‘Papa, how can you vote for him?’
“Papa, how can you vote for him?” my then thirteen-year-old son asked me one night in 2016. “He’s so crude.” The “him” of the question was then-candidate Donald John Trump. I answered:
Brendan, I know he swears and is crude, but so are a lot of the best men I’ve ever known. I’ve known guys who talk like sailors that would give you the shirt off their back. And I’ve known men who present themselves as holier than thou and would certainly never use bad words, but they’d stab you in the back and not think twice about it. Trump is crude, but those other men so worried about what he says have had their chance to run the country. A lot of those men (and women) in those debates and other pundits who express outrage at Trump’s coarseness have the blood of hundreds of thousands of Christians on their hands from their Middle East wars that unleashed hell on those poor people. That’s crude. And they’re worried about swearing and rough language? Have those Catholics who judge Trump but supported those disastrous policies apologized? He should be mad. He should be swearing. Drive around the country and look at what has been done (not happened…what has been done) to the working class in this country while those guys make speeches and promises, and nothing ever changes for the better.
That was the way one Catholic father explained his support for Donald Trump when his son asked him. His enthusiasm for the man did not wane. Later, when Hillary Clinton ran what was probably her most memorable television ad spot, the one that featured little kids transfixed in front of the TV screen while Trump seemingly shouted, “They can go f— themselves,” my son looked at me expectantly with a look that said, “What about that?” I replied, “That right there is why I’m voting for him.”
You know, it turns out I was not alone.
If you want to understand why Trump is the forty-fifth president, none other than Michael Moore, the ultra-liberal, Trump-hating filmmaker, told the world before the election why the man he hated was going to win. Don’t feel bad if you are almost moved to tears watching this. You should be.
That was as powerful a stump speech for Donald Trump in 2016, as you’ll find. Moore’s speech in Ohio to what looked like a crowd of Rust Belt Democrats, and hence, probably a lot of blue-collar Catholics, explained and justified, even if unintentionally, the natural appeal of candidate Trump to such voters. (Granted, the clip is an excerpt from a lengthier speech that was not in favor of Trump.)
In that video, Moore is talking specifically about the economic destruction of the working class that had proceeded apace under politicians of both parties for the past four decades, if not longer. But he could just as well have talked about the wars to which the poor and middle class have sent their sons and daughters and for which the results have been nothing short of disastrous, especially, again, for the Christians in the Middle East. We couldn’t have done a better job of making the world safe for radical Islam had we tried — that is, until Donald J. Trump was elected, and now, more than three years later, ISIS’s territory has been rolled back, and our political leadership in Washington is unafraid to identify that particular enemy by name.
In 2020, it is even more clear that we need a strong man like Trump in the Oval Office, a tough man willing to fight for us, and his enemies, the Deep State, know they need him gone. So we see the battles on the streets, the destruction of the economy, the move to manipulate our vote through global mail-in ballots (an affront to our system astonishing in its audacity), and more.
It is commonplace for politicians and pundits to refer to every election as “the most important in history.” But this time, it’s true.