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In reflecting on the past year, I’ve been trying to figure out the reasons for my lessening frustration and growing appreciation—that may be too strong a word—for Trump. I’m a person who doesn’t like to make excuses, who prefers to be responsible and accountable for my decisions, and I’ve struggled with how to frame my support of Trump. I finally realized that my real struggle was less about Trump and more about what I thought was a conflict of values. Surprisingly (for me) the values clarity I reached was reassuring in explaining my present attitude about Trump and his first year in office.
The clarity has come from a careful examination of my personal values. My top three values are integrity, honesty, and persistence. To expand on those, integrity is simply doing what I say I will do; honesty is telling the truth; and persistence is striving to do my best even when the journey is difficult. I also prefer to be with people who feel the same way, because these values are important to me and when others feel the same way, we build strong and loving relationships.
So for the moment, let’s put values aside, and talk about the kinds of people I like. I like people who not only share those same values but are thoughtful, sincere, friendly, helpful—yep, just like boy scouts and girl scouts. The close friends in my life share these attributes, but I do have other friends and acquaintances with whom I am less close and who are less likely to meet my hopes and expectations for friendship. But I enjoy being with them in smaller doses.
So what does this all have to do with Trump?
I finally realized that in a strange way—can I say this?—Trump and I may actually share similar high priority values. The ways in which we actualize them are, at times, very different. But take a look at my high-level values: integrity, honesty, and persistence. Does Trump do what he says he will do? Yes. In fact, he would do more if the Congress would cooperate. Does he tell the truth? For the most part this past year, he has. He does tend toward hyperbole and exaggeration, but that is a temperament issue, not a values issue. Is he persistent? I don’t think anyone would question that value. Although Twitter does not allow for detail, it forces him to be very direct—bluntly direct—in asking for what he wants and expects. And I believe he expects that from others. His doggedness in getting laws passed is apparent.
I still don’t personally like Trump—he’s arrogant, tends to exaggerate, and works hard to be a master salesman. These aren’t attributes I personally embrace. We also know that his past actions and behavior in some cases have been less than admirable; I’m judging him based on his behavior this past year. But there is one value that we both hold dearly: the resilience and success of this country, not just financially, but in its ability to express and exemplify its historic greatness and values.
On this, we can agree.