It’s really getting to me.
A week or so ago, a federal court ordered Donald Trump to pay two million dollars to charities he had defrauded by using his ostensibly charitable foundation as a personal and political slush fund. Veterans were among the causes from which he stole.
A Facebook meme I’ve seen several times since that court order says something to the effect that “what if you lived in a country whose leader stole from charity—and no one cared? You live in that country.”
Of course, that isn’t accurate. A lot of us care. But then, there are Americans who clearly don’t–Americans who continue to support Donald Trump no matter what despicable things he does– and for the life of me, I can’t understand why.
I realize that most people who support Trump neither follow nor understand public policy, and are basically unaware of the dreadful policies pursued by his administration. They also aren’t watching the Impeachment hearings–they’re just hearing about them from Fox.
Given all the data about civic ignorance, I can also believe that most of his “fans” don’t have the faintest idea how government works, what the Constitution requires, or how much of an assault on critical democratic norms his administration represents.
But here’s the thing.
According to polls, some 40% of voters still support Donald Trump. That’s despite an unending stream of disclosures that have been so widely reported that even people who watch Fox News could hardly have escaped hearing about them. It is virtually impossible to live in the U.S. and not know about the infamous “grab ‘em by the pussy” tape, or his payoffs to porn stars, or the numerous women who’ve accused him of sexual assault. They could not have avoided witnessing his crude, rude and ignorant behaviors, or reading at least some of the unending series of tweets in which he brags, lies and insults using ungrammatical English and misspelled words.
People who voted for him because they thought he was a businessman must now know about his multiple bankruptcies. Even if they dismiss those as “smart” strategies to avoid paying what he owed, surely his increasingly frantic efforts to hide his tax returns would have raised a question about what it is that he’s so determined to hide.
Voters and elected Republicans who still support him have rejected the Mueller Report. They’ve ignored pictures of refugee children in cages. They have refused to believe the testimony of war heroes and longtime diplomats. I could go on and on…but everyone reading this blog can supply additional examples.
Andrew Sullivan recently described the phenomenon:
“The GOP as a whole has consistently backed Trump rather than the Constitution. Sixty-two percent of Republican supporters have said that there is nothing Trump could do, no crime or war crime, no high crime or misdemeanor, that would lead them to vote against him in 2020. There is only one way to describe this, and that is a cult, completely resistant to reason or debate. The tribalism is so deep that Trump seems incapable of dropping below 40 percent in the national polls, and is competitive in many swing states. The cult is so strong that Trump feels invulnerable.”
The question is: why?
I understand partisanship, and the reluctance of people who have voted for someone to admit to themselves and others that they made a mistake. I understand the loyalty of the White Nationalists who see Trump as the Great White (Christian, male) hope. I’m even prepared to recognize that there are people who simply don’t read or listen to any news other than Fox.
But surely that isn’t forty percent of American voters.
I understood the people who wanted to have a beer with George W. Bush. He was personally pleasant, at least. Donald Trump, however, is personally repulsive—someone with no apparent redeeming characteristics. He’s a walking, bloviating example of everything American schools and churches and nonprofit organizations purport to reject. I can’t believe there are people who would want their children or grandchildren to model their behaviors on his.
So—why? Surely, 40% of our neighbors aren’t all bigots. Could 40% of Americans actually believe Trump’s transparent lies?
My (formerly conservative Republican) brother-in-law thinks they do. He quotes Abraham Lincoln’s famous line “you can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time…” and says that the 2020 vote for Trump will provide an exact count of the number of Americans who can be fooled all of the time.
Other theories are welcome, because I just don’t get it. I’m at a loss.