Ed. Note: The following Op-Ed is an excerpt from “Coming Home: How Black Americans Will Re-Elect Trump” by Vernon Robinson and Bruce Eberle, reprinted by permission of Humanix Books. The original style and structure of the text have been preserved.
When Donald Trump came down the escalator at Trump Tower on June 16, 2015, and announced that he was a candidate for president of the United States, the authors of this book were not only skeptical but dismissive. We were both heavily involved in a super PAC supporting Ben Carson for president. Dr. Carson was running ahead of every other candidate, and we certainly did not see Donald Trump as a threat to him. We could not have been more wrong. Trump quickly shot to the top of the polls and stayed there until he won the Republican nomination for president at the Cleveland convention of the GOP.
Even after Trump was the Republican nominee for president we were not enthralled. We were both certain that he was not a conservative and that with his past record of being a Democrat, if elected, he would be at best a moderate Republican in the mold of Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush—a president without a governing philosophy who would be on the left on one topic, be on the right on another topic, and mostly muddle in the middle. Nevertheless, we voted for Trump and worked for Trump because we knew he would be better than Hillary Clinton. We knew that if Hillary packed the Supreme Court with liberal jurists, the U.S. Constitution would quickly become meaningless and the rights of all Americans, especially God-fearing Americans, would be circumscribed. In short, we worked for and voted for Donald Trump because we saw him as the lesser of two evils.
We were wrong about Donald Trump again. Once elected, he not only picked members of the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court, from a list put together by the Federalist Society, he also put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of this transition team, which was packed with folks from the Heritage Foundation. Also, his foreign policy turned out to be more in line with conservative icon Robert Taft than with the military adventurism of George W. Bush.
Unlike any other Republican president before him, Trump insisted that our allies in Europe start paying more of the cost of maintaining their defense through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). As his administration took charge, he cut taxes, he slashed regulations, he ended the Obamacare personal mandate and put that albatross of a program on life support, and he has done more than any president since Eisenhower to secure our southern border.
Although some Never Trumpers on the right didn’t support the president and still don’t, the overwhelming majority of conservatives are now fully behind his economic, domestic, and foreign policies. In fact, today the number of conservatives who do not support Donald Trump is so small as to be politically insignificant. Their argument that Donald Trump is not a philosophical conservative may be true, but according to Tommy Binion, who is responsible for the advocacy of policies set forth by Heritage Foundation, “At the end of 2017, we reviewed all 334 recommendations presented in our ‘Mandate for Leadership’ series and found that the Trump administration had embraced fully 64 percent of them. That’s nearly two out of three—and that’s very good indeed.” Exactly how good is Trump’s performance according to the Heritage Foundation? Kay Coles James, Heritage’s president, said in a speech that in eight years Ronald Reagan was able to fulfill less than 50 percent of the goals set forth in the Mandate for Leadership book prepared for the Reagan administration. Of course, Reagan often faced a hostile Congress, whereas Donald Trump had a somewhat supportive Republican Congress during the first two years of his administration.
There’s no doubt that today’s Republican Party is Donald Trump’s Republican Party, and to a greater or lesser extent he is the leader of today’s conservative movement. To put it another way, “there’s no longer any doubt that the conservative movement has been redefined by President Trump, leaving him with a fiercely loyal base of support as he prepares for a 2020 re-election campaign.” On many fronts, Donald Trump has followed historical conservative positions, reducing the power of government by eliminating more than 30,000 pages of regulations, creating a booming economy by reducing taxes, dramatically rebuilding our military power, pursuing a foreign policy of peace through strength, exiting the dreadful Paris accords (the climate change agreement), getting America out of the ill-conceived Iran deal orchestrated by President Obama, and enabling the United States to achieve energy independence by encouraging energy production and the building of pipelines.
But on other fronts, Trump has undertaken policies heretofore not espoused by traditional conservatives and establishment Republicans, such as asserting strong pressure on NATO nations to pay their fair share for their own defense; working hard to protect Americans by building a wall on our southern border; advocating for immigration reform based on merit; using tariffs to negotiate better trade deals with China, Mexico, and other nations; and advocating for infrastructure rebuilding. Slowly but surely, conservatives are moving toward these new policies, understanding that our European allies are not paying their fair share to defend themselves, that we need a secure southern border, and that America does require an influx of legal immigrants who bring something to our nation. However, too many members of the Republican establishment continue to resist Trump’s commonsense policies. Globalist Republicans fight against border security because they rely on money from the Chamber of Commerce and its members who want the cheap labor that is available when our borders are open. This old guard Republican establishment is a member in good standing of the Washington, D.C., swamp that Donald Trump is trying to drain. Ironically, the truth is that when it comes to free trade, it is clear that Donald Trump is actually doing more to achieve free and fair trade by using tariffs to create a level trading field than traditional conservatives and establishment Republicans have ever done.
There is one more thing that has the Republican establishment up in arms, and that is the effort by Trump to end the military adventurism of previous presidents, including Republican presidents. Failed nation-building schemes have cost American taxpayers trillions of dollars and have not brought the world any closer to peace. Donald Trump is a realist and knows that the United States cannot be the policeman to the world or spread democracy across the globe. And although Republican politicians succumb to political correctness, Donald Trump has taken this abridgement of free speech head on. Whereas previous Republican and Democrat presidents pledged to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Trump actually did it to the chagrin of many, if not most, members of the Washington, D.C., swamp.
Inheriting a military quagmire in the Middle East, Trump ignored the big brass at the Pentagon and talked directly to the field generals and the sergeants fighting on the ground in Iraq. As a result, the gloves were taken off our fighting men and women, making it possible for the United States to destroy ISIS in a matter of months instead of years. His years of experience building a multi-billion-dollar corporation have taught him to bypass those at the top and speak directly with the men and women on the ground who really know what is going on. No wonder he is known as the “blue collar billionaire.”
