But the left has come to dominate college campuses over the past 20 years, and I can’t blame anyone whose views are not already well-known for declining to become a target. Just last week, a professor from another institution shared a Facebook post hoping for all Trump supporters to be destroyed “immediately and forever.” Who wants to be subject to such expressions of hostility?
Other professors used to ask me questions about politics: “You’re smart. You’re knowledgeable. How can you support” whichever Republican was running for president that year? Far from being dismissive, that used to lead to interesting and revealing conversations. I still have extended and productive political discussions with some old friends who disagree with me. Indeed, they were Bernie Sanders supporters, and the diagnoses Trump and Sanders give are not far apart, even if their prescriptions are quite different.
Conversing across ideological lines is increasingly rare this election cycle. Two friends, seeing my name on the list just published, compared me with Martin Heidegger — and not because they think “Reduction in the Abstract Sciences” is on a par with “Being and Time.” The background assumption, which I find baffling, appears to be that occasionally uncouth language is the moral equivalent of genocide.
Many of my colleagues in academia find it hard to imagine why a reasonable person would support Trump. Most of the people who talk politics with me are those who agree with me or are on the fence, undecided about whether to vote for Trump, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton or the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson. People who definitely oppose Trump don’t even want to debate the issues with me anymore.
Political conversations with students are rare, too. I try my best to keep politics out of the classroom. Once, a student said to me, “You’re a conservative, aren’t you?” I responded that I was disappointed that he could tell, because I try to present views on all sides fairly, keeping my own views in the background. He answered: “I know. That’s how I could tell.” Periodically, conservative students seek me out, relieved to find someone on the faculty with whom they can talk openly. But most students appear to pay little attention to politics, and those who do don’t tend to talk to faculty about it. There are exceptions. Recently, a liberal student challenged my interpretation of why different regions tend to vote Democratic or Republican in presidential elections. That led to a constructive conversation and some refinements in my (and I hope his) understanding of the red-state/blue-state divide.
So why, given the response it gets me from colleagues and friends, do I support Trump?
Ask yourself: Are you better off than you were a decade ago? Is the United States better off? Is the world safer? Is this country on the right track? I am among the nearly two-thirds of Americans who answer no.
The president’s signature “accomplishment,” Obamacare, is in a death spiral. Racial tensions are leading to riots. Violent crime is up sharply over the past 18 months. Life expectancy is falling for large segments of our population. The administration is conducting a war on fossil fuels, endangering our electric grid, while shoveling funds to green-energy boondoggles run by donors. The IRS, the FBI and the Justice Department are protecting political allies, punishing opponents and defying court orders. Title IX is used on campus to destroy due process and stifle speech. In the past 10 months, we’ve suffered terror attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., Orlando, St. Cloud, Minn., and Burlington, Wash., leaving 68 dead. Europe’s experience shows that if we continue these policies, we will suffer many more.
This is not bad luck. It results directly from policies of the Obama administration that Clinton wants to continue. The problem is not implementation, but deep inadequacies in her progressive worldview. It’s a worldview I encounter up close on campus, a worldview that intrigues intellectuals with its promise of rationality and tempts them with the possibility of power. As Dostoevsky warned, however, in practice, it indulges the moral narcissism of an elite and encourages disrespect for everyone else.
Trump has been giving serious speeches detailing his vision on the economy, foreign policy, crime, immigration and other central issues facing the country. He has been explaining policies that would strengthen the United States, revive the economy, and restore our social capital, especially in inner cities. Clinton, meanwhile, has been doing her best to distract us from the issues. Admittedly, Trump offers her many such opportunities. But our country’s direction is too important to decide on the basis of who is more vulgar than whom. Clinton’s policies portend nothing but a weaker economy, a weaker society and a weaker America. I want a president who’s on our side. I plan to vote for someone who can change course and return us once again to the task of making America great.