That 40% of Americans do not see the real Trump?
For those of us reeling from the torrent of false and dangerous pronouncements from the President, and heartbroken by the many failures of his administration’s response to perhaps the greatest crisis of our lifetimes, it is, to say the least, a mystery why the Trump base continues to cling to their leader’s side.
While Trump has shown increasing weakness around the edges (the very edges that will determine his outcome in November), his core group of supporters, steady throughout his term at roughly 40% of the public, haven’t budged.
Buried in that fact must be something significant that needs to be examined, understood and addressed.
I suspect one word is the key to unlocking the mystery: “deplorables.” That word was uttered by Hilary Clinton late during the 2016 campaign.
It was perhaps the stupidest thing ever said by a Presidential candidate – a single slip up that disclosed a deeper truth about Clinton and overwhelmed the vastly larger pool of stupid things said by her opponent.
Deplorable in what way and to whom? She didn’t say their opinions were deplorable; instead, she defined them as deplorable people. And the term swept up not only the racists, homophobes and their ilk that Clinton directly referred to, but also a broad swath of low-income, high-school educated white voters. If someone called me deplorable (perhaps they have, but I do not know of it—yet), I would be offended. It is a deeply personal attack.
And, that may be a large part of the answer to why 40 percent of Americans have stuck tight with Trump even in his stupidest moments. Emotions are well-known to override judgment (and self-interest), in economics, romance, politics and virtually every other aspect of life. And that emotional process is very sticky. Biden and all Democrats need to address this problem head on, if they want to bring a few of these folks into the fold this fall.
One way to get at that would be to say, “You had every right to feel insulted, and most of us agreed with you, then and now. BUT, today we ask you to try to put that behind you and look at what Clinton did to all of us by insulting you. All of us have paid a price for Clinton’s mistake.”
Many of the Clinton cast-asides now say regularly that they do not like a lot of things about Trump, but at the same time many of them still give him the benefit of the doubt. While we cannot blame Trump for the source of the virus, we can and should objectively judge how he has mismanaged the process from the outset.
That is objectively clear today and it affects all of us exactly the same way.
So, let’s start fresh in November by putting insults aside and joining hands to rebuild our future, together.