A topic tune for Trump supporters- stand by your conman | Emma Brockes
Though the president is ruining life for his fanbase, many would vote for him again. And the sneery haters merely make things worse
Every week for the past few months, news has emerged from across the US that Donald Trump advocates are suffering. In February it was farmers in Californias Central Valley, a demographic who voted heavily for Trump, who are now discovering that their workers 70% of whom may be in the country illegally are threatened by Trumps executive orders on immigration.
In March, we discovered that the individuals who stand to lose most in the way of taxation credits under Trumps new tax plan are, by a heavy percentage, his own low-income voters. A few days ago, the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof surveyed Trump supporters in Oklahoma and found that threatened cuts to local services for unemployed people and the elderly will impact schemes that many of them rely on.
To the non-Trump supporter, these dispatches have brought on some visceral responses. Serves you right and hahaha are hard rejoinders to justify in adulthood, but the feeling of release can be irresistible. Why is building a wall more important than educating people? asked one Trump voter, whose government-funded train strategy had been earmarked for elimination, and to which one could only reply: what took you so long?
Whats interesting about this reaction is that, irrespective of the questions at stake, it indicates Trump haters can, in their style, be as guilty of emotional self-indulgence as Trump supporters. One of the lofty observations that gets made by the better-off about the less well-off is that they frequently act against their own basic interests, in favour of more cathartic and irrational returns, a category into which any version of serves you right surely falls. By taunting and belittling the idiocy of Trump advocates, they we increase the likelihood of Trump being re-elected.
Because here is the depressing thing: Kristof, canvassing people who are almost certainly going to suffer at the hands of the man they elected( and one of whom, it was impossible not to notice, was called Tarzan ), discovered that they would not renounce their supporting of Trump. Most said they would vote for him a second time.
There is a sunken cost bias at work here, like falling for a conman: it is humiliating and the only way to conserve ones dignity is to double down on the original mistake but there is also a sense that any commitment by Trump voters to defend their bad option will only increase with schadenfreude from the left.
Ivanka Trump was interviewed by Gayle King on CBS News this week, and was widely ridiculed for her statement: I dont know what it means to be complicit. She then gave an outline of what she thinks it might mean: I hope day will prove that I have done a good job and much more importantly, that my fathers administration is the success that I know it will be.
This added to the definition of complicit she gave, some months ago, when first requested information about complicity with her fathers regime: If being complicit is wanting to be a force-out for good and to make a positive impact, then Im complicit.
This is, patently , not what is meant by complicit, which the people at Merriam-Webster helpfully cleared up by tweeting the actual definition: Helping to perpetrate a crime or do wrong in some way.
What struck me about Ivankas terms was that they were less redolent of weasily avoidance than of a genuine blank in her make-up. Amoral is an overused term, but with Ivanka, as with her father, one gets a sense of someone who simply cant conceptualise wrongdoing. There is making money, and there is not making money, and there is nothing in between.
A friend furthers a novel hypothesi: that Trump is suffering from Toxoplasma gondii , the microscopic parasite that breeds in cats but can embed itself in other mammals, including humans, as carriers. The cat parasite, if you have it and apparently 350,000 people do in Britain alone can guide behaviour towards paranoid, irrational neuroticism, an adversary agent more powerful than the Russians.
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