by Justin Rosario
It would be so easy to dismiss this piece as another snobby college-educated elite east-coast liberal rant against the "common man" but Trump supporters are anything but common. They're so far removed from basic reality and the understanding of how a functioning democracy works that giving them the vote is tantamount to giving a loaded gun to a toddler; they're just as likely to kill themselves as everyone else in the room.
Case in point: A recent PPP poll showed that 51% of Trump voters think he should be able to overturn judicial decisions he doesn't like. 51% also think the "Bowling Green Massacre" Kellyanne Conway invented is real. 73% think Trump's Muslim ban was not supposed to ban Muslims despite Trump explicitly saying it was. 41% support actually straight up banning Muslims. 50% don't think Trump should divest himself from his businesses. 55% think millions of people voted illegally in 2016. 46% think there should be a White History Month.
This is a snapshot of a group of people that are manifestly incapable of making rational decisions. They do not exist in the same reality as the rest of the country. Their worldview has been so badly distorted by propaganda and hate that they cannot tell the difference between a lie and the truth.
Let's break this into three categories:
Ignorance of, or disdain for, the Constitution - Six years ago, I wrote about how the right believes in monarchy as opposed to democracy:
This isn’t as crazy as you might think. Talk to a conservative about who should be in charge of America. You will usually find that their criterion does not include the words “smartest” or “most qualified.” They’ll SAY that it’s “we the people” but that’s not borne out by how they act and vote. Instead, you will find that they would rather defer to the rich and powerful because “they know what’s best for the country.” They’re rich and powerful so they know best? Who thinks that way but a peasant?
One of Trump's main selling points (aside from his open racism) was his wealth and business "success." A relentless self-promoter, Trump's voters ate it up, prostrating themselves before his money and his power. Sure, he'd never spent a second working for the public good in his life but he was born rich and (allegedly) made himself even richer! And, no, buying and selling real estate wouldn't prepare you to run a School Board much less a country, but he was clearly the right man for the job of running the world's only superpower. Look at how lavishly he lives!
Again, who thinks that way but a peasant? Someone that truly believes that only those born to wealth and privilege have the divine right to rule? There's an argument to be made that the Founding Fathers thought the same way by only giving the vote to white male landowners but they waged a war to be free of the monarchy for a reason and it wasn't to perpetuate feudalism.
Trump's followers wave their pocket copies of the Constitution, fondle their American flags and get an erection during the national anthem, but when push comes to shove, they voted for a man that made it clear he would be a Caesar. The rule of law mattered not at all. Trump voters should not be allowed to vote away our democracy because they can't handle the weight of self-rule.
Alternative Facts - Trump voters still think Obama was born in Kenya. That InfoWars and Breitbart are legitimate sources of news. That The New York Times and The Washington Post are "fake news." That thousands of Muslims danced in the streets on 9/11. That Hillary Clinton was utterly corrupt and a murderer. I could go on but to list every lie Trump's followers believe would take a book. Or two. Or several.
Simply put: These people exist in a bubble of misinformation that permeates every facet of their lives. In a predominantly Christian country, Christianity is on the brink of extinction. With crime being at its lowest point in 40 years, America is more dangerous than ever. Russia is openly plotting to retake Eastern Europe and reestablish the Soviet Union, but the real threat is Iran and its non-existent nukes. Corporate greed and automation have decimated manufacturing jobs but the real threat is undocumented immigrants picking fruit for $2 an hour.
It's one thing to be an average voter with a cursory knowledge of the issues; it's big and complicated world and no one is an expert in more than a tiny piece of it. It's another thing to have strong opinions about something you don't fully understand; people have been doing that since the invention of people. But it's something completely different to base your entire worldview on a set of demonstrably false "facts" and refuse to acknowledge any reality but the one you agree with.
This is not spin or political bias, these are pure lies and they can't tell the difference anymore. Former right wing radio host Charles J. Sykes explains why:
For years, as a conservative radio talk show host, I played a role in that conditioning by hammering the mainstream media for its bias and double standards. But the price turned out to be far higher than I imagined. The cumulative effect of the attacks was to delegitimize those outlets and essentially destroy much of the right’s immunity to false information. We thought we were creating a savvier, more skeptical audience. Instead, we opened the door for President Trump, who found an audience that could be easily misled.
In other words, Trump voters cannot be trusted with the awesome responsibility of governing themselves because they are, in essence, psychologically damaged.
Racial Spite - There's no way around it: The best predictor of what kind of person would vote for Trump is a measurement of how racist they are. Period. More than one study shows that exact thing. The "economic anxiety" we were supposed to believe gave us Trump is a distant second, or even third, consideration.
And it's not hard to see why. After 8 years of a black president, the shrinking power of the white vote, movements like Black Lives Matter pushing back against systemic racism, and 24/7 propaganda appealing to white resentment, an unhealthy number of whites were foaming at the mouth. They were terrified of losing the very privilege that they so vehemently deny exists. They raced to vote for the man that told them it was OK to hate Those People.
This explains why so many of them are maliciously thrilled at Trump's erratic and reckless actions as president. They don't care that he's not making their lives better as long as he's making other people's lives worse. They won, we lost, and that's all that matters. Ha. Ha. Ha.
Lyndon B. Johnson once said, "If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you." Trump's voters have taken this to an extreme unthinkable in Johnson's time. They will happily support the most corrupt, incompetent, and tyrannical president as long as he's punishing their "enemies." Those "enemies" being all the blacks, Latinos, LGBTs, women, Muslims, etc. that dared to demand an equal seat at the table. America "belongs" to white people and they'd rather it burn to the ground before sharing with everyone else.
People motivated purely by spite to the point of suicide cannot govern responsibly and should not be allowed to force their nihilism on the rest of us.
We won't, of course, take away their right to vote even after we take back Congress and the White House by 2020. That would be immoral and unconstitutional in the extreme. Voter suppression is a right wing thing and we on the left don't roll that way. However, this utter failure of Trump voters to behave with even the tiniest hint of responsibility means that there is no point in trying to understand them or empathize with their anger. It's a waste of time and effort.
Right now, they are throwing a temper tantrum that's lasted for 8 years so far and shows no signs of stopping. And while we won't take away their vote, we can certainly take away their voice in the public discourse. It may sound positively Trumplike, but the next time the left is ascendant, we should put the right in a timeout and completely ignore them. No olive branches. No reaching across the aisle. Nothing.
You cannot compromise with people who want to burn your house to the ground. Meeting them halfway still leaves you with half an uninhabitable house.
The difference between the left and the right is that when the right is in power, they do everything they can to spread misery and strip people of their rights. They punish their opponents because they can. They delight in their cruelty and they don't care if they hurt themselves in the process.
When the left is in the power, the right only feels like they're being punished. The reality is that we work to improve everyone's lives, not just some of them. When we push for equality, the right feels like we taking something from them but the privilege they fear losing was never rightfully theirs in the first place. An even playing field is not a punishment; it just feels that way when you refuse to admit you feel entitled to special treatment.
Yes, the white working class has been suffering for a long time. And just like the devastated black communities they so often derided, poor and desperate whites have turned to drugs and alcohol to escape the pain. But the solution is not to target Muslims and immigrants so white people feel less hopeless. The real solution will be large and complicated with a lot of moving parts. There are no quick fixes when you're talking about a $17- $18 trillion dollar economy.
But just because it's hard doesn't mean it can't be done. We absolutely can make the economy work for the average American again. All it requires is the political will to turn our backs on the right instead of trying to appease them. They had their chance and they elected Donald Trump. They don't get another seat at the table until they grow the fuck up.