Coming to Love Trump

In the circles in which I travel, it is considered verboten to express any admiration for President Trump, so writing this post may lose me a friend or two. I hope not, but if that happens I will consider it sad evidence of my former friends’ intolerance.

As longtime readers of these posts know, the most recent presidential election was the first one since I began voting in 1976 in which I did not vote for the Republican candidate. I was so put off by President Trump’s personal shortcomings – and by some of his policy ideas – that I gave my vote to Gary Johnson.

I still have serious disagreements on policy with Trump – on which more later – but I have come to see some of his un-presidential antics as … useful. He is a battler, unrestrained by decorum and perfectly happy to tip over apple carts or break china (pun intended) to get his way.

Since, more often than not, I agree with what President Trump is trying to accomplish and can see that the opposing side has gun emplacements on most of our culture’s commanding heights, I now see his refusal to engage in set-piece battles as his only path to policy victories. He could’ve presided over the lowest minority unemployment rates in generations (wait, … he is doing that!) and The New York Times, The Washington Post, all but one of the major television networks, all of Hollywood and academia would still label him a bigot and his policies utter failures. Why should he play to those audiences?

Speaking of how President Trump is portrayed in the media, I see no evidence – none, zip, nada – that he is a bigot, or that he has ever behaved traitorously with Russia – in fact, I view the latter accusation as particularly ludicrous. These charges prove only the depths to which the media will stoop in their (amazingly successful) efforts to anathematize the man.

More substantively, I am deliriously happy about and admiring of President Trump’s judicial choices. He is appointing judges who follow our Constitution – something that I no longer believe that most progressives do. I see the Bill of Rights as the foundation of our personal freedoms; leading progressives prefer to focus on group grievances than think about, or defend, individual rights. Left wing judges and politicians are happy to ignore the plain meaning of the Constitution’s words wherever doing so furthers their policy aims – and that terrifies me. Two or, better yet, six more years of appointments like those Trump has made to date should put an end to judges’ self-conferred power to change our society’s fundamental rules by fiat rather than via properly-approved amendments to the Constitution.

President Trump has also proven to be a great deregulator, and I believe that explains much of the economy’s current strength. The previous administration took a Daddy-knows-best approach to all manner of things. As regards energy, for example, President Obama famously said that “We can’t drill our way out of the problem” (of high gas prices/huge energy importation bills) while looking around for phony “green” technologies to subsidize, trying to destroy the coal industry and tamping down both fracking and new pipeline construction; President Trump has proven him wrong on all points. We have drilled our way out of that particular problem, and vastly improved our nation’s geo-strategic position in consequence.

Even though the Trump tax cuts will result in the Beloved Spouse and yours truly paying considerably more in taxes than we would otherwise have had to do, due to the loss of deductions for state and local taxes, I think that that change in our tax code was appropriate, since it removed an effective subsidy of high tax states by lower tax ones. The lowering of corporate tax rates – bringing us in line with the rest of the world – also made eminently good sense, assuming that we don’t want our big companies to move overseas.

Unfortunately, the lower tax rates that most individuals will enjoy as a result of the tax cuts are exacerbating the problem about which I most seriously disagree with the president: the deficit/our unsustainable fiscal course. President Trump has manifestly failed to seriously address our rapidly increasing federal debt or the entitlements that, if unaltered, will eventually bankrupt us. The best that can be said for President Trump in this regard is that I am fairly sure that his opponents would be even worse (Medicare for all? “Free” college? Who thinks that these are affordable choices? Seriously?).

I also do not share President Trump’s generally mercantilist approach to trade. Trade is a positive-sum – not a zero-sum – business, and I wish the president didn’t seem to view imports as necessarily “costs” to the economy. That having been said, I applaud most of President Trump’s foreign policy initiatives, including his use of tariffs to force China to respect American intellectual property. Trump’s “reset” of our relations with China is both bold (given the previous consensus) and long overdue. They have been stealing our technology, unimpeded, for far too long and Trump is, at least, trying to do something about it. As I read it, he’s likely to have some success, too.

