By Jason Taylor
In the imaginary land of Trump, talk radio, Fox News and evangelical preachers, it’s all sunshine and green shoots.
What his supporters haven’t yet perceived is the gradual bending of the Trump agenda by powerful forces behind the scenes. No more talk about getting rid of NAFTA, pulling out of NATO, labeling China as a currency manipulator or promoting Putin as a “good guy”. Getting dragged back into the Middle East is an unavoidable necessity for Trump’s tough guy image as he provides a free hand to the generals and air strikes that hit the wrong targets.
EPA head Scott Pruitt, who made a career out of suing the EPA, now refuses to challenge the Supreme Court opinion that underpins the Clean Power Plan. His supporters in Oklahoma might fall for his anti-science views but he obviously doesn’t believe SCOTUS will.
But there is a whole bunch of stuff Trump would like to do that would hit Trumpland the hardest, stuff he forgot to mention in his campaign rallies, but necessary to deliver on the $ trillions in tax cuts the plutocratic class expects. Rural hospitals, small-town airports, job retraining, economic development and more will be drained instead of the DC swamp, which has never been better.
For Donald Trump’s supporters to admit that he is failing would be to admit that they made a bad choice, or worse, were suckered. It’s not about him; it’s about them. Many of them will never be able to do that, no matter how convincing the evidence; there will always be some excuse, some thread to which to hold.
There is literally nothing Trump can do that will cause his most ardent followers to leave him. Not bragging about groping women, not doing a complete 180 on his biggest campaign promises, not even (as Trump himself famously once said) if he shot someone dead in the middle of Fifth Avenue. This is what a cult of personality looks like, folks. Trump’s fan base doesn’t care about policy, nor is it about “economic anxiety.” It’s adoration for the man, period. It’s always been this way.
Trump base supporters will embrace anything, not Obama. Unless they learn that something will be taken from them. I’m sure there were many of his voters who stormed congressional offices to keep their healthcare. But spin that Trump did…it was the caucus, then the Democrats, or whoever was a convenient scapegoat for “his” failure.
Tip O’Neill was wrong: all politics are not local. All politics are tribal. And this “Trump Tribe,” assembled as it is on the cult of its leader’s personality, will not — cannot — abandon him. Tribes are not built that way.
The reason Trump’s supporters continue to support him is because if he is wrong, that means they are wrong, and they will never admit that. The key to understanding his supporters is to understand that they are not critical thinkers. They go with their instincts, and Trump appeals to their primal fears and hatreds.
Again, this popularity measured against performance and promises continues to baffle me. I guess there is just something intrinsic in their bond with a man who they look up to for saying outrageous things and who tells them things they want to hear about jobs, immigration, and their own self-image: that they are important. And yet: article after article, news report after news report that essentially point out how far Donald Trump has strayed from populism, so much so that he’s just becoming another pro-wealth Republican.
We who are not Trump supporters simply can’t stand that his base is still all fired up in the face of presidential actions that are directly antithetical to their needs: the health ‘reform’ debacle, regulatory rollbacks that will poison their air and water, and above all, his proposed budget cuts that will eliminate so many financial assistance programs that directly benefited their communities.
At some point, when more of Trump’s actions begin to cut personally, I still believe there will be a revolt. Trump and his billionaire cabinet theoretically are protecting the middle class, but his policies — not yet fully enacted — are doing anything but.
It sucks to always have to be explaining yourself, or the person you voted for. So all the people who voted for Donald, and stuck with him through thick and thin, through truth and lie, through logic and lack thereof, are now getting tired. The only strategy they really have left is to trust in Trump completely, no matter what he does or says. Many of them are quieter now when it comes to Trump on their social media.
They know the best thing they can do is just support Trump, no matter if he’s flip-flopping or outright lying. He can have one opinion on an issue one day, and the next day flip-flop on it completely. Trump supporters will simply stand behind him, without any questions. They will cheer him on even if he decides to sign us all over to China and just sell out the US completely. If it’s what Donald wants to do, it MUST be right.
Trump’s hardcore supporters have proven themselves time and time again as deeply indifferent to facts and reason. Racism has a lot to do with it. So does misogyny. But mostly, it is a yearning for a Great Leader who will deliver them from the smallness of their empty lives while affirming their need to remain riled up by anger and resentment — since these are the only emotions they seem capable of feeling in any depth.
The Trump Show provides them with endless excitement and one justification after another for anger and conflict. They aren’t giving that up.