I’m certain we’ll see more reflections like Julius Krein’s “I Voted for Trump. And I Sorely Regret It” in the coming weeks and months. This week alone, we’ve watched Fox News become of a bacchanalia of teary epiphany, and we’ve witnessed a parade of prominent Republicans twist themselves into logical origami denouncing Donald Trump while defending the people who ... voted for Trump.
Anyway, as far as this burgeoning genre of Trumpcab Confessions goes, Krein’s piece hits each of the right notes. He remains sober as he methodically and meticulously articulates why he believed Trump was worthy of his support.
Rather than recite paeans to American enterprise, he acknowledged that our “information economy” has delivered little wage or productivity growth. He was willing to criticize the bipartisan consensus on trade and pointed out the devastating effects of deindustrialization felt in many communities. He forthrightly addressed the foreign policy failures of both parties, such as the debacles in Iraq and Libya, and rejected the utopian rhetoric of “democracy promotion.” He talked about the issue of widening income inequality — almost unheard of for a Republican candidate — and didn’t pretend that simply cutting taxes or shrinking government would solve the problem.
He criticized corporations for offshoring jobs, attacked financial-industry executives for avoiding taxes and bemoaned America’s reliance on economic bubbles over the last few decades. He blasted the Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz campaigns for insincerely mouthing focus-grouped platitudes while catering to their largest donors — and he was right. Voters loved that he was willing to buck conventional wisdom and the establishment.
He flouted G.O.P. orthodoxy on entitlements, infrastructure spending and, at times, even health care and “culture war” issues like funding Planned Parenthood. His statements on immigration were often needlessly inflammatory, but he correctly diagnosed that our current system makes little sense for most Americans, as well as many immigrants, and seems designed to benefit the wealthy at the expense of working people.
He then acknowledges the existence of Trump’s lack of decorum and penchant for racially inflammatory remarks, while also explaining why he believed Trump was just a little rough around the edges—edges he thought would eventually smooth.
From the very start of his run, one of the most serious charges against Mr. Trump was that he panders to racists. Many of his supporters, myself included, managed to convince ourselves that his more outrageous comments — such as the Judge Gonzalo Curiel controversy or his initial hesitance to disavow David Duke’s endorsement — were merely Bidenesque gaffes committed during the heat of a campaign.
And then, after a few hundred words explaining why his initial support was justified, the piece shifts to unabashed penitence as Krein expresses his regret for such an egregious error in judgment.
Those of us who supported Mr. Trump were never so naïve as to expect that he would transform himself into a model of presidential decorum upon taking office. But our calculation was that a few cringe-inducing tweets were an acceptable trade-off for a successful governing agenda.
Yet after more than 200 days in office, Mr. Trump’s behavior grows only more reprehensible. Meanwhile, his administration has no significant legislative accomplishments — and no apparent plan to deliver any. Wilbur Ross’s Commerce Department has advanced some sensible and appropriately incremental changes to trade policy, but no long-term agenda has been articulated. Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue’s recently proposed legislation offers a sound basis for reforming immigration policy, but seems to have no prospects and has received comparatively little attention. The administration inexplicably downgraded infrastructure and corporate tax reform — issues with potentially broad-based support — to pursue a warmed-over version of Paul Ryan’s Obamacare repeal, which ended, predictably, in a humiliating failure.
As long as this roving, flaming port-a-potty continues to roam through the White House, there will be more serious pieces in serious publications penned by serious men and serious women seriously explaining why they no longer believe in or support the (deadly unserious) man who they voted president. And they’ll generally be met with praise for doing the right thing and applause for being so damn adult and allowing their minds to change. And they can all go fly a kite. Over “Fuck How You Feel Now” Lake, sitting on the picturesque “Here’s A Fucking Cookie” coast.
If there’s anything even remotely good to say about Donald Trump, it’s that he hasn’t allowed his political success to change him. The person he is now is exactly the person he’s been since we’ve known who Donald Trump is. And although what has come from the White House in the months since the election could possibly be considered “surprising,” the election of Trump nullifies this particular type of surprise. Because he is exactly who he said he is. And exactly who we—the people who didn’t vote for him—said he was.
Being surprised at Donald Trump—surprised enough for his actions to change your opinions about him in less than a year—is like placing a puppy on a carpet and getting surprised when he shits on it. And then getting mad at the puppy, who looks at you like, I’M A FUCKING PUPPY! EATING AND SHITTING ON FURRY THINGS ARE MY TWO FAVORITE THINGS TO DO! WHAT THE HELL DID YOU THINK I WAS GONNA DO ON THIS CARPET?
Yet, despite the millions of people saying, “NO, DON’T PUT THAT PUPPY ON THE CARPET”—and despite this puppy literally saying, “I WILL TOTALLY SHIT ON THAT CARPET, DUDE”—people like Krein chose to ignore them and now want some sort of laudatory fellatio for finally doing the right thing. Only now we’re all covered in shit.