Of the 15 other GOP politicians running for President during the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump was the clear wild card. Formerly a New York liberal, Donald Trump decided to change parties and run as a Republican. With his official declaration to run for President of the United States, pundits here and aboard were skeptical of his chances, with many saying he’d be the first to drop out, thinking he had only done this for attention.
Clearly, they failed to see was how effective his rhetoric was. He was not speaking like a groomed politician, but rather an angry American would who was tired of the “swamp” in Washington D.C. This is how precisely how he garnered so much support. His speeches hit home to many Republican voters, as he ran off his future “conservative” agenda. For this reason, many conservatives, like myself, bought into what he was saying. After all, he wasn’t a career politician, just a T.V. host, and businessman. Other conservatives simply didn’t buy into the Trump way, citing character concerns and inexperience as reasons to not support him. This raises an interesting talking point; by not voting for Donald Trump, were you abandoning the Republican party, and could you be a conservative and still vote for Trump?
When Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for president, many on the right and left were frightened. A career plagued by shoddy practices and corruption surely spelled disaster if she made it to the primaries. Those who supported her were captivated by the idea of the first women president, and rightfully so. Those, mostly on the right, her harshest critics, couldn’t bear to imagine a Hillary Clinton presidency, so they decided to vote for whatever Republican won the primary.
This idea remained true for conservatives, even though no one truly knew if Trump was conservative. When Trump secured the nomination and started going on rallies, it became clearer that he wasn’t a conservative. He had some conservative ideas but often sided more with the left on things like DACA. But as the polls started coming in, Republican voters started to worry; as they slowly realized that Hillary Clinton could smell the finish line. So, Republicans from across the board ultimately decided to give their support to Donald Trump, even though they might not agree with everything he says. Conservative stalwarts like Senator Ted Cruz and Mark Levin even hopped on the Trump train, but their decision for doing so does not disqualify them from conservative thought.
While many dislike Cruz and Levin, their careers are not permanently blemished by voting for Trump in 2016. To most, if not all on the right, Hillary Clinton was the single worst candidate for president, as many called her the most morally bankrupt politician in modern American history. By voting for Donald Trump, conservatives were not abandoning their strong fiscal ideas, but merely seeing this situation as lesser of two evils in some respects. Personally, I am a constitutional conservative, and I willfully voted for Trump. I understood that a Hillary Clinton presidency could have a plethora of negative effects on our country, and I had some faith that Trump could create more positives than negatives, but I knew that he wasn’t a solid conservative like Ted Cruz or Ben Carson. However, the promises he made during his campaign were appealing to me. Ultimately, conservatives should not be ashamed that they voted for Trump, but instead, hold him accountable when he does harm, and praise him when he does well.
Not voting for Donald Trump was not an abandonment of the GOP. As I stated above, concerns about his past doings and the overall character were enough to cause some GOP voters to shy away. Take Ben Shapiro for example, maybe the most prominent conservative in America. Ben didn’t vote for Trump, as he went on to explain, he said that Trump did not meet his personal qualifications to be president, so he simply left the line blank. Shapiro, a Ted Cruz supporter, didn’t completely disassociate himself from the GOP. He was merely saying what I mentioned above, to praise Trump when he does well, and to criticize when he does poorly.
In short, no single candidate will appeal to everyone in their party, so us as the voters will have to pick and choose who we think is best fit for office. Even though many called Hillary Clinton the worst politician of all time, no one was required to vote for her opponent if they didn’t support his ideas.
In America, and in our republic, our citizens have a right to vote for who they want. No matter the circumstances, every American who is legally allowed to vote can find the candidate who best suits their personal interests.