things have only gotten worse. At least this time, if Trump wins the election but fails as president, we can shrug our shoulders and walk away knowing we gave it the old college try, but didn’t get hoodwinked in the process.

Trump is the mirror image of everything political that has been thrown our way -- he is not politically correct, he is not rehearsed, he is not scripted, he is himself, and he doesn’t care about the press. While he might overpromise and underdeliver, we’ve already factored that into the calculus. We know the risks of a Trump presidency and we’re okay assuming those risks rather than throwing in with the known risks of what a Hillary presidency will bring.

In a Venn Diagram world with conservatism one circle and Trump the other, a distinct area of overlap lies where the two intersect. Juxtaposed with Hillary’s circle, however, the circle with conservatism is lightyears apart.

I remain wishy-washy no more.

With 49 dead in Orlando, the Supreme Court hanging by a thread, a country more divided than ever, and an economy on the verge of collapse, it’s hard to imagine how the #nevertrumpers couldn’t see the obvious… unless, of course, they’ve already drunk the Kool-Aid. 

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