Spangle: Why I Stopped Giving Trump the Benefit of the Doubt

I ran a Senate campaign against Dan Coats and met him a couple of times. He was incredibly decent to us when he didn’t have to be. I am friendly with many people that worked for him when he was a Senator from my home state, and they speak to his character. He is not a bomb-throwing partisan and is a classic Reagan Conservative.

He and I have vastly different views on the size and role of government, given that he sat at the endpoint of intelligence gathering powers so considerable that I consider it the greatest threat to our liberty. He has been in meetings I’ll never attend, and he knows more than I do. These two pieces of information tell me that he is someone I ought to listen to, mostly when we agree.

“The most urgent task American leaders face is to ensure that the election’s results are accepted as legitimate. Electoral legitimacy is the essential linchpin of our entire political culture. We should see the challenge clearly in advance and take immediate action to respond.” See his opinion piece on the upcoming election here.

There is no greater danger to our way of life like losing the legitimacy of our elections. History shows that it is the beginning of the end if we let that go for conspiracy theories. There is no going back.

Every voter must take the process seriously and doggedly track their vote. Get engaged with the process and learn about the system that has so much influence over your life. Reality is different than what the media portrays.

He also said this about the President:

Coats believed Trump has no moral compass, couldn’t shake the suspicion that Trump must be beholden to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and that he – along with Mattis and Tillerson – thought Trump was an “unstable threat to their country.”

I gave Trump the benefit of the doubt for many years due to the media’s unwillingness to let him govern. I read all the books like Woodward’s Fear and shrugged. Aren’t the leftist media and Democrats supposed to oppose a Republican President? Out-group criticism is unpersuasive.

In-group criticism from Coats, Tillerson, Mattis, Bolton, Kelly, Elizabeth Neumann, Miles Taylor, and other traditional Republicans that risk something by speaking out are persuasive. “Attacks” from the media leaks from his staff. How many of his people should we listen to before we take it seriously? When Paul O’Neill trashed George W. Bush through the book The Price of Loyalty, it was easy to write that off as a disgruntled employee. What about nearly every employee from former friends like Omarosa and Anthony Scaramucci to long-time Republicans like Coats and Bolton willing to give him a shot?

There are a lot of things he pushes that are right. The press gaslights people. Social media shouldn’t censor the right. We shouldn’t be involved in foreign wars. I liked Gorsuch and the tax cuts. I was willing to not criticize the outrageous stuff because I liked some of the policies. But then Trump veered the bus towards QAononopolis while adopting a domestic policy that resembled John McCain’s foreign policy.

2020 was the year that he began validating critics. He can’t govern and won’t learn. The evidence has reached levels that the “fake news” and “deep state” arguments can’t erase. The unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans to COVID-19 due to his CDC and FDA’s failures should be enough to disqualify him from public office, let alone the lyin3g and cover-ups. But then add in the gassing of citizens for a political ad, the desire to invade American cities, the stoking of racial division, adding to the debt double what Obama added in 8 years, proposing a health care plan through executive orders, and… well, you get the idea.

At a certain point, I had to eat humble pie and realize I got Trump wrong. He’s not just an incompetent goof that never got a fair shake but makes us laugh. Donald Trump is what his detractors say he is. He’s a big government progressive from the right with fascist tendencies. He confirms it daily, but his supporters laugh it off as trolling. At a certain point, I had to stop laughing along with him.

I am unhappy with my choices for President, and I will be voting for Jorgensen as a visible protest against the power held by our current Federal Government. As I scroll through my feed, I see so much latent support for President Trump. A libertarian might get grief for supporting Trump, but endorsing Biden would be disqualifying to so many. Bill Weld’s mere “vouching” of Clinton forever tarnish his goodwill in the movement.

Given the incompetence, corruption, and abuse of power, I fail to see how his re-election is a win for liberty. Biden offers the same fight as the last 100 years: big-government progressivism. That’s a muscle that libertarians know how to exercise. Trump offers a new seduction for statism from the right, and many libertarians are failing to fight off the siren songs of his propaganda.

The reality is that any libertarian policy came in the first two years when adults were still in the building, but that’s over. The C team always staffs a President’s second term and much less gets done. In this case, the F team will show up, and America will continue to slide into a banana republic. That might excite the collapsatarians, but liberty is more attractive in times of stability. Voters are more likely to experiment with new ideas when their bank accounts are full. They’re more likely to cling to the state when their stomachs are empty.

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Chris Spangle is the host of the Chris Spangle Show, History of Modern Politics, and Liberty Explained, podcasts on the We Are Libertarians Podcast Network. He is also the co-host of the Patdown podcast, a comedy podcast with comedians Ms. Pat and Deon Curry. Chris Spangle has been podcasting since 2007, and now teaches podcasting at He also hosts the public affairs radio show “We Thought You Might Like To Know...” on Indiana radio stations which focuses on nonprofits.

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