Are we making wrong & lazy assumptions about Trump's appeal & his followers?

David Remnick weighs in with his take on Trump which I thought might have some interesting analysis given his gravitas as head of the New Yorker, but in tucking into it it’s just more disgusted pearl clutching, more elegantly stated than usual, but still the same as most liberal (and even many conservative) takes on Trump. IE ignorant, racist, gullible followers being led like rats by an evil, bloviating demagogic Pied Piper, rinse and repeat.

Is this snapshot really accurate though? Is this neat little chunk of analysis *really *why so many people, the conservative working and managerial class people we rely on day to day to make reasoned judgements about building things, wiring things, working out payrolls and fixing our problems have chosen Trump as the preferred flavor? The same conservative people who might look at Trump haters as idiots because they can’t follow simple instructions and directions, take care of their cars, or figure our their taxes. Much as we would like to sneer these people aren’t idiots, and in many cases their IQ’s and skillsets are equal to or better than our own.

So if we’re not, on average, smarter than them or more logical than them why is Trump their preferred flavor?

Is it possible that on some level Trump is actually speaking truth to power? The usual real concerns for the GOP elite, evangelicals, and business class over the past few decades have been issues like no abortion, unreserved support for Israel, and no taxes for the 1%. Someone really speaking to the everyday concerns of the GOP working class and patriotic conservative underclass was rare.

Good service jobs being taken by illegal immigrants willing to work harder for less were not a focused concern for the GOP business class, but it might well be a real world contributing reason the patriotic conservative’s brother did not have construction or landscaping job. And to them no one seems to be taking that issue head on with no apologies or equivocations other than Trump.

And really, did these people really care all that much about libertarian values, restricting abortion, supporting Israel unequivocally, and no new taxes on millionaires and billionaires? No, their concerns were more mundane and immediate. Safety, jobs and someone capable of getting stuff done appeals to them more than a politician bragging about being the best obstructionist ever which has been the GOP’s main job description for some time.

Trump may be a self interested PT Barnum but for this class he’s speaking directly to their concerns.

I don’t actually see any conflict between what you say and what Remnick says. There are multiple things going on here.

The reality is that Ben Carson showed (and this was no strange thing) how people can be very capable in their trade, but not very observant on many other issues.

And if Carson had not been a candidate it is clear that he would had been one of the many Republicans supporting Trump.

As for why Trump is the preferred flavor, a lot of people that are against immigration and many other progressive issues are mostly autocratic. Trump is just what the Carson doctor ordered. :slight_smile:

So the motivations of Trump voters have little real world basis other than they want an autocratic, strong man leader? They could not possibly have real, tangible concerns no one else is speaking to?

Trump isn’t speaking to those concerns either. He’s just acknowledging they have concerns and then he’s given them easy targets to blame. His proposed solutions won’t fix their problems.

Oh, those tangible concerns for many of his followers are not what you would like to have.

"I mean, this is not exactly the people you want in your party.” - Trump, back when leaving the Reform Party because of the prejudice and other issues with the then leaders of that party. But we know already what a flapdoodler frail fingered fiddle-sticker flip flopper Trump is.

Not answering for GiGO, but…

Of course. They want a con-artist in hopes of earning a Trump U. con-man degree and become a spoiled brat too.

Absolutely not. There is no changing Trumpy Wumpy supporters. They do not understand the first thing about politics, so L’Orange is their man who has the same understanding of politics.

This. I don’t know a whole boatload of Trump supporters, but there’s still quite a few 'round these parts. And to every last one, they’re not very intelligent and are angry. Angry that things now aren’t turning out the way they want. There’s gay marriage and minorities in prominent positions. No one easily backs Baby into a corner anymore.

They want what they see as a simpler time, where God was always #1, women knew their place and kids got no special rights for their made-up conditions. They don’t like losing power, being displaced or having their beliefs trampled on by others choosing something in different. So, they’re gonna vote for Trump because they really believe he can build a wall to keep the darkies out, halt abortion and return America back into the Super Duper power it once was before all these PC communists took over.

They have no idea how he’ll do it, but by hook and crook and might, it’ll only take a fella loud enough to tell it like it is. Then a confederate flag can fly on every porch and Hollyweird will be shut down. Praise mama and pass the apple pie!

When wealthier cultures contact poorer ones, there are painful consequences, mostly for the less wealthy, but not exclusively. All the laser focus in the world on jobs isn’t going to prevent that. Donald Trump doesn’t have the answers to this more than anyone else. Compared to our better (to me) politicians, his answer are simultaneously nastier (i.e. they are rapists and killers) and less plausible (i.e. Mexico paying for a wall).

Under President Obama, there have been a record number of deporations and fewer are entering the US illegally. It’s true that Obama isn’t “speaking to” the concerns of the anti-immigrant crowd by bragging about these trends the way Trump would, if President, and trends were identical. That’s because Obama isn’t stirring up hatred against foreigners while he deals with the terribly painful problem of people who want to improve their lives by taking good jobs held by others, and are willing to accept less money than those others by doing so. Are you saying that it would be better if Obama spoke like Trump?

Maybe Elizabeth Warren will be able to speak to a bit of it, in a non-bigoted way, as vice-president. But there is always going to be a portion of the population that doesn’t think its concerns are addressed except when done is a paranoid nativist tone.

