KOKOMO – As I write this, we are 17 days from, arguably, the most important election in my lifetime. In my opinion, we have never seen an election with such well-defined lines between economic philosophies as this one. On the basis of economic philosophy, how to vote should be a relatively easy decision. On the surface, the decision appears to boil down to whether you trust and support a capitalistic economic system which rewards effort, education, skills, hard work, ingenuity and risk or whether you support a philosophy of government managed economics, income redistribution and government created do overs for actors with bad behaviors.  

As a life-long Republican, I believe that our philosophy has always been that we are for equal opportunity for all, not equal outcomes. Right or wrong, I stand by that belief.

Although the decision of who to vote for should be an easy one, it has been made much more difficult because of President Donald J. Trump. He is not a conventional president nor candidate, so he does not lend himself to a traditionally economics-based decision. The fact is that many traditionally economics-based voters will not vote their core beliefs because of their abject hate of the Orange Man. Their attitude is, “Orange Man bad, don’t confuse me with facts.”  

I have friends who are excellent conservative business people, friends who are vociferously pro-life, rabidly pro-law enforcement and dedicated 2nd Amendment advocates who are willing to set aside, just to vote against the Orange Man.

My own journey with Donald Trump began on such a note. As I surveyed the huge Republican field of contenders for the White House in 2015, Trump was just about my least favorite candidate. I felt then, as I do now, that he was a man who was overindulged as a child. He had few filters and said and did what he pleased. His simplistic answers to debate questions, easy fixes for complex problems and boorish conduct and name calling gave me nothing comfortable to feel good about supporting.

As the Republican primary field dwindled to Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, I found myself perilously close to joining the “never Trump” universe. I flirted with looking for ways to help swing the Indiana primary results to Ted Cruz. I considered possible strategies for denying Trump the nomination at the Republican Convention. I freely admit this because I was quoted repeatedly on several national media outlets, both print and electronic, stating that the only way that I would consider voting for Trump would be if he was running against Satan himself.

And then a funny thing happened, the Democrats nominated Satan herself, Hillary Clinton. In a magical and miraculous wave of the political wand of moral relativism, I became a reluctant supporter of Donald Trump. My belief was four years of Donald Trump just had to be better than four more years of the gangster regime of Clintons and their nefarious cronies. Yes, I was late to the Trump bandwagon, but I finally made it.

During the 2016 fall campaign, I quietly supported Trump and his efforts in Indiana. We registered hundreds of first-time voters whose sole objective was to vote for Donald Trump. We had a run on our Republican headquarters for caps, t-shirts, yard signs and bumper stickers. I quickly came to understand that these wild-eyed Trump voters could be counted on to vote for our governor candidate Eric Holcomb and for Senate candidate Todd Young. If fully embracing Donald Trump was necessary to elect Holcomb and Young, then I was willing to shovel coal on the Trump Train.

Then, the miraculous happened and Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. From the very beginning you could sense that Trump was not going to get a fair shake from the main stream media. I saw this, first hand, at the inauguration.  

I witnessed with my own eyes a full national mall and even took a photo of the immense crowd stretching from the Capitol all the way back near the Washington Monument. Of course, the photo distributed by the media was taken before the crowds had fully assembled and was portrayed as being small when compared to Obama the Great.  

President Trump’s inauguration speech was presidential, aspirational and respectful. I believed that he was off to a great start. Then came the taxi ride to the airport. I read on my cellphone how the media blasted Trump’s speech as jingoistic and not presidential. My taxi crawled through masses of pink-clad women dressed up as vaginas, screaming for Trump to be impeached.  

A few days after returning from Washington, I began seeing Democrat congressmen and senators parading to podiums in the Capitol building and actually beginning to talk about impeachment. Celebrities and the universe of talking heads began the nightly talk show circuit with their own calls for impeachment. The media devoted copious amount of coverage to the malcontents.

Out of the blue miraculously appeared the early rumblings of the bogus Russia investigation and, as if on cue, the Clintonistas, celebrities, Democrat functionaries and national media lined up and began the relentless drumbeat that eventually ended with Donald Trump’s impeachment and predictable acquittal.  

Never mind that the Russian “scandal” was dreamed up by Hillary Clinton and put in motion by Clinton refuseniks in the Justice Department, this thinly veiled coup d’etat drove the media into a feeding frenzy and the Trump haters to nirvana.

Three years of Trump victories and achievements made many people take notice of a distinctly different, yet successful presidency. Record low unemployment in every measurable demographic group, record high work force levels, significant increases in personal income became the hallmark of the Trump Administration. President Trump cut the strangling morass of bureaucratic red tape that was strangling innovation and business success. He brought manufacturing jobs back to the United States. He renegotiated unfair trade treaties around the world and gave American workers a fighting chance. He upgraded our military, de-escalated our entanglements in Iraq and Afghanistan and reached out to North Korea in an attempt to neutralize a perennial bad actor. He gave hope to the underprivileged by extending a hand and not just a hand out.

Most notably, Trump filled two Supreme Court vacancies with immensely qualified justices and filled several hundred lower court vacancies with qualified and capable justices. In short, Donald J. Trump became an extremely successful president, like it or not.

All of this being said, Trump could have been acknowledged as being a great president and not merely successful, if he had only ignored the frequent bait thrown in his direction and kept his mouth and Twitter account closed. Spectators and fans know who scores the touchdowns. They don’t need to see the player spiking the football in the end zone or taunting the defeated. The man who carries the world’s biggest stick was frequently reduced to name calling and childish gestures like some hooligan on the school playground.  

Many presidents have fired cabinet officers over the years. It hasn’t been an enjoyable task, but sometimes it needs to be done. President Trump seemed to take infinite delight in sacking subordinates and then publicly humiliating them by calling them losers, fakes and incompetents.  

One presumes these were talented and accomplished people or they would never have had their jobs in the first place. The cycle of appointment, firing and lambasting repeated itself time and time again. The overwhelming success of the economy tended to mute any attempt by the Trump detritus to effectively defend themselves.

And then the pandemic hit. While I personally don’t think that President Trump had anything to do with the spread of the virus or its ultimate economic effect, in politics, if you live by the sword, you will die by the sword.  

The weakening of president by the pandemic gave his many enemies accumulated over the years ample opportunity to take a whack at the presidential piñata. All of the numerous casualties of business, personal and political warfare that Trump had vanquished along his bumpy and storied career now had the perfect timing to emerge from the shadows and fire their torpedoes. It has now been eight straight months of the steady drip, drip of personal attacks launched on President Trump by his enemies or their surrogates. In the best of times, he was untouchable. Now, he is a weakened president with an uncontrollable pandemic weighing him down.

It is in this maelstrom that I will make my decision whom I will vote for on Nov. 3. Do I choose the devil I know or the devil that I don’t? I have made up my mind and it was an easy decision. I will vote capitalism over socialism every time.  

The long-term economic costs of the reckless legislative proposals of Joe Biden and his surrogate wannabe, Kamala Harris, stand to shake our economic system to the ground. As a country, we can’t stand four months of socially engineered income redistribution, moral decay, civil disobedience and fraudulent green new deal socialism, let alone four years. When Pandora is out of the box, she is gone for good.  

I intend to vote for Donald J. Trump for president. He is not a perfect man nor a perfect president, but the lives of all Americans will be better served by his reelection. Orange Man may be bad, but socialist is unthinkable! 

Dunn is the former Howard County Republican Party.