Columns

Anatomy of a Trump Republican: Which One Are You?

AP Photo/Jason Behnken

As former President Trump weighs his decision about whether or not to run for a second term in 2024, we pause amid the madness of Biden’s questionable ascension to the White House and examine in depth the three main species of Republicans who were instrumental in electing Trump, America’s best president since Reagan.

Absent from this discussion will be the patent Never-Trumpers, who we presume could never and will never bring themselves to vote for the New York mogul, reality-show star, and winningly successful 45th commander in chief.

The True Believers

First, we have those who became true believers almost from the moment Trump came down the escalator. These Republicans heard what they wanted to hear from The Donald, and instinctually favored him from that point on. When HBO’s Bill Maher asked Ann Coulter which of the 2016 GOP candidates she thought had the best chance, and she said Trump, she was conjuring what she intrinsically sensed from the Republican electorate. To the great amazement of the right and great dismay of the left, she turned out to be right.

In retrospect, of course, it’s so easy. America First, hello? Trump answered a call to national pride and principles that had been obfuscated and pounded to sand in the politi-speak of politicians both left and right. Trump’s legions of day-one true believers were in great evidence as the candidate who was not a politician racked up the primaries and defeated Hillary Clinton going away.

Problematic for our body politic, millions believe he won again in 2020.

Today, this core of grassroots Trumpservatives can be described as extremely disgruntled and in despair about electoral integrity. They will vote for Trump in a heartbeat should he run again. They make up the vast majority of those discussed in this piece.

The Cruz Trumpservatives 

The second species of Republicans we look at today are those who were initially and often extremely skeptical about Trump’s run. Unconvinced on many levels, they were reluctant to buy in to the mania due to legitimate doubts about the depth of Trump’s conservatism, his vision for U.S. policy both at home and abroad, his potential efficacy if elected, and his underlying motivations.

These folks—while true conservatives–were ideologically wedded to establishment Republicanism. You can’t really blame them for being late to the MAGA party. They worried about the essential character of Donald Trump. They had concerns about the possibility of a policy shift in the direction of what they considered trade isolationism and a departure from what they believed was a kind of beneficent economic globalism. Further, many of them had been schooled in the fold of those who warned that, as Dick Morris used to say, “the right was running out of white people.” While they obliquely favored border enforcement and immigration sanity, they feared that Trump’s tough rhetoric on immigration would doom the GOP for a generation.

Interestingly, as the primaries unfolded, many of these Trump fence-sitters were all in for another candidate who talked tough on immigration, Senator Ted Cruz. But Cruz was a real politician, staunchly conservative yes, but a man with a track record. A man who those hesitant about a wild card like Trump felt more comfortable supporting.

Some of these establishment types favored Marco Rubio, or even Jeb Bush. A few campaign stops into the primaries revealed that any moderate, vaguely globalist agenda was DOA. Those who talked the talk but never seemed to get around to walking the walk were textbook nonstarters.

Pragmatists and party animals to the core, this second group watched as Trump dispatched Cruz and began to come around. They started finding things to like about Trump, and once the general election campaign commenced began in their rationalized way to support him.

By election night 2016, while perhaps not caught up in the hysteria, they were happy to cast a vote for Donald Trump and stop Hillary and her Clintonistas cold. And they’ll do it again, if it comes to that.

Today, this second group of eventual Trump acceptors stands appalled at what transpired in 2020 and understands that by coming around to the Trump Train in 2016 they forestalled for four years what has become a destructive leftist state of affairs for the state of the union.

The Lesser-of-Evils Crew

The final group of Republican Trump voters we discuss today never got onboard. They were reluctant even as they cast their vote in support of him. To this day, despite the disastrous days fallen upon the nation with Biden in the Oval Office, they are privately (or in some cases publicly) okay with Trump out of office, and are enthusiastically gearing up to support a more Cruz-like candidate like Governor Ron DeSantis.

The fact remains, as with the first and second groups discussed here: If Trump runs and gets the nomination, the lesser-of-evils crew–while holding their noses– will vote for him again.

If it’s Trump against the Democrats in 2024, unless you’re a fallen Never-Trumper, there will be no other choice.