The following is a lightly edited version of an email that I wrote to a friend who asked in a group chat if anyone who was a Trump supporter going into the first debate still planned to vote for him after he told the Proud Boys to “stand by.”
First, to be transparent about where I’m coming from: I went into the debate planning to vote for Trump, and left the debate feeling depressed and exhausted, and less confident about how I will vote. A few months ago, with the combination of Trump’s inept COVID response and his failure to lead when the riots broke out in late May/early June, I decided I would not vote for Trump and changed my party registration from Republican to independent.
Over the last couple months, though, I’ve felt that I would crawl over broken glass — or even vote for Donald Trump — if it could help stop the left from gaining control of the federal government, even if for just 4 years. And that feeling is why many people vote for Trump. It’s not because they like him. They hate his personality, and his tweets, his coarsening of public discourse, and his aggravation of political divisions. It’s because he is seen as the only thing standing in between the Democratic left and the White House.
And over the last few months, with leading Democrats threatening to pack the Supreme Court, add states for obvious political gain, and abolish the Senate filibuster; and allowing Antifa and BLM to spread chaos in many cities, it seems more likely than not that if the Democrats control the White House and Congress come January, they will feel emboldened and vengeful enough to transform the country in ways that would deeply frighten a large minority, or even a majority of Americans.
A lot of people fear that they may lose their country if the Democrats take power.
Plus Trump has had more conservative policy successes than any Republican since at least Ronald Reagan. That’s why he has such strong support within the party. Examples: conservative judges, tax cuts, fewer regulations on businesses, and the many wins related to Israel, including the embassy move and the deals with UAE and Bahrain.
The above is a basic, although not thorough, summary of why Trump still has a lot of support despite all the awful things he says. There are other important reasons that I won’t include in this email because it’s already getting long.
Now on to the “stand by” comment:
Trump says a lot of incoherent crap. He has to constantly walk back or clarify statements because what he says routinely does not make sense, because like a child he says whatever enters his mind without a filter. When he was introducing Amy Coney Barrett the other day I was afraid that he would say something about how attractive she is, because he seems to have little impulse control.
But I absolutely don’t think he’s a racist and he’s obviously not anti-Semitic. He has explicitly condemned racism and white supremacy many times, he may designate the KKK as a terrorist group, his daughter is Jewish, and he has been more supportive of Israel than any president ever. But because he rambles and often says the wrong thing — or something that could easily be misinterpreted — the media and his opponents will routinely challenge him to disavow racists in the hope that he’ll shoot himself in the foot.
He should just say “f**k white supremacists. I will disavow them always and forever, so you can stop asking me.” But because he’s such a bulldog, his tendency when people challenge him to say something is to not say that thing at all or not say it clearly, because that could make him look weak, or something — I’m mind reading now.
If you read the transcript of the debate where they’re talking about the Proud Boys, he says “Sure, I’m willing to do that” when Chris Wallace asks him to condemn white supremacists. And when Joe Biden tells him to disavow Proud Boys, Trump says, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”
Did Trump mean that the Proud Boys should stand by and fight Antifa if they determine they must? Maybe. Did he word salad the f**k out of that response and not intend to say something that suggests that his supporters should prepare for violence? Maybe.
The next day he tried to clarify his comments and said, “They have to stand down and let law enforcement do their work.” It’s Trump’s fault in the debate for speaking in a way that could be reasonably interpreted the way it has been. Similarly in his “fine people” comments after Charlottesville, he explicitly condemned the white supremacists and did not call them “fine people”, but he said it in a way that allowed for the misinterpretation that he was saying there are “fine” racists. If you read the transcript of that press conference you’ll see what I mean.
People often have to read transcripts of Trump’s remarks to try to understand what he said, which is a problem. That doesn’t work in 2020. You have to clearly articulate your points the first time on camera. He’s incapable of that, which makes him in one sense unfit for the presidency.
To wrap this up, most people who will vote for Trump see the choice as between Trump and the left — and they’d rather take the devil they’ve known for 4 years than the risk of the left transforming their country — or the risk of having a president who explicitly refuses to condemn Antifa and says they are “an idea, not an organization,” as Biden said in the debate.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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