I’m going to give it shot and try to get into the head of the middle America Trump voter, with a little empathy.
It’s Easter Sunday, 2020.
You are a lifelong citizen of Smalltown USA.
Your church and religion is very important to you. You believe that the hand of God is behind the success of your farm or small business, even as you have become less and less successful. Your feel that every time you open your mail, it’s a tax bill or notice of a new regulation that costs you money. If you are a farmer, there are regulations about what you can grow and how much you can sell it for. You may not even own your land, you lease it and are tied into stringent rules that put the well-being of you and your family below that of prairie dogs and snakes. If you own a small business, there are rules about who you can hire and fire, the size and layout of your store, everything. Rules made by rich men living in coastal cities thousands of miles away. Men that care nothing about you or your family. Their solution is always another government program that “gives” you back part of what was taken from you. Then they make fun of you for not clamoring for their crumbs and accuse you of voting against your self-interest.
And they are always accusing you of racism, even though your closest friends and neighbors, the family that owns the next farm over, are black.
Even though you are successful, it’s hard. You succeed only through the grace of God. And you truly believe that it wouldn’t be nearly so hard if the government would step back.
This year it’s worse. You’ve been regulated out of your church. The government has taken Easter away from you. Because there is a pandemic affecting the coastal cities, the places that are the root of all evil. And the government has scientists and experts that are telling you that you can’t go to church because of this, even though you don’t know or don’t know anyone that knows someone that’s been sick.
So you stay home from church, the place you want to be more than any other place in the world.
You turn on the TV to watch the news, and see a bunch of liberal newscasters making fun of you and calling you a murderer for wanting to go to church. Your President (more on him later) wanted you to be able to go, but the liberal newscasters made fun of him and called him a murderer, too.
Then the news ends and the network begins their Easter evening programming. The Greatest Story Ever Told? The Sound of Music? - No, it’s Jesus Christ Superstar, a musical about your Lord and Savior. You watch in horror as a bunch of multicultural hippies spray paint “Jesus” all over the set and generally portray Jesus as the leader of a hippie cult. You watch as Jesus is caressed by a prostitute. You are further outraged by the sympathetic portrayal of a black Judas that looks like a gang member. You’re outraged that this is now normal. You’re outraged that your kids seem to think this production, while a little “out there”, is great because it makes religion more accessible. You’re outraged that your grandkids love it. You want the America of your youth back.
Three years ago, you elected a President that claimed to understand you. But even he is no match for the forces that have been working to undermine you and your America. Because here is, surrounded by the rich elites you hate, telling you you can’t go to church in a tone that makes it clear that he’s speaking under duress. And he’s trying his best to signal to you that he’s being held hostage. But he’s still your strong man, look at how he gets in some nasty jabs at his captors.
And he was winning. Look at how he’s defied the FBI and Congress. Look at how he’s smacking down all those liberal governors that are trying to take your freedom. You cheer every time he fires another rich elite that’s been sent to control him. You can’t wait to vote for him again so he can finish the job. Now they’ve tried to destroy the economy he has built back up just to take him out. But you won’t let them. You want his autocracy and you want him to grab as much power for himself as he can. Because you really do believe that only he can fix this.
That’s what we are up against and it’s formidable and multi-faceted. Blaming it on racism and misogyny, while it may be true in some sense, is a vast oversimplification of a deeper dissatisfaction and will lead to a Democratic loss in November.