I voted against Donald Trump in the 2016 Republican primary, and I voted for the Constitution Party candidate in the 2016 general election. I voted against Donald Trump in the 2020 Republican primary as a protest vote, and then voted for Trump in the 2020 general election. It’s easy to justify the first three votes in today’s political environment, but I also stand by my 2020 general election vote.
You see, people want to pretend that Trump exists in a vacuum, and there was no other candidate on the ballot. The only choices were “Trump” and “not Trump.” That is not and never was the case. Joe Biden was a deeply flawed candidate advocating for very bad policy. Biden’s Vice President is ruthless, corrupt and dishonest, and she will almost certainly be President before Biden’s first term is over.
With Trump as President, we got a significant tax cut, repeal of harmful regulations, restoration of due process for men accused of sexual misconduct, the U.S. Embassy in Israel moved to Jerusalem, and significant peace deals between Israel and Arab neighbors. At a time when Trump could have easily given in to demands that he be aggressive on COVID-19, Trump resisted dramatically expanding federal power. We also got a President who, for the first time in generations, was legitimately skeptical of foreign military interventions. Trump was not as non-interventionist as many of us had hoped, but it was nonetheless a welcome change.
Trump also abandoned any pretense of fiscal conservatism, racking up huge budget deficits. He was often unhinged on Twitter, pushing wild-eyed conspiracies and reprehensible lies about innocent people. Trump loves anyone who praises him, leading him to make foolish statements about the QAnon cult and making him far too slow to denounce white supremacists. If not for his obsession with constantly being the center of attention, he may well have won re-election.
Trump’s final failure was the fact that his ego would not allow him to believe he lost the 2020 election. His ego led him to one final desperate attempt to overturn the election, pressuring Mike Pence into exceeding his authority as Vice President and then turning on his most loyal ally when Pence disagreed with him on principle. Trump’s rhetoric was reckless and irresponsible.
So, yes, there we many bad things about Trump, and I have criticized him many times over the last four years when he deserved it. There were also good things about Trump, and many bad things about Biden. Pretending that 2020 was an easy choice denies reality.
A lot of things can change over the next three years, but Trump should not run for re-election in 2024. Other than a few outliers, the Republican Party unified behind Trump in 2016 despite the bitter fighting that took place before the convention. That will not happen in 2024, and there will be open civil war within the party that will guarantee that Kamala Harris will be re-elected. Furthermore, the Trump name is so toxic at this point that a general election win is highly unlikely. It is time to move on.