These things are legitimate concerns. Is Trump speaking to those concerns? Sure. Every candidate has to talk about jobs and safety.

So from that point, then we look at how do the candidates address these concerns. Some candidates offer policy plans (realistic or unrealistic), some offer structural tweaks to the system, some counsel bipartisan cooperation, some offer political solutions (obstruct the party who supposedly is causing all the trouble).

Then we have Trump declaring he will basically be an autocratic strongman and fix everything via carpet bombing, via his definitely-not-small penis, and via the forceful sound of his own voice

So he’s addressing real concerns, but the attraction is that he’s suggesting the solution is a banana-republic strongman. That’s what his supporters are attracted to.

Then we can get into the argument of whether his supporters are big racist dummies are not, which isn’t very useful or productive. Of course, you can bet that all the big racist dummies have been waiting for Trump their whole lives. That doesn’t mean all of this supporters are idiots or racists. As mentioned above it’s possible to be quite accomplished and intelligent yet have some huge gaping moral blind spot, or some absent piece of life experience, or a disproportionate fixation on one particular issues.

tl;dr version - every problem has at least one stupid solution that an otherwise smart person can fall for in the right circumstances.

Of course, this is Trump and jobs we are talking about here, and others besides the Trump followers are not impressed.

And he is not talking about what is going on, because it does not fit his narrative that he will do better as the current situation is bad according to him.

The economic part is very real, and I think it’s very easy for those with white-collar jobs to dismiss those fears. But the people I know that are most angry about illegal immigration are especially angry at the “illegal” part. They don’t like to competition for work anymore than anyone else does, but it’s the fact that their competition is breaking the law without consequence that cheeses them off.

Some pollsters have IDed Trump supporters as “Authoritarian,” which seems about right; but a non-pejorative word for the same concept might be “rule-following.” They want clear rules, and they want them followed by everyone. Hence, the resonance of Trump’s line about “Either we have a country or we don’t, either we have a border or we don’t.” They don’t go for airy ideas about “a nation is defined by the dreams of it’s children” crap. They think a nation is defined by its borders and its citizens, and if people are coming and going willy-nilly and nobody knows who they are, that feels like chaos to them.

An interesting and informative post. I don’t think I have seen this aspect put quite this succinctly before.

Not sure about that, last I checked we do have a we have a country indeed and we do have a border, of course as a Hispanic from Central America I’m aware that many on the right did fell for the propaganda that the humanitarian crisis from the Central American kids that surrendered at the border was just a border crisis, so that humanitarian issue (many are fleeing gang violence nowadays) was just swept under the rug by most of the right wing and the Trump followers.

In essence there was a complication there, and it was not simple as Trump and followers would want it.

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” - H. L. Mencken

While your classic Mencken quote would be on point if we were discussing* solutions *and the lack thereof it kind of misses the mark as a response to Furt’s explanation of their feelings on the matter. I think his explanation of the cultural psychology involved is directly on target even if there is no real world solution to the issue they are concerned about.

I was dealing with the “rule-following”, what I have seen is that there is little to go for that view. The Trump followers are mostly authoritarian, and not about following good rules. So I’m just saying that it needs to be added that the Trump followers are not making good policy, or showing common sense.

Let’s assume the Trump demographic is working class conservative and conservative patriotic underclass. I get that they are not economically as successful as the upper, more fortunately born rungs of the GOP ladder, but Furt’s observation about them being normative “rule followers” is, I think, largely correct. You are simply saying they are not following what you think are “good” rules which is not (IMO) germane to his point.

You are just ignoring that I accept that, I’m just saying (indeed, adding to that) that as for the OP, I wish a lot of the assumptions were just of the lazy kind.

i think the most insightful part of Remnick’s article was this:

I think a lot of people are responding to his “make America great again” bullshit, and want a strongman in charge.

I don’t think the distinction is as clear as the OP thinks it is.

I am genuinely concerned with my underarm odor. If I do not wear deodorant on warm days, I will be put in a situation that is very disturbing for me. And it’s not just navel-gazing. I really will face social ostrization.

But it’s also true that deodorant manufactures have spent millions of dollars in advertising to cultivate this “problem” in order to market their handy solution. Most people in most of history haven’t given a second thought to underarm odor until deodorant came on the scene. That doesn’t mean their concerns aren’t real and don’t have emotional and social value, but it’s also not just the natural order of things.

Republicans have been using illegal immigrants as a handy lightening rod for decades. Fear of the other is one of the oldest and easiest to ping fears of them all. I’m sure some Trump supporters have been directly harmed by illegal immigration. But have most, really? Do most even know what the ratio of illegal to legal immigrants in their community is? The topic has been so oversold that I think a lot of people just assume every Latino they see is likely to be illegal, further increasing the fear and paranoia.

Trump’s immigration stance is a natural result of decades of using illegal immigration as an empty wedge issue. Eventually, you are right, someone is going to call the Republicans out for talking a lot and doing very little on it.

I don’t think it’s a matter of intelligence or not. Nativism is as old as nations. It’s one of the repeating patterns of history, and one of the ways that people have always tried to consolidate political power. Unfortunately, it’s one that doesn’t seem to work out well in the long run.