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Why I Left the Democratic Party to Support Donald Trump

(Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

“I realized that if my Columbia education were to have any meaning, I would have to be bold and risk my music career and go public with my support of President Trump, who was the President of the United States at the time of my graduation in 2017.”

I was a Democrat from the time I cast my first vote in 1980 until 2016. That was when I changed my party affiliation to Republican to vote for then-candidate Donald Trump in the Republican primary in my home state of New Jersey. The experience of living life and my pursuit of self-sufficiency led me to a newfound respect for conservative and libertarian ideas and to realize that capitalism is the cornerstone of a free society. It is, as Michael Novak asserted, “not a system much celebrated by the poets, the philosophers or the priests. From time to time, it has seemed romantic to the young; but not very often. Capitalism is a system that commends itself best to the middle aged, after they have gained some experience of the way history treats the plans of men.”

After a long career as a musician, I returned to college in 2008 to finish the degree I abandoned in 1980. During my college days the second time around, I sought to pursue the intended purpose of a college education: to enable students to think for themselves, to change intransigent stances, and, most importantly, to develop the ability to formulate well-resourced arguments with those with whom one vehemently disagrees. I have always believed that there are two types of education: what one learns within the halls of academia and what one learns while living one’s life. Both types of education are valuable, and what one learns in the streets through bitter disappointment should be distinct from what is taught in a college classroom. The wise person realizes this and uses both types of education to his advantage. During my time at Columbia, I noted the brightest students came from a conservative or libertarian perspective.

Moreover, they tended to be the only students who wanted to have an open dialogue or suggest concrete solutions to policy questions. The campus progressives embodied many of the hypocrisies prevalent in the United States today. They spoke of socialism with great reverence publicly while working behind closed doors toward the end goal of securing a lucrative position in investment banking or management consulting. They were too often unable to think for themselves, as well as fearful to go against their peer’s favorite causes such as Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS). At Columbia, the worst thing anyone could possibly be was a Trump supporter. One of my classmates, Benjamin Sweetwood, wrote an op-ed in The Tab outlining the reasons he supported then-candidate Trump. He faced an incredible backlash on campus, but his experience proved valuable. I realized that neither my classmates nor many in the Washington, D.C. establishment desired spirited debate. Instead, they typically wanted torpor and groupthink. Those at both Columbia University and in Washington, D.C. generally wanted the masses to continue to be lulled to sleep by garden-variety political candidates beholden to corporate America, which became, in turn, unduly influenced by woke activists. I knew that a certain New York City businessman was the dynamic and charismatic leader the United States needed to hold off its collectivist drift.

President Trump’s ability to short-circuit the mainstream media and cut through the crippling and distorting fog spread by many at elite universities and in the press was unprecedented. Still, in time, many entrenched interests found a way to neutralize him, and the reality of the lengths they would go to undermine him soon became apparent. I realized that if my Columbia education were to have any meaning, I would have to be bold and risk my music career and go public with my support for President Trump, who was the President of the United States at the time of my graduation in 2017. Merion West allowed me to do this, and I wrote articles describing President Trump’s formidable handling of the pandemic; how the Left wrongly accused him of causing American collapse; the media’s role in election interference; and the backsliding phenomenon, in which progressives have portrayed President Trump as the second coming of Benito Mussolini and a unique threat to American democracy.

I realized that an alliance of activists, the media, and the Never Trumpers, a coalition of national security experts, political operatives and lobbyists, public intellectuals, and coastal corridor lawyers and economists, comprised a large portion of the entrenched interests and the security state so opposed to President Trump’s agenda, an agenda popular with so many Americans. Together, these people represented a more significant threat to democracy, in my view, than President Trump or Russian President Vladimir Putin ever did.  

