Donald Trump’s election depended on bigotry aided reinforcing cycle of ignorance. As a candidate, Trump race-baited constantly and lied ceaselessly yet with such repetition that those with only a marginal attachment to politics and the facts of a nation came to believe his confidence and opted to forego even the slightest independent analysis or fact-checking that might prevent them from falling prey to a demagogue. Trump’s ignorance begat an ignorance that spread unchecked to others through the course of normal human interaction and a frank unwillingness to put forth any effort in casting an informed and rational ballot.
These voters often deluded themselves into assumed respectability by claiming, or at least intimating, that if Trump failed to enact his various outlandish promises, they would cease to support him.
But because man — and especially Trump voters — is an irrational creature who logic usually bypasses, these presumed intentions haven’t materialized. And they won’t. Bigotry won’t let them.
Trump Voters, Uncensored
Politico reporter Michael Kruse ventured into Trump Country, Pennsylvania to interview some of the president’s original supporters to learn of their thinking a year from Election Day. His findings should sober us all.
A year ago, Johnstown, PA residents gave Trump a timeline to fulfill his promises. “Six months to a year,” catering company owner Joey Del Signore told Kruse. “A couple months,” said another. “He’s just got to follow through with what he said he was going to do.” All had the same undertone: “or else.”
How things change in a year. Whereas one resident insisted she wouldn’t vote for Trump again if he broke promises, when asked a year into a so-far failed agenda, she remarked, “Support Trump? Sure,” she said. “I like him.”
Others recognize no change with the Trump presidency. We “didn’t see any change because we got a new president.” They remain infatuated. “He’s our answer.”
Could anything cost Trump their support?
To no one’s surprise, reasons for Trump’s support have nothing to do with policy. Racial grievances — shrouded bigotry and its more obvious cousin — rally much of Trump’s core base to him. They have no commitment to limited government or conservative (what we once thought of as conservative) philosophy. Ideology falls to populism’s curse: Vilification of an ever amorphous “other.”
“His supporters [in Johnstown], it turns out, are energized by his bombast and his animus more than any actual accomplishments. For them, it’s evidently not what he’s doing so much as it is the people he’s fighting. Trump is simply and unceasingly angry on their behalf, battling the people who vex them the worst—“obstructionist” Democrats, uncooperative establishment Republicans, the media, Black Lives Matter protesters and NFL players (boy oh boy do they hate kneeling NFL players) whom they see as ungrateful, disrespectful millionaires.
And they love him for this.”
They love him for the fights he picks, not the policies he promotes. He channels their anger and legitimizes it; no longer must they hide their inner hatred — Trump accepts it and encourages it. In him, they saw a ringleader, the reverend of resentment.
Like most men carrying Gods message, Trump can do no wrong.
“Everybody I talk to realizes it’s not Trump who’s dragging his feet. Trump’s probably the most diligent, hardest-working president we’ve ever had in our lifetimes. It’s not like he sleeps in till noon and goes golfing every weekend, like the last president did.”
Deceived, but why?
“Ninety-nine percent of the time I watch Fox.”
De facto state media helps.
Others recognize the grim outlook for coal and surely must be able to read reports such as that issued by BMI Mining, which projects coal to grow year over year, but not because of “an expectation for President Donald Trump to revive the sector and our longer-term view out to 2021 remains decidedly downbeat.”
Still, with irrational exuberance, one Johnstown business owner expects a 30 percent jump next because of Trump’s “pro-business mood.”
Moods don’t grow the economy.
Others simply love the idea of mining jobs magically returning because it absolves them of effort. “Some of the later-in-life blue-collar workers who are still here can be loath to learn new trades. ‘We’ve heard when working with some of the miners that they are reluctant because they’re very accustomed to the mining industry,’ said Linda Thomson, the president of JARI, a nonprofit economic development agency in Johnstown that provides precisely the kind of retraining, supported by a combination of private, state and federal funding, that could prepare somebody for a job in Polacek’s plant. ‘They really do want to go back into the mines. So we’ve seen resistance to some retraining.’”
These core Trump voters don’t mind his childlike tweets that proudly display his authoritarianism. They appreciate how he’s handling North Korea, even though Trump’s irrationality increases the chances of a nuclear conflict.
Policy Failures Mean Nothing
And as further proof of their ambivalence towards policy, none care that the Trump agenda has fallen on its face because many don’t know Trump has utterly failed to get legislation passed.
“He’s kept his promises.” Which ones?
“Border security.” There’s no wall. “No fault of his.”
“Getting rid of Obamacare.” It still exists. “Well, he’s tried to.”
“Defunding Planned Parenthood.” Nope. “Not his fault again.”
Should Trump be blamed for, eg, his failure to repeal the ACA on day 1, as he promised?
“I’m not going to blame him. Absolutely not.”
A great businessman, an accolade these supporters wrongly apply to Trump, accepts responsibility for failures and owns shortcomings. Trump doesn’t and voters don’t hold their fashioned “chief executive” of the country responsible for anything.
Trump has succeeded in his culture war. From defending the Confederate statues that glorify traitors who fought for slavery to defending an authoritarian conception of patriotism, Trump has played racial prejudices perfectly.
Black athletes protesting police brutality during the national anthem really irks Trump supporters.
“As far as I’m concerned,” one said, “if I was the boss of these teams, I would tell ’em, ‘You get your asses out there and you play, or you’re not here anymore.’ They’re paying their salaries, for God’s sake.”
“Shame on them,”another told Kruse. “These clowns are out there, making millions of dollars a year, and they’re using some stupid excuse that they want equality—so I’ll kneel against the flag and the national anthem?”
The Declaration of Independence told us that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” To Trump supporters, this lines ring true unless you’re a black athlete.
In case you had any doubts opposition to such protests stemmed from racial animus, let Trump supporters dispel it.
“Well…I hate to say what the majority of them are….” Others happily finished that sentence.
“The thing that irritates me to no end is this NFL shit. I’m about ready to go over the top with this shit.”
The NFL is “niggers for life.”
“For life,” his wife added.
So the cult speaks and in their uncensored words we hear the true call of Trumpism and its not ideology, commitment to American ideals, or patriotism.