“He’s a scumbag and I feel that clouds my judgement.”

Envy Writer
Sep 11 · 4 min read

Most of the time, I’m surrounded by people who largely agree with me.

I’m a white woman with a Master’s degree who, politically, leans very, very far left. Like way to the left. Most of the people I know well enough to talk to about politics are educated liberals.

When I do come across a conservative on social media, I often feel like I’ve been blindsided. Like it came out of nowhere.

I’m minding my own democratic-socialist business and bang there’s a MAGA hat-wearing stranger telling me that I should care more about homeless veterans than Mexican babies in dog kennels.

Whoa. Where did that come from?

A little flurry of back and forth and some hurt feelings and unfriending and then I’m back to my walled garden of liberal friends.

But today I saw this post on a friend’s Facebook thread.

He asked a pretty generic question about whether his friends thought there was a path for a Democrat to win in 2020. And a friend of his answered like this:

Even after 3 years I still don’t really know where I stand on him (Trump.) I know he’s a scum bag and I feel that clouds my judgement for his overall performance. Probably voting Libertarian.

Oh, I thought. Oh, yes. This is why I am not confident that there is a path for a Democrat to win in 2020.

Because people like this man — who is a conservative Christian, and a pretty normal guy, not a raving right-wing racist lunatic — has found way to separate the fact that he believes the President of the United States is a scumbag from his judgement of the man’s overall performance.

We had a pleasant exchange. Obviously, we don’t see eye-to-eye, but we were able to talk without attacking each other.

I told him that I didn’t understand the distinction. How can you know someone is a scumbag, but be conflicted about his performance?

And he said that he was embarrassed by a lot of Trump’s behavior, but he’s benefitted from some of it. And that while he wouldn’t only vote for his own benefit, he also wouldn’t vote for ‘Lying Warren’ or ‘Creepy Joe.’

And I said, with all due respect, let’s put Joe Biden aside for the moment because no one really wants him to be president except for maybe moderate Republicans who would be grateful for an alternative to Trump.

But Lying Warren, really? Lying Warren? We’re going to go there when we’re comparing her to a President who has lied as often and as flagrantly as Donald Trump has?

And he said that lying about her ethnicity was a line too far for him. He would not, under any circumstances vote for her for that reason. The fact that she’s a democratic socialist, he said, was secondary.

So, he had no problem forming a distinct and firm opinion about Elizabeth Warren, but after three years had still not been able to firm one up on a man that he had labeled a scumbag.

Because he won’t be able to make himself vote for a democratic socialist. And he needs to feel okay either with voting for Trump or with not really voting against him if he votes for a Libertarian candiadate.

He’s done that via compartmentalizing.

It isn’t the bigots and the screaming assholes who will bring another Trump term, if Trump wins in 2020. It’s people like this man, who have figured out a way to separate the scumbag from his ‘performance’ as President.

No amount of pointing out Trump’s behavior, then, will make a difference. No amount of bad behavior on the President’s part will make a difference. He’s proven that over and over.

As long as his supporters continue to separate him from his behavior, they won’t have any trouble voting for him. And they won’t have any trouble doing that, because they want to vote for him.

They might not want to want to. But they do.

No one does this level of circular thinking if they don’t want to. I mean, the gentleman I spoke with today was pretty straightforward about Elizabeth Warren.

She lied about being a Native American. It pissed him off (he’s some percentage Native American, he said) and he wrote her off. He would not vote for her. He called her Lying Warren.

Cut and dry. No hemming and hawing. No three years still unsure of where he stands on her.

He might not want to vote for Trump, and maybe in the end he won’t. He won’t vote against him either. He’ll vote for a third party. He lives in a very red state, so that’s really just lip service.

If Trump wins in 2020, it will because people like this man want to vote for him and they’ve found away to compartmentalize their thoughts on him in such a way that they can allow themselves to do it, by separating the scumbag from his ‘performance’ as President.


Envy Writer is a Nevada girl in Pennsylvania. She loves a good experiment. Let’s do this together.

Envy Writer

Written by

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” — Louis L’Amour

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade