This question came up on Facebook following one of my recent posts “In for a penny…” It followed the simple logical point that Trump voters are either like Trump, are not like Trump, but are okay with Trump being the way he is, or are in denial that Trump is the way he is. I understand the impulse to defend one’s humanity. I can see the notion that one needs to push back against being called a horrible person. That’s of course, not what I was saying, but I can see why it can be interpreted that way.
I don’t have the capacity to answer that in a sentence or two. The most difficult assignment I ever had in college was when a professor told us we could write no more than three pages. Anyone that says anything without writing 1000 or more words really isn’t trying that hard. Yet, this is a serious topic that has a deadly serious and careful response.
So, let’s take the first possibility. If you support Trump because you are like Trump, that means you are a horrible person. There’s no getting around that. If you listen to what he says and say, “I like the cut of his gib” then you are a horrible person. I’m not going to apologize for that. However, I suspect that most of my friends and family don’t fall into this category.
In order to fall into this category you would have to acknowledge every awful thing that Trump has said and done and nodded in agreement. They would have done or said the exact same thing if given the opportunity. Very few people fit into this category. To say or do that many awful things would put most people either in jail or ostracized by polite society. So, I don’t take this very seriously.
The second one is where I think most people are at. They like some of what he has said and don’t like other things he has said. This is where most people are politically in both parties . No politician gets 100 percent agreement across the board. This is certainly true of behavior. Support of a candidate doesn’t mean you support everything the candidate says and does.
I’ve heard friends say they acknowledge that Trump is a bad guy, but thought he was better than the alternative. I wholeheartedly disagree with the conclusion, but I certainly understand the sentiment. At least this statement shows a level of self-awareness that I can get behind. Acknowledging facts and that people said what they actually said is an important first step.
The last group is a group I have the most difficulty with. I think it contains a sizeable chunk of people that support Trump. These are the folks in denial. They attribute anything negative to fake news. The mental dexterity it takes to maintain this level of denial is impressive. You have the normal denial of mainstream media sources. That’s certainly par for the course.
What’s entertaining to watch is when a non-traditional MSM source reports the same thing. They deny that too. People at a recent rally booed Chris Wallace. This is a reporter that works for Fox News. Fox News is a right leaning media outlet. If you are bagging on them for criticizing the president then I’m not really sure where we can go in terms of having a productive conversation.
So, you have three choices: I like Donald Trump specifically because of the horrible things he does and says, I don’t like Donald Trump, but he’s better than the alternative, and I like Donald Trump and don’t believe that he has said or done horrible things. Those are the choices on the table. All of us have to reconcile that with the choices we make on election day. So, I sympathize to a certain degree. After each horrible thing, I see people that change their calculation. It’s difficult to suppress the urge to ask why this horrible thing was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Ultimately, I have to.