Like many other liberals, I’ve had difficulty understanding the loyalty of Trump supporters, no matter how outrageous his behavior or statements. Luckily for me, a Facebook friend is a supporter, and following her posts has given me insight into what his followers believe.
The clue came from an unexpected source: a video of an African-American minister enumerating numerous wrongs with America and speaking in praise of Donald Trump. He made one blooper when he said that Americans don’t care about Donald Trump’s sex life. This, of course, is not true. It might be true in France but not in the United States. The attempt by the Republican Party to impeach President Clinton is proof of the Puritan pudding; yet, it was important for the reverend to place Donald Trump above such moral stains.
His list of national wrongs that Mr. Trump would correct included poor infrastructure, outsourcing of jobs, law and order, the housing crisis, lack of security in central cities, and the recent Wells Fargo scandal, which he turned into a criticism of institutions that betray our trust. He repeated Trump’s claim that neighbors knew of the San Bernardino bombing plot but did not warn authorities.
The obvious answer is that Hillary Clinton is the only one of the two candidates who has made concrete proposals to solve many of these problems. Or that Donald Trump notoriously outsources his products. Another response is that the housing crisis was brought about by George W. Bush Jr., and the economic problems today in America are directly due to neoliberal economic policies advanced by Republicans and encouraged by Donald Trump, who would lower taxes on the rich even more. One might argue, as well, that violence has steadily decreased under President Obama. But these responses are clearly irrelevant.
As was clear as well from the listeners’ responses, all these troubles are the Democrats’ fault. It does not matter that the Republicans form the majority in both houses of government and therefore have not been powerless for over four years. Although they have blocked much of Obama’s proposals and have not willingly allocated funds for improving America’s infrastructure, the Democrats are guilty. Nor is it what Donald Trump says that is truly important, but rather his image and how his followers perceive him that matter. Despite all evidence to the contrary (both from his past and his confused declarations of policy), they believe that he will rescue them and America. Furthermore, the threat of Muslim refugees stokes their fears. My friend recently posted an article that suggested that the behavior of a Muslim father In Norway, who raped his daughter because she was too “westernized,” was typical of Muslim culture.
Hillary is the devil incarnate, so there is no point in explicating the fine points of economics or talking about how much better qualified she is than he. It is Trump’s lack of qualification that looms large; his deliberate posture of going against the grain. He is, therefore, they seem to be saying, “One of us”—misunderstood, individualistic, anti-government, anti-institutions, someone who will lead them to deliverance.