Baum: Why I Voted for Trump
A millennial Republican’s path to voting for Trump and a call for unity.
Shortly after Florida Sen. Marco Rubio announced his candidacy for president of the United States on April 13, 2015, I pledged my support to his campaign — a campaign largely grounded on the rural conservative ideologies I was raised with. My support for the Republican candidate’s campaign strengthened as the GOP debates progressed last fall, and I did not look back. I distinctly remember when Rubio, while on the campaign trail in Waverly, Iowa this past January, promised an atheist voter that “no one’s going to force you to believe in God. But no one’s going to force me to stop talking about God.” As an evangelical Christian and a Constitutionalist who supports atheists’ rights as firmly as those of Christians, I became even more committed to Rubio and his campaign after hearing this.
Then February arrived plunging a dagger in the heart of Rubio. A few weeks later, Rubio suspended his campaign and, with it, his promise to usher in a “New American Century.” This was not what I wanted to hear, but I faced this adversity with prayer and trust in both the Lord and the other candidates in the Republican Party.
I soon realized, however, that I would not have to look far for a candidate to support. After a conversation with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at the Conservative Political Action Conference in March, I knew I could count on him, an evangelical Christian like myself, to represent my core values while maintaining a commitment to limited government and protecting the Constitution, free-market capitalism and national defense.
Although I cast a vote for Cruz in the Pennsylvania primary, however, President-elect Donald Trump won every county in that state, nearly solidifying his path to the GOP nomination. Just a week later, following his loss in Indiana, Cruz suspended his campaign. I felt heartbroken and hopeless. Trump would be the nominee of the Republican Party, and my political role models were headed back to the Senate.
As a Republican, it is often difficult to express that I did not support Trump from the beginning. I was concerned by Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again,” a slogan that I now cherish and defend to the core. With his disrespect toward war hero and Arizona Sen. John McCain, his campaign’s lack of vision and unity, and, later, his rhetoric toward women, Trump was not the type of candidate that most traditional conservatives would support. The resulting divide within the party seemed lethal and historic, a surefire way for the GOP to quickly drown.
I discussed the possibility of a Trump presidency with officials within the GOP, and I listened to speeches supporting Trump by Pennsylvania Rep. Keith Rothfus during his campaign for re-election. I was torn between the two sides within the Republican Party: between traditional conservatism and radical change with an outsider attempting to shake up Washington and drain the swamp. I was even torn between two campaigns I was working on: Rothfus’ re-election bid and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey’s re-election campaign, which disavowed Trump’s candidacy.
Clearly, I was not facing the easy decision I had faced after Rubio dropped out of the GOP race. By the summer, I was all aboard the Trump campaign, prepared to “Make America Great Again.” My personal endorsement of Trump, however, did not come reluctantly. It did not even result from my dislike of the only other realistic choice, former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, whom I have consistently viewed as a sly, disrespectful, corrupt politician with a “pay-to-play” agenda.
Rather, my support for Trump grew organically as I listened to his plans and visions in greater detail. I grew to appreciate his strong “tough-guy” stances on a wide variety of issues including his opposition to illegal immigration, the Common Core and taxes, as well as his commitment to many of my values, particularly a stellar national defense and the protection of rights such as the freedom of religion, freedom of speech and the right to bear arms.
Yet on Oct. 8, following the release of his 2005 conversation with Billy Bush, I painfully wrote a statement on Facebook denouncing my support for Trump as president. Although I remained very strongly opposed to Clinton and her corrupt campaign, I explained, Trump’s disrespectful comments toward women were “far beyond my threshold to support this man for president,” and I expressed my hope that the GOP produce better candidates for this important office.
I quickly transitioned from identifying as a pro-Trump voter to an anti-Clinton voter, torn between writing in an almost certainly unsuccessful vote for Central Intelligence Agency Officer Evan McMullin or reluctantly casting a vote for Trump. I took a step back from the political sphere until Election Day, taking the time to seek counsel from professors, pastors and Republican Party operatives. The only sure thing in my mind was that I was determined to vote for a conservative Supreme Court and to ensure that Clinton would not see another day in the White House. As I received my absentee ballot, I almost wrote in McMullin and prayed for a GOP victory.
Yet in a Pennsylvania county distinct for being one of the most important in the entire election, I instead voted for Trump.
To clarify, I do not condone President-elect Trump’s comments regarding women, but I believe in his ability and commitment to leading our great nation. I trust that he will serve and fight for our citizens, just as he has throughout the past 17 months as he earned the highest office of the land and employed outsiders such as Kellyanne Conway, the first woman in American history to manage a successful presidential campaign.
As Trump is now the president-elect, I would like to draft a call to action for all Americans: unification. Thomas Paine once stated, “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.” Without unification, our country will become more polarized, and, with a Republican-held White House and Congress, the likelihood of liberal agendas being considered in the near future is slim to none.
My fellow Americans, rather than protesting the concrete result of this election, I challenge you to unite behind President-elect Trump while continuing to positively profess your views, a right that the Constitution fervently protects.
As a Republican, I reach my hand out to all Democrats, Independents and Republicans alike. We shall achieve much for every citizen only through unity.