Trump has also abandoned his predecessor’s insane courtships of Iran and Cuba and is trying to figure out how to get our troops out of our near-endless Middle Eastern wars. On the other hand, it doesn’t look to me like he’s getting far with his attempt at denuclearizing North Korea; that won’t happen unless China decides that it must. Again, China is the big challenge, and I think Trump is dealing with it better than his recent predecessors.

It’s also my impression that Trump is a great deal more serious than his recent predecessors about prodding our NATO “allies” to shoulder a much fairer share of our common defense costs. His erratic behavior and expressed skepticism about most of our allies frightens those who take the status quo for granted; like the Soviets who thought Nixon was just crazy enough to press the button, other NATO members see Trump as one who just might jettison the alliance for fairer bilateral arrangements if they don’t begin to think more seriously about their own defense needs. Good.

As far as Russia is concerned, I think President Trump is hitting all the right notes. On the one hand, his policies (arming the Ukrainians, sending US troops to the NATO frontline states and encouraging fracking, which devalues Russia’s principal exports) are objectively and profoundly against Russian interests, while on the other hand he is trying to personally convince Putin that we don’t hate him or his country. The message seems to be: we’re not enemies, we’re just not ok with you taking back your former empire against the wishes of Ukraine, Poland and the Balts. Perfect.

As previously mentioned, I am in favor of enforcement of our immigration laws while, broadly, hoping that we continue to attract lots of immigrants who want to come here to make their own ways and adopt our pluralistic culture. President Trump’s insistence that we build a wall looks mostly symbolic to me – but insofar as heightened border security – and a partial wall – signals to the world that we intend to enforce our laws as written, I’m ok with that.

Does Trump sometimes lie? Yes. But he’s shown a remarkable eagerness to implement his campaign promises, which is more than one can say about a lot of politicians. Do his opponents lie? Every. Day. Of. The. Week. The difference is that Trump’s lies tend to be cover for his personal insecurities; his predecessor lied to further his policy goals on Obamacare and the horrifying Iran deal – i.e., he hoodwinked the American public on matters of enormous substance. Which would you prefer?

I would be less than candid if I didn’t admit that some of my newfound admiration for President Trump is based on the fact that I see most of his opponents as unhinged. The press, the “resistance” and the politicians braying for Trump’s impeachment because, … he is evil! … are busy refighting the last war while their party’s leading lights are all jumping on the Sanders train to Socialist Utopia – an all-too-appealing idea that has failed every time it has been tried and caused hundreds of millions of deaths, and is causing economic collapse right now in Venezuela. With opponents like that, I would be all-in for Trump even if he droned an American citizen without trial (wait, … Obama did that, and nobody said boo).

President Trump’s obvious lies and his erratic, not-infrequently emotionally-needy behavior make him hard to love. His silence on our fiscal problems may eventually overshadow much of the good that he is doing. But his willingness to fight the good fight – kicking, biting and scratching along the way – against a seemingly inexorable onslaught of crazy, power-grabbing, freedom-hating leftists is simultaneously the real reason that the other side hates him, and why I am coming to love him.

M.H. Johnston

7 comments to Coming to Love Trump

  • John Primm, MPM  says:

    Fight the good fight Mark. I know what you mean about losing colleagues and purported friendships

    I’m on your side.

  • Anonymous  says:

    Hugely entertaining read and very nicely articulated. Thanks for sharing.

  • Doug  says:

    Nice piece Mark. The “Orange Man Bad” though, is a dog whistle anti-Elizabeth Warren/ anti-Native American slur and it may further anger the Nipmuc, Mohegan, and Pequot where you are who are also rightly upset about Warren’s transgressions. Trump is being relentlessly abused by his opponents and it draws me and others like me closer to his cause.

  • Anonymous  says:

    Perfect Mark.

    You say “and why I am coming to love him” you love Trump, Trump loves Kim Jong-Un its all one big love fest.

    • M Johnston  says:

      Trump is willing to make nice to bad people to try to advance his aims – in this case, defanging a serpent. As I recall, Roosevelt did the same with Stalin – one of history’s greatest mass murderers. You have a problem with that?

  • Peter J. Lefeber  says:

    Well reasoned, well said.

  • Dennis Paine  says:

    Brilliant, just brilliant.
    Thank you, Mark.

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