Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Hopelessness Behind Trump's Support

I get a lot of crap from people because I argue that those of us who oppose the policies and behavior of Donald Trump should try to understand and empathize with his voters.

If I were to summarize the criticisms from fellow Trump opponents, it's that Trump voters are racists and bigots who made a conscious decision to vote for a lazy, racist, bigoted blowhard, and that expressing sympathy for them or pointing to reasons for supporting Trump other than prejudice is "letting them off the hook."

I think it's hypocritical to call for compassion and understanding, except for when it comes to your political opponents.

This profile of Trump's continued support in western Pennsylvania argues that despite their increasing suspicion that Trump isn't going to help them economically, people still support Trump because they view him as "on their side" culturally.  (I would define that culture as rural, blue-collar, white Christian conservatives)

On the one hand, progressives and liberals might tear their hair out, since it indicates that Trump supporters basically support him regardless of the impact of his policies, as long as he keeps up his pugnacious, bullying style.

On the other hand, I think explains why compassion is so necessary.  When people are so desperate and angry that they'll vote for and keep supporting a politician who shares almost none of their background (I'll grant that Donald Trump is white, but he is definitely not rural, blue-collar, or Christian) simply because he expresses their anger at the establishment that presided over 30 years of their declining fortunes, while other groups, especially the hated coastal elites saw their lives improve.

If your life is so hopeless that you've given up on improving your lot, and are now focused on seeing other people feel the same hurt that you feel, you're not going to be persuaded to change your mind when your opponents shower you with further anger and contempt.