For the love of Trump
DOT Desk: It shouldn’t make sense. Donald Trump has just been indicted on four criminal charges, including defrauding the United States and conspiring to deprive Americans of their voting rights. Trump also faces 40 charges, including violations of the Espionage Act, in a Florida federal court and 34 felony counts in New York related to hushing up a sex scandal, reports TBS.
Despite it all, Trump’s position as frontrunner to be the next Republican candidate for the presidency appears unassailable. According to one recent poll, he is 37 percentage points ahead of his closest rival, Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida. That the former president might end up in prison doesn’t seem to bother his supporters at all. Zero percent of his hardcore supporters think he has done anything wrong, which is odd. Odder still is that 43% of Republicans apparently think “very favorably” of him. DeSantis, who admittedly seems so uncomfortable in his own skin that he makes other people feel uncomfortable watching him, is failing to outflank Trump on the right. But Chris Christie, a slightly more appealing politician (now polling at 2%), has had even less success by projecting a more moderate image. What explains the tenacity of Trump’s support? The force of his arguments is unlikely to be the key, because he makes few coherent arguments. It is rarely clear what he thinks, or whether his thoughts amount to anything much at all. He is indifferent to or even contemptuous of facts. But the more he lies, the more his supporters seem to like him, as though his avalanche of falsehoods has numbed their ability to perceive truth. No doubt, the radical shifts in how people receive their information have something to do with this. Many people, not just Trump supporters, find a snug spot inside a bubble of internet-driven misinformation, boosted by hucksters posing as journalists on Fox News and other, even zanier outlets. The Trumpist bubble is deeply mired in pessimism. Some 89% of the GOP think the US is in steep decline, even though the economy under President Joe Biden has been remarkably resilient. Members of Trump’s base even talk of an impending national catastrophe, caused by sinister elites, malevolent immigrants, and a wicked international cabal of financiers pulling the world’s strings. Trump has been a master at manipulating these conspiratorial anxieties, which can provoke vengeful violence as easily as ecstatic adulation of the self-professed savior.
There are several reasons for popular anxiety. Many American industrial workers feel left behind in a global economy where cheaper labor is sought overseas. And an array of social and demographic changes – more non-white citizens, less religious authority, challenges to deep-seated gender norms and sexual and racial hierarchies – have left people bewildered, and in their own eyes, dispossessed. They worship the leader who promises to “give them their country back.