A Conversation with 30 Trump Supporters

Conor Friedersdorf of the Atlantic wrote an article on Donald Trump and elicited responses from Trump supporters explaining in detail why they are standing behind him. This is not a cut and paste of his article. We (The Bull Gator Party) have linked to the responses of the Trump supporters, and respond to them. This entire post is written by the author of this blog, EXCEPT for the linked and quoted responses from Trump supporters.

There are a few wingbats in the list of 30 responses, but this is not intended to be a suggestion that all Trump supporters are wingbats. There are also plenty of well-thought out, even persuasive arguments. We understand every candidate probably has a few kooks behind them. This is not a Trump hit-piece. No one is persuaded by insults, and we have none. We really want to reach this group of people who share many of our same concerns.

Why are we having this conversation? We are not afraid of Trump. We do not hate him. We do not think he is stupid. We do believe strongly that he may have a harmful effect on what we deem to be a worthy vision in the 2016 election: a return to the limited government contemplated in our constitution, and the corresponding emphasis on individual liberty.

The format: 30 responses from Trump supporters about why they support him. Each starts with a brief summary, containing a link to their full detailed response. (Click the link if you want to read the Trump supporters full response. If you are confused by our response, you may wish to read the supporters full comment.) Following each response in bold and italic, is our contribution to the conversation.

  1. A Liberal Who Wants America to Win––“I feel that Trump is our only hope in this next election. This is coming from someone who voted for Obama in the last election!”

You describe yourself as a liberal. In which areas do you believe we are missing the mark, in which we should be “winning”? You go on to say that the world is rising while America falls. The defeatist attitude might be more justified from a conservative, considering the country has veered decidedly more progressive in the past 5-8 years, but as a liberal, one might expect you to argue that we have just started to get on track, and to finally “follow the example set by the rest of the developed nations of the world”, which progressives often tout as a critical mission.

We share your aversion to political correctness (while considering you are bound to be an outlier among your liberal peers on this issue). While political correctness or other forms of social balancing and engineering are repulsive to a constitutional conservative, we simply do not believe that our leader must be crass and obnoxious to counteract the phenomenon. There are reasons to temper your language in many settings. We believe manners, maturity, diplomacy and dignity should not be confused with political correctness.

  1. An Anarchist Who Revels in Destruction––“Like the joker from The Dark Knight, I just want to see the world burn.”

We believe in your right to vote, but would not necessarily encourage you to do so. Get a hobby! 

  1. Trump is Low Risk, High Reward––“I will vote for Donald Trump (and to a lesser extent Bernie Sanders) because he represents hope… And how much damage can he really do?”

Trump can do a lot of damage. We share your concern that the two parties do not represent us. In fact, it is the foundational premise of this blog. The problem with choosing Trump to ‘shake things up’ at this precise moment is that we are at a critical juncture, and the democratic party is almost entirely united on the principle of expanding government and imposing controls on fairness. Surely this is offensive to your responsible conservative economic side. Giving the nomination to a protest candidate right now will hand the reigns of this country over to a president who will select 3-4 supreme court justices and normalize an expanded concept of government dependence. Meanwhile, Trump has been relatively honest about the fact that he is not a small government advocate, and places little weight on knowledge, let alone constitutional knowledge. He has expressed the view that a judge who staunchly advocates for partial birth abortion would make a great supreme court justice.

We are still of the belief that a Trump nomination is highly unlikely, but are more concerned with the damage he is doing right now. Certainly, we are messed up and broken. We are 3-4 factions trying to coexist within one party. Why then, do we want to give our flag to a man who does not even represent one of the 3-4 factions? Is the answer to reconciling several different viewpoints between four reasonable groups to place a bomb in the middle of all four of them and start over?

  1. Trump Has a Drive for Perfection––“He will expect greatness from us, he will tell us how to get to great, he will inspire people to be better than they are and have the hope that their efforts will not be thwarted by bigger government.”

We have spent some time observing the Donald. At no time have we perceived an inspirational message. “We are losers, we are very very stupid people, we need to Make America Great Again”. We see these messages as self-deprecating and defeatist. The United States, with its flaws, is still the greatest nation on earth. As for the idea that he will inspire us so that our efforts will not be thwarted by bigger government, we ask that you really look at Trump’s view of the world. Not just in the past where he made some liberal comments which many are willing to look past, but right now. He never discusses limited government. He never utters the word liberty. He never utters the word conservative. We ask you to look for evidence that Trump is committed to thwarting bigger government.

