Why do you support Donald Trump?
I didn’t, at least not at first.
For the entire 2016 election, I despised the man.
I did not vote for him, and if you’d told me three years ago that I would be writing this answer, I would have doubted your sanity.
But, I digress. We’ll come to that in due time.
My journey to the right wing began the day after Trump became president-elect of the United States.
I’ll be one hundred percent honest with you: I was freaking out that night, same as everyone else.
Like many Americans, I was still foolish enough to take what the media says—not just about Trump, but about Republicans and conservatives in general—at face value.
I hadn’t realized just how biased they were or how truly skewed my perspective was, but I was about to.
The first real seeds of doubt were sown the morning after the election was over.
Like many, I woke up that with the stomach-churning certainty that everything I’d thought, been taught and believed in for more than a year was lying at my feet in a thousand pieces.
I’m no pundit or pollster, but if I’d been one of the countless reporters or “experts” who’d predicted a Clinton victory with such confidence, I would have felt obligated to do some serious self-reflection after being proven so utterly, utterly wrong.
But as soon as I rolled out of bed and started reading the headlines, it seemed as though the media outlets were less interested in learning from their mistakes than they were in being hysterical over the election’s outcome or being bitter toward those who proved them wrong.
There were some exceptions here and there, but not many.
And then there was this:
I still remember how disgusted I felt at the riots that wracked major U.S. cities in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s victory. I was absolutely disgusted.
I didn’t have a problem with people protesting, not at all, but it struck me as profoundly hypocritical to engage in this kind of senseless behavior after saying for more than a year that Trump supporters would do the same thing when their candidate lost.
What happened to “accepting the results of the election?” I looked in the headlines for the moral outrage that I was sure would come from the nation’s major news networks, but there was little at all.
When black-clad thugs stormed Berkeley not long afterward, the same was true.
The only news network that seemed to cover these ugly incidents with the kind of condemnation they deserved was Fox.
I didn’t have much use for Fox at the time—and I often still don’t, though I do confess a certain fondness for Tucker Carlson and Greg Gutfeld—and I was deeply disturbed that many major American news outlets seemed dismissive or even supportive of it.
The argument I heard repeated over and over to justify this kind of ugliness was even more of a turn-off.
I found the conflation of hate speech and free speech politically ignorant, morally repugnant and potentially even dangerous.
I read these arguments with as open a mind as I could muster, but I was, to say the least, unconvinced.
If anything, I came away more firmly convinced than ever that hate speech is just one of those things we have to put up with in order to live in a free society.
Everyone, even the bigots, gets to have their say.
And is it not better to have such vile ideas aired in the open, in the public forum, so they can be discredited for all to see?
Driving it underground, by contrast, only runs the very real risk of making stronger by making it appear edgy and rebellious.
When you censor people like Richard Spencer, you don’t diminish their influence. You only increase it because you’re making him and those like him appear like martyrs.
All of this made perfect sense to me, but these ideas were to be found nowhere except on the right.
Then there began the long and still-ongoing litany of media fumbles, embarrassments, public scandals and gross errors.
When Donald Trump first called the media “fake news,” I cringed. “There’s no way that’s true!” I thought angrily. “That’s all hyperbole and fear-mongering!”
But then this happened:
Mainstream media errors in the Trump era: Your catalogue of the media’s bias-fueled failure-fest in 2017
16 Fake News Stories Reporters Have Run Since Trump Won
13 More Major Fake News Stories In Five Months Of Trump’s Presidency
I could understand if the media’s zeal to keep the president—any president—in check led to a handful of mistakes or fumbles. But this? This is not a series of honest mistakes. Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times, four times, even five or six times, I could give them the benefit of the doubt. But after the twentieth time, or the thirtieth time, it became hard to convince me that the media was really as pure as driven snow. What seemed at first like enthusiasm to do its duty to hold power accountable now seemed more like a political crusade by a hyper-partisan media industry that also bent over backwards to paint Democrats in a positive light. Indeed, the deeper I dove into the information seas, the more my indignation grew. In time, I grew to believe—and still do—that the media is more repulsive than Donald Trump will ever be, because unlike the media, Trump has never pretended to be anything other than who and what he is.
