Why People Still Support Donald Trump
The scare quotes around the title are on purpose. This is a rejoinder to an article on the mainstream Bloomberg View with that title.
The author, Clive Crook (whose background includes stints with the super-oligarch voice The Economist among other elite publications and organizations) put forth two hypotheses to answer the question. One he rejects. The other meets with his approval.
The one he rejects: a substantial fraction of the U.S. population consists of “racist idiots” (his phrase). Enough said. This seems to be the view of a lot of leftists.
The one he likes: “a large majority of this large minority are good citizens with intelligible and legitimate opinions, who so resent being regarded as racist idiots that they’ll back Trump regardless. They may not admire the man, but he’s on their side, he vents their frustrations, he afflicts the people who think so little of them — and that’s good enough.”
It’s a start!
Crook continues: “I’m a liberal on immigration — but it isn’t racism to favor tighter controls if you believe that high immigration lowers American wages. It sure isn’t racism to believe that the laws on immigration should be enforced, and that “sanctuary cities” violate that impeccably liberal principle. It isn’t racist to say that many of the Charlottesville counter-protesters came looking for a fight. Casting Trump supporters as fearful of change is risible — he was hardly the status quo candidate.”
All of which is helpful and in some cases, obvious. Crook might have noted that many of these people were genuinely fearful of some of Clinton’s proposals, such as bringing “Syrian refugees” to the U.S. by the tens of thousands. They follow current events. They know of the terror attacks by Muslim immigrants in France, the U.K., and most recently in Spain. They know Muslims are terrorizing native populations in Germany, Sweden, and elsewhere, committing violent crimes including gang rape. These immigrants are not going to assimilate. It would be against their religion. Thinking Americans realize that the EU establishment, committed to open borders, globalism, and multiculturalism, is out of touch with most ordinary citizens. They do not want this happening in the U.S. beyond the extent the combination of globalism and political correctness has already allowed it to happen.
Crook’s discussion criticizes the Democratic Party for its own bigotry, for regarding Trump voters as “bigoted” and “stupid,” terms embodied in Hillary Clinton’s now-infamous denunciation of the “deplorables.” Surely such attitudes explain why Clinton lost states Barack Obama had won handily four and eight years ago, even if Democrats still refuse to see it. Obama, whatever his faults, was smart enough not to run his initial campaign openly condemning his fellow citizens as “deplorable” and neglecting to campaign in their states. He came a hair’s breath away later, with his reference to “bitter clingers.” Because of the backlash he may have continued to think it, but he didn’t say it again.
Clinton came across as openly elitist, arrogant, and believing she was entitled to be the First Woman President. This in addition to her personal history of dishonesty and corruption. Her party establishment, moreover, had embraced the cult of identity politics including fetish-like obsessions with sexual minorities few normal people can identity with. That the mostly Democratic mainstream media jammed this down their throats, gloating visibly when a Christian business was destroyed by a lawsuit from a lesbian couple or a woman jailed for refusing to sign marriage licenses that would violate the laws of her state, alienated those across the aisle. Their answer to this sort of coercion was to vote for Donald Trump. Even though he was a billionaire he seemed to identify with their concerns, not just when he talked about bringing back decent paying jobs but when he refused to be intimidated by self-righteous mainstream career talkers like Megyn Kelly.
Continued vicious gestures like the one from bimbo celebrities like Kathy Griffin, desperate for attention, their careers sinking due to their utter lack of talent, only reassured Trump’s base that their decision was the right one.
I’d look deeper than even this for why many intelligent people supported and continue to support Donald Trump. The establishments of both dominant political parties have been in decline at least since 1990 if not earlier. In 2015-16, completely out of ideas, they simply collapsed. Common people wouldn’t put it this way, of course. Most would probably have been open to a mainstream candidate if he spoke to their needs. But when they looked at those on stage, they saw only empty suits with nothing new to say. More than that, they saw reasons to withhold their support.