  1. ‘I Just Want to Watch the Chaos…’––“I’m a young guy who is immature, a bit antisocial, and with no plans for kids or a wife ever. At some level, I don’t really care how things go with America as long as it’s fun to watch.”

We believe in your right to vote, but would not necessarily encourage you to do so. Get a hobby!

  1. Trump is a Moderate Compromiser––“His problem, according to the rest of the GOP, is that he wants single-payer health care and that he doesn’t want to completely defund Planned Parenthood. I don’t agree with him but why is it a bad thing to be moderate? A moderate has a special ability to be a liaison between the parties.”

We have several Moderates in the field with a positive message, and experience moderating. We also disagree that single payer health care is a Moderate position.

  1. Trump is a Corrective to American Culture’s Pathologies––“The preeminence of political correctness among the culture class indicates a momentous shift away from formerly prominent middle-class cultural values towards something entirely different. Even if Donald Trump were to accomplish little in his presidency, there is a hope that were he president, he could in some way alter that prevailing Washington/media culture, and set a new cultural tone.”

We appreciate the honesty, and the admission that Trump’s appeal is more emotional than rational. This is not necessarily an inappropriate way to view a potential leader of the free world. A leader must inspire and sometimes this involves creating an emotional connection with the people.  We believe that of the candidates on the republican side currently, Trump would perpetuate and cement the culture of divisiveness which has cropped up in the last two presidencies. He has more supporters than any other candidate, but it is often overlooked that he also leads the pack in the number of people who say they would “never vote for him”.

  1. Trump Knows It’s All a Joke––“Many are right; it’s not about trusting Trump; it’s a collective middle finger to the establishment… Trump isn’t stupid, he gets it. He knows the more outrageous, the better.”

We share your frustration, we are just not willing to give up on it and throw up the middle finger as quickly as you are. What is the end result of playing this monstrous joke on our country? Do you see it as somehow leading to political and moral recovery in the long term? We agree with you that Trump is “in on the joke”. We do not share your confidence that a majority of Trump supporters are in on it, evidenced by several arguments made in this selection by people who are taking him very seriously.

  1. Trump Embodies the Rage of the White Middle Class––“Politicians spend no time helping them. Black lives matter more and illegal immigrants who break the law get a free pass. Evangelicals in this country no longer feel they have the right to religious freedom and have watched what they perceive as a sacred institution in marriage gutted. All the while, politicians they voted for to represent them just plain don’t.”

It’s best to tread lightly here. We object at the outset to attributing any emotion or ideology to a category based on race. To be specific, there are many in the “white middle class” who believe firmly in social justice, large government and a living breathing constitution. Don’t be distracted by the external scapegoats while the true enemy within captures the flag. Mass anger leads to would-be saviors, and eventually dictators. Progressives were ‘enraged’ with George Bush and granted immortal status to President Obama who harnessed his status as messiah and enlarged the executive power to fundamentally change the nation against the people’s will. It’s tempting to be enraged, but far more effective to be deliberately thoughtful and calculating.

10. Desperate People Cast Desperate Votes––“Wall Street, the banks, and even illegal immigrants seem to be prospering more than the average American citizen. We are desperate.”

You are 100% correct that the economic recovery is a sham. We are nearing the end of President Obama’s eight years in office. For eight years we have been told that “we didn’t build that” and that we should feel guilty for any prosperity we have. We have also been told that we are responsible every time a madman shoots and kills innocent people, and that we are to blame for every angry muslim because we are racist slobs. We understand how this can cause desperation. That is why we are so relieved to have such a strong field of candidates to choose from, representing various points along the conservative spectrum. We believe the solution to our desperation is a reduction in federal government involvement in our lives, reduction of debt, massive (apocalyptic) reductions in spending, and the selection of judges to the supreme court who believe firmly in, and have proven in their past to have practiced, judicial restraint and deference to the constitution.

These are, in fact, desperate times. We should not seek desperate measures however, without first trying the very common sense measures above. We cannot say that these solutions won’t work, because we have never tried them. We have seen no sign or implication by Donald Trump that he will pursue this strategy. He does not claim to be a limited government proponent, and in fact eludes to kicking ass and taking names, presumably wielding an emboldened executive power.

  1. Trump Has Successfully Run Large Organizations––“He leads an enormous, diversified organization that is worth billions. This requires leadership. Leadership, by the way, is different from knowledge. When you lead a large organization you set vision, goals and expect results. You do not know every detail of every level of your organization. You can’t. The world is just too complicated. You delegate and empower. You can get information when you need it and the president has no shortage of people ready to educate him on issues.”