From comparing and contrasting the media’s style and tone over the years, I learned that after two terms of trashing a rather docile President George W. Bush, the media slipped a little too comfortably into the role of cheerleader for the Obama administration. Indeed, when the Obama administration–like administrations before it–conducted off-the-record gaggles and backgrounds with hand-picked media, there was hardly a peep from journalists. Not so today. I also learned that when the Obama administration fingered a journalist named James Rosen as a criminal co-conspirator during an investigation into State Department leaks about North Korea, and used the Espionage Act to obtain warrants for Rosen’s phone records as well as those of his parents, the reaction in most news outlets was muted if the story was even covered at all. When Trump spoke at Charlottesville—yet another instance when he was clearly taken out of context—the media worked itself into a froth of outrage, but when James Hodgkinson opened fire on Republican congressmen at a baseball game, and when Zachary Greenberg punched a representative of TPUSA at Berkeley, and when ANTIFA doxxed Tucker Carlson and threatened his family outside their own home, the media was silent, or tied itself in knots trying to downplay or even justify it. Vox’s Matt Yglesias, for example, was forced to wipe his entire Twitter feed and start over after stating that he had no sympathy for Tucker’s wife and children as they cowered in the kitchen.
通过比较和对比这些年来媒体的风格和语调，我了解到，在两次抨击一位相当温顺的总统乔治·W·布什（George W.Bush）之后，媒体在奥巴马政府的拉拉队队长角色上有点太过轻松了。事实上，当奥巴马政府——像之前的政府一样——用手工挑选的媒体进行破纪录的插科打诨和背景报道时，几乎没有记者的窥视。今天不行。我还了解到，当奥巴马政府在调查国务院有关朝鲜的泄密事件时，指认一名名叫詹姆斯·罗森的记者是一名犯罪共谋者，并利用《间谍法》获得罗森和他父母的电话记录的许可证时，如果这个故事被完全报道了，大多数新闻媒体的反应都是沉默的。当特朗普在夏洛茨维尔讲话的时候，又一次，当他明显被排除在外的时候，媒体自己陷入了愤怒的泡沫，但是当詹姆斯·霍奇金森在一场棒球比赛中向共和党国会议员开火，当扎卡里·格林伯格在伯克利，当Antia Doxxed Tucker Carlson在家外威胁他的家人时，媒体保持沉默，或者陷入困境，试图淡化甚至证明这一点。例如，Vox的MattYglesias就被迫在Twitter上删除了所有的信息，并在声明他对Tucker的妻子和孩子们在厨房里畏缩时没有任何同情后重新开始。
I was absolutely sickened. Even Trump at his worst had never made me feel so disgusted.
The arrogance of the press, their refusal to learn from their growing number of mistakes and their increasingly naked hatred of Republicans over the span of more than ten years led me to one conclusion: that the press was indeed extremely biased in favor of the Democrats. I didn’t want to draw that conclusion. In fact, I would have been happy not to. But I had to examine the evidence and the evidence showed me that my perception of the media throughout the 2016 election had been factually and conclusively incorrect. And so I began to wonder: if that was true, then what else had I been wrong about? I realized that if I could no longer trust what the media was telling me now, then the next logical step was to re-examine my political opinions and perceptions over the past several years. Almost all of those opinions had been shaped and molded from consuming mainstream media sources, and I had a growing, sinking feeling that my views weren’t as well-rounded as I’d once thought. This would not do if I wanted to be an informed citizen.
I believe the popular phrase for this phenomenon is being “red-pilled.”
