Will Conservatives Judge Donald Trump On Policy Or Persona? – OpEd
By Graham J Noble*
He is loud, brash, unfiltered, sometimes crude, and more than a little prone to hyperbole and exaggeration. His tweets were often mean, and he always comes up with nasty nicknames for his political rivals, be they Democrats or Republicans. He is also a former United States president and he’s now running for another term in the White House.
But, has Donald Trump driven too many of his former supporters away with his tendency to never take the high road and, instead, get down into the mud and sling it with the best – or perhaps the worst – of them? Or will his proven record of success in many policy areas, along with the promise of what he could achieve with four more years as chief executive, prove too tempting for even those conservatives who complain he isn’t “presidential” enough for their liking?
Perhaps, if those conservatives still long for the America of 2017 – 2019, they might heed the words of Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth: “But screw your courage to the sticking place and we’ll not fail.” Certainly, that appears to be Trump’s message, these days – and whether he has the self-discipline to stick to it may determine America’s fate for the next few years.
Fate in His Own Hands
This is, or should be, the main question Trump and his advisors ponder as the 2024 primaries approach. It would seem, at this point, that the Republican presidential nomination is his to win or lose. Even if Florida’s popular governor, Ron DeSantis, steps into the fray, is Trump really going to lose the primary contest? That seems very unlikely – unless he just can’t control his urge to lash out and, in doing so, exhausts the patience of even the most zealous MAGA Republicans.
It can hardly be denied that Trump is a force of nature. Backed by an immensely popular America First agenda, the man was – contrary to almost all the polls and media projections – an unstoppable whirlwind in 2016. Looking back, it now seems ridiculous to have thought that Hillary Clinton was going to beat him. Clinton was never that well liked by any section of the American electorate outside of the hardcore progressive base and those who were dizzy at the thought of a first female commander-in-chief.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, inspired convoys of cars and flotillas of boats adorned with patriotic flags and, indeed, Trump flags. His supporters wore the now-ubiquitous Make America Great Again red baseball caps. Four years later, in 2020 – even after the soul-crushing and economy-wrecking response to the COVID-19 pandemic – Trump’s followers once again jammed roads across the country with several-miles-long flag-adorned columns. He still filled sports arenas as he campaigned for re-election while his opponent, Joe Biden, cowered in a Delaware basement, supposedly fearful of the virus that Trump and most of his supporters ignored. Biden emerged from time to time to address handfuls of voters and yet he won the election – inexplicably, many would argue.
Donald Trump, Popularity, and Persona
When Al Gore lost the 2000 presidential contest to George W. Bush, most Democrat voters were convinced he was robbed; that Bush, courtesy of the Supreme Court, stole the election after some hotly contested recounts in Florida. Did an ocean of Gore supporters engulf Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, to vent their frustration? No, they did not – and certainly not because they were too civilized or respectful to do so. The truth is that Gore did not come even close to generating the kind of devotion and enthusiasm Trump was able to. In fact, outside of the black community, no president in living memory – not even Barack Obama – has planted the seeds of a national wave of hope, optimism, and patriotism to compare with Trump’s MAGA movement. On the surface, that movement appears to have lost momentum, but it held strong from 2016 until 2021 – and it seems now on the verge of a major resurgence.
Even today, it is by no means uncommon to see Trump flags on boats, pickup trucks, motorcycles, and even houses. When Trump returned to Palm Beach, FL, after his recent arraignment in Manhattan, his motorcade drove down roads lined with flag-waving, cheering supporters. What president, living or dead, in at least the past five decades, could honestly claim they enjoyed this level of support – even after leaving office?
Trump’s White House campaign is gathering steam. This is, perhaps, in no small part due to none other than Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who has fulfilled his own election promise to indict the 45th president. Thanks to Bragg, Trump’s poll numbers have soared. The former president’s campaign released a new video that is very much on-message. However, another video recently emerged and has captured the attention of many in the Trump camp. It is not an official campaign video and it’s not easy to find on the internet. It seems to have first been posted on the Truth Social platform by Dan Scavino, former Deputy Chief of Staff in the Trump White House. The group Americans for Limited Government posted it to their YouTube channel.
Whether one supports Donald Trump or not, it is hard to deny the power of this production. Trump does a voiceover to stirring images and music. His message is simple; be proud to be an outsider and strive against all odds. Obviously, there’s also a political theme to it, namely, fighting a broken system.
This, then, is the crux of the matter, the deciding factor in Trump’s new bid for the presidency. Spend some time in hole-in-the-wall sports bars – dive bars, one might call them – in any Deep South state and one will hear a common refrain: Trump did a great job as president, but he’s got a big mouth and he should stay off Twitter.
Trump is indeed staying off Twitter even after being reinstated. The point, though, is that a significant number of conservatives now speak disapprovingly of him. But are they speaking from the heart, or have they been conditioned, by a tsunami of negative media coverage that has lasted almost eight years, to think that it is no longer appropriate or acceptable to call oneself a Trump supporter? Do they perhaps feel stigmatized? Have they been convinced that shunning Trump, berating him for his uncouth ways, and moving on to more acceptable candidates is the only decent thing to do?
Then again, there’s another dimension to the discussion of Trump’s persona. Was he not so popular in the first place because of that unpolished and unrepentant exterior? Was it not his unapologetic middle finger to the entitled establishment that attracted frustrated conservatives to him? Would Trump still be Trump if he bowed to conventional expectations, spoke in smooth tones, droned on about policy, and ignored the vitriol so often directed at him?
When the rubber meets the road; when it is time to decide which candidate will challenge Joe Biden – or another Democrat – for the White House in 2024, will those same people continue to deny Donald Trump? Or will they decide, for better or worse, that he is in fact the man for the job, as they did in 2016 and 2020? Can they stomach Trump the Terrible, Trump the Impaler, Trump the Barbarian because they decide America needs a President Trump? To borrow again from Shakespeare, that is the question.
*About the author: Chief Political Correspondent & Satirist at LibertyNation.com. Raised and inspired by his father, a World War II veteran, Graham learned early in life how to laugh and be a gentleman. After attending college, he decided to join the British Army, where he served for several years and saw combat on four continents. In addition to being a news and politics junkie, Graham loves laughter, drinking and the outdoors. Combining all three gives him the most pleasure. Individual liberty is one of the few things he takes seriously.
Source: This article was published by Liberty Nation