The Case for Trump, Substance Over Style

Nathan C. Dallon
15 min readOct 9, 2020
Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images, https://billmoyers.com/story/will-another-trump/

This is the first in a series of pieces I will be writing between now and November 3rd, 2020.

“The ballot is stronger than the bullet.” — Abraham Lincoln

The United States is a Constitutional Republic where every 4 years the people of the several states can vote to instruct the electors from their state to cast their ballot for President of the United States in the electoral college.

I love the United States of America. I love our people. All of our people. In an attempt to place myself in the shoes of all of my brothers and sisters I want to place myself in the shoes of the people who support each of the two main candidates AND those who won’t vote. This essay is the case for President Donald J. Trump. My next essay will be the case for Joe Biden. Then I will try to reason why so many Americans won’t vote.

Make America Great Again

“MAGA” is an ethos. It’s an attitude. It isn’t a particular policy or program. Donald Trump wants to make patriotism a core part of America again. He is proud of the country and he is willing to talk about it in public. Trump is a champion of the basic belief that American Democracy is a shining light on the hill for all the world to see. He thinks all Americans should be proud of their past. Americans should embrace their history. Trump reminds everyone that the United States is the good guy. In the eyes of Conservatives, He isn’t afraid of the online and mainstream media who want to censor patriotism in the US. He isn’t politically correct.

In the eyes of Conservative Americans, the Progressive Left has made it fashionable to emphasize the worst parts of America. To them the Progressive Left has retold American history looking for every instance of racism, sexism, xenophobia, American exceptionalism, and then has pretended that America stood for those things and only those things. Conservatives do not believe it’s true. Conservatives want to place emphasis on these words in America’s founding document:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Conservatives recognize America hasn’t lived up to this ideal perfectly. The ideals of the Declaration are a promissory note. One that is paid out over time. They believe that America is getting better. To them America has come a long way. America ended slavery, defeated the Nazis, liberated China from Japan, created the long peace, and created free trade for billions the world over. Trump is the first politician in decades to stand up and say America was great and is great. He promises to continue to make her great. Conservatives believe the Progressive Left wants to do the opposite. Undermine American history to justify radical change that will fail.

The Forgotten American

Conservatives think there is a group of coastal elites who ignore middle America. That isn’t to say they ignore the Midwest and the South-they do that too-but Conservatives mean they ignore people in the middle. It’s not just Liberal elites either, there are establishment GOP politicians and Libertarian think tanks who are just as callous towards the middle class.

One man summed up the feeling well, “No, I don’t think my voice is heard at all. I think I’m in flyover country. I think if I was in New York or Los Angeles, it would be different. But I’m insignificant. And I think that’s why Mr. Trump’s the president ’cause there’s an awful lot of us insignificant people out here.”

President Donald Trump is a yell from the middle class telling the ruling elites that they have to change. The middle won’t take it anymore.

Many Conservatives are those who make enough money to not be poor, but not enough to send their kids to Northwestern. The mechanics, plumbers, factory workers, restaurant owners, and small business owners. The Progressive Left elite don’t understand how the middle is being squeezed. The middle has insurance that many Conservatives like. The middle is working hard to get ahead and can’t due to bad trade deals and immigration. The middle is getting crushed by big tech who are all Progressive Left elites. The middle class has 401ks AND THE STOCK MARKET MATTERS TO THEM. They have worked hard to save, invest, and plan for retirement. Conservatives are sick and tired of being told “you didn’t build that” or that their “privilege is the reason why they have succeeded. They are tired of being talked down to.

Donald Trump is sticking it to the neo-liberal globalists and saying no. He finally addressed NAFTA and China trade deals. He believes the Government needs to help the middle first. Fewer handouts for the poor, more tax relief for the middle. Fewer professors in the Senate. Fewer professors for President. Fewer “elites” in the halls of power. “Drain the swamp” is real. Conservatives know that Trump needs to do more to drain the swamp, but all other candidates are looking to expand the swamp. Trump at least stopped that growth.

Issues Matter

Trump stands up for traditional Americans in his policy positions. Trump tells it like it is. Conservatives wish he didn’t tweet so much, but he stands up for the issues they care about most.

