I live in a very red state that voted overwhelming for Trump where support for him has barely wavered (and when it does, it recovers quickly). I have neighbors who are being hurt every day…….and yet they stand by the man…..Why? Who are my neighbors, my friends….?
- They are soybean farmers whose crops have lost their principal value as an export to China. And those same farmers are finding it nearly impossible to access the relief funds they have been promised (while the agri-businesses are in the express lane.
- They have children who live in Poplar Bluff where MidContinent Nail Corporation, the largest employer in the area, is about to close its doors thanks to steel tariffs.
- They own a roofing company that has employed a group of men from Central America from a small town for 20 years- the work here in the biggest roofing months- but now they can only get a handful to even consider a six month stay here out of fear of U.S. treatment of temp workers.
- They are wage earners who were promised a huge tax cut but got nearly nothing while those who want to swallow up their farms to expand agri-corps, or who want to be allowed to dump industrial waste into the soil, or who want efforts to organize laborers to be virtually, or who stand in the way of efforts to improve schools or address infrastructure….got 83 percent of the benefit while my neighbors got 17 percent.
- They are mothers, fathers, single folk, old and young who are discovering that small changes in rules governing medical care is allowing insurance companies to deny coverage for visits, procedures and drugs because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have given insurers permission to reclassify that which they have covered ever since The Affordable Care Act went into effect.
So why do they stand by their man? Why do they proudly wear these….
THEY ARE WIRED TO DO SO…..LET ME EXPLAIN…..
In 2017 a social psychologist published a story in Psychology Today in which he summarized findings that were identified earlier in a review paper published in the Journal of Social and Political Psychology. Psychologist and UC Santa Cruz professor Thomas Pettigrew argued that five major psychological phenomena can help explain Trumps unwavering support by those who attend events like this one.
1. They Embrace Authoritarianism
An attraction to authoritarianism refers to the advocacy or enforcement of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom, and is commonly associated with a lack of concern for the opinions or needs of others. It is characterized by belief in total and complete obedience to an authority who is believed to be “the best hope for” and “the only legitimate voice of” those who follow him/her. They look to this person as a prophetic figure and savior. The result is a submissiveness to the authority.
Those with the syndrome often display an irrational anger toward outgroup members, and when challenged, a tendency toward aggression. The typically have a resistance to new experiences, and a rigid hierarchical view of society. The syndrome is often triggered by fear and anxiety , making it easy for leaders who exaggerate threat or who fear monger to gain their allegiance.
2. They Have A Strong Tendency Toward Prejudice
While it would be grossly unfair and inaccurate to say that every one of Trump’s supporters have prejudice against ethnic, racial and religious minorities but it would be equally inaccurate to pressume that many do not. It is a well-known fact that the Republican party, going at least as far back to Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy,” used strategies that appealed to bigotry, such as lacing speeches with “dog whistles”—code words that signaled prejudice toward minorities that were designed to be heard by racists but no one else.
While the dog whistles of the past were more subtle, Trump’s are sometimes shockingly direct. There’s no denying that he routinely appeals to bigoted supporters when he calls Muslims “dangerous” and Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “murderers,” often in a blanketed fashion. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a new study has shown that support for Trump is highly correlated with attributes that mark racist ideology and commitment.
3. They Have very Limited Out-Of-Group contact
Outergroup contact refers to contact with members of groups that are outside one’s own, which has been experimentally shown to reduce prejudice. It’s important to note that there is significant evidence that Trump’s white supporters, who make up the vast majority of his base, have experienced significantly less contact with minorities than other Americans. The racial and ethnic isolation of Whites at the zip-code levels is one of the strongest predictors of Trump support. Support for Trump has be shown to be far higher among those voters’ who have significant physical distance from the Mexican border for example.In Trump’s speeches, he appeals to his base by making a clear distinction between groups that they believe to have a generally higher status in their society (themselves) and those groups that are typically thought of as belonging to a lower status (immigrants and minorities).
4. They Have a Victim’s Outlook: Deprived/Cheated
Relative deprivation refers to the experience of being deprived of something to which one believes they are entitled. It is the discontent felt when one compares their position in life to others who they feel are equal or especially inferior but are perceived to have unfairly and undeservedly had more success than them.
Common explanations for Trump’s popularity among non-bigoted voters involve economics. There is no doubt that some Trump supporters are simply angry that American jobs are being lost to Mexico and China, which is certainly understandable, although these loyalists often ignore the fact that some of these careers are actually being lost due to the accelerating pace of automation.
These Trump supporters are experiencing relative deprivation, and are common among the swing states like Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. This kind of deprivation is specifically referred to as “relative,” as opposed to “absolute,” because the feeling is often based on a skewed perception of what one is entitled to. For example, an analysis conducted by FiveThirtyEight estimated that the median annual income of Trump supporters was $72,000. If such data is accurate, the portrayal of most Trump supporters as “working class” citizens rebelling against Republican elites may be more myth than fact.
I have my own thoughts on the matter…..the role of ignorance and arrogance…….
“All that is required for a democracy to fail is for its citizens to be uninformed” – John Adams
I have worried about this for many years. And so have others. The Atlantic published a particularly fine reflection on the matter several years ago just days after Trump’s victory (or, as I see it, America’s loss). Titled “Ignorance Does Not Lead to Election Bliss:Perhaps the country’s political state owes itself to the failures of its education system” the article points out that Americans by and large do not know much about the Constitution, about Federal or State Government, about those who hold office and those appointed to office, about candidates, or about associated topics. They read very little that is serious. They know only bits and pieces of history.
BUT, they believe they are very well informed and innately wise. Ignorance PLUS Arrogance. So, here we are……I was a Republican, and an active one, for most of my political life (40 years) but in 2004, after the disasters that marred the first Bush Admin I changed parties. I worked for Barack Obama in 2008 and in 2012. What struck me time and time again was how few of those who supported my candidate had much of an argument as to why they did. Their support was based on how they felt about Obama, how excited they were, how their friends felt…..My point is that many of the dynamics that put Trump in and give him a good chance of holding on….did the same thing for Obama. The difference, of course, is……well there is just too much to say on score.