I’m OK, You’re OK: the secret of why Trump voters love him (and what Democrats must learn from this)
I read this comment about the “basket of deplorables” today:
Can someone please tell me why small-minded white ultra-conservative bigots who believe the earth is 5800 years old and that climate change is a huge liberal hoax are given ANY measure of respect at this point, let alone a disproportionate level of respect given how gynormously stupid and odiously offensive they are?
Why are stupid white bigots still treated as this country’s default morally superior group, to be kissed up to and never criticized, when if anything they are its default morally inferior group, not deserving of the slightest bit of respect let alone admiration? Why are we still kissing up to them, when we should be demonizing and marginalizing them?
I’m sick and tired of coddling stupid white conservative bigots and their precious fee fees and stupid white conservative bigot “culture”, revolving around country music, NASCAR, football, BBQ and being massively fat, and most of all the demonization of others — superior others.
And suddenly it hit me. It all made sense.
The people in the #basketofbigots demographic are never given any measure of respect for their views.
I don’t think they deserve any respect for their views.
But that does not stop them from wanting to be respected.
Donald Trump uses smoke and mirrors to make them feel respected.
He is very careful in what he says and what he doesn’t say. He is very successful with making the basket of bigots eel comfortable with him.
He gives them the impression that their bigotry is OK: hating Muslims is OK; thinking black folks are lazy is OK; criticizing women for their appearance is OK; thinking gay men are icky is OK; wanting trans folks to be invisible is OK; wanting everyone to speak the same language is OK; being able to freely insult people of a different race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, region, or country is OK; longing for an openly racist/sexist/homogeneous past is OK.
He gives them the impression that their ignorance is OK: being poorly educated is OK; not knowing how the branches of government work is OK; not knowing what is in the Constitution is OK; not believing in evolution is OK; not knowing geography is OK; denying the holocaust is OK; ignoring man-made climate chaos is OK; dismissing scientific research is OK; not being able to read very well is OK; not knowing basic math is OK; voting against your economic interests is OK; being homeschooled by someone who is equally ignorant is OK.
He gives them the impression that their cultural markers are OK: fundamentalist religion is OK; the Klan and other “white pride” organizations are OK; completely unrestricted ownership of firearms is OK; admiring symbols of the confederacy is OK; valuing brawn over brains is OK; fried food and sugary soda are OK.
Trump may not actually agree with any of these things. It’s not personal. It’s business. He’s just doing it to get votes. He’s just doing it to close the deal. That’s how deals get made. Figure out what the other guy wants and give it to him. Then you get what you want. It works in the world of business.
Will it work for the world of politics? Will it work for the presidency?
It never occurs to the basket of bigots that the reason “the elites” do not respect them is because their views do not deserve respect. It never occurs to them that “the elites” would respect them if they changed their views. They have no intention of changing them anyway. They don’t see why they should have to change them. They resent the implication that they should change them. They probably wouldn’t even know how to begin to change them!
All they know is that when they watch our TV news programs, read our newspaper columnists, and listen to our comedians, they feel stupid. No one likes to feel stupid. That’s why they don’t watch our TV news, read our newspapers, listen to our comedians, or want to interact with us in any way.
That’s why they do not want to vote for progressive politicians.
Even when Democratic candidates don’t say or do anything specific or intentional to disrespect them, they know our standards and compare themselves unfavorably with them.
And so often D candidates are overtly doing and saying things to disrespect them. Because we are “right”. Because we want them to know we are right and they are wrong.
But being right is not the way to get voters.
Voters vote for people they identify with. They vote for people who make them feel good about voting for them. That is true of Republicons and Democrats. Voters choose to vote for candidates who make them feel good about voting for them.
Someone many years ago, I believe it was Kim Hume, said words to this effect during a C-SPAN interview: Fox News is popular because it is news common people can watch that does not make them feel stupid.
Trump, and the Republicon party in general, speak to that demographic using words they understand, at an elementary school reading level.
They don’t make references to literature that demographic has not read, history they never learned, science they don’t understand, religions they know nothing about.
