Ours is a conservative area that voted overwhelmingly for Trump. It isn’t easy to understand why because, conservative though the majority may be, they also espouse high standards in moral values such as honesty and integrity. Why couldn’t they see him for the con artist he is? A large part of it has to do with nothing more complicated than party loyalty. They’re Republicans who vote Republican no matter who the candidate is. Automatic as their votes may be, they’re undergirded by a deeply ingrained myth that Democrats are socialists who favor higher taxes on the middle class, more government spending on the slackers of the country, and greater regulation of daily life. Moreover, they hold in derision the more liberal other side of the mountains (coastal Washington and Oregon) as a land filled with people who don’t know what a hard day of honest work is like, and expect the government to do everything for them. It’s not a story easily shaken. There’s only one reason to go to Seattle: Seahawks games. There’s no reason to go to Portland. Voting for Trump was a no brainer. He ran as a Republican. What more did they need to know? But there was more. He promised to undo all the harm eight years of Obama had done. It was an added plus despite having no foundation in reality.
I’m on several GOP mailing lists, and received regular mailings throughout Obama’s term. Most were in the form of surveys with questions that asserted a failing economy, teetering stock market, plummeting employment, disastrous trade deals, wasteful spending, lack of respect among other world leaders, and declining military readiness. Democrats sent out their own versions, but Republicans mastered the art of lying with a straight face about the state of the nation. Getting messages like that, month after month for eight years, was bound to have an effect on people predisposed to believe them. I try to keep up with the voices of local conservative voters through social media, and was taken aback by the cascade of comments following the Charlottesville backlash in which Trump backers expressed dismay at how he was being treated. Didn’t people know how low the nation had sunk under the disastrous policies of Obama? On the edge of economic collapse, with jobs flowing overseas, only Trump could be counted on to restore greatness to America. Why was he being treated with such contempt by an ungrateful nation? All this racism stuff was a deliberate distraction from the important issues at hand.
They’re not the words of right wing Fascists. Are they the words of racists? Yes, but the nice kind who don’t think they are. They’re the words of right wing tea partiers who are so convinced of the rightness of their beliefs that they’ve even convinced traditional conservatives about the need to keep on supporting Trump. That’s especially easy to do when the main opposition candidate was the Grande Dame of the coastal elite who got us into this mess while looking down on the “deplorables” who actually do the hard work that keeps it all running. And who was her alter ego? That crazy Jewish New England socialist. The GOP establishment was hardly better. The only voice they offer up these days is a rich Mormon whose personality makes Al Gore look exciting. They rest their case and stand their ground.
Are they going to change? I doubt it. What can change, and must change, is a concerted effort to educate the 70 to 80% of the public who don’t vote about basic American government civics, and the conditions that face the nation. Don’t blame the schools for the lack of civic learning. Adults who don’t vote were educated in schools that taught it, but it didn’t take. The education required will have to come through social media, broadcast media, and politicians of integrity. Republicans, if it they don’t want to become a right wing fringe party, must cease baiting supporters with blatantly false information, and begin arguing for a genuine conservative agenda proposed by legislative leaders willing to engage in honest negotiation for the good of the nation. And speaking of honesty, let’s be honest about it, with malice aforethought they engaged in deliberate obstruction of any and every effort of Obama to do anything. They did it publicly, pridefully, and deplorably. Now they’re stuck with an unbalanced, incompetent, amoral president of their own making.