Understanding Trump supporters, with empathy

In a linked series of tweets, @hilzoy offers an empathic, incisive explanation for the rise and rise of Drumpf.

The GOP leadership spent decades "destroying trust in press, experts, basically everyone people don't know personally" while " amping up importance of politics by telling people that America is being destroyed." The conundrum: now you're deeply worried about something no one person can possibly understand, and you also can't trust what the press tells you, and meanwhile, GOP politicians have been dismantling your quality of life and shipping your jobs overseas. Enter Drumpf:

Anyways: in world w/o trust, gestures are everything. In world in which GOP leaders have lost trust, they can't give those gestures.

Which leaves field wide open to Trump: He can't be bought (ha ha), speaks his mind, etc., etc. One big signal of authenticity.

And by destroying trust in everyone who might speak against him, party has destroyed all paths back to sanity.

Who is going to tell voters that Trump's ideas are nuts, *and be believed?* The MSM? Experts?

The ppl who might help are either ppl who have lied to the base, or ppl they have been convinced are liars or worse.

And this is *entirely* the GOP's own doing. ENTIRELY.

This is 1 reason (of many) why I never wanted to demonize GOP voters. They need a route back. Hard enough w/o encountering contempt.

Republic Disaster [Hilzoy/Twitter]

(via Making Light)


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  1. I wonder about the narrative I see. It seems like when Trump was popular to a few, so many people were willing to leave it at "racists gonna racist", and only now that he is well on his way to being candidate they are opening up to other explanations. Because what, we should consider that racist attitudes might actually be that widespread? Nope, never, back up because we have to instead consider that anti-expert culture thing being ignored before.

    Well, there is a lot of truth in what is said here, but at the same time supporting Trump still means being at least indifferent to some very serious racism. In other words, I'd argue there is more than one serious thing happening here, and it feels a little as if one keeps being used to cover another.

  2. I do recall at the beginning of Obama's first term all the dire predictions, like "America will be unrecognizable after four years of Obama", etc.

    And conservatives still talk as if Obama has ruined the country, like they think the real estate crash and subsequent recession started the day he took office. At worst he's been a competent caretaker President.

    There is a complete unwillingness to work across the aisle on the part of Republicans, they have made it so any kind of compromise with Democrats is seen as treason; they are prisoners of their own take-no-prisoners attitude (meanwhile they accuse Democrats of being "partisan.")

    Part of this is that Fox News and Rush Limbaugh have made it a business decision to promote how dire the situation is, to promote conspiracies, to look at everything from a partisan political angle-- it guarantees a loyal audience and a certain amount of revenue from advertisers. But at the same time their audience stays roughly the same in size. Their ideas get little or no traction with people in the middle or the left, so McCain and Romney lose by that small percentage of the middle they can never win. And that's just fine with Fox News, because they can continue to ramp up the rhetoric and paranoia. Whatever happened to the "Obama Youth" brigades we were warned about? It doesn't matter.

  3. Trump came out of the gate with maximum bluster, saying any crazy thing that came into his head to get attention, and boy, did it work. But every once in awhile, he's been slipping in little comments about how "I know this isn't the way a President behaves" or "I'm actually a nice guy". And now he's starting to talk about being a unifier.

    I think he's going to quickly position himself as a friendly, charming, presidential guy, a new Reagan, compared to the loonies he's running against. He'll chuckle about the Mexican wall as something to figure out later once we've dealt with 'real problems'. He'll try to keep his nutjob fan club while appealing to populist causes. And it might actually work.

  4. I'm so tired of all this "Trump can't be bought" rhetoric. You don't need to be bought when your primary concern is already your own profitability, and bending the country in ways that help your bottom line. He's not subject to money--he IS money, or at least the ugliest illusion and worship of it.

  5. People are obsessed with the Kardashians, reality TV is like half the new programming now, and half of your "news" is celebrity gossip and shenanigans.

    And you wonder why Trump is popular?

    He's a clown, and everyone likes clowns. He's a showman and entertaining. God knows he didn't get where he is on skill or knowledge.

    Yep. And mark my words - if he wins the Republican nomination, see him suddenly slant left on everything to pick up the disgruntled Democrats. He will either deny past statements, or say he thought about it and there is room for non-rapist Mexicans.

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