The difference between running a large corporation with your name on the skyscraper, and running a free republic like the one that we live in, is that the former is amenable to a coercive/authoritative leadership style. The latter is not. A President may only act on his own in a very narrow set of express areas. Many are willing to give the president additional power, but it is in direct violation of the separation of powers; this concept being not just important, but absolutely critical and fundamental to our constitution. Just because we have stood by while President Bush and Obama have enlarged the power of the executive, does not mean we should “fight fire with fire”. Our next executive must understand and operate within the confines of his role.

As to the second point, regarding leaders not needing extensive and detailed knowledge, we agree. The more brilliant and technocratic candidates are often less appropriate for a position of executive leadership. Our concern with Trump is not that he doesn’t have enough knowledge, but that he is not guided by core principles. We don’t need to know the physics behind gravity to be staunchly in favor of it, because we are strongly devoted to keeping our feet on the ground. But what are the core principles guiding Donald Trump? Winning seems to be a core theme of the campaign, and that’s good, but it is not enough for us without a definition of victory.

  1. Trump is a Gamble Worth Taking––“I am of the belief that he is conceited and arrogant enough to avoid failing in front of the world at all cost.”

Our aversion to arrogance is strong, fortified by eight years of condescension and divisiveness. We want a dignified confidence, backed up by strength and conveyed with respect.

  1. Trump is Jay Gatsby––“Is it not better to place your chips on hopes and dreams rather than certain nightmares? Those of us who buy Trump’s vision, nearly to the point of blind trust, are loudly professing our disgust with the current immoral situations that taint and threaten our blueprint of the American dream.”

We share your concerns, specifically in your list of “current immoral situations”. We assume you would probably agree with us that the situations in your list are symptoms of a larger cultural and political problem. We see Donald Trump shedding light on some of the anger, but then it seems he is merely “whining” with us. Despite the “keep it simple stupid” approach, which is often effective, the bare truth is that some of these issues are complicated. At some point “We’re gonna have great people, the best teams” is not enough.

  1. Trump is Bizarro Obama––“He’s got what Obama had in 2007 except he doesn’t have the press adoring him.”

While we appreciate the comparison to the Obama “Hope and Change” frenzy that took us by storm and flattened us like a pancake in 2008, we strongly disagree that “the press” do not adore Trump. In fact, the alleged persecution of Trump by the press has been a brilliant component of his brand. Donald Trump owes his success to media. Every “hit piece” is a gift to Trump, whose campaign and support are built on anger and a fantastic fairy tale of an “establishment attack” on the little guy.

  1. Trump is the Picture of American Greatness––“Think about John F. Kennedy or Ronald Reagan inspiring the world with leadership. Think of Babe Ruth, Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Rogers. The American 20th Century was a great one. Now think about the American headlines of today. What do you think of? War? Poverty? Political division? Do we see greatness in America still on a daily basis or even in the movies? The Trump Family is the picture of the American Dream … When Donald Trump says that he wants to make America great again, I believe him.”

Everyone has a right to be successful and should not feel guilty about it. Donald Trump is clearly successful, and his family story is representative of the American Dream. Achievement of “the dream” is not measured only by wealth, however. When we look across the stage we see a number of examples of the dream coming true. Some came from greater depths. We acknowledge that Trump is “a” picture of American Greatness, but not “the” picture.

  1. Trump Will Govern as Steve Jobs Managed––“He will sucker in talent, tell them that their work is terrible, push them to achieve beyond what they think is possible, and then take credit for their successes as he tells America, and the world, that their projects are the best thing that has ever happened. This works. It’s not pretty, but it works.”

In your expanded comments, you say  “In short, you don’t have to be a good person to be the right person for a job.”

In short, we disagree. The President of the United States is (designed to be) largely ceremonial, except for in matters of war. In fact, we often give the position way more blame for bad things, and way more credit for good things, than is actually warranted. One of the most important functions of the presidency, in our view, is setting a tone. A tone for policy, a tone for diplomacy and a tone for the culture. We want—we need—a positive tone.

  1. Trump is an Alpha-Male Who Loves America, Unlike Obama––“Trump has never lied to me whereas all of the other Republican politicians (like McConnell & Boehner) have. They don’t fight for my side. Nobody fights for my side. Trump fights. Trump wins. I want an Alpha Male who is going to take it to the enemy. I am tired of supporting losers.”