The first thing I did was to start compiling a new list of sources. I discarded my membership with the New York Times and resolved not to read or watch any other mainstream news outlets if I could help it. I also resolved to do something that I hadn’t done during the election season, something that too many Americans still haven’t done: I would talk to Trump supporters. Instead of shunning them, I deliberately sought them out. It was difficult, at first. Many of those who voted for Trump did so only in secret, because they feared being ostracized by friends and family. But gradually, I was able to coax some of them into opening up about why they voted for our 45th president, and once they began talking, they did not stop. They were so happy that I was willing to listen rather than judge that my little experiment went on for weeks rather than just a few days.
Talking to Trump supporters overturned everything I thought I knew about them. Were some of them racists or bigots? A few were, yes, but the vast majority were not the frothing-at-the-mouth brainwashed zealots I’d been led to believe they were. I met women who voted for him, and not just white women either. Black women voted for him because he promised to clean up the inner cities, where too many communities of African Americans live below the poverty line. I met with Hispanic women, many of them immigrants who’d entered America legally, who voted for him because of his promise to crack down on illegal immigration. To them, it was deeply offensive to see illegal migrants being coddled and given handouts while they waited months or years to gain legal entry to the United States. For many Hispanic men who voted for Trump, the same was true. One by one, every stereotype, every preconceived notion I’d ever had of these people, was systematically destroyed. But more than anything, what really made my head spin about Trump voters wasn’t how difficult, but how easy it was to understand their motivations. Not only were they easy to understand, I actually—heavily!—empathized with them.
From talking to many of Trump’s supporters, I learned of, and eventually learned to share, their deep resentment at the way they were looked down on and sneered at throughout Obama’s term of office. For years leading up to 2016, America’s politicians and media zeitgeist dismissed their concerns about controlling the border or fighting domestic terrorism as inherently racist, and in time political correctness ensured that such issues were placed off-limits entirely. Rather than engage or try to convince Trump’s supporters, many of us—including myself at one time—simply dismissed them as a basket of deplorables with unacceptable views, and sought to silence them via public shaming or more coercive methods. And the more I was exposed to them and their views, the more I began to doubt my own.
And while I was engaging with Trump supporters, I began drowning myself in data, statistics and as many different alternative media sources as I could get my hands on. I took every Democratic and liberal stance on every hot-button issue you’d care to name and put it under the microscope to see if it held up to scrutiny. Abortion, illegal immigration, taxes, guns, you name it. I started fresh, compiled as much information as I could, and then sifted through it to see if my old opinions remained unchanged.
More often than not, they didn’t.
And to ensure I didn’t wall myself into an another echo chamber, I surreptitiously began to explore the forbidden territories of the Daily Wire, the Federalist and other conservative outlets. I found myself often agreeing with them, and to my embarrassment, many of these outlets articulated their positions so well that they often refuted the liberals’ arguments point-by-point. Instead of being ambivalent toward abortion, I became repulsed by it. Instead of taking identity politics for granted, I became aware of just how poisonous and toxic they truly were.
I could go on, but it should be sufficient to say that this patterned continued unabated as I immersed myself deeper and deeper into my research. And as the weeks dragged on I began to contemplate what was previously unthinkable: becoming a conservative. Was I ready to take that step? Could I be absolutely sure of myself if I did?
I spent the last days of 2016 grappling for an answer to that question, and ultimately, I realized that the answer was yes. Conservative policies made much more sense and seemed to work far better than the alternatives offered by the Democrats, and by then I’d become disgusted with both the Democrats and the media alike. I was thoroughly disillusioned with the former for its corruption, its race-baiting identity politics and its utter contempt for the millions of Americans living between the blue strongholds on the East and West coasts. And I’d come to loathe the latter not only because of their naked partisanship, but also because they have the gall to claim objectivity despite the mountains of evidence to the contrary.
But did becoming a conservative mean supporting Donald Trump? Here, too, I had to re-examine everything I had once been sure of.
