I Was Never Trump. Not Anymore.

He has weaknesses, but his presidency has been successful.

By Michael I. Krauss  Mr. Krauss is a professor emeritus of law at George Mason University.  September 3, 2020

In 2016 I wrote in the name of Rep. Paul Ryan for president. I knew that the policies Hillary Clinton advocated were detrimental to the nation, but I simply couldn’t bring myself to vote for her rival. I found Donald Trump boorish and misogynistic, and I was dumbfounded that he had captured the GOP nomination. When the dust settled in November 2016, I was glad Mrs. Clinton was defeated. But I winced whenever I heard the president-elect speak.

Back then I thought I was a Never Trumper. Now I realize I was wrong. If the election took place today, I would vote to re-elect President Trump.

I still find Mr. Trump’s style grating, and I cringe at his narcissism. Some of his junior subordinates are wanting in talent or experience. His friendliness with the dictators of Russia and North Korea is wrong-headed, even dangerous. As for ethics, I believe he hasn’t sufficiently ensured that his hotel empire derives no profit from hosting U.S. and foreign government officials. And I think the president clearly doesn’t understand the principle of mutual gains from trade.

Notwithstanding these weaknesses, I believe that the Trump presidency has been, to a large extent, successful. Mr. Trump survived a politicized, even somewhat corrupt impeachment campaign. He has confronted a once-in-a-century virus of foreign origin in good faith and with candor. Despite often-contemptuous hostility by the elite press, and outright civil disobedience by several federal judges, the president has performed his duties and genuinely tried to keep his promises.

He not only insisted that immigration conform to the rule of law, but advocated for and (where legally permitted) built a border wall. The president has appointed more than 200 federal judges, most of whom are superb and committed to finding the law, not making it up. He has followed through on his promise to reduce taxes and to begin deregulating the economy, creating a remarkable boom that reduced unemployment for minorities to the lowest rates ever recorded.

On the foreign-policy front, the president promoted a historic peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, with more deals hopefully to come soon. He formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the U.S. Embassy there (as former presidents promised to do but never did). Mr. Trump withdrew from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal, the signing of which was possibly the single worst act of the Obama presidency. The president eliminated Iranian terrorist mastermind Qasem Soleimani, essentially crushed ISIS, and neutralized its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He signed the Taylor Force Act into law, cutting off aid to the Palestinian Authority as long as it pays support to the families of terrorists. Mr. Trump recognized that a cold war exists with China, and he has taken concrete steps to counter that country’s efforts to weaken our republic.


As an educator, I especially appreciate that the president has stood firm against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and signed an executive order combating anti-Semitism on college campuses. His administration has sued to crack down on racial discrimination in admissions at my alma mater, Yale, and has reversed the federal government’s prior encouragement of kangaroo courts on college campuses. K-12 is mostly a state responsibility, but Mr. Trump deserves credit for promoting school choice to advance poor communities, despite unrelenting opposition from teachers’ unions.

Last but certainly not least, the president has named many excellent cabinet members, more than a few of whom have—in collaboration with Vice President Mike Pence—on several occasions served to channel his instincts in positive directions.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, is weak and presides over a party that coddles extremists and sometimes seems to condone riotous violence. President Trump deserves re-election, and this time I’ll cast my vote for him.

Mr. Krauss is a professor emeritus of law at George Mason University.




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