  1. Abortion

Conservatives are staunchly pro-life. More Americans think Abortion is immoral than moral. Conservatives want to speak for the unborn. Trump speaks about this topic as much as anyone. He is the first President to ever speak at the March for Life rally in DC.

Trump has more wins on abortion than any other Republican President. To Conservatives, the year 2020 is a pivotal time in the history of the country. Dr. Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary makes the strongest [most conservative] case I could find about life and the 2020 election:

The pro-abortion movement has sown a culture of death. It attempts to destroy and to deny the sanctity of life, and the consequences are now clear to see. This is what happens when a society jettisons the moral code based in the truth that every human is an extension of God’s common grace, and a bearer of God’s image. Unless this march to death is reversed, the headlines will only become more horrifying and even deadlier…

We now stand at a watershed moment in American history. The year 2020 will go down in the books as a decisive year when the United States of America dealt with the challenge of abortion and the question of the sanctity of human life.

The storm gathers, and it has already claimed the lives of millions of unborn children. We face a political, moral, and ethical crisis in this country — unless Christians press into the storm and declare the sanctity and dignity of human life, the casualties will be even more catastrophic. We cannot be silent. We cannot accept the logic of the culture of death. But the only real answer to the culture of death is the gospel of life…

This is a binary choice for many Conservatives. Trump is the best chance to roll back abortion all over the country. To them, now is the time to stand up for life. Donald Trump and Mike Pence have given them a chance to strike down Roe v. Wade with the new supreme court nominee. However, Conservatives know that courts are fickle. They want another 4 years to make it clear, life matters in America.

2. Freedom of Religion

Conservatives are very nervous about living religiously in the work place. Conservatives believe that America was founded by religious people looking to protect their religious freedom. Increasingly, the Conservative perception is that the secular members of the country want to suppress religious liberty at school, at work, in politics, and everywhere they can. Trump and his administration is fighting back against the secular onslaught. Those of who want to live our religion openly increasingly believe that they can’t. Conservatives don’t trust “religious” Democrats. Their belief is that there may be a few old-timers who still claim to be religious and a Democrat, but that generation is moving on. The new reality is clear. Dr. Mohler lays out the anxiety many Conservatives feel:

I believe that conservatives in the United States have vastly underestimated the reality and comprehensiveness of the challenge we face. All of us see parts, but it takes concentrated attention, a devotion to history, and a serious reckoning with ideas to see the whole — the vastness of our crisis. We see religious liberty denied when a cake baker in Colorado experiences sustained efforts to put him out of business, or worse, accompanied nationwide by florists and photographers and a host of others. We see the Fire Chief of Atlanta, Georgia removed because he dared to teach a biblical pattern of human sexuality, and then dared to put his convictions into print — primarily for his own church. We see Christian schools and ministries confront unprecedented challenges across several fronts and we see a continual effort to coerce Christians to surrender to the new regime of sexual rules, gender identity, intersectionality, and identity politics. The enemies of religious liberty are playing hardball, and we were warned.

Just this past week two Supreme Court Justices warned that religious freedom was going to be limited again. It may seem a small thing, but being able to say Merry Christmas, sing Christmas Carols at school, and have a bible on your desk at work is deeply important to the faithful. Many Conservatives think Democrats want to wash all of it away.

The Trump administration is trying to lead out on defending religious freedom. He isn’t just fighting for rights here in the US, but he is also promoting religious freedom everywhere. Religious Freedom is a core part of the Trump/Pence messaging. Religious Liberty is a top priority for the President and his team. Conservatives worry it is a target for destruction for the Progressive Left. Dr. Mohler again:

Nevertheless, the debate comes as an ominous warning. Just consider Marci Hamilton’s arguments, especially her assertion that freedom of religion essentially only guarantees the freedom of privately held, privately expressed belief. In this rendering, religion has no respected place in the public square. Your cranium is the only viable real estate for religious expression.

Writing a letter to the Wall Street Journal in response to Marci Hamilton’s article, Don Meindertsma, writing from Annandale, Virginia got it just right when he stated: “Ms. Hamilton opines that the only absolute right guaranteed by the First Amendment is the right to believe anything you want. We hardly need a constitution for that. I can sit in my house and believe whatever I want, whenever I want despite any law (or woke bureaucrat) that instructs otherwise. Rather, the First Amendment’s protection of the exercise of religion is what envelops us when we leave the home to carry out our calling.” He then concluded, “That right might not be absolute, but it is literally the top of the list in the Bill of Rights and should easily trump so-called fundamental rights that the constitution doesn’t even mention.”

