“Is this really happening?” Those were the first four words that came to my mind on the early morning hours of November 9, 2016. I am of course referring to the very moment when Donald J. Trump was officially declared the 45th President-elect of the United States of America. It was a result that practically no one saw coming, not even many die-hard Trump supporters. The New York Times gave Hillary Clinton an 85% chance of winning on Election Day, right before ballots actually began to be counted.
Like a lot of people, I wasn’t even planning for a Trump victory – it was out of the realm of possibility for me. Since I was fully prepared to vehemently oppose the historically corrupt and authoritarian Clinton had she won, I actually saw the fact that the country avoided electing her as sort of a pleasant surprise. With this being said, I was not a Trump fan one bit. Yes, I regarded him as the (slight) “lesser of two evils,” but I still voted for the man who I believed was by process of elimination, the most qualified for the job – former Governor Gary Johnson. Therefore, I was one of the few people who didn’t feel strongly either way about the political upset of the century. I wasn’t celebrating with the red hat-wearing “MAGA” supporters, but I certainly wasn’t also crying my eyes out like Clinton’s staff and volunteers in the Javits Center. I am a (right-leaning) centrist, a dying breed in this intensely partisan world, so I was naturally in a very neutral mood. Disbelief was the emotion I felt more than anything else at that time.
At that point, I had been a lifelong Republican, but couldn’t bring myself to vote for Trump in 2016 due to his horrific and incredibly misogynist comments on a years-old Access Hollywood tape, which surfaced a month before the election. In addition, I strongly disagreed with his hardline stance on immigration, and as a strong fiscal conservative to boot, was upset that my party was choosing to support a 20 billion-dollar border wall over a streamlined pathway to citizenship. Despite my reservations with the new President, he had vanquished Clinton and almost singlehandedly caused the country to, in my opinion, dodge a major bullet. Also, the Republicans had complete control of the government for the first time in my adult life, and Trump had his pick of the litter to fill a then-vacant seat on the Supreme Court with who he promised would be a principled conservative. So, I decided I would give him a chance.
My personal political journey over the last four years has been an ideological roller coaster, to say the very least. Through the first three years of his term, I took what the great Ben Shapiro calls a “Sometimes Trump,” approach to the administration. I applauded when he did things I liked, such as appointing Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, recognizing Jerusalem as the rightful capital of Israel (which was long overdue), implementing tax cuts which boosted the economy and brought record-low unemployment, and ending Obamacare’s individual mandate. Though, I was the first to criticize him when he did something that irked me including his proposed Muslim travel ban (which being a staunch advocate of religious liberty, I find appalling to this day) and his Homeland Security Department’s family separation policy at the border. As a devout Catholic, I was also personally disturbed and turned off by his bombastic rhetoric, compulsive lying, and repeated failure to accept responsibility for his actions. Then again, I was convinced that he was still the “lesser of two evils,” compared to the opposition Democrats, as their party seemed to be picking up the pace of its shift left toward socialism. I didn’t tell my liberal friends, but as of the first week of March 2020, I was certain I was voting to re-elect the President.
And then COVID happened. I remember the week of March 9, 2020, like it was last week. That Monday, I went to New York City for a job interview and stopped by the NBA store to buy a Giannis Antetokounmpo jersey to wear to an upcoming Bucks-Nets game, where I would be celebrating a friend’s birthday. I also bought clothes for a trip to Europe, I had planned for the end of the month. By the end of the week, all my plans were canceled for good, and the entire country was beginning to shut down. Six months and 200,000 COVID deaths later, American life has still hasn’t gone back to normal…and it likely never will.
I believed the President when he told the nation back in February that the virus would “go away” with time and warm weather. I like millions of other Americans across the political spectrum was convinced that the threat of the virus was overhyped. Once it became clear that opposite to what I was told would happen, the deadly pandemic was spreading like wildfire, my first inclination was to blame Trump. After all, there was evidence that he was warned back in January about the virus’s threat, and one can make the case that he “ignored” these warnings to some extent. My lukewarm support for him evaporated and I became a full-on Trump hater. My anti-Trump sentiment intensified when he refused to stop downplaying the virus’s scope. I stood firmly against his crusade to re-open the economy and supported the initial series of state-enforced lockdowns. As a cancer survivor and a pro-life Catholic, I felt that staying shut down for a little while longer would save more lives. However, my argument fell on deaf ears to my peers on the right who retorted by calling me a “liberal” or a “leftist.” Maybe I was, I thought. I began to question if I really was a conservative.
This was when I began to follow the #NeverTrump movement. I “joined” groups such as the Lincoln Project and Republican Voters Against Trump. I began reading articles and tweets by people such as John Kasich, Rick Wilson, S.E. Cupp, George Conway, and Anthony Scaramucci, all self-professed conservatives who believe that Trump is a threat to America and particularly the right. All of these aforementioned groups and people endorsed Joe Biden for the sole reason that he is not Donald Trump. Because of them, I myself was going to vote for Biden for about two months. What seemed to seal the deal for me was Trump’s reaction to the murder of George Floyd and his continuing refusal to address systemic racism or simply say that Black lives matter. It was the last straw for me. Trump needed to go.
However, the Democrats lost my vote as quickly as they had gained it back. I soon began to realize who Joe Biden actually is. He tries to campaign as a decent alternative to the brash Trump who will restore the “soul of our country.” In reality, he’s a lying plagiarist, is ridiculously corrupt, likely sexually assaulted a woman, and has his own share of racist skeletons in his closet. Trump’s personality may be abysmal but at least he’s honest about it and doesn’t hide who he is.
But my problem is less with the Democratic nominee himself than it is with the party. The far left’s gradual takeover of the Democratic Party absolutely terrifies me, especially as a New York resident where six DSA members will be elected to the State Assembly this year. Socialism has failed in every place it was tried and is not welcome in America, a country that was founded on the individual God-given rights to life, liberty, and property. Biden himself is not a socialist, and neither is his running mate Kamala Harris, but both have failed to distance themselves from these radicals, including the two openly anti-Semitic members of Congress. A Biden win would make it easier for the far left such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to pass their costly agenda which will bankrupt our nation and put my generation and especially my future children’s generation in jeopardy. In addition to this, Biden has moved sharply to the left on abortion, and being pro-life, I can’t vote for a party that largely condones killing infants born alive.
I am not a “Never Trumper” because although I think Trump is bad, he shouldn’t be opposed at all costs – as I have come to the conclusion that the alternative to him is far worse.
As of now, I am undecided on who I am casting my ballot for in November, but I know it is not for Biden. I will either vote for Trump, a third-party candidate such as Mr. Carroll, Jo Jorgensen, or perhaps even Kanye West (the ultimate protest vote), write in my political idol Justin Amash, or leave my ballot blank. However, if I was registered to vote in a swing state, and not in New York, I would surely vote Trump – not to help him win, but to help the left lose. Trump in 2016 was a political unknown. Now, he may be the “devil we know,” but the Democratic National Committee (who, let’s be honest, they’re his real opponent – not Biden) is the devil we don’t. As much as Trump enrages and disgusts me, he’s had some positive accomplishments and I can still see he and his supporters care about our country – something I cannot say about the growing far-left fringe in the Democratic Party.