Why would anyone vote for Trump?


The 2020 United States election is a bit of a joke. Four years ago, I voted for President Donald Trump because I thought he was the least bad option. This time round, I feel differently.

At first, I felt pretty good about Joe Biden. I voted for Barack Obama twice and thought his former vice-president was one of the stronger Democrat contenders. But, as time has worn on, I’ve lost faith in him.

When we heard the news of the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I seriously considered changing my vote to the Democrats, or not voting at all. But as things stand now, Trump will be getting my vote. 

As an out gay man and officer with 15 years of service in the US army, I find the identity politics the Democrats are pushing to be offensive. This time round, the biggest issue on the ballot for me is race.

Trump’s first term in office has had its ups and downs. I really wish someone would take away his Twitter account. And I don’t even know what to say about the first presidential debate. It was an absolute disaster on both sides. 

That said, I feel Trump’s actions as president are a net positive. Before the pandemic, the economy was doing great, and there haven’t been any surprises regarding the big issues to me in 2016. The right to self-defence is intact, we have a stronger middle class, we have made (minor) progress with the immigration issues, and the boogeyman hasn’t nullified my same-sex marriage. 

On identity politics

As a white male in the age of identity politics, I am not allowed to say anything on the subject of race, but I’m going to anyway. There are several prominent black conservatives who cite some of the same concerns I state here, and the point is no less valid because of the colour of my skin.

When the Black Lives Matter movement first gained attention during the Obama administration, my initial thoughts were of support. I learned the movement was about equality for all, and about ensuring black lives have the same value as anyone else’s. This is a message I can absolutely stand behind. There is just one problem: the Black Lives Matter movement decided to focus solely on black men killed by police.

There are so many other factors killing African Americans — many of which are linked to poverty, such as disease, obesity and drugs. 

The Democrats are all about “systemic racism” and the “ghost in the machine” that is keeping black people down. They’ve run black communities into the ground with the mass incarceration of black men under the guise of the war on drugs, glorified the black single-motherhood rate, pushed abortions as a contraceptive, and replaced personal responsibility with welfare programmes. 

As long as the black community is poor and dependent on the system for financial support, the Democrats know they can buy the black vote with more social programmes. There are no easy solutions, but allowing Democrats to continue destroying their community while blaming Trump for problems that existed long before he was president is insanity.

Limiting economic damage

The US Covid-19 response has been far more political than substantive. It has been nothing but a partisan battle between Democrats and Republicans over who takes the threat more seriously but, in reality, very few take it seriously.  

The pandemic is unprecedented for the US in modern times. The country’s citizens responded like spoiled children. It still amazes me that people refuse to take simple precautions like wearing a mask and washing their hands. I don’t know what the Trump administration could have done differently. 

Protesters gather around a liquor store in flames near the Third Police Precinct on May 28, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during a protest over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, who died after a police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes. – A police precinct in Minnesota went up in flames late on May 28 in a third day of demonstrations as the so-called Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul seethed over the shocking police killing of a handcuffed black man. The precinct, which police had abandoned, burned after a group of protesters pushed through barriers around the building, breaking windows and chanting slogans. A much larger crowd demonstrated as the building went up in flames. (Kerem Yucel / AFP)

The Supreme Court

I love the US because we have a peaceful transfer of power between two ideological points every four to eight years. A conservative Supreme Court threatens that balance. To have a conservative majority on the court for the rest of my life could affect something that I care about deeply in the future. I don’t even know what that is yet.

That said, there is precedent for a sitting president to make a nomination in an election year, and even stronger precedent for a confirmation to take place when the president’s party also controls the Senate. I would have loved to see a more moderate nominee, but Trump is going to nominate someone who will satisfy his base. Unfortunately, this has left us with Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

The media is attempting to paint her as a diehard conservative who wants to rip up the Constitution, but I believe that couldn’t be further from the truth. Barrett clearly has conservative morals, but based on the things her colleagues and students at the University of Notre Dame said, she keeps them out of her legal analysis. 

I do believe the Senate will confirm Barrett before November so, in a way, it will be a moot point. I fully support the Democrats’ plan to introduce legislation enacting 18-year term limits for Supreme Court justices, even if it takes an amendment to the Constitution. 

Trump’s taxes

Trump’s taxes are a complete non-issue for me. We don’t know the validity of the claim from the New York Times, and I have no faith in the media in the US. To my knowledge, the accusation is not that he did anything illegal or unjustified, but rather an emotional smear campaign designed to make him look unrelatable and elitist. 

I care far more about the politicians who became multimillionaires as a result of their public “service” than I do about someone who made a bunch of money and then took political office. Biden clearly has some explaining to do with regards to his son’s dealings in the Ukraine, not to mention his financial ties to Russia and China.  

The state of Biden’s mind

Biden’s inability to maintain coherent thought is scary. His team have been hiding him from the public as much as possible and, when he takes questions from the crowd, they are preselected. There are days when he gets up and speaks and it’s the old Biden, and other days when he’s completely incoherent. 

Yes, Trump definitely does not think before he speaks. He blindly shares things on Twitter without thinking about them. But, looking at his policy actions, I don’t think he’s done a terrible job. We’ve had better presidents, for sure but, for me it’s hard to tell what a Biden administration would look like. The only messaging the campaign is releasing is either criticisms of Trump’s Covid-19 response, support for Black Lives Matter, or blaming Republicans for the sins of the Democratic Party.

Trump is disgusting

As a person, Trump is disgusting. There are enough accusations out there that there has to be some level of truth to some of them. These women are putting themselves on the line to make these allegations; it can’t just be the Democrats rounding people up to say things. But I believe there’s a problem with Biden too, so we actually don’t have an option to vote for someone who isn’t tainted.

I don’t think there is any risk of Trump trying to retain power illegitimately. My father disagrees with me, but I don’t see a scenario where that plays out in that way. I do have concerns about the integrity of the vote itself. I’m pro absentee ballots, but clearly the US postal service isn’t equipped for a mass mail-in system. I do think it’s possible to make the vote workable, if we prioritise letting high-risk groups and those in Covid-19 hotspots vote by mail. But I don’t have any confidence that this will be done in a sensible way.

My own vote

Trump is an average candidate for re-election, and could easily lose to a realistic challenger. I don’t believe Biden is such a candidate because he can’t remember what office he wants, where he is, or his goals. 

I also cannot get behind any candidate who would allow the racist vitriol of Black Lives Matter to continue. Freedom of speech doesn’t grant anyone the right to block roads, burn businesses, tear down monuments and attack people who support a different political candidate. 

My sincere hope for 2024 is that the Democrats stop focusing on vilifying conservatives, and instead look for a better candidate with a platform of progress, rather than a platform of hate. — Open Democracy

Craig D* is from Pennsylvania, serving on active duty in the US military. This is an edited version of a piece that was first published by Open Democracy

The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Mail & Guardian.

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Craig D
Craig D is from Pennsylvania and is currently an officer serving on active duty in the US military.

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