I was news-surfing the other day, and lo and behold, I discovered a fresh foray into Trumpville, the umpteenth time that the mainstream press has felt it necessary to plumb the alleged wisdom of the stalwart Trump voter.
Yes, Trump fans, we’re listening to you. Endlessly. We keep journeying to your communities, the supposed “real America,” just to indulge you. Yes, we in the press are determined to transcribe your love of Trump. Yes, we know you think he can do no wrong. Yes, we know that nothing short of nuclear war would prompt you to junk him.
And so, last week, an Associated Press reporter trekked to a small Kentucky town, and lo and behold, she unearthed Trump-lovers. (Kentucky gave 65 percent of its vote to Trump.) The headline was, “In the heart of Trump country, his base’s faith is unshaken.”
Ya don’t say!
The AP found guys like Steve Whitt, who still has his “Make America Great Again” cap and describes Trump as “the guy riding on a White Horse;” and gals like Steve’s wife Chesla, who says people should just give Trump a chance; and guys like Wes Lewis, who says that Trump “has already done enough to get my vote again” because “I think he’s pulling the plow pretty good” and because everybody else is “crooked as a barrel of fishhooks.”
Plus, the AP gave us this unintended laugh line: “The tax reform plan will help them, they hope.”
What’s new about any of this? Why bother reporting it — or reading it?
CNN recently put some Trumpkins on the air, and one of them said: “If Jesus Christ gets down off the cross and told me Trump is with Russia, I would tell him, ‘Hold on a second. I need to check with the president to see if it’s true.'” The Washington Post queried some Trumpkins after Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria, and one of them praised Trump for rebuking the allegedly lazy natives: “They’re sitting back, they’re taking the money. He’s trying to wake them up — ‘Do your job. Be responsible.'” The New York Times posted a video of Trump fans (“Would I vote for President Trump again? I probably would”). The website Vox found — prepare to be shocked — that Trump’s fans don’t care about our burgeoning national security scandal; according to one scholarly analysis, “I’m tired of hearing about the Russia thing.”
You know what? Enough already with these people. They’re not newsworthy anymore.
They’re the impenetrable hard core. They’re not going to change, no matter how much damage Trump does. Last week, after I listed a mere 40 of Trump’s most blatant bald-faced lies, I was emailed by a Trump fan who acknowledged none of them. Doris, who lives in central Pennsylvania, instead told me this (I’ve preserved her spellings): “Your column degraded our president who wants only to make America a great country for all that live here. I hope in the future you right a piece about all his accomplishments as he swims upstream in the ocean of democrates that seeks only to bring him down. He wants to make America GREAT and strong to be the backbone of democracy around the globe to promote peace, as I believe he will accomplish better than any president we ever had.”
Wait a sec … Trump, the devotee of dictators, is “the backbone of democracy around the globe”? Nothing penetrates the fan base.
Here’s a New Year’s resolution for the mainstream press: Dial it down with the Trumpkins. They are just 35 percent of Americans. They’re not the story. The real story, in 2018, is what’s roiling within the sizable American majority.
A potential blue wave is building. Last year, in 39 special elections (mostly for state legislative seats), Democrats “over-performed” — improved on their previous vote margins — by more than 10 points in 26 of those contests. Democrats lost a number of races, of course. But on average, in the contested states and districts, Democratic candidates did 13 points better than Hillary Clinton in those states and districts. The reason: fluid demographics.
So this year, when the press journeys to the grassroots, it will be more newsworthy to speak with college-educated white suburbanites (who typically vote Republican, but who defected in significant numbers to the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in purple Virginia, a portent of an anti-Trump backlash in the ’18 midterms); it will be more newsworthy to speak with the 18-to-35 Millennials (who typically don’t vote much in midterms, but whose low opinion of Trump — 63 percent disapproval — could stoke their turnout); it will be more newsworthy to speak with African-Americans (whose success saving us from the execrable Roy Moore could portend heightened enthusiasm in ’18).
Who knows, maybe these folks are what constitute the real America.