We are intentionally not calling out other candidates in this conversation because we don’t want to appear to be endorsing a particular candidate over Trump. However, we urge you to look across the stage of candidates at the next debate, maybe google them (or Youtube), and you will certainly find examples of several of the other candidates fighting for you, even against both parties.

18. Trump Did Build That––“ONLY TRUMP has ever BUILT any REAL THINGS.”

Interesting point. Hearkening back to the Picture of American Greatness response above, we admire the success of Donald Trump. He has created value. We disagree that he is alone on the stage in this regard. Several other candidates have created immense value.

  1. Trump Has Consistently Championed Protectionism––“On the two primary issues as to why I’m supporting Mr. Trump he has remained stunningly consistent.”

Your comments are in a similar vein to those in #20, so we will combine our responses. See below.

  1. Trump Put Illegal Immigration Front and Center––“We have horrendous problem with illegal aliens, sanctuary cities & crimes.”

It is likely true that immigration has become more central to the republican primary as a result of Donald Trump’s announcement speech. We believe that several candidates have been far more serious, and far more thoughtful on the issue for MUCH longer than Donald Trump. Specifically you mention you are a Cruz supporter but you are concerned he cannot win. This is the primary season! Support the candidate you want! Believe it or not, people make a difference. Small donations and social media posts are important. Influence the process.

If immigration is your primary issue, consider the idea that an extreme and bombastic approach to immigration is more likely to kill the issue completely. The president CANNOT fix this, or any other problem, alone. Who, of the candidates with strong records on immigration, do you believe is most likely to gain allies in the fight to change the system?

When a President allows an issue to define him, he puts that issue at risk of fierce attack. Those on the opposing side of the issue will build a fortress around it and give up all else in defense of this newly sacred prize. For example, President Obama has expressed his disappointment that he has been unable to make progress on what he calls common sense gun control. Despite the mantra of the anti-establishment in this race that Republicans have done nothing for us, in 2012 Republicans dug in, fought tooth and nail, and successfully defended us against a massive infringement of the second amendment (a ban on over 2,000 guns based solely on whether or not they ‘looked scary’) after the Newtown massacre. President Obama so polarized the issue by demonizing gun owners that he neutered himself and his ability to ever make progress on it (Thank God). 

Also, since you mentioned Cruz’ inelectability, we’ll point out an often ignored data point consistent across polls: Yes, Trump has more support currently in the polls. Guess what else he has? Trump has more people who would “never” vote for him than any other candidate, including Cruz. It doesn’t do you any good to say those people are “stupid” or “losers”. They are real people with real votes. For the record, we would not advocate that any voter vow to “never” vote for Trump. We would encourage all voters to vote for the most constitutionally conservative person standing in the end.

  1. Trump Has the Tiger by the Tail––“The Tiger is the common working man that is tired of Politics and Washington continuing to screw us over… We want to give a businessman the chance to prove that this country can be great again!”

In your expanded response, you say “The Repubs have all their faith in a Shrub that can’t even speak to a group and make sense.”

Assuming you are referring to Bush, we think you might be victim to the false narrative of “it’s either Trump or Bush”. This is not your only choice. You have thirteen other options and some of them are outstanding.

  1. Trump is Not Rehearsed––“What you see is what you see, all the cards are on the table.”

In your expanded response, you say: “None of us wants to hear we as a nation are defective from the Oval Office.”

Interestingly, this is what we hear from Donald Trump. We don’t hear a lot of the “truth” that Trump is supposed to be famous for. We hear wisecracks and one-liners. We never know whether he is going to lower his head and speak directly to us, or turn his head and sneer at one of his opponents. We disagree with your contention that honor and integrity cannot be found across all of Trump’s opponents. Have you really considered any of them?

  1. Trump’s Nature is to Make the Best Deals Possible––“While Trump may very well have his own best interests at heart it’s ok: his best interest is our best interest and that best interest is our property values and our economy. When our economy tanks, his property values go DOWN! If anyone would be interested in saving our country, it would be someone whose salary is directly tied to the value of the country we call the USA!”

There is way too much in your expanded response for us to respond to all of it. Instead we’ll make a broader point. It is noteworthy that you appear to be intensely inspired by Donald Trump. This is a GOOD thing! A leader who can do this is often forgiven for many technical misgivings. Here’s the problem: There is way too large a segment of the population that he is NOT having this effect on. In fact, he inspires anger and disgust in many, and not only in Hispanics. People are different. The people who aren’t moved by Donald Trump are not stupid. There is something missing for them.

