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I’m one of those traditional, mainstream conservative Republicans who has had a hard time understanding and accepting the Trump phenomenon. I’m frequently surprised and sometimes appalled at his behavior.

I suppose if I lived in Washington I’d be part of the swamp. I’m one of those people Steve Bannon wants to get rid of.

So I fully understand the sentiment of senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker. Trump drives them nuts and they’re willing to denounce him (while announcing they won’t seek re-election).

They probably speak for many mainstream Republicans. We have our perception of what a dignified president should be, and Trump isn’t it. 

But as some of my more populist, Trump-supporting friends say, it’s more complicated than we traditionalists are sometimes willing to admit. Maybe we really don’t get it.  

One problem with just being anti-Trump is that it does nothing to account for his base -- the disaffected, disillusioned, left-behind Americans who are fed up with business as usual in Washington and want dramatic change.

Even Republicans who don’t like Trump have to acknowledge that base and admit they missed a major political phenomenon that is remaking America (and a lot of the rest of the world). It’s very difficult to dismiss Trump without dismissing his base, and that wouldn’t be a good idea for Republican political prospects. Trump tapped into something very real that can’t be ignored.

Also, if we traditionalists are willing to ignore the Trump sideshows, we have to admit that things are changing, and getting accomplished, in Washington. Certainly, Congress has struggled with health care reform and the outcome of tax reform is uncertain. But Trump, much like Pres. Obama, is pushing much of his agenda through the federal agencies and by issuing executive orders.

Except for his immigration policies and international trade positions, I like most of Trump’s agenda. I believe the federal government has gotten too large and prescriptive. 

What’s more, even if Trump makes me cringe, allowing the Democrats, with their leftist policies, to win would be worse. If destroying Trump means Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren win, that’s even more disastrous for the country.

Finally, while I respect good journalism, I dislike the sanctimony of the Washington Post, New York Times, NBC, CBS, CNN, ABC, etc., in their coverage of Trump. They are hell-bent on destroying Trump and their biases are obvious. They have lost all credibility.

Trump has huge flaws, but I don’t want to return to the liberal direction of higher taxes, more regulation, an exploding deficit, more federal centralization, more dependency on government, and more identity politics. Under the Democrats we will see the eventual collapse of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid because they are unwilling to rein in entitlement programs. 

It is unfortunate that Trump unnecessarily gives the liberal news media and leftist Democrats plenty of ammunition to attack him. And he pushes traditionalists like Flake and Corker to the breaking point, resulting in them giving comfort to his enemies.

So, yes, Trump drives me nuts. As an establishment Republican I don’t like his style. Don’t like his abrasiveness, his tin ear, his counterpunching, his mercurial nature.

But Trump and his base are obviously not going to change. They are who they are and they’re going to be around for at least three more years. A Republican uprising against Trump would be suicide for the party and for the conservative agenda.

Traditionalists like me need to grit our teeth and embrace the agenda and direction, if not the style, of our commander in chief.