3. America First Foreign Policy

Conservatives have changed their outlook on foreign policy. The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria have changed what modern Conservatives think about global engagement. #NeverTrump Conservatives are mostly the pro-war globalist (neo-cons) wing of the party. The Conservative base wants Trump to put America first in foreign policy and become more isolationist. Conservatives will be quick to point out new peace in the middle east. They highlight new trade deals with Mexico, Canada, Japan, S. Korea, and China. All of these trade deals put America first. The messaging is no more jobs leaving for foreign shores.

To rank-and-file Conservatives, the elites have not handled the past 30 years well at all. Too many Americans have spilled their blood in foreign wars of aggression. The base is sick and tired of being the world’s police with nothing in return. In a few short years, Trump has twisted the GOP into an entirely different foreign policy position. They want 4 more years to ensure the #NeverTrump “establishment” can’t get back into the party and return things to “normal.”

4. Economic Freedom

Donald Trump is a free markets, low regulation, and jobs president. Conservatives wanted an outsider who brings a fresh business perspective to the economy. Before the COVID pandemic, the US economy was doing well. From Conard Black:

Unemployment is at its lowest percentage since the Lyndon Johnson administration more than 50 years ago (and the numbers then were helped by having 545,000 conscripts in Vietnam). Minority groups are the principal beneficiaries of the Trump economy; this isn’t trickle-down, it’s surge-up. Average income for female-led single-parent households jumped 7.6 percent last year, well ahead of gains in higher income groups. The poverty rate among female-led households fell 2.7 percent for African Americans, and 4 percent for Hispanics. Industries largely populated by women (and, historically, exploited women), especially hospitality and, to a lesser extent, health care, showed strong earnings gains, even as unemployment rates for African-American and Hispanic women fell to under 4.5 percent.

Conservatives worry that Democrats want more regulation, more intervention, and more taxes.

5. Socialism

Conservatives worry that the US is going to become a socialist nation doomed to low/negative economic growth and government control over their personal lives. Socialism is a direct threat to the Conservative world view on all levels. A letter to the editor by a woman named Jane Muhlenbruch-Yee describes the Conservative worry well:

It’s frightening to see so many Americans, particularly young adults,
embracing socialism and communist ideas. Why is that? America’s not
perfect. No country is or ever will be. But America is the freest,
cleanest, most diverse, with the most opportunities of any country in
history. Our health care system is the best in the world, although
it’s expensive. Life’s pretty great here

When our American system fails, it’s usually because people have lost
their moral center and decide to take advantage of others. It’s the
biggest threat to our way of life. Still with all its faults, capitalism and free markets are the best way to move people out of poverty toward prosperity. If you truly want a better world, support morality and capitalism.

Conservatives want a defender of “the American Way.” Trump is their unapologetic Defender.

6. Strong Border

Conservatives care about the border. In their mind’s, The President’s first job is to make the borders of the US safe. Trump makes this a central talking point and policy point. The White House says:

The United States must adopt an immigration system that serves the national interest. To restore the rule of law and secure our border, President Trump is committed to constructing a border wall and ensuring the swift removal of unlawful entrants. To protect American workers, the President supports ending chain migration, eliminating the Visa Lottery, and moving the country to a merit-based entry system. These reforms will advance the safety and prosperity of all Americans while helping new citizens assimilate and flourish.

The border may have been the biggest deciding factor for many voters during the 2015/2016 Republican primary. Conservatives think that the Progressive Left has lost its mind on immigration.

A larger explanation is political. Between 2008 and 2016, Democrats became more and more confident that the country’s growing Latino population gave the party an electoral edge. To win the presidency, Democrats convinced themselves, they didn’t need to reassure white people skeptical of immigration so long as they turned out their Latino base. “The fastest-growing sector of the American electorate stampeded toward the Democrats this November,” Salon declared after Obama’s 2008 win. “If that pattern continues, the GOP is doomed to 40 years of wandering in a desert.”

