In the aftermath of the events of January 6, 2021, the narrative is becoming more and more fixed.
Simply stated, it claims that the vast majority of Americans who voted for Trump were gun-waving, white supremacist, insurrectionist, Christian nationalists, who need to be marginalized, if not purged from society. For many reasons, we need to continue to challenge that narrative. And recent world events involving Russia, China, and Canada provide a perfect opportunity to push back against that misleading and caricatured narrative.
To be clear, having voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020, I do not want him to run again in 2024.
And I am sympathetic to the argument that, in many ways, did Trump more harm than good, especially in his post-election behavior and in the damage that was done to our Christian witness when he looked to him as some kind of political savior. (I know that strong Trump supporters find this perspective utterly outrageous, but that’s a battle I am not here to fight.)
But the purpose of this article is not to offer a retrospective analysis of the Trump presidency. Rather, it is to respond to those who cannot possibly understand how God-fearing, Bible-loving, morality-espousing people could vote for Trump.
We actually had some very good reasons.
Let’s start with the recent events in Canada and Prime Minister’s invoking of the Emergencies Act in an attempt to crush the Freedom Convoy protesters. According to reports, he “invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time in the country’s history to crack down on protests against his vaccine mandate — just days after the Biden administration urged him to use ‘federal powers.’”
How much of this came directly from President Biden? Only those involved know for sure.
But if true, an obvious question arises: Could you imagine the Trump administration encouraging this kind of extreme crackdown against freedom-loving, peaceful protesters? Could you imagine Trump telling Trudeau, “Yeah, you really need to crush this resistance”?
I think not.
Yet, when it came to international policy and America’s role in the world, those of us who voted for Trump felt far more confident in his leadership than the leadership of Biden. Does this make us violent white supremacists? Or, put another way, when it came to the massive implications of our international policies, was there no justifiable reason to vote for Trump?
As for Russia, while Trump’s critics claimed that he was either too friendly with Putin or actually admired him, others saw things quite differently.
Writing for the Jewish Press on July 24, 2018, Daniel Greenfield claimed that, “Trump Stood Up to Putin, Obama Appeased Him.”
He wrote, “The architects of Obama’s appeasement of Putin have been some of the most militant voices denouncing Trump. . . . Instead President Trump has steadily reversed Obama’s tide of concessions to Putin.”
He continued, “The media is outraged over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But when that happened, Ukraine asked for weapons and the only aid that Obama offered their country was MREs. It took months for Obama to come through with boots and tires. Meanwhile Trump has delivered actual weapons.
“Why did Obama refuse to provide Ukraine with weapons? According to senior officials, to avoid antagonizing Moscow. Trump isn’t afraid of Russia. Obama however was shaking in his loafers.
“While Trump approved anti-tank missiles for Ukraine, Obama slow-walked shipments of boots, putting them on trucks instead of planes so that they took months to arrive, so as not to upset the Russians. Meanwhile the Trump administration cut the red tape by dipping into its own European stockpiles.
“In the time it took Obama to ship boots to Ukraine, Trump shipped Javelin missiles.”
And he closed with this: “Unlike Obama, President Trump sold weapons to Ukraine. Unlike Obama, he bombed Assad and took on Russian mercenaries. Unlike Obama, he provided Poland with working Patriot missiles. Unlike Obama, he didn’t base his foreign policy around fearing to offend Moscow. Unlike Obama, he stood up to Russia.”
The fact is that many of us who voted for Trump felt that he would do a better job of standing up to the world’s strongmen than Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden would do. (For a relevant Twitter poll, see here.)
As for China, allow me to share two personal anecdotes. While in Australia in early 2020, shortly before the COVID travel restrictions, I was picked up at the airport by a Chinese national who was now an Australian citizen.
When I asked him for his views on Chinese President Xi, he told me plainly that he thought he was dangerous. When I asked him for his views on President Trump, he said, “He’s a hero.”
In fact, a colleague of mine who has spent almost all his adult life living and working in China, and who is well-connected to the underground Chinese church, told me that every Christian he knew in China was praying fervently for the reelection of Trump. And when Trump lost, many of them wept.
More broadly, a Bing search for the words how Trump stood up to China (not in quotes) yields pages of articles and videos with headlines like this: “It Takes a Trump to Stand Up to China” (The Hill, December 6, 2016); and “Finally, a President Stands Up to China” (Townhall, August 28, 2019).
To be sure, Trump had more than his share of critics when it came to his Chinese policies, with CNN claiming in July 2020 that, “Trump blasts Beijing in public, but privately Trump org imports tons of Chinese goods.”
But the fact remains that America just competed in the Beijing Olympics, with our athletes being urged not to protest and our official diplomatic protest seeming quite tepid, even with its reference to China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity.”
Really now, if we truly believed that China was guilty of “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity” shouldn’t we rather boycott the Olympics? Why not put teeth in our words?
Obviously, I cannot imagine the pressures President Biden is under, and the purpose of this article is not to throw stones at him. (How many Biden-bashing articles have I written?) And, to repeat, I do not want to Trump to run again in 2024 for quite a few reasons.
I’m simply reminding those who broad-brush and smear all of us who voted for Trump that international policies were a major consideration for many of us, with those policies potentially affecting hundreds of millions of lives. (And I’ve not said a word here about our policies with Iran.)
That is hardly a matter of white supremacy or dangerous Christian nationalism. This is matter of worldwide humanitarian concern.