Bishop Fulton Sheen tweeted, “As Religion fades, so will freedom.” His observation that religious conviction and the moral conduct it promotes is both integral and essential to free society echoes that of founder/framer John Adams who observed in 1798, “Our...
Getting off the Trump Train
A few months before my 19th birthday, as I brought bottles back to Jewel’s Grocery Store, at the dying West Main Mall in Kalamazoo, Michigan, I made a spontaneous decision that has had the most profound impact on my life. I walked out of Jewel’s with the gas money returning bottles gave me, and then, totally spontaneously (with no forethought) went into the mall, climbed the stairs to the upper floor, and entered the Marine Corps Recruiter’s Office.
About a year and a half earlier, my parents had thrown me out of the house. I’d been dating a girl they did not like, off and on for a year and a half, and I guess my personality had changed – I was moody, often depressed, and exhibiting the symptoms someone exhibits when experimenting with drugs. My father caught me smoking (cigarettes) one day, laid me out with a surprisingly good roundhouse, and for several months I was on complete lock-down. I was not allowed to leave the house without one of my parents, and was not allowed to stay home without one of my parents. The door was taken off my room so that my parents could see what I was doing at all times. I had to see a drug counselor once a week, and take a urinalysis to see if I’d done any drugs.
After three months, the drug counselor had a session with myself and my parents. She reported that I was not doing drugs, that I claimed to have never done drugs, that I had passed all of my drug tests with flying colors. My drug counselor mentioned that I was the captain of the Debate and Forensics Club, and said I was a healthy young man with a bright future, whose parents were over-reacting to my having smoked cigarettes to impress a girl I’d clearly fallen for.
My dad told the drug counselor that I’d bamboozled her – that I was a master manipulator who could lie through anything, and that I’d completely fooled her. I stopped seeing the drug counselor, but my parents began giving me personal freedoms again only slowly.
As for the girl I was seeing – she was the most important thing in my life. I’d met her just a few days after turning 16, as I walked past the counter of a Mcdonald’s on my first day at work. She was on the fry station, and though she barely noticed me walking past (our eyes did meet), I thought she was the most profoundly beautiful thing I had ever seen and was immediately in love with her.
For the next few years, we dated off and on. I always had the feeling I was playing second fiddle, someone she’d date in between real boyfriends. We became best friends, and were completely inseparable whether we were trying to be a couple or not. Eventually, she confided to me that she loved me as well, but could not see herself married to a man whose parents hated her.
One day, as my life had begun to return to some sense of normalcy, I was talking to this woman on the phone, and as I got off the phone my dad came out of his bedroom, walking toward me with a scorched-earth look on his face, and said, “That had better not be that God Damned <insert her name>!” Of course, that’s exactly who it had been. I could see on my father’s face that he was very close to punching me again, and though I’d been shocked the first time my dad hit me, I was not about to get punched again. I told him that if he hit me, I was going to hit him back.
My dad suggested I leave, and I moved in with some friends on the other side of Kalamazoo. I spent the last semester of High School walking three miles to go to school, walking to work, and then walking back to a three-bedroom apartment that had six people in it. There were days whereby the time I got back to the apartment after work, it was time to take a shower and go to school. Somehow I got through High School, and even did a year of college.
McDonald’s gave me free meals when I worked, but if I did not work, I did not eat, and this lasted for about a year and a half. Eventually, my parents told me I could move back into their house if I abided by a fairly strict set of rules.
One of their rules was that I had to let them know if I was going to be out overnight in advance, and I was not allowed to come home after 11 o’clock at night.
The weekend after I visited a Marine Corps recruiter, I went to Lansing to take my physical and sign my contract. My parents spent that weekend in Toronto watching Phantom of the Opera, and I said nothing to my sisters about what was going on – I told no one at all what I was doing. When I came back to the house on Sunday, my father was livid. I had broken one of his rules, and he wanted to know where the F I had been.
“Lansing,” was my reply.