The murder of George Floyd and the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic were an inflection point in the United States. It was the catalyst for government overreach previously unknown, the further entrenchment of a therapeutic surveillance state run by a cabal of left-wing zealots, as well as the ushering in of a  symbiotic relationship between Marxist activist organizations and corporate America, who do not have the United States’ best interests at heart. Similarly, however, Hamas’ brutal attack on Israel has been another inflection point and a catalyst for change but in a more positive way. The United States and world have finally awoken from a three-year slumber. A world without President Trump has brought us the Russo-Ukrainian War, the Israel-Hamas War, and a general feeling of hopelessness and anomie throughout the world. Many formerly left-leaning journalists have moved toward the Right in response, and I commend them for doing so. I have received phone calls from Left-of-Marx friends and Castro-loving, radical chic music business associates praising me for stances they once vilified me for having. Most still suffer from anti-Trump delirium in varying degrees, but they assure me that for the next general election, they will not be voting Democratic.

With that said, it is still far from guaranteed that many of these voters will actually vote for President Trump come Election Day next November. Certain friends of mine have supported Donald Trump since he burst onto the political scene during the summer of 2015. That notwithstanding, many hoped to find an alternative candidate that embodied all of President Trump’s good ideas without the baggage and conduct unbefitting of a man holding the most important job in the world. I even wrote in July that I would support Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. if he were a presidential candidate. In light of current events, my prior grievances with President Trump no longer matter. Although I had previously been quite bothered by the the events of January 6th and his penchant for abandoning people loyal to him, including former Vice President Mike Pence, the need for his return given the current state of the world supersedes my criticisms. 

There are powerful forces portraying themselves as benevolent while seeking to reconfigure a new world in which the United States’ role is significantly diminished. Individuals sharing this objective have infiltrated the media, universities, and religious institutions. They are embedded in our political system. The new world they aspire toward is a bona fide Rothbardian revolt against nature. It is hostile to religion, liberty, capitalism, the time-tested tenets of Western civilization, as well as the existence of the nation of Israel. Only one man, President Trump, has dared to stand against it all. 

When rioters desecrated a 142-year-old cathedral in New York City and attempted to destroy the historic St. John’s church in Washington, D.C., President Trump stood defiantly outside of St. John’s church with a Bible in his hand. On the surface, this was meant to show that he would not tolerate protesters, who were supposed to be protesting peacefully, destroying property, but there was also a deeper meaning. Christianity would remain intact and off limits to those who sought to destroy it. Rather than express its gratitude, the religious community admonished President Trump. The Right Reverend Mariann Edgar Budde, an Episcopal bishop, argued that President Trump had used the incident as a photo op and did not offer prayers for those seeking to burn the Church to the ground. I would argue, though, that praying for the souls of violent protestors who aspire to desecrate synagogues and churches is her job. President Trump’s job was to protect the United States and the institutions that comprise it.

All the while, foreign policy was an area in which President Trump excelled. The relationship between the United States and Russia was more stable during the Trump presidency because President Trump wisely decided to strive toward having a working relationship with President Putin. Predictably, the media argued that President Trump admired dictators while portraying their relationship as a “love story.” The press argued that President Trump was being used to do President Putin’s bidding because President Putin had material that he could use to embarrass President Trump. And, in the Middle East, President Trump moved the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem before encouraging certain Muslim-majority nations to recognize Israel with the Abraham Accords. While parks in Israel were named in his honor, members of the press persevered in their absurd claim that President Trump is anti-Semitic. What I know is that there was relative peace in both Eastern Europe and the Middle East while he was in the White House.

As we watch the world burn and a modern-day fifth column continues its relentless and reckless pursuit of President Trump, it is time to remind everyone that he is far from responsible for the current turmoil in the world. Moreover, the current, ongoing conflicts likely would not have happened under his watch, and he is our last and best hope to rectify the damage done by the mainstream media, clueless college students, woke pastors, former President Barack Obama, and President Joe Biden. If we do not support him and instead throw our votes away by casting them for a candidate who cannot possibly win, by abstaining from voting altogether, or voting for President Biden, whose policies have ravaged this country, we will only have ourselves to blame for the horrors likely to come as a result.

Tony D. Senatore is a graduate of Columbia University, and, in addition to contributing periodically to Merion West, he maintains a blog at The Times of Israel

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