Scandals Won't Deter Trump Fans
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Though Albert Einstein never actually said this famous quote, you don’t need to be a genius to recognize its truth. And this truth is more important now than ever.
I see my fellow liberals sharing quotes, tweets and articles denouncing Trump and highlighting his failures and outright crimes. Don’t get me wrong: this is necessary and important, and I’m grateful for the ways they help me stay informed. I share their outrage and contempt toward our supposed commander-in-chief, and I share their fears as we watch our democracy crumble.
Friday morning, Time Magazine national correspondent Charlotte Alter wrote an eye-opening thread on Twitter in which she explained that, “the most pervasive bias in political coverage is not left vs. right, it's ‘follows politics’ vs. ‘doesn't follow politics.’” In other words, those of us who follow politics find it extremely difficult to understand those who do not follow politics.
As a result, we often fall victim to the assumption that voters who don’t follow politics operate under the same logic we do. For example, “Trump insults women, therefore women will dislike Trump.” Considering 42 percent of women still voted for Trump in the 2016 election, this is clearly not the case.
Anyone who has watched correspondents on The Daily Show conduct “man-on-the-street reporting” will recognize this. Perhaps the best example is Jordan Klepper’s 2017 interview with Pastor Mark Burns, a vocal pro-Trump evangelical. If this interview taught us anything, it’s that voters will do Olympic-gold-medal-worthy mental gymnastics to justify their political beliefs. Simone Biles wouldn’t have a chance against them.
Alter said that, “There's this mentality on Twitter that's like ‘THIS one huge scandal will sink Trump with THIS group of voters,’ and I can conclusively report that this is bullshit.” And she couldn’t be more right.
If, after four years, veterans still support Trump despite him dodging the draft, stating that avoiding STDs in the 90s was his personal Vietnam, and claiming late Senator and Purple Heart recipient John McCain wasn’t a war hero because he was captured, no scandal you share today will change their vote.
If, after four years, white evangelical Christians maintain devout support for Trump despite his three marriages and numerous adulterous affairs, his policies banning immigrants and refugees rather than “love thy neighbor,” and his frequent use of profanity and disparaging language, no scandal you share today will change their vote.
If, after four years, working-class workers still believe Trump is their champion despite his tax cuts for big businesses and wealthy citizens; his $4.5 billion cut in food-stamp benefits; and the fact that, during his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 32 million Americans have lost their jobs, while MarketWatch reports that “the 467 U.S. billionaires have seen their wealth increase by over $730 billion,” no scandal you share today will change their vote.
If, after four years, women still believe Trump supports them despite numerous allegations of sexual assault, his infamous “Grab ‘em by the pussy” remarks, among many others, his blocking of laws that promote equal pay, and his attacks on reproductive health services, no scandal you share today will change their vote.
Just as there’s more than enough evidence to show why Donald Trump is dangerous and unfit for office, there’s more than enough evidence to show that none of it matters to many people. Don’t just take my word for it; Trump made the same point during his 2016 campaign when he said he could shoot someone in downtown New York City and still not lose any voters.
We need to stop thinking that the numerous reasons I just listed, and the hundreds more I did not, are enough to convince someone not to vote for Trump. As Klepper told Pastor Burns, “I ran the numbers. They don’t check out.”
Like many others, in 2016 I never thought anyone would take Trump seriously, and I certainly never thought he would be elected president. I blame this, in part, on the fact that I’m mostly surrounded by fellow liberals and progressives. How could I have any idea that so many Americans supported him if everything I heard ranged from amusement to criticism?
The majority of the time, when we share news about Trump, we are preaching to the choir and sounding off into an echo chamber. This is certainly cathartic, and there’s nothing wrong with doing so, but at the end of the day, it’s not going to produce any meaningful or substantial results.
So, while, yes, I like to stay current on Trump’s latest gaffes, lies and crimes, I would rather see us sharing resources, statistics and concrete strategies for how we can defeat him and restore our democracy. We all know what a vile, unqualified and dangerous “leader” Trump is.
I want to know what we’re going to do to stop him.