In short, I’m trying to understand why Donald Trump is so popular, and with whom.
I have my opinions about these things. Journalists and pundits are busily broadcasting theirs.
But I’m interested in hearing from actual people I may be acquainted with. And in my own social world – physical and virtual – I really haven’t come across friends or acquaintances who support him; and when I imagine a Trump supporter, I have a hard time picturing anyone I personally know.
So am I that out of touch with my community, my country? I could easily identify many acquaintances as Ted Cruz supporters, and though I disagree with them, I feel like I basically understood where they were coming from.
But Trump. Why? And the question that haunts me even more, do I know anyone who’s supporting him, or are we such a polarized society that someone like me can be so isolated from the majority of Republican voters?
I welcome your comments and conversation here. Because this is a potentially VERY explosive topic, I will be moderating comments for respectfulness and do my very best to make this a safe place for genuine listening and conversation. It’s not easy for me to delete comments, but I’m willing to do that if I deem it necessary.
Also, if you are not a Trump supporter, I ask that you refrain from posting your own opinion about why people are supporting him. If you can relate a story or observations about actual people you know who are Trump supporters, that might be helpful. But there’s no need to explain why you disagree with them or with Trump. That’s a separate topic that I’m not interested in discussing here.
Alright, nervously pressing publish in 3, 2, 1 . . .
I know a few supporters, some from the beginning, but most are reluctant supporters now that he is clinched the nomination. But even the reluctant supporters don’t seem worried about him being president.
Regarding rationale, the one person I know who has been a firm supporter since many months ago says he wants someone in Washington to “knock heads” and “get things done”. There is a sense that because he isn’t “politically correct”, he will therefore fix all the things they want fixed that aren’t “politically correct”. Sometimes there is a sense of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, and when your enemy is political correctness then Trump is your man. None of his supporters that I know care a great deal exactly what he actually does if he wins. They seem to understand that he doesn’t have a lot of principles, but they just don’t care as long as he “gets things done” and annoys those they dislike in the process.
I do think Trump is a bit of a walking rorschach test, people see in him what they want to see. So if you are upset about lack of job opportunities, then they see him as bringing back American jobs. They don’t get to the level of thinking through his proposals and figuring out if they are best, it’s a matter of believing him due to his force of conviction and larger than life personality, not agreeing with any specific ideology.
Frankly, I have a harder time understanding Cruz supporters than Trump supporters, and Cruz worried me more as a possible president than Trump does. Regardless, I’ll be “wasting” my vote this year, can’t see voting for any of the major candidates…
Thanks for your comment, James. I’m not the first person to say this, but this reminds me a bit of when Jesse Ventura got elected as Minnesota’s governor. (Except I totally didn’t see that one coming – I remember being stunned the morning after the election!) People were saying a lot of the same things about him – he doesn’t care what people think, he’ll get stuff done, he may not be all that bright but he’s bold and he understands the common people, etc. etc.
I wonder if your geographic location is part of why you know more Trump supporters than I do. I’ve only ever seen one Trump yard sign and one Trump bumper sticker in my town.
A local barber rotates funny phrases on his sign. His current one states, “If God had meant for us to vote he would have given us candidates.” Sounds like you can sympathize 🙂
I actually heard an interview on CNN with one of Trump’s team, in which he shared that years ago, when they first began talking about the potential presidential run, he came to MN and spent two days with Ventura to learn about how he did it and in order to plan a Trump campaign strategy. He went on to say they have followed Ventura’s marketing strategy pretty closely, by appealing to fear, distrust, disillusioned minds and generally those for whom “the logical rationale” is not a high value/need for making a voting decision. His take on their progress of the current campaign was that the strategy gave them very predicable outcome metrics and that they are right on track toward winning the White House. The interview also brought out, pretty clearly that no one really knows what Trump actually believes or plans to do, once in office, but that it really doesn’t matter to his supporters and voters. (Scary, isn’t it?”
Interesting! If you can track it down, would you mind posting the link to that interview in this thread? I’d be interested to see it. Thanks for the comment!
I’ll try to find it. (It was over a month ago on an afternoon CNN network news show.)
I absolutely agree with the comparison to Ventura. The “it can’t happen” belief played a big role in the major parties allowing Ventura to get elected, and I think it worked the same with Trump getting the nomination. I remember swearing to people I worked with it could never happen, Jesse couldn’t win because in the end the major parties were too powerful, nobody would actually show up to vote for him, etc. I have no doubt Trump learned from Ventura, though he is much better at it than Ventura ever was.
