I was a “Never Trumper” libertarian almost from the beginning. (That’s actually a bit of a misnomer. I have hated to call myself a libertarian for years; “classical liberal” is a better fit.)
I declared in December 2015 that I would not support Donald Trump if he won the Republican nomination. I also wrote many articles criticizing Trump’s demeanor and his policy proposals. I even attacked Trump and accused him of attempting to set up a dictatorship.
The day before the November election, I predicted that Trump would be crushed by Hillary Clinton. Obviously, I was wrong—by a lot. That left me with two choices: I could be smug and indignant like the rest of the pundits and commentators who got it wrong, or I could take a good, long look at myself and try to figure out what I had missed. I decided on the latter course, first writing a “what I got wrong” piece followed by some serious self-examination.
Why did I get the election wrong? Because of my irrational Trump hatred. While I attended a couple of Trump rallies, I could never get behind the man. Despite knowing that many of the people there were looking for more economic security and a sense of purpose, I allowed myself to be convinced by many in the media that this was a racist movement first and foremost. In an attempt to be accepted by many who live in the East Coast media bubble, I bought their narrative on Trump.
One of the main reasons I opposed Trump was that I saw him as a threat to my principles. But it turns out that my own way of thinking about politics was a greater threat to those principles than anything else.
I failed to realize the importance of culture in maintaining liberty. Liberty has always meant both freedom and responsibility. Right now, we do not have a culture that is conducive to liberty in America. The Left has perpetuated a cult of victimhood that allows some people to avoid taking responsibility for their bad decisions.
If you’re a racial minority, it’s not your fault that you don’t succeed in life. It’s the fault of white privilege. If you’re a woman, you’re being held back by the patriarchy. These lies we tell ourselves are not only soul crushing for the individuals who believe them, they are liberty crushing for a nation that perpetuates them.
Meanwhile, the Left, which dominates the media and academia, has imposed a speech code on the country and declared certain topics off limits. We cannot have an honest discussion about the role of Islam behind terrorism or whether it needs reform. The Left (and many libertarians for that matter) also seem unable to distinguish between a legal and an illegal immigrant. Finally, the cosmopolitan elite have decided that Americans who don’t agree with their view of the world are racists and bumpkins whose views should be discarded.
Victor Davis Hanson recently defined Trumpism as a movement aspiring to:
…an America that emulates (even if hypocritically so) the lost culture of the 1950s; exploits fossil fuels; is run by deal makers who make money ostensibly to achieve a GDP that can fund the niceties of American civilization; opposes unfettered free trade and is united by race and class through shared material success; assesses winning as what’s workable rather than what’s politically correct or doctrinaire; makes ‘tremendous’ cars, air-conditioners, and planes; has the largest and most powerful and least-used military; and is loyal to our allies and considerably scary to our enemies. All that seems to be Trumpism (at least for now).”
Essentially, it’s a commitment to keeping America a safe, secure, and wealthy country that builds and exports things. Wealthy, secure nations are also freer nations than those that are poor and less secure. I’m sorry to disappoint many libertarians, but sometimes force is necessary to preserve freedom. Trump seems to understand this. Finally, it’s a sense of bringing the country back together again for a common purpose. It provides a chance for Americans to be greater than themselves.
Finally, Trump has done something vital. He has swept aside the failed ideologies of the Right. Neoconservatism and social conservatism are dead (or dying), the Beltway conservatives are largely on the run, and the libertarian fringe is discredited. This has allowed a much needed clearing of the deadwood and the rise of new and better ideas.
Does this mean I support all of Trump’s agenda? No. I’m still a committed free trader and am skeptical of large government programs. I still also have concerns about his stances on civil liberties. But I’m willing to give Trumpism a chance.
It’s not just America that is threatened, but all of Western Civilization that is under threat from the far-Left and radical Islam. It is my hope that Trumpism can lead to the fusion of conservatism, libertarianism, and nationalism that will be needed to save the West.