I’ve been a supporter of Donald Trump from the very beginning of his campaign. I liked how Trump used social media to directly communicate with other people. I loved how he was unafraid to speak difficult truths, and exposed dishonesty in the mainstream media. Most of all, Trump’s nationalist, populist message resonated with me. Then-candidate Trump became a vessel for that agenda. Ordinary people were tired of being the world’s police, tired of illegal immigration, and tired of the establishment elite running roughshod over them. This time they wanted real change by putting America first.
When Steve Bannon was hired onto Trump’s campaign from Breitbart, he became an unofficial figure for that nationalist, populist agenda that we saw in Trump’s policy proposals. These supporters are Trump’s most ardent base – not those who didn’t support him during the election or those who would vote for any candidate with an ‘R’ next to their name.
What followed was an amazing election victory by President Trump and the beginning of putting those policy proposals into action. The initial energy was unbelievable, but the campaign was over and it was time to deliver on those campaign promises. While no situation is perfect, the administration seemed to mostly get off to a good start in delivering on items like the economy, and deregulation, in spite of facing a completely uncooperative Democratic Party, and controlled opposition within the Republican-led congress.
Trump supporters were more united than ever. We were “Making American Great Again!” That momentum took a big hit after the failed attempt to repeal and replace ObamaCare, followed by President Trump’s puzzling critique of the Freedom Caucus. Afterwards Syria happened, and a crack in the foundation became a full break.
On the evening of April 6th, President Trump ordered 59 tomahawk missiles to be fired into Syria, a country that hadn’t attacked us, or even presented an imminent threat to us. The missile strike on a Syrian Air Base controlled by Assad quickly created a great divide amongst Trump supporters.
In particular on social media, I began seeing three trains of thought – Those who thought it was completely unnecessary, those who supported it because of the alleged chemical attack by President Assad on his own people, and those who supported it simply because President Trump thought it was necessary. I was disappointed to see a lot of backlash on social media towards those who were against the missile strike in Syria, but overall supportive of President Trump. This reminded me of what I saw during the Obama administration with his supporters and the mainstream media. The truth is that it was a movement and they were supporting the person over the policies, which is a dangerous mindset that harms our ability to hold our elected officials accountable for their campaign promises.
As with any popular movement, there is a certain group of those people that are in what I call a ‘cult of personality.’ Those are the people who will blindly support and justify anything a particular person does. These people are intellectually dishonest and for that reason, they should not be taken too seriously.
The cult of personality doesn’t like when you speak out against the chosen one. These are the type of people that may be a good fit for a country with a dictatorship. Luckily in America, we have the right to express our opinion, and we should. We should stand up for what we believe in and put our principles over any person or political party. Disagreeing with a decision that the president makes doesn’t mean you support him any less.
In fact, I would argue that President Trump’s true supporters are the ones who care enough to speak out, and hold him accountable to his promises, instead of being ‘yes men.’
Just remember, what’s right is not always popular and what’s popular is not always right.