President Donald Trump. I remember the first time I heard it. He wasn’t in the role yet, someone just mentioned the concept to me. I laughed; it always seemed like a joke.
When was I younger (single digits, I think), I asked my dad who Trump was after hearing his name on TV.
“He’s one of the richest men in the world” was all he said.
Unlike many young minds today, my mind didn’t immediately jump to “wealthy equals evil,” but I did think, “Well, he probably likes himself just a bit.”
As years went by, I would hear about him sometimes and just started to think that he was very arrogant — and yes, stupid — but not necessarily in a way that put other people down.
I’ve known people like this in my own life. They put others down for no reason, but they love to pull themselves up as high as they can. If you like them, they might take you on the ride up — as long as you do the same to them. However, if you dislike them, they will throw you down as hard as they can.
These people don’t have a real set agenda or value system that makes them like or dislike others. They like those who like them and hate those who don’t like them. The current president falls into this category.
This is why I was confused when Trump started being accused of racism, transphobia, Islamophobia and all the types of prejudice on the typical hate-trait list.
It’s not hard to crank out this terminology. In fact, it’s lazy.
It’s a lot easier to slander someone’s personal character and motivations with one of these common labels than to factually explain why they may be incorrect.
President Trump does not fit into a small, hateful box; he’s more complicated than that. He’s not out to hurt people — honestly, I’m not sure he’s that calculated. There are valid reasons to be frustrated with him, but panic isn’t called for.
All of this went through my head as my first election approached.
In 2015, I was a senior in high school and had no idea what was happening with politics, but the polarization that was occurring forced all of us to learn. My friends and I laughed about the idea of “President Trump,” and we still do.
I knew the presidential election was coming, and felt the burden to vote. I saw it as such an amazing opportunity. One of our teachers told us, “For those of you that are voting for the first time, I am sorry.”
On the day of the Kansas caucus, I was traveling to see me brother. I was really disappointed to not vote and show where I stood. I didn’t want Trump (and those tweets) to represent the Republican Party; however, time with my brother mattered more to me. Family should always have priority over politics.
The primary results came in. Looking back, I wonder why we expected anything different. Trump was a direct product of our selfish culture, no matter what side of politics you’re on. We like people who compliment us and are rude to those who put us down. Don’t be surprised by him.
Why was he always placed right in the center of the debates? Why did the moderators ask the other candidates questions about him? It’s because he puts on such a good show and knows how to appeal to crowds. The political right wanted someone like this at the time: someone who packed a punch.
The primary left me with two options: Trump or Hillary Clinton. On one hand, Clinton wasn’t trustworthy. It was difficult for me to side with someone who said “Vote for me because I’m a woman.” Seeing a female president would be incredible, but I’m not going to vote for someone just because of their sex.
Other issues continued to turn me away from Clinton. The Benghazi incident was scary. I couldn’t stand her position on abortion, which she’s continued to promote. She defended her husband’s conduct while in office after he had an affair. She flipped her view on gay marriage when it became socially accepted. She always seemed hungry for power, and Trump seemed to just want the status of the office.
Fall came and I was starting college. I wasn’t sure who to support, but I did know that some issues would guide my vote.
One was the issue of abortion. Whoever won the election was going to appoint the next Supreme Court justice — a decision that would be pivotal, as the justices were on the bench for life. I knew the Democratic Party was creeping toward making abortion limits later and later, and Clinton would likely appoint a justice who shared those ideals. Despite this, I was still afraid of what Trump would do to the Republican Party.
In 2016, at the Republican National Convention, Senator Ted Cruz didn’t endorse Trump. Although he was ridiculed for not giving his support then, how could he after what Trump said about Cruz’s father and wife? He had told the crowd to vote with their conscience. I thought it was such an honorable thing to do.
In the midst of my indecision, Evan McMullin from Utah started a large write-in campaign literally saying, “It’s never too late to do the right thing.”
This was an appealing option to me, as it seemed to be a way to “vote with my conscience.” If I could “vote with my conscience,” maybe my voice could be heard — instead of just submitting to “the system,” whatever that may be.
