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Can Trump Fix It?

Did he really? (Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

My friend Conor Friedersdorf put a good question out on Twitter:

I am not a Trump supporter. I think he’s been pretty much a bad president, but I cannot rule out voting for him this fall (a vote I did not cast in 2016). So Conor’s question is live for me too. I’m going to give it a shot. Keep in mind that this represents my thinking on Labor Day Weekend, 2020. I am still trying to push through this issue in my mind. Some of my friends — Trump voters and Biden voters both — can’t imagine that this is even a question for me. But it is, so here’s what I think of Conor’s question.

I don’t believe Trump will make things better. In fact, I believe a second Trump term will likely make things worse, at least in the short term. I don’t believe Trump is the cause of the riots, not at all, and I believe that the responsibility for stopping the violence rests with mayors and governors. The mayor of Portland blames all the antifa violence there on Trump, but he’s just passing the buck over his failure to govern.

A second Trump term, though, would probably make the riots more general, and more enduring. We have to be realistic about that.


First, I cannot accept that these rioters get a veto over the presidency. They can’t be allowed to get away with bullying people into voting against Trump.

Second, and more importantly to my mind, a Biden presidency would open the door for the institutionalization of the values of these rioters. I don’t believe that Biden actually supports the riots. I do believe, though, that he and the Democrats are quite sympathetic to the movement that has produced political violence. Remember:

I do not believe she’s talking about riots! She’s talking about the BLM protests. But this is becoming a distinction without much of a difference. See Rochester from this weekend:

All this is going to get worse if Trump wins. If Biden wins, it may or may not get worse, but Biden will be an open door for BLM ideology to fill the executive branch, and, via Biden’s appointments, the judicial branch.

Third, though I believe that a Trump victory will definitely cause more violent protests, I don’t have confidence that a Biden victory will stop them entirely. Certainly antifa doesn’t care who is in power in Washington. But I also think that the logic of BLM’s core will not allow them to stand down. I think there’s a good chance we could get wokeness in power in the executive branch, and more protests. Why wouldn’t they, given that they would have a sympathetic administration?

Bottom line: this is probably not going to get any better no matter who is in the White House, but it will definitely get worse if Trump returns. Yet the cost of the potential peace a Biden administration would buy us is far too high.

If I were only voting on riots and civil unrest, I would go with Trump for these reasons. To sum it up in an answer to Friedersdorf’s question: a Trump second term wouldn’t make things better, but would probably make things worse — yet in terms of the broader movement fueling the riots, the price of peace would be too high.

I am, however, more concerned about having four more years of an unstable and incompetent chief executive. At this point, even that is not decisive for me, for reasons I’ll explain in a later post I’m working on concerning Anne Applebaum’s new book about the end of democracy.

Yeah, I one of about ten people in this country who doesn’t know how he’s going to vote in November. If you want to argue with me from the pro-Trump or pro-Biden side — and I would seriously like to hear arguments –you will serve your cause better if you actually reason with me, not yell. I’m feeling spikey today, and might just send your pro- or anti-Trump rants at me straight to the spam folder. Talk to me like I’m a normal but not very smart person whom your trying to persuade.

UPDATE:New CBS News poll finds no Kenosha bump for Trump, even in Wisconsin. People who want the situation calmed trust Biden more.

UPDATE.2: A friend who read this told me on the phone, as we were talking, that he finds it impossible to believe that there was no Trump bump from the rioting — but easy to believe that people who intend to vote for Trump would not admit it to a pollster. He’s probably right. I wouldn’t tell a pollster if I was going to vote for Trump. Is that paranoid? Maybe. But I don’t think people are wrong to fear that this information is being recorded, and might be used against them one day.

Meanwhile, while I was away delivering chicken and dumplings to my mom out in the country, a reader wrote in:

I’m an older lady, not very intelligent, who reads your blog from time to time to look for instances where truth can be found despite living in a culture where lies and deceit dominate and the mainstream media pedal their own agenda and biases. I don’t think Trump can fix the problem but neither will Biden. Expecting such is naive at best in my view. The problem is so much bigger than one man or one political party. I truly believe this is a spiritual battle between good and evil and without a return to God, nothing is going to be fixed.
With that being said, I too did not intend to vote this time around. However, in my somewhat conservative, Texan, community, a township representative was threatened and demanded to resign because she opposed a BLM support statement because it included transgender and LGBT issues that were contrary to her faith. This coupled with the riots, destruction of property, threats, lack of respect or concern for innocent people, tearing down of religious statues and other monuments, lies, and the response from Democrat mayors, governors and other officials made me think again. Then when I looked at the platforms of the two political parties and watched their conventions, I realized that as much as I don’t like Donald Trump, that there is a distinct difference between Trump and Biden and the two parties.
I always knew I could not embrace anyone who supports and celebrates Planned Parenthood and abortion. That is an evil I can never justify or support. But after reading the statement from Christopher Scalia’s wife regarding why she left the Democrat Party, I decided I did need to vote and could vote for the Republican platform. The Democrats treatment of Brett Kavanaugh was appalling and the backlash and treatment Susan Collins received for acting sanely yet not submitting to their unjust ways was telling of what that party is all about. While the Republican Party is by no means perfect, it’s platform is  acceptable considering the alternative. I’m A Minority Woman Going GOP Over Dem Treatment Of Kavanaugh
Politicians will never solve our problems. But I have come to believe that that at this particular time, the Republicans offer me a better chance to retain my personal freedoms, practice my Christian faith and give me the liberty to make decisions that are best for my family.  I believe Democrats may very well take these treasures away and force Americans to relinquish their freedom and follow the party line which largely contradicts much of what I hold as precious and rooted in truth.
Just my limited view, but I have come to believe that we have a better chance of retaining freedom, faith and traditional values with the Republicans.  Electing a party that promotes so much which goes against God’s word cannot help to bring healing and peace to our divided country. So as difficult as it will be, I will probably vote for Trump.  Voting for Biden because maybe the riots will diminish under his presidency is insufficient.  There are many other important issues that are more important that the riots, as bad as they are.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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