I was once proud to call myself a loyal member of the Republican Party. But that was a time when the GOP stood for time-honored principles such as fiscal discipline, free trade, sensible immigration policy and a consistent, alliance-based foreign policy. I’d always considered myself a “practical Republican,” which over the last two decades gradually became an oxymoron in Washington and continues to reach unprecedented lows when it comes to pragmatism and commonsense. Thus, I voted for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and have cast my ballot for Joe Biden.
But I still have friends who are staunch Republicans and as much as I disagree with their support for the president and his allies, I can judge their politics without demonizing them as people. As our emotionally exhausted country staggers into the final days before the election, I reached out to some of them to better understand what’s determined their votes.
My goal was to make the questions straightforward and non-partisan; I wasn’t looking for rhetorical mud-slinging, but some real insight into their perspectives, however diametrically opposed they may be to my own. Our dialogue says a lot about the ideological divide in this country and how differently we see the issues and our choices.
Why are you voting for Donald Trump?
I’m voting for the Trump I know (with all of the obvious faults) rather than the Biden I do not. I am voting against a movement that I believe underlies the Democratic ticket. It leads to Marxist oriented social policies that are unconstitutional in every respect.
When it comes to qualities I would call Marxist, like authoritarianism and subversion of checks and balances, there is far more risk with four more years of a Donald Trump presidency. Trump has shunned our allies, coddled dictators and been the most despotic president in recent history. And what’s more Marxist? The so-called socialism that you’re talking about with AOC and Bernie Sanders, or someone who’s corrupt and who tries to subvert the pillars of our democracy?
What are and have been the most important issues to you when deciding on your vote?
I think COVID-19 is a politicized borderline hoax. I think 40M have been infected with COVID and the results, call them fatalities if you can, they are mostly “COVID-related” and not the overwhelming cause of death. The real number is much lower.
Per the pandemic, if I didn’t know these people personally, I would say, “Wow! Have you even ventured outside the Fox News bubble?” That’s just pure nonsense. Every single scientist has gone with the approach that experts like Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx have espoused and that’s been Trump’s biggest failure. When it comes to leading the country through this crisis, he has undermined science and pushed this medical quackery and unfortunately, a lot of his supporters believe it.
Is there anything you wish the president would do differently?
I would like to say abandon social media, but without it I’m not sure the word could get out. In lieu of this, I might address the nation weekly with agenda and progress–bring the people along. I might even throw in a bit of a history lesson just to give the East Coast elite something to talk about.
OK, let’s stick with COVID. If Trump were able to have had any chance of salvaging himself, and we know he’s incapable of admitting he is wrong about anything, he could have reached out to the American people and just said: “Look, we could have done things better with COVID. Here is what we’re going to do now.” Then, he should have gotten personally involved with the new relief package, although I think Democrats and Republicans deserve equal blame for that. Pelosi didn’t want to give the President a win before the election and McConnell didn’t want to hurt a lot of his Senators that are running for re-election.
What would it take for you to vote for Joe Biden?
In order for me to vote for Joe Biden, I would need to understand his agenda and agree with it. I don’t believe he has one, but I think the people that put him up to this do have one and that scares me because I think it is power seeking plain and simple–nothing more. And on the backs of a largely uninformed and wishful thinking constituency.
As far as the theory that the people behind Biden have this hidden agenda and his supporters are “uninformed and wishful thinkers,” I’d say they’ve got the wrong guy. That description sounds a lot more like the typical Trump voter than Biden voter, and Biden does have an agenda-it’s called a platform with specific policies. Rather than using this vague term “agenda,” tell me one issue where the president has put the interests of the American people ahead of his own.
For a Never Trump-er like me, these answers are tough to swallow and they come from highly educated people. And again, I’m trying to respond to their opinions, rather than belittle or vilify someone for simply having them. Almost every Trump supporter did say that the president cut their taxes, reduced regulation and confirmed three Supreme Court justices, as well as hundreds of federal judges. But has the fiscal irresponsibility, national and international embarrassment, and the racist behavior, misogynist comments and politics of division been worth it?
Unfortunately, we seem to have disparate sets of facts and agreeing to disagree is no longer a fundamental element in American politics. Now, when you have differing beliefs, you’re seen as an enemy who’s threatening your basic security and setting the country on a path of destruction.
Lastly and most importantly, I’d tell my friends that if Joe Biden wins, respect the will of the people and just give him a chance–the future of our country depends upon it. If in two years, you think he hasn’t come through, you can put the Senate and the House back in GOP hands in the midterms.
I believe that Biden is the last hope we have of at least partially unifying our nation for a long, long time. He realizes he’s the establishment’s last chance and if he fails to unite, such as through a power grab, such as “packing the court” or eliminating the legislative filibuster, the next Democratic candidate will be a younger, shrewder and more dangerous version of Bernie Sanders.
At this point, the acrimonious debate about the candidates is nearly over and people are finally free to make their choices. It’s time to let the democratic process have the final say in this argument.