I began by watching recordings of some of Trump’s rallies, beginning with the day he announced his candidacy. I expected to hear him make the now-infamous remark about Mexicans being rapists, but when he did, I realized that he’d been taken completely out of context. He was referring to illegal immigrants, not those who waited and stood in line like everybody else. That irked me, but I wasn’t willing to concede the point just yet. I looked up crime statistics to see if illegal immigrants really do commit more crimes on average than American citizens, and to my surprised, I found out they did. I double-checked the data, but it held up no matter how ferocious my scrutiny became.
Okay, fine, I told myself. I’ll give Trump this one. Yes, illegal immigration is a problem, and a far larger than one than I thought it was. He and his supporters were right and I was wrong.
Even so, the man’s manner and behavior was a big turn-off. Becoming a conservative was one thing, but a Trump supporter? I wasn’t ready to do that, not yet, and wouldn’t be for more than a year. I decided to put my own personal feelings aside, focus on policy, and see how the new president-elect measured up. I even drew up a list of specific policy items I wanted to see action on. These included, but were not limited to:
- A tougher stance against China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, and a more realistic foreign policy more broadly. I did not want to see America take an isolationist turn, and the prospect of Trump doing just that was one of my biggest fears about him.
- Lower taxes.
- Action against the abortion lobby.
- The appointment of constitutionalist judges to the courts.
- A bigger military budget.
- The complete deconstruction of the Paris Accord, the Iran Deal and as much of Obama’s legacy as possible.
- Border security, but not necessarily a wall. I confess that the wall is not, and has never been, a make-or-break issue for me. I’m certainly not opposed to one if we can make it work, but in its absence there was still much Trump could do.
By the end of 2017, I found myself gradually warming to the president despite my reservations. He hadn’t torn up NATO—in fact, it’s about $100 billion stronger now than it was in 2016. I couldn’t help but cheer his utter contempt for political correctness, and I even had to admire his efforts to keep his campaign promises. Sometimes it didn’t work out, but you couldn’t say he didn’t try. As 2018 dawned, President Trump seemed to start finding his stride, and he began hitting the bulls-eye on many of the issues that mattered to me. Tougher stance against China and Russia and Iran? Check. I was nervous at first about his stance toward North Korea, but his willingness to walk away on two separate occasions has been reassuring. I didn’t and still don’t think anything will come of that, but as Churchill said, it’s better to jaw-jaw than war-war. The economy began to really pick up steam, the military budget was bolstered, immigration rules were being enforced, and for all the media’s cries of executive overreach or authoritarian tendencies, Trump made no effort to silence his critics. He seems quite content to subject them to merciless ridicule instead—a tactic of which I heartily approve. And so, as 2018 began to wane, I weighed my options, looked at the results, and concluded that backing Trump might not be such a bad idea after all.
Now, I must implore you to leave the barrels of tar with the shipwright and pluck not the feathers of some innocent and unsuspecting fowl. Just take a breath, take a step back, and let me explain. In and out. In and out.
See? I bet that feels much better.
This doesn’t mean that I’m entirely comfortable with Trump’s foibles and gaffes. I’m not. His boorishness aside, I also dislike the messiness and immorality of his private life. Donald Trump does not share my personal values, nor is he someone that Christians should look to as an example of personal behavior. So why do so many of us back him?
We back him because even though he doesn’t share our morals, he doesn’t try to infringe upon them, or force us to share his own. That’s more than can be said for the Democrats, who have already shown the opposite. For Democrats, their way is the only way, and and it’s not enough for them if you say that they’re right. You must also apologize on bended knee for being so wrong. And every time President Trump says something outlandish or exaggerated or outright untrue, every time he does something that rubs me the wrong way or implements a policy I don’t like, his opponents play a game of “hold my beer and watch this.”
