Why Are Smart People Still Pro-Donald Trump?
They see no evil, hear no evil because they‘re always looking away.
How can anyone be seriously voting for Donald Trump?
That is the question — the one I ask myself a thousand times a day. After a lot of deep thought and several revealing Facebook posts from people who support the President, I think I may have stumbled upon the answer: Unlike the rest of us, they pretty much tune him out.
That’s why they can claim he isn’t racist while maintaining a straight face and accuse his Democratic rival in the 2020 Presidential Election, Vice President Joe Biden, and Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, of being disingenuous liars without even a trace of irony. They see no evil, hear no evil because when Trump goes off, they’re always looking away.
I’m not talking about the hardcore fan base Trump plays to with his racist rhetoric. I’m talking about otherwise intelligent people who, under normal circumstances, would recognize a sociopath when he keeps banging them over the head. It’s tempting to write them all off as depraved and immoral, but I don’t think that’s all there is to it.
I’ve considered cancelling them all (and lord knows I’ve unfriended a few), but that wouldn’t change the reality in which we are currently living. Knee-jerk anger and quick dismissals are easy, but they won’t help me sleep any better at night. If I can’t see where they’re coming from, I at least would like to try to figure out why, beyond “They’re racist. They’re stupid. They’re evil.”
They very well may be all of the above, but I also recognize some as people I might like and respect if the subject of politics never came up. Over the past few weeks, I’ve had several White friends reach out to me because they don’t know how to reach some of the people in their lives who are still pro-Trump. I could advise them to cancel those people outright, but I think it’s smarter to try to understand them in order to build a better case against Trump.
How do they keep the faith in a man who has been gaslighting them for four years? The answer: selective listening. They pay attention only to whatever supports the political outcome that will give them a world where they can pay as little taxes as possible and keep putting individual above community.
They ignore pretty much everything else Trump says or does, perhaps being fully aware that none of it would hold up to any kind of real scrutiny. Meanwhile, they don’t miss a sycophantic FOX News report on how Trump is the greatest leader in the history of leaders, and his wife, Melania Trump, is the most poised and elegant First Lady ever to stand by her man. FOX justifies their love.
Then they watch intently as the network’s pundits breathlessly dwell on Biden’s malapropisms and racial gaffes. He’s made his share of clumsy, tone-deaf comments about race, that’s for sure. The Black community has soundly rebuked him, but we haven’t disowned him entirely because what he says is really no different from the crap we’ve been hearing all our lives from White people just like the ones who try to use his gaffes to boost Trump, the king of racist thinking.
So Biden says “real” black people wouldn’t vote Trump. Yeah, it’s a silly statement for an old White guy to made, but the coverage the media devote to it is beside the point, which is that we hear so much worse from the President of the United States. He’s a man who has described far-right White supremacists as “very fine people,” a man who has openly supported monuments to Confederate heroes who waged the bloodiest war in American history AGAINST THE UNITED STATES, a man who invited a couple that were recently indicted for aiming guns at Black Lives Matter protestors to speak at the Republican National Convention, a man who stood onstage during a Presidential debate and told a violent far-right group to “Stand back and stand by.” None of this is he said/he said. It’s all out there in the public domain.
Either Trump’s more intelligent supporters didn’t hear or see any of that because they weren’t paying attention, or they don’t care because racism doesn’t affect them personally and “racist” only matters when they can try to pin it on Biden. Earlier this year when Tara Reade made her sexual assault allegations against Biden, some on Trump’s side tried to paint him as a predator and pedophile, as if they’d never heard of Stormy Daniels or listened to the leaked tape where their hero bragged to former Access Hollywood host Billy Bush about sexually assaulting women. It’s like they were still thinking what a lot of them were saying when the tape was made public weeks before the 2016 Presidential Election: “Grab ’em by the pussy’? Fake news.
At the time of tape-gate, they were too busy ooh-ing and aah-ing over Hillary Clinton emails anyway. And two years ago when it was revealed that Ivanka Trump had sent hundreds of emails about government business from her personal email account, what did we hear from her father’s disciples? Crickets.
I must admit, I’m a little bit jealous. Sometimes I wish I could unhear some of the things Trump says, because I might lose a lot less sleep at night. But then, while ignorance might grant me a little bit of bliss, I need to stay informed enough to offer reality checks when those on Team Trump start spouting their usual nonsense.
It’s like a script they’ve memorized without actually fact-checking anything. Some lowlights …
1) Blacks are better off because of President Trump. Reality check: Pre-COVID, unemployment had been dropping at a steady rate since 2010, one year into President Barack Obama’s term, so Trump’s biggest accomplishment was not screwing up what Obama had started years earlier. Despite unemployment’s continued downward trajectory under Trump (albeit at a slower rate), there was no change in the wide gulf between White and Black unemployment — and we are still dying from COVID at twice the rate of Whites.
2) President Trump saved the world by banning travel from China early on. Reality check: And yet, here we are, the country with the most COVID deaths by far — 210,000 and counting — despite supposedly being the best and strongest nation on the planet. Closing the border to traffic from China would have been a lot more effective if Trump hadn’t been downplaying the severity of the virus — no, LYING about the severity of the virus — at the same time, or if later, instead of turning the pandemic into a political issue, he had put safety first over his reelection campaign.
3) Lockdowns and mask mandates infringe on personal freedoms. Reality check: They actually save lives. Without them, the COVID death rate would be exponentially higher.
4) Trump represents good old Christian values. Reality check: His life and actions say differently.
I could go on and on, but reality bites, and my fingers are getting tired. So are my ears and eyes, from reading and hearing the tired old script being passed around by Trump Republicans. They pepper their arguments with phrases and words like “mob mentality,” “cancel culture,” and “hypocrisy,” as if those don’t apply to them, and regularly drop hackneyed lines like “agree to disagree” because, deep down, they know they’re peddling junk.
Hopefully, though, we’ll soon see the light at the end of the tunnel we’ve been crawling through for the last four years. It’s a good thing I enjoy sleeping when it’s light out. After all the shut-eye the Trump years have cost me, I’ll have a lot of catching up to do.