Posted by Curt on 22 May, 2018 at 12:33 pm. 4 comments already!


Why exactly did nearly half the country vote for Donald Trump?

Why also did the arguments of Never Trump Republicans and conservatives have marginal effect on voters? Despite vehement denunciations of the Trump candidacy from many pundits on the right and in the media, Trump nonetheless got about the same percentage of Republican voters (88–90 percent) as did McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012, who both were handily defeated in the Electoral College.

Here are some of reasons voters knew what they were getting with Trump and yet nevertheless assumed he was preferable to a Clinton presidency.

1) Was Trump disqualified by his occasional but demonstrable character flaws and often rank vulgarity? To believe that plaint, voters would have needed a standard by which both past media of coverage of the White House and the prior behavior of presidents offered some useful benchmarks. Unfortunately, the sorts of disturbing things we know about Trump we often did not know in the past about other presidents. By any fair measure, the sexual gymnastics in the White House and West Wing of JFK and Bill Clinton, both successful presidents, were likely well beyond President Trump’s randy habits. Harry Truman’s prior Tom Pendergast machine connections make Trump steaks and Trump university seem minor. By any classical definition, Lyndon Johnson could have been characterized as both a crook and a pervert. In sum, the public is still not convinced that Trump’s crudities are necessarily different from what they imagine of some past presidents. But it does seem convinced, in our age of a 24/7 globalized Internet, that 90 percent negative media coverage of the Trump tenure is quite novel.

2) Personal morality and public governance are related, but we are not always quite sure how. Jimmy Carter was both a more moral person and a worse president than Bill Clinton. Jerry Ford was a more ethical leader than Donald Trump — and had a far worse first 16 months. FDR was a superb wartime leader — and carried on an affair in the White House, tried to pack and hijack the Supreme Court, sent U.S. citizens into internment camps, and abused his presidential powers in ways that might get a president impeached today. In the 1944 election, the Republican nominee Tom Dewey was the more ethical — and stuffy — man. In matters of spiritual leadership and moral role models, we wish that profane, philandering (including an affair with his step-niece), and unsteady General George S. Patton had just conducted himself in private and public as did the upright General Omar Bradley. But then we would have wished even more that Bradley had just half the strategic and tactical skill of Patton. If he had, thousands of lives might have been spared in the advance to the Rhine.

Trump is currently not carrying on an affair with his limousine driver, as Ike probably was with Kay Summersby while commanding all Allied forces in Europe following D-Day. Rarely are both qualities, brilliance and personal morality, found in a leader — even among our greatest, such as the alcoholic Grant or the foul-mouthed and occasionally crude Truman. Richard Feynman in some ways may have been the most important — or at least the most interesting — physicist of our age, but his tawdry and sometimes callous private life would have made Feynman Target No. 1 of the MeToo movement.

3) Trump did not run in a vacuum. A presidential vote is not a one-person race for sainthood but, like it or not, often a choice between a bad and worse option. Hillary Clinton would have likely ensured a 16-year progressive regnum. As far as counterfactual “what ifs” go, by 2024, at the end of Clinton’s second term, a conservative might not have recognized the federal judiciary, given the nature of lifetime appointees. The lives of millions of Americans would have been radically changed in an Obama-Clinton economy that probably would not have seen GDP or unemployment levels that Americans are now enjoying. Fracking, coal production, and new oil exploration would have been vastly curtailed. The out-of-control EPA would have become even more powerful. Half the country simply did not see the democratic socialist European Union, and its foreign and domestic agendas, as the model for 21st-century America.

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