Hillary Clinton promised only a continuation of the policies of Bush II and Obama: policies of war and domestic economic stagnation, with more wealth and power concentrating at the top. Her relationship with Wall Street was obvious, and well-known. Neither she nor her husband ever saw a war they didn’t like, and as “corporate Democrats” the latter’s “welfare reform” began the repeal of what few safety nets had existed for the poor since the 1960s. Hillary might not have won the nomination had she not cheated Bernie Sanders with “superdelegates.” Among the revelations of the infamous leaked emails was how DNC insiders worked directly to secure the nomination for her, when Sanders (for better or for worse) had the support of the grassroots. Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, received the most votes her party has ever gotten — slightly over 1.2 million, around 1% of the popular vote — because disaffected Democrats voted for her instead of Her Royal Clintonness. Others, of course, simply stayed home on Election Day. A few voted for Trump out of sheer spite.
With the GOP, the case for the collapse of the mainstream is even clearer. The GOP tries to self-identify as conservative in some sense of that term. Guys like Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) write tomes trying to redefine it, so as to save it from an outsider like Trump and his “uninformed” base. But at least since the 1950s, much of what passes for conservatism in the Republican Party has been more about what is good for big business than a principled defense of liberty within the bounds of tradition, Constitutionally limited government, the rule of law, and a sense of the role of the transcendent in human life — all of which matter at some level in “red” states outside the Beltway and the corridors of the elites.
Conservatism in this sense (some now even have a separate name for it: paleoconservatism) follows the strain of thought that began with Edmund Burke’s criticisms of the French Revolution, went through Max Weber’s defense of “the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism,” continued through Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind (orig. 1953), after which it began to disappear. William F. Buckley had defended a version of it in his God and Man at Yale (1951), criticizing the leftist-secularist elitism of his alma mater, before opting to become “pied piper for the Establishment” (John F. McManus’s memorable phrase; see his 2002 book with that title). Mostly banished from visible corridors of academia well before the PC era, traditional conservatism also ran counter to the increasing incursions of vocationalism there. Patrick J. Buchanan may be its last visible defender. There are scholars like Paul Gottfried, author of Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt (2002) and numerous other books and articles, long exiled to tiny Elizabethtown College and probably fortunate to be employed academically. A handful of other such people subsist at tiny, poorly funded think tanks or have been forced from intellectual professions altogether. (A guy I worked with briefly at a think tank now sells real estate, his talents going to waste.)
What replaced the earlier conservatism was neoconservatism, which began its ascendance in the Republican Party during the Reagan years at the hands of such thinkers as Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, and eventually Irving’s son William Kristol, the Robert Kagans and Paul Wulfowitzes and others who surrounded the Bushes and other establishment types. The neocons wanted power and influence, were good networkers, and by the 1990s had eclipsed their predecessors. They went on to form the Project for a New American Century. Neoconservatism was less about education, values, and social issues — one reason political correctness also ascended mostly unopposed — and more about imposing the “liberal democracy” of “the exceptional nation” on the world, at gunpoint where necessary. Neoconservatism was more about economics and war. With a nod to the ghost of Woodrow Wilson, it would “make the world safe for global capitalism” as the world’s default economic system following the Soviet collapse. (To see how this brand of global capitalism really works, I recommend John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (2004)).
The U.S. (and British and Israeli) war machines went on to wreck the Middle East, killing thousands of people and displacing hundreds of thousands more. The neocon establishment supported “economic integration,” i.e., open borders, outsourcing manufacturing jobs to third world countries for cheap labor, and importing cheaply made Chinese goods that costed less but lasted less than six months on some occasions, forcing consumers to buy more.
It seems fair to say that with mass immigration, Democrats wanted peoples who fit their vision of multicultural Utopia but especially the votes of people who had no idea what Constitutionally limited government even was and would support an expanding welfare state. Republicans wanted cheap labor for business. Was it not clear that this sort of thing would soon encounter pushback? Ask the thousands of people whose lives were turned upside down by the downsizing of U.S. manufacturing.
When Trump stood alongside his fellow GOP competitors, most of whom were political photocopies of one another, when all is said and done, he had little competition. When he responded to Megyn Kelly’s query about his remarks about women with, “We don’t have time to be politically correct,” the base cheered. His brashness and utter absence of PC horrified the mainstream but struck them as refreshing! At last they had a champion, someone who spoke to their issues in their language!
I confess I did not take The Donald seriously at first. Assuming him serious, I, too, thought the attacks which began long before the start of 2016 would undermine his candidacy. I began to watch more closely when they didn’t: when, if anything, the attacks backfired. I heard Trump provide a truthful description of American foreign policy as “a complete and total disaster.” I also encountered this, from an intellectual who realized that the country’s political-economic mainstream had collapsed, and I knew Trump’s candidacy would not be put down so easily.
