“Well, you force me into a cataclysmic decision.” — The Wizard of Oz.
Four years ago, I was a Never-Trumper among Never-Trumpers. I worked the sums of the ledger of Donald J. Trump; it was drenched in red ink, failed businesses, failed marriages, and failed character. At the center of it all was a man who wore the hate spat at him like a king’s ermine stoat.
In business and politics, there seemed to be only one guiding principle for Trump’s version of “the way I’d do it,” and that is how much attention it will get for the man who craves attention and adoration in a way that makes the words “crack addiction” seem inappropriately weak to describe it.
A three-year-old desperately trying to get mommy and daddy to notice him will resort to smearing the walls with excrement when simply tugging at legs fails. Then they have to pay attention. In the same way, Trump, in life, was compelled to get the world’s attention: by buying an airline and financially burying it; by bankrupting a casino; by lending his name to all kinds of scams, Ponzi schemes, and ersatz products of every kind; by constantly weaving his way into the media while simultaneously trolling them.
This all culminated in his campaign for president, preceded by several years of being a prominent birther, a gadfly, and an incredibly well-known household name, if a bit eccentric according to the media. That eccentricity turned to horror when he rolled down the escalator at Trump Tower in June 2015 and told us how Mexico is sending rapists and criminals, and that he’s going to build a beautiful wall, and they will pay for it.
The media and the Democrats reacted by making sure Trump sucked all the oxygen out of 2016, and fed him a steady diet of massive attention.
Then he won.
For the last four years, Trump’s hold on America and the White House has been one long attention binge by the ego-in-chief. And in the end, America is still here, not a smoking ruin, the stock market is recovering from the worst pandemic since the Spanish Flu, and nothing the Democrats have done has been able to dislodge Trump from the White House.
I’m willing to concede that Trump has no more grip on the levers of power than the Wizard of Oz had to bestow courage to the cowardly lion, a brain to the scarecrow, or a heart to the tin man. Trump is just the man behind the curtain controlling great gouts of flame, smoke, colored lights and booming voices. He has no idea how to work the actual machine that is government, and all attempts to teach him, by the best teachers available, have gone unlearned.
That being said, Trump has been surprisingly effective in his term. Before COVID-19, African-Americans enjoyed the lowest unemployment ever recorded. Asian and Hispanic-American unemployment rates also hit record lows. More Americans enjoyed good jobs, rising wages, low interest rates, good returns on retirement funds, and optimism than at any time since Ronald Reagan.
Trump’s idealized vision of America is a gauzy and rose-tinted flashback to the years immediately following World War II. He pictures a nation of grateful, industrious, patriotic Americans, who love baseball, American-made cold rolled steel, luxury cars, big houses, pretty girls and grinning boys. Trump’s brand of problem-solving is to ignore the problem and let someone else solve it, or attack the people who keep pointing out there’s a problem in the first place.
The entirety of the strain and convulsions America has experienced in the last four years has been found in the conflict between those who promoted Trump first as an eccentric nutcase then reversed engines when they saw him as a hate-eating snake capable of almost supernatural feats of venom-spitting. The more they hate him, the more venom Trump spits, which in turn makes them hate him even more.
At Trump’s inauguration, at which we all became deplorable, liberal activists torched a limousine, broke windows, and staged violence for waiting cameras (I saw that happen with my own eyes!). There have been regular protests, marches, violence, followed by more protests, and the cycle repeated, along with shameful displays of political cynicism, lies and destruction.
Remember Brett Kavanaugh.
Now the level of violence, destruction, and brokenness has exponentially increased, the closer we get to Election Day. Clearly, Democrats don’t believe Joe Biden can beat Trump without some help. Clearly, they don’t believe their own eyes or their own polls.
Clearly, Democrats have become their own version of the Wicked Witch of the West, complete with flying monkeys and evil crystal balls.
This election is no longer about who is competent to run government. It’s not about who offers better policy. It’s not about who can grasp the levers of government better, or garner more empathy, or be the more adult person in the room. That’s not even a battle. Joe Biden can, even in his dotage and advanced age, govern circles around Donald Trump, if by governing we mean operating this human-powered, money-lubricated political machine that is the U.S. Government.
This election isn’t the Flight 93 election. It’s really the Titanic election, and as the ship sinks into the cold, deep waters, we’re deciding who is more likely to get us on a lifeboat. When I started looking at things this way, in a fatalistic sort of realization of how screwed up things are, and likely to remain so, I experienced a kind of revelation. It freed me from my struggle, almost in a physical lifting of weight.
America has reached a point where no matter who is in the Oval Office, we’re not going to get any more united, or healed, or more civil. That will take a much larger rebirth than a political turnover.
And that’s the point that brought me to my cataclysmic decision. I believe I must vote for Donald Trump.
I never thought I’d write that, and believe me, going into the voting booth I’ll still tremble at the thought of doing it. But I believe it must be done, and precisely for the reasons I’ve just outlined.
Trump has misused, abused, ignored, trampled, and hung out to dry the tested and venerated norms of government for four years. And the norms fought back, to the point where Chief Justice John Roberts has become the Chief Defender of Nuance and Complexity, handing conservatives defeat after defeat rather than allow a guy randomly clicking switches to actually make the machine work his will.
With Biden, a Washington guy surrounded by Washington players, we will have a crew who know how to operate the machine, and do things in ways that we won’t even realize we’re being crushed until the giant steamroller is upon us.
Honestly, I have more faith in the norms fighting Trumpzilla than I do the Biden nanites running rampant through government, knitting new red tape where Trump’s appointees spent years ripping the old red tape out. And once there’s calm in the White House and in Congress, with Trumpists on the outside screaming in, these government mites will undo everything and allow the cultural Gestapo to impose their will unchecked.
My friend and editor Erick Erickson coined the phrase “you will be made to care.” The last four years have been a painful lesson in being made to care. With Trump in the White House, we will have four more years of headaches, conflict, and a three-year-old smearing his diaper load on the walls of government to get our attention.
With Biden, we will be told that our lack of enthusiasm and failure to condemn ourselves for not sufficiently opposing Trump will be reason enough to cost us our livelihood and our voice. The Democrats under a Biden-Harris administration will condemn half the nation to stoic silence (or we’ll burn your city).
I would rather vote for Trump and not have to defend him, than to see Biden and the far-left force me to choose between two terrible options.
I’m sure I’ll get mercilessly attacked for this decision, which is fine, because God is forgiving, even when readers aren’t.
You see, the election is all about Donald J. Trump and those who wish him gone. Not two candidates, but one. The country survived four years of him, and the institutions have not crumbled. I don’t see the norms fighting the leftists. I don’t see a return to norms at all. That went out the window ten years ago.
Biden would be a cipher in office, but those forces who put him there, and those who surround him will do far more damage than Trump could ever do, because they know how to make the machine work. The Democrats and leftists who are willing to burn cities, ruin lives, harass officials, have journalists fired for failing to disavow work they did decades ago, ruin teenagers lives, cancel college-bound kids for political gain, and gain power by any means necessary, must not be allowed unfettered access to the executive branch.
Trump only wants unlimited attention, and will pull all kinds of useless stunts to get it. They want unlimited power, and will kill you to get it.
I believe Trump is the more survivable option. I’m heading for the lifeboats, and Trump is more likely to get me there.