I don’t see a lot of Trump signs, but I have seen a few. I don’t think the supporters I know fit any sort of mold you would expect. One is a orthopedic surgeon I work with (he is the most vocal supporter, went to a trump rally in Eau Claire and brings him up occasionally at work, he is also very religious and spends a lot of time and money in his small evangelical church). A couple friends on Facebook are also supporting him, one is a radical anti vaccine guy (chiropractor) and the other is only notable in his support for legalizing marijuana and not a fan of the police.
I think Trump has managed to sweep together his coalition of disenfranchised that the major parties are not reaching, and I have no idea if he can hold the coalition together until the election. I don’t think he is a long shot at this point, with the trouble Hillary is going through with email scandal, and the fact that Hillary is much more Hawkish than Trump in a war weary country, Trump very well may win, but I have absolutely no idea, he could also lose every single state…
Yes, I agree with the lack of candidates… lol The lack of decent candidates really does cause major issues both locally and nationally. In our local town the city council is run by a bunch of morons, but there isn’t anyone better running against them. Who do you blame, the morons, or the decent people not running… And it’s a hard job, I certainly don’t want it, so I can’t really blame anyone else for not running.
Wow, now that is a motley demographic you described. And that is sort of my impression too. The one Trump bumper sticker I’ve seen in my town shares a bumper with a lot of “hippie” stickers that wouldn’t seem to go along with it. I can’t figure out whether it’s supposed to be cynical or not, but I’m starting to think not.
James makes a critical point: Trump is less hawkish than Hillary. To me, nothing is more important than the next president’s approach to foreign policy. It is true we don’t know what we will get with Trump. He wants to build an impossible wall in one breath…then you hear him, during a Republican presidential debate, declare the war in Iraq a 5 trillion dollar disaster, money which should have been used, said Trump, to fix our own infrastructure and put people to work. To which Carly F. replied, “I can’t believe I’m hearing a Republican talk like that.” (I’m paraphrasing from memory)
So we don’t know what we will get with Trump. But make no mistake, we know what we get with Hillary: a completely bought and paid for stooge of the neo-liberal order. With Hillary we get nothing but more imperialism…exporting “democracy” and “freedom” abroad even as our own home further decays. I would challenge anyone on the left to NOT vote for Hillary Clinton.
Vote Jill Stein, 2016.
In my extremely jaded moments (which I actually don’t have many of anymore b/c I’ve mostly ignored politics), I imagine that Trump is being paid off by Clinton to run the shocking campaign he has run, and drive people towards her with a “not him” vote more than a “yes her” one. But, then, maybe he already has enough money and can’t be bought. I know he says that anyway. (Maybe she’s buying him with promises of power/position? Nah.)
In my less jaded moments, I’m one of those people who would rather vote for her than for him, mainly because of him. Yes, I agree, she and what she stands for are not my preference. But, as you said, I (think I) know what I’m going to get with her – more of the same imperialist junk but also someone who at least feigns respect for the rule of law and, like GW Bush, might make up reasons for invading whoever she wants to invade, but at least it’d be something Congress could bat around in debates and the people could discuss, disagree, speak out.
Trump, as you also stated, is a wild card. And appears to be a “man of action” – and I can imagine him having no problem decreeing whatever he thinks needs to be done, and sending his people out to make it happen, with absolutely no facade of following the rule of law or any other rule that doesn’t suit him.
(and in the end, how different are these two approaches for the people on the receiving end of the invading?)
I have heard of Jill Stein but that’s about where it ends. I’ve gotten tired of following politics and that’s probably something to be ashamed of. When I was young and idealistic, I voted for Nader in that election that went to Bush but technically should have gone to Gore – knowing Nader wouldn’t win, but wanting to voice my real opinion, not just calculate the best or least-worst choice of the juggernauts.
This time around I really am afraid of the depths to which Trump could take my country. But, whether he wins or not, I recognize that there really is something horribly wrong and about to break, and maybe I should bring my best self to the polls and leave my calculating fears at home.
Action items: research Jill Stein and other non-major-party candidates. Renew my passport. Breathe deeply, love everyone, envision the best for us all.
Whoo, thanks for letting me ramble. Cheers, Nnox.
Julia, if you get your passport renewed, come visit me in Madrid! I am living here for at least part of the summer, hoping to be here election day! Yes, please look at Jill. Someone recently sneered at me because I am of the “never Clinton” camp…”you just don’t want a woman president!” I was told. Wrong. I do want a woman president, if that woman is Jill Stein. Check her out! And thank YOU for letting me ramble on YOUR blog!!!