But in a larger sense, the reasons I eventually decided to back Trump after becoming a conservative are rather straightforward: he’s implementing conservative policies reasonably well and at this stage there isn’t really anyone on the right who could provide a viable alternative. I delved further into this in a blog post some time ago, which I will link to here: https://countryfriedopinions.quo…
I won’t repeat everything in that blog post word for word, but I will recycle a few paragraphs because I think they’re particularly relevant to the point I’m trying to make. As I wrote then:
The fact of the matter is that many conservatives are indeed uncomfortable with Trump’s idiosyncrasies—but when we stack them up against what he’s actually accomplished, well, we are put in an uncomfortable position. For the question then becomes: is our distaste for some of Trump’s rhetoric and behavior a price worth paying if he is successfully implementing conservative policies?
For many conservatives, the answer, with a shrug and a sigh, is yes. Few of us share the opinions of staunch Never-Trump conservatives like historian Max Boot, whose visceral hatred of the president has all but destroyed his scholarly credibility, and Bill Kristol, who by his own admission would rather vote Democrat than vote Republican as long as Trump is in office. Very, very few conservatives are willing to go that far. However uncomfortable Trump might make us at times, few of us are willing to vote Democrat and see all our work over the past two years undone. Almost no one on the right is willing to pay that kind of price for a protest vote, especially when by many metrics the country is better off now than it was two years ago. And trust me, if you’d told me two years ago that I’d be writing that about Trump’s administration, I’d have doubted your sanity. Have there been downsides? Of course. Yet for conservatives, the positives still outweigh the negatives.
对于许多保守派来说，耸耸肩叹息的回答是肯定的。我们中很少有人有这样的观点：像历史学家马克斯·布特（Max Boot），他对总统内心的仇恨几乎摧毁了他的学术信誉；还有比尔·克里斯托（Bill Kristol），他承认只要特朗普执政，他宁愿投票给民主党人，也不愿投票给共和党人。非常，很少有保守派愿意这么做。尽管特朗普有时会让我们感到不安，但我们中很少有人愿意投票给民主党人，并看到过去两年我们所有的工作都失败了。几乎没有一个右翼人士愿意为抗议投票付出这样的代价，特别是在从许多指标来看，这个国家现在比两年前更富裕的时候。相信我，如果你两年前告诉我我会写关于特朗普政府的文章，我会怀疑你的理智。有什么不好的地方吗？当然。然而，对于保守派来说，积极因素仍然大于消极因素。
And so, like many conservatives, I made my peace with Donald Trump, and as some of my more recent answers will attest, I’ve actually warmed to the man quite a bit. I am not, however, an overly zealous Trump supporter, and I am not blind to his faults, be they political or personal. Like many conservatives, my support for him is conditional and contingent. As long as he continues advancing a conservative agenda, I’ll back him, and I won’t attempt to make excuses for him when he says or does something stupid or shoots himself in the foot. But if he starts failing to deliver, I will not vote for him in 2020. Many conservatives feel the same way; our support for Trump, if you can call it that, is not because we personally like him or because we think he plays 4-D chess. It’s because he’s delivering the goods and because, regardless of whatever reservations or criticisms we have of him, almost all of us agree that the alternative is far, far worse.
…But at the end of the day, my loyalty isn’t to Trump or even the Republican Party, but to my country and the conservative cause, in that order. I believe that conservative ideas, conservative policies and conservative philosophy will lead to more freedom and prosperity at home and abroad than the alternatives offered by the Dems and the left. And as long as Trump and/or the GOP, either or both of them and whatever their flaws, are the primary means of advancing conservatism, that is how I am going to vote.
To summarize, I support Donald Trump for a variety of reasons, both personal and political. It isn’t something I just decided to do one day, or something I was misled into doing, or the product of some ingrained bigotry. It was the result of exhaustive research, serious self-reflection, and a long, arduous re-examination of my political stances and policy priorities. This led me to embrace conservatism, and that, in time, led me to support Donald Trump. For now, at any rate.
But the best part? I wouldn’t be where I am on the political spectrum if it weren’t for the Democrats and the left. They, not Trump, were the ones who set me on the path to where I am today. There’s no going back—and for that, I sincerely thank them. I feel much more at home and more confident on the right than I ever did on the center-left—back when there was a center-left.