There’s more nuance to Trump than liberals are willing to admit

One thing partisan Democrats and arch-liberals can’t understand is why many mainstream, traditional Republicans don’t turn against Pres. Trump. They understand why right-wing conservatives support Trump. But it is a mystery to them why some reasonable, even moderate, Republicans don’t reject everything about Trump.

I consider myself to be a mainstream, traditional Republican. For people like me, it’s complicated. I’ve never been a big fan of Trump, but I voted for him. I was even less of a fan of Hillary Clinton.

Today, I’m still not a big fan. Probably even less of a fan than previously. But I’m not a fan at all of Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, and certainly not Bernie Sanders. I’m afraid if Trump fails, if Republicans lose the U.S. House in November, then liberal Democrats will create even more gridlock and dysfunction in Washington, and the country will be much the for it.

For me, there’s a lot more nuance than simply loving or hating Trump. I’m guessing my attitude is shared by many traditional Republicans in Utah.

In general, I don’t like Trump personally. I don’t like his style and demeanor. But I very much prefer most of his agenda and policies over the Democratic alternatives. If you sweep away his bombast, silly tirades and nonsensical rhetoric, the actual results of his presidency are pretty good.

I certainly have some substantive policy differences with him, mostly regarding immigration and trade, where I think he’s making serious mistakes.

But I like his willingness to be disruptive, to shake up the establishment, and take a fresh look at big issues. I like the fact that he’s been willing to do things that other presidents have said they would do, but didn’t. I love the tax cuts and deregulation. I think he deserves a good chunk of the credit for the booming economy. I also think the mainstream liberal media are often unfair to him, although his often-outrageous behavior makes it easy for them.

Some of Trump’s actions are simply inexplicable. Like why he didn’t stand up more forcibly to Putin. But that press conference wasn’t apocalyptic. It wasn’t deserving of the shrieking media meltdown, with liberals and commentators calling Trump treasonous and comparing it to 9/11, Pearl Harbor and the Holocaust. Such silly overreach is precisely why a lot of people don’t trust the media.

Trump has actually been pretty tough on Russia, imposing major sanctions twice, expelling dozens of Russian diplomats, providing weapons to Ukraine, supporting stronger missile defenses, discouraging Germany from taking Russian natural gas, bolstering NATO by demanding other nations spend more on defense against Russia, and by boosting U.S. energy production to compete with Russia’s only major export product.

That’s a lot more than previous administrations have done to check Russian aggression.

On the other hand, Trump picks unnecessary fights, makes pointless threats, is “flexible” with the truth, and his ego, bombast, and lack of discipline constantly detract from his agenda. I don’t like the fact that he’s had affairs with multiple women (although so did former presidents Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and others). 

Trump does a lot of the right things. But he often manages to look petty, egoistic and pompous even when he’s on the right track. But I think the Democrats would be worse.

I suspect that for many Republicans (especially men), Trump is sort of a guilty pleasure. It’s kinda fun to watch someone who defies conventional wisdom, is unabashedly politically incorrect, creates a new controversy every day, drives liberals and media personalities absolutely nuts, and runs wild on the national and international stages. A bit like the morbid fascination of watching a disaster in slow motion. Only Trump usually pulls back right at the brink of disaster.

I fully expected that Trump would settle into the job, tone down the rhetoric, be a little more thoughtful, seek to build coalitions, listen to advisers and allies in Congress. But, no. Trump is Trump and always will be — the Genghis Khan of politics. Clearly the most divisive president in modern history.

But it’s not black-and-white, especially as Trump espouses and fearlessly promotes a lot of conservative ideals I firmly believe in. And he appoints excellent judges.

There’s enough nuance in the whole Trump phenomenon to keep mainstream Republicans like me intrigued, entertained and even hopeful.