Whereas other presidents have taken action only after years of deliberation and political calculation, Donald Trump has a bias for action. That has made it possible to rebuild our military by pumping an additional $160 billion into the Pentagon budget. His economic policies have resulted in 5.3 million new jobs, 491,000 of which are manufacturing jobs, jobs that former president Barack Obama said “aren’t coming back.” In fact, according to a Barron’s Market Watch headline, “Manufacturing jobs [are] growing at fastest rate in 23 years.” That’s “more than six times the 73,000 manufacturing jobs added in Obama’s last two years.”
Whereas previous Republican presidents have virtually ignored the real needs of black Americans or parroted the failed policies of the Democrats, who offer a handout instead of a hand up, Donald Trump has become a champion of black Americans. He has brought black unemployment to the lowest point in recorded history, and his policies have made it possible for black-owned businesses to increase by 400 percent in just one year. In the Oval Office and across the nation, President Trump has gone on the ground to see what needs to be done to help black Americans in poverty climb America’s amazing economic ladder of success. He is determined to restore the strong bond that Republicans had with black Americans before the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Donald Trump believes that black economic success is crucial if America is to achieve racial harmony that benefits both races. And as a by-product of black economic success and the actions he has taken, Trump is convinced that black voters will rally to him in 2020. He is not satisfied with winning just a few votes from these fellow Americans; President Trump wants to win a majority of the black vote. That’s unlikely to happen in 2020, but already, through Trump’s direct, candid approach, black Americans are taking a serious second look at him and his policies. Even as the Democrats falsely accuse him of being a racist, Trump has begun the long overdue effort to reestablish trust with the black American community. As a result of his economic policies, nearly 6 million Americans have been able to get off food stamp dependency.
To put it bluntly, most Republican presidents since but not including Richard Nixon have simply ignored the black community. It’s not that their policies weren’t helpful to the black community, it’s just that they were told by inside-the-Beltway political consultants in Washington, D.C., that their best course of action was to stay quiet and ignore black Americans, especially in an election year. They were told that appealing to black voters would only increase the black turnout and thus aid the Democrats more than the Republicans.
But Donald Trump didn’t come from Washington, D.C. He didn’t want to become a Washington, D.C., insider; he wanted to change the way things are done inside the Beltway. In his entire business career, he has been a disrupter, someone who shakes things up and gets things done. He appealed to Democratic blue-collar workers because he wanted to bring manufacturing jobs back to America, and he has. He appealed to evangelical Christians because he promised to defend Christianity and Christians, and he has. And because he appealed directly to black Americans, they supported him more strongly in key swing states than they supported any Republican candidate in the last 50 years. Trump received strong support from small business owners because he understood their challenges and promised to address them. He did. Trump received strong military and veteran support because he promised to rebuild America’s military and clear up the mess in VA hospitals. He did both. And because Trump promised to restore prosperity, he received stronger support from Hispanic Americans than did Mitt Romney four years earlier, receiving 29 percent of the Hispanic vote, and recent polls indicate that if the election were held now, he would receive 49 percent of the Hispanic vote. He is especially popular with Hispanics who fled socialist dictatorships in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.
Donald Trump may not be a philosophical conservative, but clearly he has wonderful conservative instincts along with a populist perspective that is not dissimilar to that of the late Jack Kemp. We are not, of course, suggesting that Trump has the same temperament as Kemp, but Trump’s strong desire to be the president of every American regardless of race, religion, ethnic background, or any other trait has made him popular with all races and ethnic groups. He rejects the foolish idea that diversity is the strength of America and understands that assimilation and unity are the strength of America.
There’s no doubt that Donald Trump has achieved great success as president in his first term, rebuilding the economy, taking concrete steps to lift the poor out of poverty, restoring respect for America around the globe, appointing judges dedicated to the Constitution, and standing up to attacks on Christianity. But who is Donald Trump the man? Yes, he is a serial exaggerator, as Brit Hume put it. He is bold and strong and at times painfully candid, even abrasive. But what are his values? What does he believe in?
The best explanation of the values of Donald Trump is found in the book by David Brody and Scott Lamb, The Faith of Donald J. Trump. Brody and Lamb extensively researched the Trump family, tracing its history back into Germany, the home of the Trumps, and back to the Isle of Lewis in Scotland, where Donald’s mother came from. They also examine the faith of Donald Trump, his values, and his work ethic. One takeaway from their book is that Trump is a 1950s man, or as Victor Davis Hanson put it, “Trump seemed a Rip Van Winkle. He was waking up from a 1950s slumber into an unrecognizable culture.” What does it mean to be a 1950s man? Simply put, it means that Donald Trump is an old-fashioned patriot who loves America, loves all Americans, and reveres the Founders of America. He cares about people, and when it comes to race, he is as color-blind as a human can be. Donald Trump believes in and respects the police and the military. He may not be a conservative, but he is a proud American through and through. He works hard, and he treats people with respect. Those who work for him and work with him clearly like him. In business he greatly values talent and doesn’t care if the person is male or female, black, white, Asian, or Hispanic. While running the Trump organization, he even received praise from Jesse Jackson for being a leader in race relations and opportunity for black Americans. There are hardworking, talented men and women, black and white, throughout the Trump organization and at all levels of leadership. He also is strongly influenced by the evangelical Christians with whom he meets regularly in the White House.
Donald Trump comes to his views via patriotism and common sense. That’s why he is today the de facto leader of the Republican Party and the conservative movement. That is good because he knows how to win and bad because whatever baggage the conservative movement carries is automatically associated with him. Therein lies a problem because those in the conservative movement do carry baggage when it comes to their history with black Americans, specifically their inaction during the days of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
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