A recent online exchange of views prompted me to give more thought to the circumstances of the 40%. That is, the estimated proportion of people in this country, give or take, that continues to support the actions and policies of the current Oval Office occupant. Survey numbers fluctuate, but in general, at least one-third of our society backs the Resident.
I’ve seen suggestions that these people applaud the Orange One because they have been duped by him since mid-2016, when his candidacy came to the forefront; that they’re uninformed and gullible. This contingent includes the evangelical bloc, along with other conservative thinkers along the spectrum of right-wing convictions.
Let’s consider the evangelicals. These are the people who believe in the Bible as literal history, and who are rock-solid in their views about marriage and morals. As a rule, they disapprove of divorce, promiscuity, and venality, for starters. Candidate Orange’s history of infidelities and divorces has been a matter of public record for decades. News of his affair with a porn star appeared shortly before the 2016 election, and later, word of his pay-off for her silence exploded onto the scene. Not to mention his infamous outtake from the Access Hollywood tape regarding sexual molestation of women, which surfaced a month or so prior to the election. His lewdness and his scorn for women were on full display, on tape, in context. As for the question of corruption, his shady dealings with contractors were never a secret, and he has only continued on that path, continually expanding the scale of his greed and, per the emoluments clause of the Constitution, illegal acts. None of these assertions is in dispute; they are facts.
Then….why the unshakable support from the evangelicals? In effect, they are elevating the antithesis of their stated principles. To date, the common explanation is that they believe without question that the Orange One was appointed by God to lead the country. The source of that belief remains murky to outsiders, but it’s an article of faith to the devout. In essence, they’re profound hypocrites in the cause of DJT; they know exactly what he is, but they stand behind him, anyway. They cut this black-hearted “sinner” slack that no one else would receive, and remain some of his most staunch, outspoken defenders/apologists.
And the rest of the 40%? To speculate that their ignorance and susceptibility to propaganda leads them to vote against their own interests is, I think, disingenuous in many, if not most, cases. Again, the Occupant is transparent, has been since he began his campaign, and always was in his adult life. He is a racist (his birther crusade against Barack Obama is but the tip of the iceberg); a xenophobe and white supremacist, with his portrayals of Mexicans and Latin Americans as rapists and destroyers; a misogynist (see references above); an elitist (witness Mar-a-lago and other resorts for the wealthy) who criticizes “the elites;” a wannabe tough guy (“I could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue…”); and a thief (too many lawsuits to name); aside from his total lack of concern for the consequences of his actions, and a delusion of omniscience. Everyone else is always to blame for the dismal state of the country; his favorite targets are the Democrats, the Chinese, and minorities of all categories.
But who, in his or her heart of hearts, wouldn’t want to BE the Orange One? To live in utter wealth, unearned, stolen, or skimmed? To get away with literally anything, and celebrate while enemies powerlessly gnash their teeth? To say anything, however crude, inaccurate, or incendiary, and have it played back like gospel in an endless loop by the obsessed media? To point a finger arbitrarily, and have the powers-that-be sicced on that person, entity, or group? That dark side exists in almost everyone, but most people don’t act on it. In his devotees, it’s a source of envy. I think that’s the answer to the 40%’s slavish dedication.
They fantasize about what it would be like to have the Occupant’s money and power. They share his antipathy toward “the Other,” whoever or whatever “Other” represents. They are fellow racists, fellow tough talkers and bullies: fellow takers, in short. They hope that one day, they also can achieve riches and status, enabling them to have power over others. Even if they’re realistic enough to see that they might never achieve that pedestal, they want to be there. Therefore, DJT gets a pass on everything, as long as he continues to roar about American exceptionalism.
In her 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton called Orange fans “a basket of deplorables,” causing the descent of a tidal wave of criticism. The remark undoubtedly cost her some points in the election. For her, it was uniquely blunt. As much as I dislike and distrust Mrs. Clinton, nevertheless, I believe she was completely accurate with that characterization; it’s one of the few things she’s ever said that I can approve. Her opponent was and is a known quantity; voters knew exactly what they were getting. This year, the evidence of what he is and stands for is stacked miles high. He showed the world what he was four years ago, and since then, has amply proven that he is exactly as he appears to be. Should anyone be inclined to give 2016 Orange voters a mulligan, there’s no doubt that in 2020, the “Go, Donnie!” crowd rates no quarter: they are as puffed-up, irresponsible, callous, greedy, spiteful, and mentally challenged as their Leader. They are willfully disregarding the destruction and trauma of the last three-and-a-half years. Painting them as merely victims is giving them a benefit of the doubt they don’t deserve.