Thus what we had were two party establishments, both of which answered to Wall Street and other corporate lobbyists and donors, both of whom furthered a globalist and technocratic agenda both at home and overseas, while feathering the nest of the U.S. / British / Israeli war machines. The “exceptional nation” flexed its muscles abroad over and over again, while the George Soroses of the world of the super-oligarchs bankrolled the destruction of traditional American culture. Higher education seemed to have fallen into the hands of an increasingly militant cultural left.
Into this wasteland walked Donald Trump.
The “experts” were unanimous: he would lose. It would be the biggest landslide in history. I don’t think even he expected to win.
He did, of course, and on November 8, 2016, everything changed!
The establishments blew their gaskets, slowly when not rapidly!
The cultural left hated Trump because of his resistance to PC. The corporate-globalist establishment hated him because he represented massive foot-dragging against “free trade” dogma. Both, as we saw, wanted the borders open for their own reasons, and if traditional culture and communities was destroyed, well, those were the breaks: it was just the “inevitability of progress” or the workings of the global “free market,” after all.
The idea had been floated that Trump could not have won without illicit help.
Enter the Russian-hackers-influenced-the-election narrative!
It was true enough that someone had penetrated DNC computers and delivered damning information to WikiLeaks. Seth Rich, who had worked for the DNC, was murdered under somewhat unusual circumstances. D.C. police insisted it was a botched robbery attempt although Rich’s possessions had not been stolen. Despite the cries of conspiracy theory, we don’t know the truth here.
The Great Fishing Expedition of 2017 continues, however, with former FBI chief Robert Mueller at its helm. Mueller is a leave-no-stones-unturned kind of guy, investigating not just allegations that Russian agents colluded with the Trump campaign, but every business deal and contact Trump or members of his family have ever made or had that involves Russia in one way or another, going back as many years as it will take to find something illicit.
No one so far has produced a shred of publicly available evidence that any of these deals broke any laws. What we have are accusations, insinuations, and hearsay based on sources whose anonymity is telling.
The question arises: will that stop the Great Fishing Expedition? I very much doubt it. The events at Charlottesville, and more recently the Hurricane Harvey tragedy in southern Texas, have temporarily pushed it from center stage. It will be back, of that we can be assured.
The party establishments are determined to destroy this presidency if they can. Although he denies it, I believe Mike Pence is being groomed to replace him following the equivalent of a coup. Pence is basically an establishment figure. He won’t have an easy ride, but I predict that should he become President, his Christian pretenses will slowly disappear and allow the cultural left to continue to dominate the domestic agenda. Globalism will get back on track and continue its march toward a world state.
So why do many people continue to support Donald Trump?
For starters, few outside the Beltway and “blue” areas believe in “Russian hackers” or other shadowy personalities that allegedly helped the Trump campaign. Even fewer believe the West should continue on a collision course with Russia that can lead only to war.
And whatever the fate of his presidency, those outside the Beltway and “blue” culture will go to their graves disbelieving the newer narrative about a sudden insurgency of “white supremacy” and “hate groups.” They will go to their graves rejecting official explanations of how great open borders are, because this conflicts openly with their lived experience as well as on-the-ground reports from around the world. They will continue to wonder not just about the reliability but the honesty of “the experts” in numerous arenas — just follow the money. This especially applies to the economy which many on Main Street do not believe the economy ever truly recovered outside elite enclaves in big cities and on Wall Street which has benefitted from QE monetary expansion and corporate stock buybacks.
None of the Russia investigations touted by inside-the-Beltway bigwigs, none of the scolding from left-leaning media about all those terrible white people, and none of the cooked unemployment statistics, are going to make this visceral skepticism go away. Look to the behaviors still coming from the party establishments, especially Democrats and other leftists, continuing their Clintonian arrogance when not rationalizing the open violence of domestic terror groups like Antifa, for why common people continue to support Donald Trump.
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To sum up, these are your articles (and books). I don’t write to please myself. No one is forcing me to do it, as sometimes it brings me grief instead of satisfaction. So if others do not value the results enough to support them, I might as well go into retirement while I am still able to enjoy it.
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