My dad wanted to know why the F I had been in Lansing.
“To take a physical,” I told him.
My dad wanted to know why the F I needed a physical – he thought I was lying about where I had been, and what I had been doing.
“I joined the Marine Corps,” I told him, and suddenly the house became dead quiet. That was totally not the answer he was looking for.
How hard was that period of my life? I went to Marine Corps Boot Camp a couple of months later, and when I got there I weighed 127 lbs, which was up from whatever weight I had been when I moved back in with my parents. Three months later I walked out of Marine Corps Boot Camp weighing 163 pounds – literally 35 pounds heavier than I had been when I got there, and probably 40 or so odd pounds heavier than I had been when I moved back in with my parents.
Why do I tell this story, in a post about Donald Trump? I do so because that period of my life defined me, and has defined my political ideology ever since. I am the product of my past, and you cannot understand my perspective without understanding this aspect of me
I was a reservist in the Marine Corps, so after just under a year of Active Duty for training, I was back home, doing drill one weekend a month, and two weeks in the summertime. I only stayed with my parents for a short period of time after my training ended, and then got an apartment by myself – which between what I made at McDonald’s (about twice what I’d started at, years earlier) and my drill pay, I could now afford, my life having improved.
I worked at McDonald’s for six and a half years, and was in the Marine Corps Reserves for four of them. As my reserve time ended, I decided to go on active duty, but it turns out that once you go to the Reserves, the Marine Corps will not let you on active duty again.
I had a buddy who was going from the Army National Guard to active duty in the Army, and he told his recruiter that I was trying to go on active duty in the Marine Corps, but was getting the run-around. That recruiter called me, and I spent the next four years on active duty in the Army.
When I got out of the Army, I took a job as the IT Manager of a medium-sized manufacturing company in Lowell, Michigan (outside Grand Rapids), and then worked up to larger companies, eventually spending ten or twelve years at IBM. IBM had a layoff earlier this year that I was unfortunately caught up in (as was my manager and her manager – it was a deep layoff), and I took a job elsewhere (I won’t say where – I have a policy against tying any current employer to my writing career).
What all of this means is that I am someone who has seen a fair amount of struggle, who, though growing up in a middle-class neighborhood, nevertheless had to scrape and crawl my way forward. Whatever success I have had in life I have had to earn, and I have the political leaning of someone who knows from experience that we are not defined by the circumstances we are born (or thrown) into. Our circumstances at birth, or when we first strike out on our own – those are but starting points. Everything that happens to us from that point on, that’s on us, and no matter how hard life may be, there are always opportunities to move up.
If I could succeed in life, anyone can.
As someone with that background, I can tell you with absolute certainty that Donald J. Trump is the most important politician, thus far, in my life. Donald Trump is not the best politician (that would be Ronald Reagan), but he is the most important, as everything that has happened since he became the Republican nominee in 2016 has revolved around him.
The Democrats’ hatred of Trump was the defining event of both 2016, as well as the 2020 election. Any resemblance between the mainstream media and ‘news’ was suddenly gone. Today, CNN does not even pretend to be news anymore, and between Russian Collusion and everything else – the American People can not believe a single thing anyone in government, nor anyone in the media, might say. Everything is all lies, all the time.
Really it was like that before Donald Trump. We just did not know it.
We owe Trump a great deal. Trump exposed a global cabal, and showed the depths to which that global cabal could and would go to regain power in the United States. He showed how deep the global cabal’s reach is within the American bureaucracy. He exposed the politicization of the Justice Department, and particularly the FBI, and he showed how the FBI, the mass media, the DOJ, and the DNC all work together, to forward the global cabal’s agenda.
These organizations are not just un-American. They are actively anti-American. Large swaths of our federal government want to destroy the very country they work for, and represent.
We know this only because Trump forced the enemy out into the open. Thank you, Donald Trump!
In the process, however, Trump became a lightning rod for both vitriol and adoration, which in turn made politics in America a cult of personality.
