Recently, someone commented in an email to me that traditional conservatives don't like Donald Trump. I thought surely the writer had to be wrong. Who else would have voted for Trump three years ago?
It brought to mind something I heard at my wife's family reunion last year. Some men were talking about various topics, and I had zoned them out until I heard one say, "I don't like him personally, but I like what he's doing."
That to me summed up what these working class people think about the president. They aren't traditional conservatives if your view of conservatism is what you see on cable TV news, but they are traditional conservatives - God, country, the flag and don't insult my momma - if you see conservatism as defined by West Virginia voters.
From their point of view, the Republican Party has a group of people that some conservatives call Never Trumpers. They are the ones who are comfortable being the second party in Washington because they get to enjoy the perks of power. You know, earning those congressional paychecks, accumulating wealth in the process and then becoming highly paid lobbyists or talking heads on TV. These powerless conservatives have little or no use for people who see Trump as a threat to their profitable lives as political quislings.
From the border to tariffs to whatever else, Trump is working on things that matter to these powerless conservatives.
Former House of Representatives speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan talked a good talk, but they never got anything done. To them, John McCain was a hero in war and a betrayer of Republican Party principles once he got to Washington.
McCain, they say, was willing to play the part of gracious loser to America's first black president. Mitt Romney wasn't much better.
Trump, on the other hand, is willing to brawl with his opponents and use the same rhetorical tactics on them that the left has used on the right for years. For the first time in a long time, they see a person in the White House who is willing to stand up for what they believe in - not just at election time, but even when he is in office.
That's why Trump remains popular with them, despite his many personal shortcomings. He may be crude and offend the delicate sensibilities of longtime conservative columnists, but these voters don't care. They want results, not manners. They see themselves as winning and putting the other side on the defensive, and they like it.
Trump bends the law? So did his predecessors. Trump makes mistakes? So did his predecessors. Not the sharpest pencil in the box? You wouldn't want your child marrying into his family? The same with his predecessors.
I know this because many of my friends and family voted for Trump last time, and they plan to do so again. As long as they perceive the opposition as promoting boys in girls' locker rooms, late-term abortions and free trade, which they see as sending their jobs to other countries, Trump will have their support.
Jim Ross is opinion page editor of The Herald-Dispatch. His email is email@example.com.