Trump’s supporters are quietly living among us
Many Democrats dread Donald Trump’s sprint to the Republican nomination and console themselves that his voters are almost exclusively coonskin cap-wearing, Capitol-invading, racist, supremacist deplorables.
But be afraid, my fellow progressives, because the real Trump voters are nothing like that.
They are so worried about being cancelled out of their carpools or golf foursomes that they’ll never mention that they’re still down for the Donald and ready to vote for him for the third time in a row.
Ardent always-Trumpers live in posh zip codes. They floss, use napkins, and are actually quite pleasant, as long as you don’t get them started. You won’t see mug shot coffee mugs in their cubicles or MAGA hats in the backs of their Teslas, because then you wouldn’t let your kids play with their kids. Yet the haute base views Trump as the only good president since Reagan.
Here’s why: The former president, whose very name is painful for me to type, deregulated businesses and, before COVID hit, presided over the strongest economy and stock market in half a century. More Blacks and Latinos were employed in the first years of the You Know Who administration since LBJ was picking up dogs, and reporters, by the ears.
The First Step Act was also the first piece of criminal justice reform in…well, forever. In the 16 years of the Clinton and Obama Presidencies, Democrats failed to do anything like it. As a result, a lot of people who should never have been imprisoned got sprung.
The haute base are also fond of his three Supreme Court picks, believing as they do that the court is the only remaining bulwark against the overthrow of traditional society (that is, themselves).
In terms of foreign policy, everybody thought that Voldemort, once he had his finger on the button, would do more with it than order a Diet Coke. They thought he’d bomb everyone else back into the Stone Age. Yet he put exactly zero troops into new wars, your closeted conservative friends are probably bursting to tell you.
Not that they will tell you, of course. Playdates and tee times matter.
In the quiet of their own homes, they applaud Trump for pegging China as the major threat to the West, with its unfair economic competition, espionage, and encroachment into Africa and Asia through its payday lending program — er, Belt and Road initiative. Even the Chinese were surprised that the former president meant what he said. They expected him to be transactional and naïve. And we on the left laughed at the Space Force, but where exactly do you think the next war is going to start? Montreal?
His silent supporters even like the fact that he tried to engage with Little Rocket Man, Kim Jong-Un of North Korea, instead of kicking that can down the road, as did his predecessors for decades. The little guy wouldn’t get on board, but you’ve got to give DT credit for trying. OK, you don’t…but they do.
They approve you know who’s move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, an act the Senate reapproved twice a year for decades when no president was willing. They adore the Abraham Accords and wish MBS weren’t quite so, you know, murderous — but aside from that, they like teaming up with him against Iran.
They will tell you, if asked, that the Dakotas were rich and the Russians were broke when Biden took office, and that today, it’s the reverse. We were energy self-sufficient and net energy exporters…until we weren’t. When gas prices rose, the Strategic Oil Reserve was drained to lower prices just prior to the midterms, the Russians got rich, and now they had the money to invade Ukraine, which they wouldn’t have dared to do with Mr. T in the Oval.
Your silent conservative neighbors were just as outraged as we were by the murder of George Floyd. Yet they whisper to each other that they don’t see the connection between a genuine quest for social justice and the opportunistic looting of luxury stores downtown.
They don’t believe in defunding the police, or in decriminalizing…well, crime. They believe, but keep to themselves, the fact that the poor suffer the most when the police vanish from their neighborhoods or are otherwised demoralized or deactivated. When organized gangs of pharmacy looters cause CVS and Walgreens to close stores, it means that now Grandma has to ride three buses to get her prescription. Not their grandma or yours, mind you, but someone’s.
As for impeachment, they look at Hunter Biden the way they would at their own adult kid who got caught up with hookers and blow. Someone who needs a hug and a stint in rehab, not prison time. Unless, of course, somebody finds a tape of him telling the Ukrainians or the Chinese, “Let me put Dad on the phone.”
They don’t like Trump’s coarse language or behavior, although they’ll argue that he’s no worse than Johnson or Nixon (or maybe even a Clinton or a Bush or two.) A role model for the kids he’s not, but we’ve all learned to separate the political from the personal.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump voters declined to identify themselves to pollsters. Today, Trump voters decline to identify themselves to anyone, because it’s just not worth being shunned.
So, my fellow Democrats, don’t let the fantasy that those MAGA voters are toothless, backwoods, brain-dead, monobrows who couldn’t spell cat if you spotted them the “C” and the “A.”
Plenty of them are living quietly in our neighborhoods, and they can spell big words and write big checks to Trump-supporting PACs. And they might just bring him back next November if Democrats remain complacent.
Michael Levin is a New York Times bestselling author and ghostwriter.