The Elusive Trump Voter


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As we are stocking on Purelle and popcorn in preparation for tonight’s debate, Trumpists continue to baffle the non-Trumpists world over.

Many theories have been put forth to explain their existence:

–being authoritarian and subjected to strict and/or abusive upbringing;

–being poor and/or poorly educated;

–being white, undereducated male;

–being deplorable and/or (or?) conscience-deficient racists;

–being conservative, identity-conscious racists;

–being desperate and in throes of death instinct;

and, related,

–being traumatized somehow (this one is underexplored, I’d say).

While non-Trumpists search for explanations, Trumpists scoff and laugh and deny any resemblance to the images painted by the above mentioned speculations.

But there is some truth in them, if only because Trump supporters cut a wide swath of the American population. (There are Trumpists in other nations, too, and it is a fair assumption that they fit one of the above theories about their behavior and motivations.) This means we will find Trumpists among nearly all groups of people.

Pundits especially have trouble with comprehending all this, as they have not seen what America looks like down there, way beneath their ivory towers. It is almost adorable how they try to grasp what may motivate people who struggle for a living and whose existence is marked by deepening hopelessness. “We must feel something for the poor! They are in pain!” exclaims Joe Scarborough. “But, oh, the poor poor!” laments David Brooks, vowing to be a better, more attentive (to the poor) person from now on.

That’s all nice and good, if a tad condescending — and not quite accurate in this instance, as data shows that Trumpists are not poor.

My own, limited experience confirms this. The Trumpists I know (of) personally are definitely not members of the poor, huddled masses.

For example, my son’s boss — a wealthy and seemingly reasonable (and well educated) man is for Trump. So is a lovely grandmotherly psychotherapist whom I’ve met at conference recently. She drives a sporty Mercedes, lives in one of the wealthiest suburbs of our city, and believes firmly that Trump represents the change we need.

The energetic young woman who is part a professional, part personal acquaintance of mine, and better informed about politics than most, votes for Trump and for the change he represents. (She too drives a luxury sport car. Hm.)

In the upper-middle-classy neighborhoods around ours, TRUMP signs are proudly popping up on the manicured lawns surrounding semi-mansions (with the likely illegal Mexican laborers working around them).

A couple of middle-ageish white men of my acquaintance are also for Trump, because yes, we need change. And Hillary somehow rubs them the wrong way. The hate-filled way they talk about her makes me suspect that their opposition to her is not based on issues as much as on her evoking some more primal motives, like their fear of a punitive mother/shrill ex. Just a speculation.

The arguments about our need for change are most reasonable and more than justified. But if one really wanted a positive, meaningful change, of the kind that lifts all boats and makes our lives genuinely better, then one would have supported Bernie early on, as it is obvious that Trump has nothing of substance to offer.

The truthful slogan of his campaign should have been “Much Ado about Nothing.” Or maybe, and better, “The Tale of Sound and Fury Signifying Nothing.” Because nothing is the only thing he knows something about. The man’s staggering ignorance itself — never mind (!) his profound character defect, of which that ignorance is an integral part — should be the disqualifying factor, if we lived in a healthy or even normal society.

Obviously we don’t.

Trumpian change is that of destruction for its own sake — or, as one young person I know says, for shit and giggles. We bulldoze what’s in front of us to have a satisfaction of inflicting pain and punishment on those who, as we believe, are responsible for our misery in life. This kind of rageful destruction obviously does not help us build a better world — on the contrary. But Trumpism is not really about building a better world, is it, even though Trumpists may say so when asked. A closer look at their motivations says otherwise.

I am repeatedly reminded of Dorothy Thompson‘s description of the followers of another leader with a similar character defect, in a different place and era.

Here’s that relevant excerpt, with Trump references inserted in the place of the original ones:

It’s fun—a macabre sort of fun—this parlor game of “Who Goes Trump?” And it simplifies things—asking the question in regard to specific personalities.

Kind, good, happy, gentlemanly, secure people never go Trump. They may be the gentle philosopher whose name is in the Blue Book, or Bill from City College to whom democracy gave a chance to design airplanes—you’ll never make Trumpists out of them. But the frustrated and humiliated intellectual, the rich and scared speculator, the spoiled son, the labor tyrant, the fellow who has achieved success by smelling out the wind of success—they would all go Trump in a crisis.

Believe me, nice people don’t go Trump. Their race, color, creed, or social condition is not the criterion. It is something in them.

Those who haven’t anything in them to tell them what they like and what they don’t-whether it is breeding, or happiness, or wisdom, or a code, however old-fashioned or however modern, go Trump. It’s an amusing game. Try it at the next big party you go to.

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10 thoughts on “The Elusive Trump Voter

  1. Another excellent post!

    What I hear over and over again among his supporters relates to his history of being a “successful (?) businessman.” Somehow he’s conned people into believing this makes him capable of running an entire country. They seem to forget (especially) the international affairs aspect, let alone the innumerable other departments that have absolutely nothing to do with the type of “business” he’s familiar with.

    And you’re right. Supporter backgrounds and philosophies are very wide spread, although there’s a certain type of “personality” that seems to dominate.

    It will be interesting to see what happens tonight. I predict he’ll come on (as he did in the first debate) with decor and reserve … until Hillary strikes at the heart of his egotistic narcissism. Then watch out!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Nan!

      Yes, he is rich, which is all some people want to know about a person.

      But his success, such as it is, is based on deception. He is incapable of creating anything, and especially not anything of value. His world is that of casinos and beauty contests and an occasional obscene building — but even those are based on fraud and slime. He destroys everything he touches — he cannot help it, his character defect makes it impossible for him to do anything but — and will destroy the country, if not the world, if allowed enough power.

      Yes, the personality dimension of his supporter is the key and it cuts through all demographic strata. Kinda scary, when we think about it, but not terribly surprising.

      But LOL@decor and reserve

      In that last debate, before he fully unleashed himself, you could see the seething contempt and rage in his face. A portent of things to come.

      Like

    • I always love to hear your thoughts, Sha’Tara.

      I’ll be there shortly to read it, but first have to do something about the approaching migraine, and do some work.

      See you in a bit!

      Like

  2. Excellent observation of the many supporters screaming for change when they drive around in sports cars, leading rich lives and underpaying migrant laborers. Funny how so many people just don’t get why they have what they have. By the way, I just subscribed to this post yesterday. I picked five blogs to follow that looked interesting, and this was one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, polymath, and welcome here.

      I am moderately perplexed by those well-off Trumpists, but not entirely so. They all do share his character defect to some degree and that’s why they find him so inspirational, or at least vote-worthy.

      If you have some time, see Dorothy Thompson’s essay I link to at the end. She nails the Trum… er, Nazi characters there, brilliantly describing them in their natural habitat.

      In the beginning, she writes:

      “Sometimes I think there are direct biological factors at work—a type of education, feeding, and physical training which has produced a new kind of human being with an imbalance in his nature. He has been fed vitamins and filled with energies that are beyond the capacity of his intellect to discipline. He has been treated to forms of education which have released him from inhibitions. His body is vigorous. His mind is childish. His soul has been almost completely neglected.”

      Mhm. Those are the Trumpists I have seen. What’s more, they are everywhere in the world and they are a majority, I’m afraid.

      Liked by 1 person

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