7. 2nd Amendment

We all know that the gun topic in America is hot. Conservatives believe that Trump has been fighting for 2nd Amendment Rights since he entered office. He has appointed judges who protect the 2nd amendment for individuals. Many Conservatives think Trump has fought to keep gun rights safe during the COVID era with harsh lockdowns and local government overreach. Jason Ouimet from the NRA has said:

During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many state governments were poised to use the novel virus as a means to restrict Second Amendment rights, President Trump’s administration identified the firearms industry as “critical infrastructure,” forcing all but a few states to keep gun stores and other firearm businesses open. In doing so, President Trump made clear that the self-defense rights of law-abiding Americans are and forever will be “essential.”

For the most zealous 2nd amendment supports, Trump hasn’t been perfect on 2nd amendment protections. However, the contrast is clear between the Progressive Left and the Conservative Right on gun control. For many Conservatives, this is another binary choice.

In Defense of Civilization (law and order)

Conservatives most basic instinct is to persevere law and order and to protect the progress society has already made. Jonathan Haidt explores how “order” may be the fundamental bedrock principle all Conservatives share.

I’m very familiar with liberal ideas. I’ve been reading them my whole life. When I started reading conservative ideas about social order, about the value of tradition, about how easy it is to lose social order, they really struck me as a revelation.

Conservatives remember in history how awful social disorder is. Revolutions are messy and are just as likely to end in tears as joy. The American revolution was a miracle in that it didn’t make things worse. Conservatives (and all law and order people frankly) are deeply concerned about the Progressive Left’s thirst for protest and revolution.

Conservatives see Trump as a shield against far Left extremism. Other Conservative leaders have focused on this as well. Senator Tom Cotton stated in a NYT Op-ed:

Outnumbered police officers, encumbered by feckless politicians, bore the brunt of the violence. In New York State, rioters ran over officers with cars on at least three occasions. In Las Vegas, an officer is in “grave” condition after being shot in the head by a rioter. In St. Louis, four police officers were shot as they attempted to disperse a mob throwing bricks and dumping gasoline; in a separate incident, a 77-year-old retired police captain was shot to death as he tried to stop looters from ransacking a pawnshop. This is “somebody’s granddaddy,” a bystander screamed at the scene.

Some elites have excused this orgy of violence in the spirit of radical chic, calling it an understandable response to the wrongful death of George Floyd. Those excuses are built on a revolting moral equivalence of rioters and looters to peaceful, law-abiding protesters. A majority who seek to protest peacefully shouldn’t be confused with bands of miscreants.

Trump’s hard rhetoric on protests and property damage has made him an easy go-to candidate for law and order conservatives.

  1. Courts

Part of preserving law and order is appointing judges who reflect Conservative values. Trump and Mitch McConnel have been masters at filling the 3rd branch of government with Conservative judges. These judges have judicial philosophies that aim to preserve the Constitution and its original meaning, defer to the Executive in law and law enforcement issues, and protect social issues that Conservatives hold dear. Trump has given Conservatives the most Conservative Supreme Court and appellate courts in generations. The upcoming fight over the appointment of Amy Coney Barret is simply the cherry on top of an a very successful series of Conservative appointments.

2. Federalism

Trump has given power back to the States by withdrawing the Federal government. Trump has been an absent Executive in many parts of the Federal Government. Conservatives think this is good.

In essence, the withdrawal of the national government as a reliable partner has led to a burst of innovation at the sub-national scale. Federalism is being reinvented without the guiding hand or intentional participation of the federal government. States, local governments, private business and civil society are filling the vast vacuum at the center. This is the Next Federalism — messy, uneven, chaotic, ground-up, and quintessentially American.

Trump’s laissez-faire relationship with the States has made the States more important. Trump has deregulated many areas and allowed local governments to do as they please.

Conservatives want the power to be close to the people. The theory goes that if California wants to be progressive and liberal, it can. If Texas wants to be conservative, it can. Trump, by not staffing the Federal Government and deregulating, has pushed some power back to the States.

Character

All Conservatives know that Trump is not a nice dude. But he is their warrior. This retweet by Trump sums it up.

The thinking is that he is a schmuck, but he is THEIR schmuck. He is the cultural fighter they have been yearning for. The danger the Progressive Left poses to the way of life Conservatives want has allowed them to look to substance and overlook style.

-Nate

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