I learned a long time ago not to engage anyone in debate about whether a particular person is a racist without first agreeing on a definition of racism. For example, by my definition, if I were in a room with an Italian, a Jamaican, and a Korean, and either I hated any of them because of their race/nationality, or felt superior to them for that reason, then yes, I would be a racist. But if, say, I wanted an opinion of the best Korean restaurant in town and I assumed the Korean might know best, I would most certainly not be a racist, and my comment, while ‘racialist’, would not be racist, and if anyone dared to call my comment racist, I would try not to become exasperated, and instead smile and think to myself: “this is exactly why Trump has an excellent chance of being reelected; because far too many Americans are fed up with this type of political overcorrectness.”
Racism is one of hundreds of examples of words that mean different things to the beholder. Trumpism is another such word. So, before I elaborate on why we need to save Trumpism, I will explain how I define that term.
Many view Trumpism as synonymous with or emblematic of racism, sexism, incompetence, dishonesty, corruption, instability, dictatorship, and divisiveness. But that is not at all what I mean by Trumpism. To me, Trumpism is incessantly railing against political overcorrectness, against Fake News (i.e., journalistic malpractice), and against illegal entry and stay (most prevalent in the concepts of Open Borders and Sanctuary Cities). Those, to me, are the three worst political and social afflictions affecting American society, and Trumpism is the vaccine.
Oftentimes, Trump-bashers are quick to point out elements of President Trump himself they find offensive, repulsive, or otherwise off-putting. But they are missing the point. We Trumpies don’t love Trump for himself, but for what we have longed to see our entire lives: lifting Trumpism to power.
To put it another way, if the same Donald Trump – real estate developer, reality show celebrity, and womanizing socialite – ran for president with a platform akin to Jeb Bush, John Kerry, Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell, or Mitt Romney, most of his supporters – me included – would have absolutely no use for him. What we love about Trump is not his orange hair, “you’re fired!” kitsch, and not even the fact that he’s not a politician (neither are Bill Gates, Michael Moore, or Oprah – but we don’t want any of them either). We love that he is the standard bearer of Trumpism.
In vivid contrast, Dwight Eisenhower was so popular when he ran for president in 1952 that he would have won either as a Democrat or a Republican. Much of the same can be said for Ronald Reagan in 1980 (even though by switching parties from Democrat to Republican and then serving two terms as governor of California under the latter banner, it would’ve been a tougher sell had he switched back). Ike and Reagan were larger-than-life icons, and the country was less interested in their ideology than in the idea of being led by them. That was proven by their successors’ (who served as their vice president) failures: Richard Nixon lost in 1960, and though the Elder George Bush won in 1988, he became only one of four sitting presidents in over 100 years to lose a reelection bid. In Trump’s case, sure, he has a personality that depending on one’s perspective, ranges from eminently charming to alarmingly abrasive, but as far as his supporters go, that generally takes a back seat to his message.
We Trumpies have waited a long, long time for our definition of Trumpism, which is the antithesis of the major party establishment duopoly, fortified by other establishmentarian entities, such as media, academia, Hollywood, and, yes, even Wall Street (we are not financial fat cat Romneyites).
We don’t like the racial divide any more than anyone else does, but we know that blaming the president is an old trick that goes back centuries. In an Internet search, just replace Trump’s name with any president’s and type in the words “divided this country,” and marvel at the plethora of results.
Longtime Democratic strategist James Carville recently said that it’s not enough to defeat Trump; instead, we must also eradicate Trumpism. I say the exact opposite is necessary: we must not only reelect Trump, but we must ensure Trumpism long survives him, so as to avoid regressing back to an inferior time.
Amid a virus pandemic, resulting in a battered economy, and exacerbated by civil unrest throughout our nation and the world, it is difficult to answer yes to the question that Candidate Reagan made famous in 1980: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” Given the experience we’ve all endured over the past four months, it’s hard for any American not to wish we could snap our fingers and return to July, 2016. That said, it is also intellectually dishonest to attribute the blame to President Trump, or give the credit of a non-pandemic 2016 to President Obama. In fact, if we went back to Super Bowl Sunday of this year, held on February 2, and we walked into living rooms and sportsbars across America and asked that question, I maintain the answer would’ve been a resounding “yes!”
This is why America needs to return the pre-virus Trump era, not the pre-Trump era. Trumpism, as I defined it, not the version the bashers see, must flourish, not diminish. The frontline radicals are rooting for the United States to lose, because they feel out of place and ostracized in American society. Staunch ideologues and politicos won’t change their stripes, either. But the rest of America, a more politically apartisan and independent silent majority, must save and strengthen Trumpism for generations to come.