Trump, and the Republicon party in general, make an agreement with those voters: as long as you vote for us, we won’t criticize you for your bigotry and ignorance.
And in return, as long as we don’t criticize you, you agree not to criticize us. OK? OK.
Trump says straight out: “I love the poorly educated.” We know he is pandering, but has that group of people ever had any politician say he loved them?
Even if they recognize on some level that he is only telling them what they want to hear, the meta message they receive is: he cares enough about getting my vote that he will tell me what I want to hear.
Tell me I’m beautiful. Even if I think you may be lying, I just want to hear you say it, because no one else has ever said it. It makes me feel good to hear you say it. Say it often enough and I’ll give you everything I have. Tell me I’m smart. Even if I think you may be lying, I just want to hear you say it, because no one else has ever said it. It makes me feel good to hear you say it. Say it often enough and I’ll give you everything I have.
My attention. My loyalty. My money. My vote.
Democrats apparently think we are still living in an era where people want their leaders to show how smart they are.
Those days are gone. Long gone.
Democrats apparently think it is a plus to show off a college level vocabulary. How many elementary school children know what the word deplorable means?
Democrats apparently think if you shame people for having backward views, people will change their views because they don’t want to be shamed.
Apparently, no matter how many times it happens, it never occurs to Dems to expect the digging in their heels response: refusing to accept the black president, refusing to respect women’s medical decisions, refusing to issue marriage licenses, refusing to give fair value to women’s work, refusing to offer gender neutral bathrooms, and insisting they are respecting their grandfather’s heritage by doing so.
Donald Trump may or may not have actual respect for the basket of bigots voting demographic. But like the bank robber who goes where the money is, he wants to win the election so he is going where the votes are. And that demographic votes in great numbers. More reliably than liberals vote. That demographic is relentlessly loyal to politicians who offer them even faux respect. Much more loyal than Democrats are.
We spend a lot of time in Left Blogistan despising whole states or regions or groups of voters, lamenting the way they vote against their best economic interests. But that is not all they are doing — they are voting against people who can barely manage to disguise the fact that they openly despise them. And if you know anything about human nature, you have to concede that makes sense.
Even I vote against the party that openly despises me! There is nothing Republicons can say or do to get me past the fact that they openly despise me and everything I believe and everything my life stands for! Since Dems are the party of empathy, can’t we somehow manage to see why the people in the basket of bigots feel the same way about us?
There is a saying in my line of work that goes: you can’t change people. You can only love them.
Can Democrats be open-hearted enough to find common ground with (and yes, even love and respect for) the people who believe we openly despise them? Can we even manage to stop despising them? With so much at stake this year, can we manage to do even that very difficult thing?
Despising them won’t change them and won’t change their votes.
Loving them might.
It might not, but we have so much to lose this year that we have to try everything.
And by love I mean the old fashioned definition of love in action: giving them jobs, repairing their infrastructure, tending to their medical needs, responding to their natural disasters, taking care of their children and elderly loved ones, and reminding them that we were the ones who did it.
Do you see now that THAT is why Republicons reject Obama’s legislation? That is why they block Obamacare and Medicaid expansion, and lie about Obama’s tax cuts, and deny what Democratic administrations do for the economy? They are desperate to avoid having anyone in that demographic realize who has been providing for them all along! Desperate to mask the truth of which party brought them the weekend, Medicare, the GI Bill, food stamps, the minimum wage, rural electricity, unemployment insurance, and other forms of government assistance they rely on every day.
GWB did the tangible thing of putting a small check in their hands and they never forgot it. Obama reduced their taxes by a little bit each week and they never noticed it. We have to stop being subtle!
Donald Trump is not subtle.
Donald Trump believes in telling the big lie to get the big results.
Trump lies to them to make them feel respected, and they crave recognition and respect so much they are willing to believe in lies in order to get it.
That’s why they are so devoted to him.
That’s why he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and not lose votes.
OK. Rant over. The truth hurts. There it is in black and white.
Democrats have 57 days left to do something about it.
We either have to choose to stop openly despising the basket of bigots demographic and thereby have a chance to win their votes.
Or we have to turn out in overwhelming numbers everywhere and outvote them.