While voting for a third party felt like a righteous thing to do, a small, nagging part of me kept saying it would just help Clinton. Call it a flip-flop, but about a week before election day, Senator Cruz was back on TV, saying someone should vote for Trump if they didn’t want to see a Clinton presidency. I knew he was right.
Trump being Trump, Cruz went from being “lying Ted” to a “brilliant opponent,” and most recently, “beautiful Ted.” Cruz supported Trump, and then the praises came.
The choice was difficult. Neither Trump nor Clinton offered good character, but I think America gave up on that a long time ago in favor of policy and party. With a focus on policy, and just over 48 hours to go before election day, I decided to put Trump at the top of my ballot. I felt conflicted about it even on the way home from my polling location.
The day after the election wasn’t a celebration. My friends and I didn’t know what would come next.
I’ve watched carefully since Nov. 8, 2016. Trump’s policy choices have been controversial. But neither his policy nor his conduct has been evidence of the prejudiced terminology listed above.
Trump has celebrated low black unemployment. He wore a rainbow flag on his back at a rally. He works with many Hispanic people and women, many of whom he appointed and praises.
It’s easy to criticize a man by just cranking out hasty generalizations. While the simple diagnosis of these criticisms is compelling, they miss the nature of the president and fuel political polarization.
While the political left loves to criticize Trump because he’s “the next Hitler,” he “colluded with Russia” or he’s a “liar,” I believe there are so many other, more productive ways to analyze him.
First, President Trump is not a uniquely wise man. This is why I never believed in the Trump-Russia collusion narrative — not because I think highly of him, but because I don’t think he’s smart enough to pull that off and hide it.
Second, he lies, but when he lies, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. “Mexico will pay for the wall” was never going to happen. He thought it sounded good in the moment, so he said it.
When someone runs their mouth, they are often asked what they were thinking. This is not a great question, because they weren’t. It’s a characteristic of the biblical fool; Proverbs 18:2 states, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”
As a side note, this is a different type of lie than the fully-aware lies that former president Barack Obama would tell. Obama’s lies would result in policy. “’If you like your health care plan, you can keep it’” was PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year in 2013.
Third, Trump likes to please whoever is in the room. After the horrendous school shooting in Parkland, Florida, last year (almost to the date), Trump talked about gun control and began moves toward banning bump stocks. Why? Simply because there were Democrats in the room smiling at him! He will please anyone as long as it makes them like him.
This is why I don’t get it when someone says that Trump is like Hitler. This is false. Here’s the key difference between Trump and Hitler: Hitler had a set ideology from the start. Trump is there pleasing whoever is around him at the time.
Quick, lazy generalizations need to end. The country is so polarized right now, and that’s because both sides are driving people into the arms of the other with their insane rhetoric.
The media says stupid, untrue things, and the Republicans run to Trump. Trump says something absurd, and the Democrats run to the media. Everything is so reactionary these days, and it’s our collective fault.
You may not like him, but in order to solve any issue, we should get rid of the idea that there’s an evil, old, rich, greedy man out there who wants to hurt people. It’s not real. The reality is that Trump wants supporters who make him feel good.
Do you think you can solve your own problems? Is some evil man far away going to ruin that for you? Are you angry, but willing to do your work every day? Are you thrilled because the great leader is here to end the tyranny of the eight years before him? Are you terrified because the new Hitler is here?
I voted for Trump because of his policy, not his personality, and those who fall into this category are often some of his greatest critics.
You won’t hear us walk around saying who we voted for, or even our political affiliations. That’s because it doesn’t really concern us. We know that Trump, or any other president, is ultimately not responsible for the state of our lives. That’s on us. We work, do our best and vote.
Whether you like him, don’t like him, love him, hate him, are indifferent or don’t care, one thing is clear: President Trump has revealed the hearts of everyone in the country. You can be mad at him and things he does, but I really don’t think he’s worth the panic.
Peter Loganbill is an assistant news editor for the Collegian and a junior in public relations. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.