The Moment You Started to Like Donald Trump

Let’s be honest.  You know you like Trump, even if you hate him.  And I know the reason why.  You were brought up to avoid all people who exaggerated or stretched the truth or who portrayed themselves to be winners by denigrating the opposition.  Your parents taught you to be humble and not brag about yourself, even in those instances when it was warranted.  In school, your teachers routinely took you down a peg if you thought you were better than the guy who sat next to you.  If you felt you knew more than your teacher and showed it, you got detention and a letter about your behavior was sent home with you to your father.

In Boy Scouts, the Scoutmaster encouraged teamwork, and so did your high school football coach.  Individual sports such as gymnastics were also “team-driven” sports, and any wins that accrued were shared accomplishments with other team members.  After graduation, when you entered the world of business or academia, the same sentiments applied, except in business, especially if your job was to bring the bacon home to your company.  Salesmen were judged on their merits, and bonuses were given on performance.

This confused you.  Where was the team approach?  You didn’t complain, because you liked the extra money and the attention and the promotional possibilities, so you made a mental note about the duality of life lived in the real lane.  You read all the books on How to Win Friends and Influence People, The Peter Principle, and then The Art of the Deal.  While you liked them all, you were torn about following that seemingly larger-than-life example of typical American drive, Donald Trump.  He shocked you from time to time by his outlandish pronouncements and his mega-investments, but you soon realized that he had a formula that worked for him.  While you weren’t ready to roll the dice, take out a second mortgage to your home, and emulate him, you admired him in secret (because your friends were berating anyone who liked him).

But the unvarnished truth is that he was better than most people — at least among his competitors.  And why did you like him?  Because deep down, you know in your heart of hearts that Donald Trump is the personification of what America and Americans have been all about for a couple hundred years: bold, brash, full of bravado, fearless, driven, confident, risk-takers, and unapologetic for their triumphs.

That appealed to you on a primitive and historically-accurate and now grown-up level.  However, you couldn’t sign on to it just yet because you weren’t brought up that way (especially if you lived in the Midwest, like me) by your parents, your teachers, your coaches, and your pastor.  But while you remained confused about it, Trump kept on winning and he finally parlayed his success in business to the White House.  You voted for him, or maybe you didn’t, but you at least admired his pluck.  Then your peer group took over, and the shaming machine went into high gear.  Everyone who supported him was on the good and decent people’s hit list.  And because you wanted to stay out of the fight and not risk losing friends or family members to a political disagreement, you kept your mouth shut.

But it’s now become impossible for you to keep quiet.  You’ve seen how petty jealousy, envy, and the power-crazed political elites have targeted him for destruction, and if they succeed, you figure, they could come after you, too.  So you’re now taking a different tack.  You’ve decided that being proud of America, proud of her accomplishments and the principles that made those accomplishments possible, is nothing to apologize for.  You’re now willing to risk personal loss to achieve a more profound and lasting gain.  You’re okay with losing a few friends due to political and philosophical differences.  You’ve manned up and vowed not to cower in fear every time somebody says, “Didn’t you vote for Trump?”

It’s not been easy, making peace with your past, or realizing that what you were taught was the only way to live a full and satisfying life.  You now are more confident that the only way to solve problems is to confront them, openly and honestly.

You still think Trump should be more circumspect and choose his words more carefully, but you are also aware that in between his bouts of boastfulness and repetition, he is asking all of us to see what is right in front of our eyes and not be fooled by special interests, professional politicians, or even himself!  That is what you like about Trump.  He’s fearless, especially when he’s convinced about what he’s saying.  On the one hand, he’d like you to believe him without question, but on the other, he’s not afraid if you disagree with him and search the record for yourself.

Is Donald Trump the perfect leader, or was he the perfect president?  Absolutely not, but no one can claim that his leadership is a radical departure from the essential American character.  For proof, take a short journey back in time to the American industrial icons who built our companies and the giants of our research institutions who found cures for debilitating diseases.  Look at our pioneers and our presidents who risked everything, even their lives, to change our history.  Were some of them outlandish for their times?  Did some of their decisions create controversies that dogged them throughout their careers?  The answer is “yes.”

We are all products of our environments, our schooling, and our experiences.  That goes for the poorest and the richest among us.  But over time, many of us find the courage to follow the truth about ourselves and our leaders.  America is like a giant corporation that needs good management, good products, and good people to make them.  It also needs good salesmen to sell them and consumers willing to buy them.  And when it comes to the quintessential American product, we can argue all day about how it’s marketed, but we should never argue with the man who’s selling it, particularly when he believes in it himself.

Stephan Helgesen is a retired career U.S. diplomat who lived and worked in 30 countries for 25 years during the Reagan, GHW Bush, Clinton, and G.W. Bush administrations.  He is the author of fourteen books, six of which are on American politics and has written over 1,300 articles on politics, economics, and social trends.  He operates a political news story aggregator website:  He can be reached at

If you experience technical problems, please write to