There's a substantial chance that I'll vote for Donald Trump in the next presidential election.
In a way, that's not all that remarkable. Millions of people all across the country will do that. Not all of them, however, ever wrote anything like this. I am defecting from the NeverTrump state. Here's how and why.
A Choice, Not an Endorsement: My largest concerns about voting for Donald Trump the last time around had to do with the negative impact upon my testimony that would come from endorsing someone with the character flaws that President Trump has demonstrated (see the aforementioned link). That is still a concern. And I would still vote for Mike Pence over Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee over Donald Trump, Ben Sasse over Donald Trump, and the list goes on. But I doubt that any of them will run in this election cycle. I voted for Evan McMullin in the previous cycle, but following his Twitter feed has not made me long for him to have won. I reject binaryism—vote your conscience, OK—but I also acknowledge that most independent candidates don't undergo the same sort of vetting that a major party candidate will undergo, and are therefore more of an unknown commodity than will be the GOP and Democrat candidates. So, I'll have to make a choice on election day, and facing the field that we are presently facing, I'll likely vote for Donald Trump.
Checks and Balances: I disagree with Donald Trump about immigration. Donald Trump hasn't gotten much done on immigration. I disagree with Donald Trump about religious liberty for Muslims. Donald Trump hasn't been successful at infringing upon the religious liberty of Muslims. Our system of checks and balances has been successful in some ways. I'm sure that bothers Donald Trump and some of his supporters. For me it clears some space to consider voting for him.
Surprising Successes: I doubted Donald Trump's sincerity about abortion. I still note that not much has been gained in that area, but President Trump has been as pro-life as any other president of my lifetime, measured by accomplishments, and even if he isn't the guy driving things forward, the pro-life movement is moving forward these days. I thought he would betray the pro-life cause boldly. I misjudged him. President Trump has also offered real leadership in the area of prison sentencing reform. I know that Dwight was sorely concerned about how President Trump's administration would affect African-Americans. I haven't noted any major statistical increase in violence against black people under President Trump than existed under President Obama, and considering things like the First Step Act, I'd like to hear an updated, fact-based case for how African-Americans are worse off in terms of employment, justice, health, or welfare today than they were four years ago. Some of the statistics that I've examined seem to suggest the opposite.
President Trump's Supreme Court nominees have been a bit of a mixed bag so far, but I'm generally pleased with what he has done to the Court and would like to see what he could accomplish if there were a RBG vacancy in the next four years. My expectations were really low, and President Trump has been a better president than I thought.
Infanticide: In 2016 I had reckoned the Democrats as the party of the status quo ante with regard to abortion. Boy, was I wrong! The Democrats have demonstrated a clear agenda in the direction of infanticide. Roe v Wade is not enough for them. Also, the Democrats are now demonstrating even stronger advocacy for Socialism, which is totalitarian at its heart. With their hard lurch to the Left, Democrats have changed the moral math of our electoral equation, in my estimation. I thought it mattered for the sake of my testimony and for the sake of righteousness to distance myself from Donald Trump in 2016. In 2020, I feel more strongly about distancing myself from the Democrats and the increasing moral darkness of their platform. With regard to his personal character, President Trump is no better of a man than I thought he was, but he's also no worse than I thought he was. Democratic politicians, on the other hand, have done what I thought was not possible: They have shown me that they could be even worse than my lowest-of-the-low expectations of them.
Allegiance: In 2016 I voted as I did because I didn't owe my allegiance to the GOP. My vote has to be earned. Perhaps the NeverTrump movement shouldn't be surprised at the existence of defectors, because neither did I pledge any sort of allegiance to that movement. And that's a movement that has yielded very little in terms of positive leadership for our nation. I do not anticipate any good NeverTrump choices to occupy the ballot in this cycle. NeverTrump, like any position with room for the word "never," was a position at the far end of the spectrum. I do not know anyone who is more NeverTrump today than they were in 2016. Is that even logically possible? The only possible direction for movement was a softening of resistance in the President's direction.
Conclusion: I still have grave reservations about the President in all of the areas that you might expect: his Twitter, his immigration policy, his emotional stability, his instincts toward fear-mongering and demagoguery, his clear yearnings toward fiat rule. I am not promising my 2020 vote to the President. He still has to earn it. But—and this might very well be a canary in the coal mine situation for our Republic—I can imagine a lot of scenarios for 2020 in which President Trump might clearly be the best choice of those listed on the ballot. So, with apologies to all of those who remain in the movement, I have concluded that never is a long, long time, and I cannot say that I would never vote for President Trump for re-election.