You have seen and heard examples of the magnetic hold Donald Trump has over many of his supporters. The Republican rank and file continue to support him, even as establishment Republicans jump from Trump. Indeed, the loyalty of many defies reality, such as the woman my brother told me of seeing on television:
She said was afraid it was her last opportunity to vote for a man with morals and ethics.
The premise of that statement, that Trump has “morals and ethics,” is not simply insupportable, it’s jaw-droppingly discounted from reality.
In Sunday’s Inky, John Kaag and Michael Ventimiglia delve into the seemingly magnetic hold Donald Trump has over his core supporters. Their conclusions echo the conclusions that Richard Hofstadter reached about American political extremism the almost 70 years ago: status anxiety and fear of loss of privilege. Here’s an bit:
Trump is the personification of a set of cultural advantages that he and white males of far lesser means have enjoyed for quite some time. He knows how it works; he knows how to justify it; and he knows how tenuous it is. Tenuous – stretched thin and weary – like milking a century-long legacy of patriarchy and white supremacy until there is next to nothing left. Trump has a pillow-sharing acquaintance with all of this, which is the reason, despite the vastly different universes they inhabit, that he resonates so viscerally with his supporters. He gets them, because he is them. He is a last man for his time, as close to a cartoon figure as a flesh-and-blood human being can come. He is the undeserving white male. He knows it, and this is their swan song.
This explains, at least in part, the visceral reaction that Trump and his supporters have to “political correctness.” Politically correct language is, to their ears, the soundtrack of an alien uprising . . . .