A leader has to lead all of his people. No, President Obama has not done this. We would argue that George W. Bush made an attempt to do this despite many other failings. Mitt Romney sunk his campaign when he was caught admitting he would not do this, that he was only concerned with 53% of the country.

Ideally, we would have a leader who could inspire us all. Short of that, we need a leader that is difficult to hate.

  1. Trump is the Lead in a Fabulous Mockumentary––“I’d vote for the candidate purely for the comedic value.”

We believe in your right to vote, but would not necessarily encourage you to do so. Get a hobby!

  1. Bush Was a Disaster and Obama Felt Like One––“All a president has to do is not to be a completely incompetent moron, do a deal here and there, and make sure the most obvious things get done. It is really, really easy. But we can’t get a candidate through the party system that is not a completely incompetent moron. And no, we don’t think Donald Trump is in it to help us. Or anyone else other than himself. But he has his pride.”

Again, a very long and thoughtful response. We’ll touch on your point regarding the elite. You use the term “they” to describe a long list of people including pundits, academics, and other such members of the “establishment”, but you commit the same error that “they” commit. “They” assume you are dumb, and you assume that everyone against Trump is part of “They”. We are they. They are just people. Social media has given us the power to write our own stories and escape the media monopoly that “they” wish to maintain over us. Maybe “We” are not blind, or foolish, or snooty academics, but rather we are looking for a leader that we can respect, and look up to. Most importantly, we are looking for a leader who may not represent every voter’s pet ‘issue’, but will strive not to alienate enormous sections of the population.

  1. Trump is an Egomaniac––“Because he is ‘crazy impulsive’ he has no qualms to step on toes when he is on a roll, and correctness (neither political or ethical) enters in his objective.”

Our aversion to egotism is strong, fortified by eight years of condescension and divisiveness. We want a dignified confidence, backed up by strength and conveyed with respect.

27. 14 Reasons for Supporting Trump––“He oversees 20 thousand employees in multiple business entities in successful pursuit of 100’s of initiatives both domestic and worldwide.”

Your list of reasons is perfectly valid, in our view, for why he is a perfect fit to lead a large company. We do see a vast difference in style and skills needed between a small business owner, and say, the principal of a middle school. The Government is not a corporation. Also, we promised not to turn this into a hit-piece and we stay committed to that, but your list of reasons commits an error that we find to be widespread: Astronomically exaggerating the success and record of winning by Donald Trump. He has clearly been successful, but he does not win all of his deals, his projects do fail, he does file bankruptcies, TV networks do dump him when their ratings go down, and he has a proven track record of becoming mired in unnecessary public squabbles. He has a difficult time maintaining professional relationships, and this is a concern.

  1. Trump Has Successful Supporters––“I’m a college graduate, I have a Family, I work in an executive-level management position for a Fortune 500 company and I’m a homeowner. What I think you may find interesting is that I have a circle of friends, both men and women, who have similar concerns and backgrounds. We are all employed with excellent careers and we all are supporting Trump for President.”

We do not disagree, and this article proves, that Trump has a wide base of support, including plenty of successful people.

  1. A Bernie Sanders Supporter Who’d Vote Trump Over Clinton––“While he might not deliver on his promises, he would certainly be a bull in the China shop of contemporary American politics, which has long needed destroying and rebuilding.”

Ah, the old destroy and rebuild approach. But is this reality? We think not. At least we cannot find an example of destroy and rebuild that does not involve revolution. The vehicle of change exists within our constitution. If we elect the wrong people to drive it, shame on us, but unless you’re calling for a military coup and overthrow, we do not see a basis in history for this tactic.

  1. Trump Could Make the Speech Police Go Away––“I’m in my early 30s and I grew up in San Francisco in a liberal home. And I have a very difficult time keeping up with all the various appropriate and inappropriate terms used to reference people and their causes.Trump makes brash and uncompromising statements about issues many people feel very passionate about.”

Maybe, but we remain skeptical. Trump clearly appreciates the freedom to say whats on his mind, without regard to political correctness. On the other hand, when faced with opposition, he is less committed to free speech. We saw this in the Rich Lowry ordeal, in which he called for Lowry to be fined by the FCC, and requested an apology from Fox News for “allowing Lowry on TV”.

Conclusion

We endorse Hillary for President. Forward! —->>

Just Kidding. (Wanted to see if anyone actually read this far.)

It’s been nice talking with you. What is the alternative you ask? We have our eye on 5-6 candidates that we believe can properly lead us in 2016. We will start to make some pitches soon, but would prefer to stay open at this point. Keep checking back!

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