Around 11 p.m. Tuesday night, a friend pinged my phone with this text message: "So, will you support Donald Trump in his 2020 re-election, or are you going to keep NeverTrumping?"
I laughed. If you knew my friend, you'd know his message was part serious question, part gloating. He was basking in the glory of an Election Day win, and he wanted to take a quick moment to rib me one last time for being a Trump holdout.
Many of my conservative friends have thrown their hands up in frustration at my decision to vote third party this year. For the record, yes, I was part of the whopping 3 percent of Tennesseans who supported the Libertarian ticket.
President-elect Trump (man, it felt weird to type that) obviously didn't need my endorsement. But when considering he tallied fewer votes than Mitt Romney and John McCain, there is a strong argument that voter lethargy on the left played as big a part as any in Trump's win. If Democrats put forward a catalyzing 2020 nominee, Trump will need as many NeverTrumpers on the right to back him.
How can he make that happen? To fully answer that, I'd need more space than this column permits. However, these five suggestions wouldn't hurt:
- Act presidential — Insults, name-calling, and 3 a.m. Twitter rants should be a thing of the past. Americans want a strong president, and Trump desperately wants to be seen as such. But that tough guy shtick reveals some deep-rooted insecurities. We need real strength, not some chest-puffing schoolyard bully.
- Attack regulations — While campaigning, Trump routinely said he will eliminate overburdensome regulations. If he delivers on that promise, he'd win the hearts of many, considering both Democrats and Republicans at the federal level have a knack for piling on more rules. We all know President Obama loves him some regulations, but during the George W. Bush years, federal appropriations for regulatory agencies grew from $27 billion to $44.9 billion per year and the number of employees at those agencies mushroomed from 172,000 to more than 244,000.
- Reign in government spending — Another of Trump's campaign lines was that he'd shore up federal deficits. Yet it became apparent, rather quickly, during the GOP primary debates that he wasn't really sure how he would manage to achieve that goal. If I recall correctly, there was something about gutting the Department of Education. Who knows how he'll actually pursue a balanced budget. If he does it, though, I'd love to give him a fist bump.
- Embrace federalism — On talk radio earlier this week, I predicted Trump will preside as the "delegator-in-chief." Why? I truly believe he ran to be the president, not to actually run the country. He'll happily hand responsibilities off to cabinet members and advisers while he revels in the trappings of the office. My hope is that he also delegates appropriate matters to the states.
- Respect the balance of power — My greatest concern about candidate Trump was his penchant for saying things like, "I will fix this." That's authoritarian talk. I worried that if elected he would act as Obama has, circumventing Congress to get his way. With the House and Senate still under Republican control, that seems less likely now. But on the chance the Trump administration and Congress don't see eye-to-eye on a matter, it would be heartening to see him respect the balance of power.
Others in the dwindling NeverTrump camp might make different suggestions, like defunding Planned Parenthood, nominating a conservative to the Supreme Court, ending the Putin bromance or steering clear of a trade war.
Come to think of it, let's go ahead and add those to my list.
Contact David Allen Martin at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @DMart423.