What the heck is America supposed to think about Donald Trump these days? Many conservatives like his policies but can’t stand his antics or tactics. Here is how one of our top experts tried to make sense of it all:
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Like many Americans, I have mixed feelings about Donald Trump.
I agreed with some of his policies and disagreed with others.
I became tired of his poisonous rhetoric on Twitter early on.
I was dismayed when he refused to denounce white supremacism and racism.
As a former senate staffer, I was seriously disappointed with the January 6 insurrection that defaced Capitol Hill. But other Trump actions brought a smile to my face. Let me do my best to breakdown these feelings a little more as I would suspect you might agree.
What Donald Trump Did Well
Donald Trump spoke up for the little guys who became disenchanted with the Washington-focused political swamp and for the economy that left them behind.
These folks had no political power under former President Barack Obama, whose priorities were elsewhere.
He spoke to families who lost loved ones to the opioid and fentanyl epidemic.
He took the fight directly to the Democrats and refused to be tamed by their allies in the media.
He was against elitism in all forms. Trump was a rebel without a pause, and he was breathtaking in his refusal to kowtow to political correctness and wokeness.
He Embraced What’s Best About America
He was also a free-market capitalist who recognized that socialism was not in the American DNA.
He cut taxes and unleashed the American energy industry which created a situation in which the country was mostly energy independent.
Economic growth forged ahead and unemployment was at a 50-year low.
Many Foreign Policy Wins
In foreign policy, he defeated ISIS and had its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi eliminated.
Trump reached out to North Korea with direct diplomatic contact with Kim Jong Un.
He stood up to China.
He had the United States recognize that the capital of Israel is Jerusalem. He oversaw Middle East peace agreements with Israel – efforts called the Abraham Accords.
Then Things Fell Apart
You could say the first impeachment, or the Russian collusion investigation was his downfall, but it was during the Covid pandemic that things really began to slip.
Trump did not know whether to accept the crisis as something that could end his presidency. He changed his strategy repeatedly. He had trouble articulating his response.
Some of the things he said during the crisis were downright weird and unhelpful, like stating that injecting bleach could fight the disease or espousing unproven therapeutics to immunize against the coronavirus.
The nation became confused and divided. Should we get the vaccine?
Should we wear a mask?
Should states lock down or open up?
Trump was never clear and resolute on the path forward and this led many Americans to consider Joe Biden as an alternative.
Debates Showed Trump’s Dead-End Personality
Then the 2020 political campaign reached the presidential debate season.
Trump was terrible.
He interrupted Biden and trolled him nonstop. It was not a legitimate debate but an unwatchable playground fight.
Trump refused to reject the Proud Boys’ brand of white supremacy.
He became what his critics always maintained – someone who was not only unlikeable but not the right choice to lead the country.
This period is also where I believe he lost many young people who came to view him as an old, irritable crybaby who could not be trusted.
He Lost to a Weak Candidate
Trump had only succeeded in maintaining his massive rallies. Biden chose a cowardly but politically expedient path by campaigning mostly from his basement. Trump lagged in most of the polls. Biden focused on the states that had flipped to Trump in 2016. This worked to the Democrats’ favor.
Don’t Believe the Big Lie
The election was not stolen or rigged, although it was true that most American institutions, such as the legacy media, higher education, Hollywood, corporate leaders, and other woke groups, were clearly anti-Trump. He still received more votes than he earned in 2016, but it was not enough.
Trump could have conceded to Biden and admitted defeat, then spent the remaining years complaining about a rigged system, but he chose to go all in on what the Democrats called the “Big Lie.” Resisting this version of events could have avoided January 6 and all its tragic consequences.
Not His Turn to Lead
If Trump is the GOP nominee in 2024, he will lose again. Likability and timing are everything in politics. Trump is not likable, and it is not his time anymore.
Elections are about the future and Trump is stuck in 2020. He is growing older and crankier. His arguments are stale, and he does not have a plan to make American great again.
Give Others a Chance
It is time for the Republican party to move on and give voters a new face. That fresh blood could be anyone from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, who I once worked for. One is irascible and combative and the other is positive and optimistic – a “big tent” Republican who has a terrific personality.
The GOP should try a nice guy Reaganesque communicator like Scott who can appeal to all of America instead of a divisive re-tread with numerous legal problems. These new choices could mean the Trump era is over.
Now serving as 19FortyFive’s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.