The Democrats have always been prone to voting based on cults of personality, be it Barrack Obama, who was supposedly the ‘coolest’ President we have ever had, or the hatred directed particularly toward George W. Bush and Donald Trump, but really against every Republican, I can remember.
The Democrat’s shtick has always been, “We are good people and Republicans are evil.” There is very little discussion about policy on the left – it’s all spun as ‘good’ vs, ‘evil.’ Even when policy does show up, it is not dressed as ‘this will be good for our country,’ so much as, ‘look at what we could give you for FREE if those evil Republicans were not more interested in profits than people,’ which is not a policy argument, so much as a morality argument dressed in policy garb.
The title of this article is ‘Get Off the Trump Train’, but let me be clear that I do not mean we should not vote for Trump. If Trump wins the nomination, we should of course vote for him. But the Republican Party has to be bigger than one man – we have to be about the country, and not about Donald Trump.
I also note that Trump is going to be 78 years old in the next election.
The Republican Party has a deep field – we can find someone who is younger, and certainly, we can find someone who handles the vitriol from the left in a less divisive manner.
Should Trump run, he will be the presumptive nominee. He polls ridiculously well within the party, but his mouth has always been a liability with independent voters, and with moderate Democrats. Trump running is, frankly, the best chance Democrats have of keeping the Presidency.
Ron DeSantis would be a better candidate. Ted Cruz would be a better candidate. Rand Paul would be a better candidate. Trey Gowdy, Nikki Haley, Kristi Noem, Condi Rice – the Republican Party has a large number of possible candidates, any one of which would do better than Donald Trump in the general election, and any of whom would make the Republican Party a party of ideas again, rather than a party about one man.
Imagine Donald Trump doing everything he is supposed to do to run, and then shortly before Iowa, throwing his weight behind someone else. What, then, do the Democrats even run on? The Democrats let Bernie Sanders write half their platform, so they can’t run on ideas – not if they want to win.
Without Trump, they don’t even have anything to talk about. Sure – they will try to compare whoever is the nominee to Trump, but that will not stick to anyone who is better spoken than Trump, and can you imagine Biden debating Ted Cruz or Ron DeSantis? It would be an absolute bloodbath – the genius against the village idiot.
The Democrats are completely saddled with bad candidates. If Biden does not run for reelection, it’s Kamala Harris, and she is even worse. The only chance they have is to run against someone so polarizing, and someone so unanimously hated by the left, that they can hold their party together out of sheer hatred. And that someone has to be Donald Trump.
If Trump does not run the Dems are done.
The other factor to consider is how effectively a Republican other than Trump could govern, compared to Trump. The level of hatred directed against Trump was unique. We have never seen anyone’s agenda thwarted, not only by the other party in Congress, but by career bureaucrats who work FOR the President, than we did under Trump. Career bureaucrats within Trump’s own administration, in federal agencies that are supposed to report to him, did everything in their power to circumvent and undermine his authority, and if he is in office again, they will do the same thing. Any Republican will face some undermining, but not the level that Trump faced. The hatred against Trump is unique.
If Trump runs for President again, he will almost certainly win the nomination, and will very likely win the Presidency, but he’ll be 78 years old. He’ll also have the same personality faults, and the same polarizing effect, that he had before. The Republican Party, and the country, would be better served by someone else. It’s as simple as that. That’s not a knock on Trump – it’s just true.
If Trump runs and wins the nomination, I’ll of course support him. And, opposition be damned, he’ll do a pretty good job.
If Trump does run – and I hope he does not – he needs to be a wiser Trump; a milder Trump; a Trump 2.0. My gut, however, tells me that at his age, he’s probably not going to change. He’s a product of his upbringing, as am I. My upbringing was very different than his. He had to be forceful and egotistical to survive. I had to be scrappy.
Whatever the case, we have to get away from running as a cult of personality. We have to get off the Trump Train and focus on policy again. Let the Democrats be the party of ideology. We have to be the party of ideals.
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