Donald Trump's ascent in the Republican Party has been a journey marked with bombast, offense, and occasional bouts of outright violence. He's been an emotional lightening rod for his supporters, aggregating their anger and dissatisfaction as he offers vague policy promises and doomsday scenarios should he lose in November.
Trump's entire political persona is predicated on being the anti-politician extraordinaire, the quintessential outsider. It's a contradiction, of course, but one which Trump has managed to exploit, successfully positioning himself—and his followers—against anyone in Washington. And who is more indicative of all that than the president himself?
For years, Trump has hounded President Obama over everything from foreign policy to his birth certificate. And, accordingly, Trump's growing base of supporters have followed suit. But, if you spend enough time in the Trump-ier sections of the internet, you'll find that there are Trump fans who have not rejected Obama. In fact, some of them even have nice things to say about him.
Take, for example, some of the many threads found within Reddit's "Ask Trump Supporters" section, where The Donald's fanbase gathers to field questions, and—in a number of different threads—debate the merits of our Obama.
"I think opening up relations with Cuba is a good step," explains one Redditor, in a thread entitled Do you believe that Obama has done anything right as President? "I really couldn't give two shits if they want to be a commie hellhole," the writer goes on, "but I do give a shit if I'm told I can't do something because someone doesn't like it."
Later, the same person continues:
I don't disagree with his federal recognition of gay marriage or with allowing gays to serve. I also don't disagree with him telling the DOJ to stand down on enforcing marijuana laws in states that have legalized it. But that's more about me liking small federal government and states rights than any moral judgments.
On the whole I don't like 90% Obamacare, but I do like that now people with preexisting conditions aren't turned away or driven to obscene debt just to receive treatment. I don't like that people have to pay more to cover those costs though.
"The rest though," the author cautions, "I gripe about a lot."
It's a sentiment echoed by another commenter in the same thread, who begins his answer with "I have mixed feelings."
I am glad that he saved the auto industry. I am kind of glad he saved the banks but I wish the rest of us were helped more. I am glad our economy is not in freefall anymore, but I wish our recovery was more robust after almost 8 years. I think he should stop overselling the economy because the talking points sound hollow when I compare it to the reality I see around me.
I am glad the ACA helped the poor and sick (Medicaid and preexisting conditions), but wish it didn't screw the rest of us over on behalf of hospital and insurance administrators and pharmaceutical companies. The ACA is so flawed that I agree it needs to just come to an end.
I am glad that we've stopped making the Bush mistakes on foreign policy, but wish we would stop making the Obama mistakes.
These sort of qualified complements are fairly common. "I like him, but…," "This was good, however…"
In a different thread (How well of a job has Barack Obama done as President?) Redditor scoby_dooby_doo writes:
Trump supporter here but I don't feel Obama has done that bad of a job as far as presidents go.
Obama doesn't have any influence on gas prices fyi.
Generally though he hasn't really been a bad president in my opinion, which isn't saying much as this is relative to our many other bad residents, but he's not some secret socialist or anything.
Hardly resounding praise, but given the vehemence with which President Obama has been attacked in the past, it's a refreshingly even-handed take—One echoed by another user in a thread asking simply How many of you Trump Supporters like Barack Obama?
Many Trump supporters voted for Obama (me). I honestly don't really have a problem with the job he has done, but I think it could always be better. He did poorly on all things foreign (immigration, ISIS, Libya, Yemen, ect) but some of those were hard calls and I think he tried his best. Trump will not repeal Obamacare UNTIL it has a good replacement. I think some parts of Obamacare are good but overall it sucks for middle class Americans.
For some Trump supporters, Obama represented an important alternative to the options at the time. And while they feel his administration has left much to be desired—particularly in regard to foreign policy—it has not been the unmitigated disaster their current candidate of choice makes it out to be. Writes Redditor Dotrue in the same thread as above:
I liked him in 08, especially after Palin became McCain's VP pick.
I liked him less in 2012, but supported him because I didn't enjoy the Tea Party and religious right. Romney seemed like an okay pick, but I felt Obama was the lesser of the two evils.
And after these past 4 years, with the Ukraine, Turkey, China, the TPP, Snowden/the NSA, and a few other issues, I don't support him as much as I used too.
And in a similar thread, user ItsBuck writes simply:
Not all of us dislike Obama.
Hes a bit of an idealist for me, but I love Obama. Voted for him last time and wouldve done it in 2008 if I was 18. I would definitely vote for Obama again over Clinton. If I had to choose between a 3rd Obama term and Trump, I would have to consider both.
Elsewhere, another Trump supporter writes:
Considering the mess he came into office with, you have to give the man some credit. I'm not the biggest fan of his policies but he'll without a doubt be remembered as one of the best speakers and a genuinely cool dude you'd want have a beer with.
A hopeful nod toward a sane middle ground. Will bipartisan beer summits remain viable once Trump and his Democratic rival clash horns in the the general election?
It remains to be seen.