In order to continue their support, President Trump’s adherents have had to accept a great deal of behavior that is offensive to many other Americans.
An incomplete sample includes: constantly mouthing lies – demonstrably untrue statements; divisiveness, both domestcally and globally, which features racial hatred and quarrels with long standing strategic allies and breaking highly important treaties; holding U.S. up to international ridicule by, inter alia, kissing the asses of Putin, Kim and Xi ‘in Macy’s window at noon’; rejecting generally accepted scientific evidence in critical areas, such as the continued hospitality of Mother Earth to human life; failure to have acted promptly to equip the nation to combat the pandemic on being advised last January of it’s arrival; and undermining the rule of law by corruptly interpositioning his own interests into the Justice Department’s administration of our system of justice.
Unusual in American politics, such support for such a disgusting, self-promoting character must surely be prompted by a powerful motivation.
But there’s even more to account for.
For exdample, Trump’s Tulsa rally, while failing it’s goal to fill an indoor 19,000 person arena, still brought thousands of mostly maskless people from far and wide into close, loud-shouting, particle-spewing contact. They then made their way back home, laden with whatever they had picked up in Tulsa.
That rally was the most dangerous petri dish for cultivating the Covid-19 virus and vehicle for broadcasting it, even exceeding the mostly outdoor-venued, elbow to elbow Bourbon Street crowds at Mardi Gras. Awareness of the hazard posed by the Tulsa gathering is evidenced by the Waiver of Liability each attendee must sign in order to gain admittance.
It’s not unheard of for voters to forgive a lovable politician’s foibles and less than civics-class government. But. the level of committment rises exponentrially with a willingness to risk becoming infected with a deadly virus and then communicating it to loved ones and the general public. What is the incentive for Trumpians to risk it all ?
A 2017 article in the Journal of Social and Political Psychology, which explored the psychological basis for Trump’s support, suggested that five psychological phenomona help explain this. Here are the most relevant four.
By way of a perhaps over-generalizerd summary, these conditions conceptually coalesced around a horizontal stratification of humanity, where members of the highest layer (whites) view themselves as better, or most worthy, and hence entitled to dominate those below (darker skined). And, often exhibit aggression toward their ‘underlings,’ which could be triggered by fear. It all boils down to racial prejudice.
It is this common connecting thread of tribalism, or racism, connecting these conditions that provide the stimulus for Trump’s support. When activated by fear this is a powerful force. Trump has done so. White fear of personal harm (Mexicans as murderers and rapists). White fear of the growing political clout of darker skinned folks. It has been strong enough to prompt Trump backers to risk it all.
African-Americans, the principal traditional direct object of the bigotry, have suffered greatly. But, guess what, the rest of us – including white folk – are now being harmed too. Intolerance has helped install and now maintains a president who is in the process of destroying the structure and fabric of our government and society that has allowed each of us – particularly white folks – to enjoy a quality of life unparalleled in human history.
In preparing to vote in November, white Americans will hopefully gain a fuller appreciation of the carnage Trump has wrought in our own backyard and a realization it was made possible in good part by biggotry. Then, maybe we will be able to finally offer to all members of the human family the respect we desire for ourselves.
I need to point out tow things. I voted for Trump, because I could not support Hillary – big mistake And, it has taken me most of my 93 years to gradually arrive at the views set forth above. Somewhat inconsistently at the edges, my three years at UVA Law School – during segregation – have left me still in awe of other aspects of the character of slave-owning-founding-fathers.