When I talk about things financial, I notice people’s eyes glaze over and soon they are making an excuse to … well, excuse themselves. And so, while I was considering a post about the republican’s attempt to overturn Dodd-Frank, I have decided to spare my dear readers (for now, anyway) and write, instead, about this new breed of persons we are seeing: The Trumpians. Now, there were Trump supporters last year during the campaign, and I referred to them as Trumpeters. And, as with a Venn diagram, some of the Trumpians are former Trumpeters. But the Trumpians differ, for these are the ones who, despite the fact that Trump has lied his fool head off ever since taking the oath of office, and despite the fact that there is mounting evidence of much wrong-doing in the White House, still claim to adore him, cheer, applaud and stomp their feet at the mere mention of his name. These are the ones who are responsible for all 36% of his approval rating.
Now, before I begin, let me state that I have some good friends who are republicans, Trump supporters, but they are not obnoxious, always engage in civil discourse, and are always willing to listen and sometimes even agree with, the other side. There’s Brian, and then there’s … um … er … well, there’s Brian. Guess he’s the lone exception to the rule, at least in my sphere of friends.
This evening I read an op-ed piece by Geoffrey Kabaservice writing for the New York Times that gave me some food for thought. See, I had always considered that Trump supporters fell into two groups: the ultra-rich who believed he would lift regulations that hindered their businesses, and also give them tax cuts so they could see even more trailing zeros on their profit-and-loss statements. And the second group, I thought, were those who clung to the hope that he would actually bring back coal jobs, get rid of immigrants, and they were just not smart enough to see the lie behind that promise.
But according to Kabaservice, that may be a fallacy. It may well be that they just simply enjoy tormenting the rest of us! A political historian, Kabaservice posits that even as early as the 1950s-1960s there were crackpots with theories similar to those the republicans unsuccessfully tried to launch against President Obama.
“Robert Welch Jr., a founder of the John Birch Society, famously maintained that President Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, was “a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy.” Other extremist groups charged that a committee of University of Chicago eggheads was rewriting the Constitution to deprive Americans of their rights to vote and hold property, and that the United Nations was training barefoot African cannibals in Georgia for an armed takeover of the United States.”
Barefoot African cannibals? Seriously? So today we have the alt-right sites like Breitbart and InfoWars perpetuating myths like Pizzagate, where only a fool could have believed that Hillary Clinton was holding a child-sex ring in the basement of a D.C. pizza parlor. According to Kabaservice, most republicans don’t actually believe these things, but they “enjoy the ridiculous exaggerations and outright lies for the outrage they provoke in Democrats, liberals, intellectuals and pompous commentators of all political stripes.” AHA! Now we’re getting somewhere! And this I can believe, because I have another friend who delights in sending me snippets from Fox or Breitbart simply to get me started.
“Populist conservatives also appreciate fake news for conveying what they see as underlying symbolic truths. Barack Obama is not actually a Muslim, but those who called him one were pointing toward what they saw as his cosmopolitanism, racial otherness and seeming discomfort with “real” America. Democratic officials do not actually run sex rings, but for fake-news readers they are part of the corrupt and all-powerful government that exploits helpless citizens for fun and profit. Climate change science is not actually a hoax concocted by China and the scientific community, but many see it as serving the interests of globalists from both parties who allowed the devastation of American manufacturing and the working class.”
So, Trump made all these promises … to build a wall on the US-Mexican border, to repeal ACA, to ban Muslim immigrants … yet rather than work with both parties in Congress in order to elicit bipartisan help fulfilling his promises, he pitted republicans against democrats and continued his hateful rhetoric just as he had on the campaign trail, thereby virtually assuring that he would be no more successful at getting legislation passed than President Obama was during his last two years. (Mind you, I am not complaining, for 99% of his promises were bad ideas anyway.) And yet, despite it all, the Trumpians continue to applaud and practically worship at his feet.
Why? According to Kabaservice, because most of his supporters, excluding the wealthy whose reasons I have already identified, are “deeply pessimistic about America and its future. Few believe that he will be able to bring back the good times (however they define them) because they’re convinced that the system is rigged: The “deep state” is too entrenched, the demographic tide too advanced and the global elite too powerful to allow real change. Still, they appreciate President Trump for fighting the fight, especially when it involves going against the wishes of his own party and the customary norms of presidential behavior.”
And the article concludes:
“They will continue to see President Trump as the ultimate political independent, taking on the whole world. Even if it’s an empty performance, it’s bound to win applause.”
The article certainly explains some things, but here is what I still cannot understand. Trumpians, again excluding the very wealthy, tend to be white, Anglo-Saxon protestants, or WASPS. When Trump admits to multiple episodes of sexual harassment, when he gloats over stiffing contractors – working-class people – out of money they had earned, and when he incites violence at rallies … how are these people reconciling their love of all things Trumpian with his heinous behaviour with their WASP values? And when he says he fired FBI Director James Comey for mishandling the case of Hillary Clinton’s emails, then the very next day says he fired him for his conducting of the Russian investigation … do they not see the lie? All of which leads me back, in part anyway, to my original conclusion that they just really are not very well-educated or smart. Not all … certainly some applaud his actions and words because they get the goats of people like me. But others still believe he is going to make their lives somehow better, when every single thing he has attempted to do thus far is designed to make their lives far worse, while at the same time further enriching those rich businessmen who are, in one sense of the word, their oppressors.
There are several other articles that attempt to explain the Trumpian phenomenon, and I plan to take a look at some of those in a future post or posts. I am determined to figure out this puzzle!
So, aren’t you glad I didn’t write about Dodd-Frank tonight?