I continue to be dismayed by steadfast support for Trumpism from two overlapping sets of friends and acquaintances. The first are solid small government conservatives, and the second are fundamentalist leaning Christians. They’re people I know, reasonably well educated, active in the community, and good to friends.
The one favors limited small government at every level, tends to be anti-tax in any form, and believes welfare should be the province of personal charity or non governmental community organizations. To the extent it can do so, government should aid transportation and commerce, and secure the nation’s defense, but no more than that. Otherwise it should stay out of private lives. The other believes Jesus had little to say about government, much to say about personal accountability, and tends to believe social ills are caused by individual and collective failure to accept Jesus as lord and savior. Separation of church and state has gone too far. Government should enforce moral standards, which they call traditional, and encourage prayer (Christian?) in schools and at public events. Each has some valid points, so can’t be dismissed out of hand, but it’s as if they see the world through a keyhole, unaware of how much else there is, and suspicious of anyone offering to open the door. Each overlaps with the other, unconcerned about the ironic conflicts involved.
For them, Trump is the answer to tax and spend, big government, anti Christian, socialist, liberals. It’s a mantra they’ve memorized, and from which they cannot be shaken. Who are liberals? Anyone not looking at the world through their keyhole. What amazes me about the Trump supporters I know is not their commitment to limited government or religious faith, but that they can’t see Trump is the antithesis of both. By can’t see, I mean it’s invisible to them. He’s not downsizing or limiting government, but moving resources and power from one part to another. He has no understanding of or interest in fiscal restraint. He’s enthusiastic about asserting federal executive authority over states and persons in new, probably unconstitutional, ways. Under Trumpism, the momentum of government power has shifted toward favoring corporations over individuals, wealth over poverty, and privilege over rights. Many have warned of creeping fascism under the banner of America First and Make America Great Again. Trump supporters shrug it off as jealous left wing fear mongering, name calling over having lost ability to impose their socialist ways on free Americans. To them, fascism is a figment of liberal imagination, unimaginable in a free America.
If liberals can see what to them isn’t really there, Trump supporters can’t see what really is. Invisible to them are the immorality, corruption and criminality of the Trump world. Trump’s personal history of blatant immorality has been catalogued in books, reviewed in articles, and recorded on video, but to erstwhile Trumpsters it’s hidden under a cloak of invisibility, or trivialized as a redeemable example of the ordinary fallen nature we all share. His record of corruption in business and personal dealings has been documented beyond all reasonable objection yet treated as if it never happened. The indictable likelihood of crimes committed are attributed to anyone but him. Convicted associates are cast aside as if they were never a part of his organization. Multiple fact checking lists of lies don’t exist. For them, he is a truth telling promise keeper, and they have the proof of it, which, in a strange way, they do. He cut their taxes, is building the wall, and is talks a tough, no compromise game with other countries. What else is there to say?
It’s the blank stare of incredulity in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary that gets me. As one conservative pastor friend, said, “I don’t know what your problem is, he’s keeping us safe. We can’t let the country be invaded. I’m all for immigrants as long as they follow the law, and he’s enforcing the law. Besides, look at how well the economy is doing.” What he didn’t say was he’s hoping for repeal of gay rights, return of classroom school prayer, and women to their biblically appropriated places. Trump might be the one to make it happen.