Earlier this week here at the Resurgent, our founder and my friend Erick Erickson made waves with his declaration that he’s planning on voting to re-elect President Trump in 2020. The waves were more like tsunamis, with passionate reactions coming from both sides.
One of my favorite things about writing for the Resurgent is that we writers are a community. We’re always discussing and debating issues and personalities – kind of like the Athenians that Paul encountered in Acts 17. We hold plenty of opinions on a wealth of topics, and we’re certainly not monolithic, which makes this community of writers great fun.
The varying levels of support that our writers have for President Trump is living proof that we don’t share a mind on issues. We have writers who have already pledged their support for the president – including Erick now – and we have dyed-in-the-wool never Trumpers.
I was proudly #NeverTrump in the run up to the 2016 election. I couldn’t bring myself to hop on the Trump Train. It was a matter of not trusting the unknowns and standing firmly on my principles as a Christian and a conservative. (I’ll admit that I felt like I had the luxury of taking a stand on principle, because I was certain that Georgia would not go for Hillary Clinton.)
I had problems with Trump’s behavior and rhetoric. I had major issues with the people who blindly followed him, especially those who tried to treat Trump as some sort of prophetic figure. And I harbored some resentment that he plowed through several really good candidates who would have made fine presidents.
My #NeverTrump stand took a toll on me. I wrote reams about it here and over at PJ Media, and I took plenty of insults for my stand. Friends and even some family members accused me of being on a “high horse.” It was not an easy time to write about politics.
I had to figure out who to vote for. There was no way in hell that Hillary Clinton would get my vote. Had Austin Petersen won the Libertarian Party nomination, I would’ve voted for him with pride, but the Libertarians continued their ridiculous ways and put up the worst possible option. I wound up voting for Evan McMullin. Boy, was he a letdown.
Since the 2016 election, I’ve supported the president when he’s done good things, and I’ve called him out when he does things that are counterproductive. As Erick is fond of saying, I’m willing to “call balls and strikes” on this administration.
I’ve done plenty of thinking about whether I’ll vote for Trump in 2020. He’s done great things. Choosing Mike Pence as his running mate was one of the best decisions he has made. His judicial nominees have been good, and moving our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem made me proud. He’s done a lot to tamp down the regulatory state. And the tax cuts!
He’s let me down, too. This whole debacle over border security is maddening. He has made some rhetorical fumbles that are hard to overcome. The whole idea of tariffs is terrible trade policy, and his obsession with Vladimir Putin still creeps me out.
Merrie Soltis, another fellow writer and friend, gave a rebuttal to Erick’s announcement with her own declaration to remain #NeverTrump. As always, she made some compelling arguments:
I realistically only wanted three things our of any Republican presidency: conservative judges, Obamacare repealed, and Planned Parenthood defunded. So far, I’m only one for three with Trump. If he had put some actual work into it, he might could have gotten the Obamacare repeal. But Republicans never thought he’d actually win and never put together a workable replacement plan so the repeal failed. Same thing with the wall. Trump had an opportunity to trade the DACA kids for wall funding months ago and he said no. The tax cut was a corporate giveaway that didn’t do enough to help the middle class. And now that people are filing their taxes and seeing smaller refunds, many Americans are convinced that they’ve been swindled. Republicans should have been ahead on messaging but they weren’t. So, the one actual piece of legislation that was passed in 2 years is now increasingly unpopular. I’d expecting repealing it to be #1 on the Democratic bucket list once they get back in power.
And there’s just been so much bad. The tariffs. Alienating our allies. The TWEETING. My God, why hasn’t somebody who cares about this man smashed his phone before now? Every single time he does something for conservatives to cheer, he’s back on Twitter either walking it back or insulting someone and THAT becomes the next news cycle.
He’s surrounded himself with the worst possible people. We wouldn’t have a Mueller probe if he hadn’t hired lowlifes like Steve Bannon and Corey Lewandowski. He’s given press credentials to the Gateway Pundit. He’s emboldened the racists. He’s destroyed the good people (Jeff Sessions, Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie) who stuck with him.
Bottom line: the man is morally and mentally unfit to be president. That has not changed. That is not ever going to change.
At the same time, Erick’s reasons for supporting Trump in 2020 are equally hard to resist:
At this point I can head into 2020 knowing several things. First, the behaviors this President routinely engages in are not going to change. He is who he is. Second, the pretty smiles and calm demeanors the other side will probably work through the media to contrast with the President will not hide the fact they think children can be killed at birth, Christians should be removed from policy making positions, and the economy should be bankrupted to implement environmental policies that will not actually mitigate climate change.
My friends in the center-right coalition who are flirting with Democrats are, more often than not, not really socially conservative. But I am. That party offers me no home and is deeply hostile to people of faith. The President has shown himself to not share my faith convictions any more than the other side, but the President has shown he is willing to defend my faith convictions and is supportive of them.
I could stay home or vote third party as I did in 2016. But what will that get me? The ability to say “not my problem” or the self-assurance that I didn’t get dirty in having to choose? I have many Christian friends who, when I have discussed this, tell me I should just stay home and turn my back. Both parties, they tell me, are profoundly corrupt. And they’re right. But I am not looking for a messiah in politics and don’t have some religious sentiment tied to my vote. While I understand and accept the sincere conviction of some of my friends who have decided they will just sit out the process, I have decided otherwise. In 2016, we knew who the Democrats were and were not sure of who Donald Trump was. Now we know both and I prefer this President to the alternative.
I will vote for Donald Trump and Mike Pence. And, to be clear, it will not be just because of what the other side offers, but also because of what the Trump-Pence team has done. They’ve earned my vote.
My dilemma is whether I’ll vote for Trump next year. And I just can’t say definitively either way. For starters, there’s still way too much time to commit to a decision. With our news cycles happening almost too quickly to keep up with, a million things can happen between now and the election – and that’s not much of an exaggeration.
Will Trump let us down? There’s no telling. Will the administration’s wins outweigh the downfalls? The answer is just as likely to be “no” as it is to be “yes.” Will the president shine in a crisis? You never can tell until it happens.
If I decide I can’t vote for Trump in 2020, I don’t know what I’ll do. I sure as hell won’t vote for the current crop of Democrats, and they would have to offer up the most miraculous moderate to even cause me to give them a second look.
What about third party options? I don’t hold out hope for the Libertarian Party to have a decent candidate, unless they come to their senses and allow Petersen to take the nomination. I don’t know if I’ll fall for an independent after McMullin burned me with his sour grapes take on #NeverTrump. That would leave me writing someone in. I just don’t know what other options I would have.
As things stand today, I’m a little more than 50-50 in favor of voting for Trump, but that could change on a daily basis. It’s too soon for me to commit to saying “yes” or “no” to Trump.
Donald Trump is a man who garners extreme reactions in both directions. I understand that, and I’ll continue to support him and pray for his success. I still reserve the right to call out his foibles, but I’ll also crow about the good things his administration does.
While I admire Erick and Merrie for their stands, I just can’t bring myself to take a stand of my own just yet. Ask me again the day before the election, because I probably won’t know for sure what to do until then.