An Open Letter to the #NeverTrumpers

I recently met with an academic colleague for drinks, and the conversation quickly turned, as seems inevitable these days, to American politics. She was appalled when I expressed my admiration for Donald Trump. How could I break ranks so egregiously? After all, she expatiated, Trump wants to end all immigration to the U.S., he hates Muslims, he intends to launch a vendetta against Mexicans, he is an uneducated barbarian and an unscrupulous mountebank to boot.

I explained that she had been conned by the media blitzkrieg against Trump and had not considered his stated policies, for which he has gone on public record: To reduce the multi-trillion dollar American debt, bring jobs back to a country suffering massive unemployment, seal the porous southern border in order to stem what amounts to an invasion of the homeland, monitor immigration protocols to prevent the Muslimization of the United States and limit jihadist attacks, and stamp out high-level corruption. Anyone against these legitimate and necessary endeavors has either been fast asleep or is in sync with the forces of destruction. What, then, was her position on these issues?

No answer was forthcoming. I was, apparently, an alt-right apologist for political oppression, a traitor to the morally enlightened consensus, and, to put it succinctly, a lost cause. She rose from the table and walked out with an expression of contempt on her face. I suppose one could expect little different from someone who reads only The Huffington Post, The New York Times, the National Post and the Toronto Star, and listens to the pap spewed out by the CBC, CNN and MSNBC. Like most liberals, she was wholly unfamiliar with the countervailing literature and was therefore in no position to weigh evidence, balance competing viewpoints, and make an informed judgment. And like most leftists, her only response to an opposing argument was to shut down the debate. Trump was doubtless the monster rising from the Black Lagoon, slavering to devour the country. Case closed.

I have met people more or less like Trump, businessmen with whom my father had dealings when he was, prior to going bankrupt, a flamboyant millionaire. These men were not so much the salt of the earth as the pepper of the earth—colorful men with fiery temperaments, with neither academic credentials nor pretensions, rough hewn in some ways but likable once you got to know them, and totally indifferent to what people thought of them. They were like characters out of Mordecai Richler: eccentric, highly successful, not always totally immaculate in their transactions, but generally sensitive to the needs of their employees and capable of unexpected charm. When I exchange impressions with people who have come to know Trump, whether personally or indirectly, I feel that I recognize him.

My own son, a brilliant kid and a leading scientist in his field, with whom I converse regularly via email, thinks Trump doesn’t have a chance against the media, the Electoral College, the rigged vote machines, the legions of the voting dead, the sycophancy of the millennials and entitleds, the rancor of racial and ethnic minorities, women and, of course, public ignorance in general. He has a point. He also considers Trump something of a boor, but would vote for him anyway.

I tend to agree and disagree. I would certainly vote for Trump were I eligible to do so, but I cannot regard him as a vulgarian or merely as one of two highly dubious candidates for the presidency. Admittedly, he appeared unpolished in his earlier, shoot-from-the-mouth incarnation and was clearly unable to customize his temperament to the cut of political suavity required by seekers of high office. He was a rough-and-tumble businessman with a record of impressive achievements—though even this was challenged and belittled by his enemies.

Nevertheless, he demonstrated a rather steep learning curve and showed a profound grasp of the problems besetting a floundering nation, as I tried to point out to my colleague: unvetted Muslim immigration from terror-sponsoring countries, open borders, and bad trade deals. His “Gettysburg Address,” in which he outlined the direction his administration would take in his first hundred days in office, was precisely the statement of intentions demanded by the deteriorating political, social, and economic situation in which America now finds itself. And the fact that he is not beholden to campaign donors and funding organizations means he is his own man, as he has always been. Run of the mill politicians rarely or never keep their promises—except, of course, to their contributors. Trump, on the contrary, carries no political baggage or clandestine obligations.