Posted on November 3, 2020

Why I Will Vote for Trump

Sergiu Klainerman, Newsweek, November 2, 2020

As the election impends, I feel an irresistible need to explain why I am going to vote for President Donald Trump. It is considered suicidal for an academic today to be upfront about this. Indeed, it is said that 95 percent of all U.S. academics hold Trump in contempt—and most of the remaining 5 percent, who may agree with me, would never dare to admit it in public.


Like many of my colleagues, I find much of what Trump says and tweets on impulse distasteful, though his prepared speeches can be inspiring. I didn’t vote for him in 2016. {snip}

But I have learned to distinguish between what Trump says and what he does. I support most of his foreign policy positions, including his withdrawals from the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal. I support most of his deregulation program, his tax reform, his judicial appointments and even his failed attempts to replace Obamacare. I applaud the fact that, unlike previous presidents, he is willing to push hard on China against its trade policies and serial intellectual property theft.

Trump may be a highly flawed human being, but unlike many other politicians, he is at least readily transparent. Trump’s awfulness is “in your face,” while the awfulness of a typical politician is hidden behind a carefully crafted façade and a veil of “credible deniability.”

And what are, after all, the most awful things Trump has done during his presidency? The typical accusations are that he is (1) a liar, (2) a racist white supremacist, (3) incompetent, (4) authoritarian and (5) divisive. Let’s break these accusations down, in order.

(1) {snip}

There is no doubt that Trump has a predilection for grandiose exaggerations, but most of these statements have a grounding in fact. Trump, after all, has more support in the black community than any other recent Republican president. {snip}

Mainstream media (MSM) outlets, due to obsessive hatred of Trump, have often made unsupported claims against him. Many of these negative stories, based on anonymous sources and produced by The New York Times and the Post, turned out to themselves be “false or misleading.” {snip}


(2) The other major accusation against Trump, that he is a racist white supremacist, is even easier to dismiss. We live at a time when such accusations are routinely hurled at anyone who deviates from ever-changing norms of political correctness.{snip}

(3) The accusation of incompetence is equally absurd. Whatever reservations one may have about Trump’s style of leadership, and whatever one may think of his policy priorities, the president has been able to carry out a large part of his agenda. {snip}

(4) The accusation of authoritarianism is in obvious contradiction with that of incompetence. If Trump indeed wanted to be a dictator, as is so often mindlessly asserted, he missed a great opportunity during the pandemic. {snip}

(5) The accusation of divisiveness does ring true. Trump is a street fighter who is willing to punch back whenever attacked, no matter the merits of the accusation. {snip}

{snip}Despite all his braggadocio and boorish behavior, Trump’s policies have been quite conventional Republican ones, albeit with a significant veer toward protectionism more recently typical of pro-labor Democrats. There is also an obvious return to nationalism. But nationalism, as long as it relies on democratic institutions and a healthy civil society, is not all bad. {snip}

On the other hand, the Democratic Party’s drift toward bigger government and more radical forms of identity politics has continued unabated. The obsession with “diversity, inclusion and equity” at all costs has greatly contributed to the rise of the “woke” cultural phenomenon. {snip} In the name of “social justice,” it divides people into narrow group identities, fostering their grievances and exacerbating divisions. It denies individual merit and considers any difference in outcome, any form of inequality, to be based exclusively on racism, sexism or another kind of phobia. {snip}

This awful, totalitarian, ideology has spread way beyond academia, where it started, and has now infected most of our leading cultural institutions. {snip} Recently, in a welcome development, Trump banned the use of “critical race theory” in government institutions where, to universal surprise, it had already heavily insinuated itself. Though wokeness is too deeply entrenched today in our culture to be curable by such actions alone, I applaud Trump for trying and cannot in any way support people who will actively promote or blindly ignore this toxic ideology.


(Editor’s note: Sergiu Klainerman is a mathematics professor at Princeton University.)