Every political campaign and every political candidate is to some degree a stool sitting on three legs: character, knowledge and policy. What kind of person is the candidate, what abilities does he or she bring to the office, and what are the policy positions which the candidate takes?
I have had some very good and thoughtful conservative friends (I won’t name them for their sake, though you know their names) who have attempted to convince me that Donald Trump’s stool is perched on a single leg – that his character is appalling and his knowledge that is pertinent to the Presidency is weak. Much less frequently do I hear that his policy positions are in error.
And that is strange.
Because when Trump said that Mexico was not sending their best people – they are in fact sending us their uneducated poverty – conservatives raged along with liberals. When Trump said that we need a moratorium on Muslims coming to America, President Obama and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley joined hands and (though not mentioning his name) denounced Trump. (And then, according to exit polls, 66% of Republicans in New Hampshire said they favor the ban). When Trump focused on jobs being exported to China and Mexico and Vietnam the cry went out that Trump was going to start a trade war and the global economy would spiral into recession if not depression. When Trump said he would bring back waterboarding for savages who cut heads off and post their psychotic rages on the internet, Trump’s fellow candidates disagreed. I wonder if there have been any polls lately on what the American people think?
Because the outrageous policy ideas that Trump has put forth throughout his candidacy have seized sizable portions of the electorate and, whether it is philosophical capitulation or political calculation, the critics have seen fit to at least hold their fire.
But those first two stool legs – character and knowledge – what of them?
Truth is, I don’t like it when Trump sprays water around the stage and ridicules Marco Rubio for sweating. I don’t like it when Trump calls Cruz a liar. Just to be balanced here, I liked it very much when Trump said that Jeb Bush was “low energy….he’ll live a long time.” And I will offer no opinion on Trump’s remark about Carly Fiorina (“look at that face”) except to say that that one remark ended her campaign. As for Trump’s comment about Megyn Kelly regarding that thing that happens at a certain time each month…well, I’m a married guy and there are certain things which I am not allowed to think – let alone say.
It is widely claimed that Trump’s behavior and his policies are vulgar. But G.K. Chesterton once wrote that every vulgar notion and joke contains a “subtle and spiritual idea.” And believe me, there is a lot of subtle and spiritual going on with Donald Trump.
To me, the most subtle and spiritual policy idea that Trump has is that illegal aliens have to leave…all of them. Trump explains this in seemingly bland terms by saying “you either have a country, or you don’t.”
But this idea is profound.
Consider that conservatives – not to mention all the other working people whose jobs, emergency rooms and parks are trashed by illegal aliens – those people who demand that the immigration laws be enforced are denoted as racist. The fact is that nothing has made the United States more racist in the last thirty years than the invasion of illegal aliens from Mexico and the rest of Latin America. Nothing will go further to embed the contempt for Hispanics in our society than waving their crime of illegal entry and rewarding them with permanent legal status (and please don’t make me laugh about making them learn English).
I could write about the insightful nature of many of Trump’s pronouncements – even his trade protectionism toward which I am instinctively opposed. I could hedge more on his character defects and his vanity.
In the end however I am convinced, as Scott Brown and Chris Christie and (the very gold standard of conservatism) Jeff Sessions have been convinced that the situation is “piled high with difficulty” and we need to make America great again. And the man who can do that – the only man who is big enough for the job – is Donald Trump.
I urge you to vote for Trump on March 1.