President Donald Trump seems confident, despite the polls, that he will be re-elected to a second term. But whether he leaves office in 2021 or 2025, Trump has brought several unique qualities to the presidency that his successors ought to emulate.
I explore these qualities — these virtues — in a new e-book, available Tuesday for Amazon Kindle: The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency.
I begin by reviewing the history of Trump’s presidency — so far! — in a step-by-step account, organized 100 days at a time.
Then I turn to the Trumpian virtues themselves, the unique approaches that our 45th president has brought to the nation’s highest office, and which have helped him succeed.
Not all of these qualities are good ones. The definitive Trumpian vice — one even he acknowledges — is his narcissism. But even that vice has a positive aspect: because Trump wants to be seen as a successful president, he works that much harder.
These are the Trumpian virtues:
Patriotism: Trump has restored the love of country to its rightful place in American public life. Though his approach is often described as “nationalism,” Trump’s version of that creed presumes that other people love their countries, too: so should we.
Faith: Trump has not led the most exemplary personal life, but has led by example in honoring and restoring faith as a public virtue. He has expanded religious freedom and defended religious priorities — something future president should do as well.
Strength: Trump understands that the basis of American power and security is the U.S. military and the morale of the men and women who do the fighting. By being prepared to use that strength, ironically, he has avoided sending Americans to war.
Unpredictability: Trump used uncertainty as a strategic asset. Enemies could never know whether he would strike back — or whether he would seek negotiation. While remaining a steadfast ally, the U.S. should also keep adversaries on their toes.
Growth: American prosperity depends on economic growth, the rising tide that lifts all boats. Conversely, the U.S. is hurt by approaches that emphasize redistribution. Presidents should follow Trump’s example in boosting broad-based growth for all.
Tenacity: Trump’s “resilience,” wrote the Wall Street Journal‘s Holman Jenkins, is “the one quality you might recommend to your kids, and the one his supporters always cite in their emails to me.” Trump never gives up — nor should any president.
Philosemitism: Trump made progress in the Middle East by embracing Israel, which encouraged Arab countries to accept its presence. Trump also embraced the Jewish community in the most personal way, contrary to false claims of antisemitism.
Political Incorrectness: Trump often offended people — but he was also willing to state truths that society needed to hear but otherwise might never have accepted. With COVID, his willingness to stand up to false claims of racism even saved lives.
Decorum: Though best known for his Twitter insults and his rough rally rhetoric, Trump restored a sense of formality to the Oval Office. He also reinvigorated old and familiar rituals like the State of the Union addresses, turning it into high theater.
Equality: Trump pursued the ideal of equality before the law, rejecting the notion of “systemic racism” while creating new opportunities for black Americans. He fought to defend the ideal of equality as expressed in America’s founding documents.
Reciprocity: Both in foreign relations and in domestic politics, Trump adopted a simple principle: he would be nice to you at first, but retaliate sharply in response to any slight until you apologized. Though controversial, it was a successful approach.
Constitutional Deference: Trump, unlike his predecessor, has shown respect for the balance of powers in the Constitution — in deed, if not in word (or tweet). His conservative judicial appointments will continue to enforce constitutional principles.
Anti-media: The Fourth Estate believes that it has a right to rule, and it has attempted to undermine and even overthrow Republican leaders. Future presidents should respect the press but remember what Trump has exposed about its ambitions.
Sporting: Trump understands the cultural value of the sporting life, and has fought to keep sports as free from politics as possible. Future presidents should continue to defend the flag, the anthem, and the values of sportsmanship as he has done.
Firing: Trump became famous for his TV tagline: “You’re fired.” He brought new accountability to the federal government. The turnover described as “chaos” in the administration was a sign of progress, as Trump found the right people for the job.
Love: Trump made his love of America, and its people, the central argument for his election and re-election. Most leaders are enriched by their service; Trump was impoverished by it. He set an example of sacrificing his interests for the country.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.