I would do it again: Trump voters one year later
From announcing the construction of a wall on the border with Mexico, to United States (USA) Embassy being moved to Jerusalem, the year behind us is no doubt the year of Donald Trump. In the US itself, instability in the executive power has deepened divisions within the already polarized electorate; while leading to unexpected policies and alliances in international relations as reactions to Washington’s behavior. Every week, it seems a new danger hangs over the head of the Administration: either because of the Congressional investigation, the FBI or calls for impeachment. A number of influential authors from the left, the political center, and even conservatives already consider Trump among the worst American presidents ever. Glenn Greenwald’s influential Intercept gives an extensive report on his psychological profile, citing psychiatrists who regard him as “unbalanced,” “unbridled hedonist”, “narcissus”.
However, as has been shown in separate surveys by Bloomberg, Guardian, and Politico, the connection between Trump and its “base” is still very strong. Whether it’s registered Republicans or citizens who voted for Obama in 2012 only to vote for Trump four years later (7 million of them!); the unpredictable US president can still count on a large number of those who have an understanding of the decisions he makes. 82% of those who voted for him say they would do it again (when it comes to Hilary Clinton 78%). Why do they, after all the situations in which he was caught either in ignorance or lies, continue to support him?
In the first place for ideological reasons. Whether this is the abolition of the “Obamacare” program, the dismissal of James Comey, or the way he responded to the incidents in Charlottesville, as long as Trump is ready to “show it to the left” (i.e. those who advocate liberal policies in the broadest sense) support will continue, no matter what. Respondents saw the “Left” as unconstructive: “if he had more help on the other side” a better agreement could have been reached on the health system, for example.
In close connection with the above-mentioned position, it is also an estimate that Trump by his very presence abolishes the long established relations in American politics. For those who voted for him, that is a good thing and it is not the end of the world if some of the measures he goes for do not take place. Hence, two-thirds of them believe that his actions change the government for better. They do not see regular outbursts on Twitter as a problem, for he is also a “candidate of anti-establishment”; thus “only gives the material to CNN to be what it is: a portal of fake news”. It is, therefore, a reflection of the deep distrust of the system as it is.
Tramp’s supporters will not stop doing so even when his character flaws become evident. “Because (Tramp) is not someone who gives up”; “He is too arrogant to give up,” was one of the answers to the question as to whether he should be impeached after several of his associates were suspected of having contact with Russia. The vast majority of respondents (85%) in “Politico” survey believe Trump will serve for the full term.
From this one can conclude to what extent his campaign for the president, led last year, was successful. A cult of personality has been created, which, according to Julia Azari (Associate Professor of Political Science at Market University), is precisely based on the chosen model of communication. Performances on Twitter help create a counter-narrative: he writes (he or his advisers, it’s less important now) about “lying” media (primarily), political opponents, and even other heads of state; creating an illusion of “I against all”. In the context of the aforementioned polarization, where most of “his” voters do not already believe the so-called mainstream media and hope that someone will take them seriously, it is a message that “hits the center”.
Of course, American president is not an irrational political actor and the new narrative is not the only thing he delivers to his supporters. Let us take (from his perspective) the crowning achievement of 2017, tax reliefs: they are, above all, intended for the rich and richer in the middle class. The criticism (including the most serious: that the budget deficit will be increased by $ 1.5 trillion in the next ten years), is answered by a tweet: “The Fake News refuses to talk about how Big and how Strong our BASE is. They show Fake Polls just like they report Fake News. Despite only negative reporting, we are doing well – nobody is going to beat us. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Like a teenager, the most powerful man in the world ends his argument by shouting.
Taking everything into account, the decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem is not a surprise. It’s classic Trump: unprincipled to relations and policies built decades ago (before him), which he does not feel obliged to anyway; a businessman who is exclusively concerned with his interest group and does not consider the long-term perspective.
There is, however, at least one thing that should concern Trump’s supporters. The outlook for the second term is not great, on the contrary: polls show that, if elections were to be held today, most of the respondents would vote for an “unnamed Democrat”. Same goes for “independent” voters who do not support either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. There is, after all, an objective need to do something, some results must be achieved. With the administration in which key players are preoccupied by themselves, whether it’s about Congressional inquiries, court proceedings, scandals of every kind, this seems unlikely. Failures were more numerous in 2017 than successes, be it with regard to Obamacare, the migration policy, or state of infrastructure. In Trump’s environment there are far too many problematic people (such as Paul Manafort) to “get the things done” as one of the tweets say.
First published in Novi magazin no. 348-349, 27 December 2017