For the better part of two years now I have tried hard to understand the Americans who continue to support Donald Trump and his performance as president. The polls vary slightly from one week to the next, but for months now, his approval rating has hovered around 40 percent. Put another way, four of 10 Americans polled approve of his performance as president. About 57 percent disapprove, a slight majority.
This fact fascinates those who consider their political values progressive or liberal and tend to be critical of Trump’s performance. Fascinates might be too mild a verb to describe their assessment. This group wants to know why so many continue to support him. Here’s a partial list of their complaints.
Prefers Fox News to his security briefings for information;
Does not read;
Spends hours watching right-wing tilted television;
Accepts foreign leaders’ payments to stay in his hotel in clear violation of the Constitution;
He has borrowed heavily and is in financial debt to Chinese and Russian lenders;
He grants his son-in-law Jared Kushner access to the nation’s confidential strategic information and gives him power to represent the United States in dealing with foreign countries’ leaders;
Abuses his position to expand and promote family business interests;
Appoints his friends to power positions so they can reverse progress in education, consumer protection, and environment;
Consorts with dictators, admires and defends them, and meets with them privately, keeping their conversations secret;
Trusts their word over his own advisers and experts;
Hates anyone with dark skin, especially Muslims and Mexicans;
Separates children from parents;
Lies about everything;
Values personal loyalty over national interest;
Demonizes anyone who disagrees with him and labels factual reporting “fake news”;
Considers a free press the “enemy of the people.”
So, why do 40 percent of Americans continue to support him? Popular theory argues that disenchantment with our federal government’s culture of partisanship over ethical governance led many to trust Trump’s campaign promises that he would clean up this swamp. They voted for him, expecting him to make good on that promise. Facts show us that he has not. Two years later, the swamp is swampier than ever.
Another theory might bring us closer to the truth. Human nature shows us that none of us wants to admit that we’re wrong, that we’ve made a bad choice, so rather than admit our mistake, we resolutely stick with it. These loyal folks faithfully listen to his rants, nod in agreement, and applaud them. This confirms to themselves that that they were right when they made that hopeful vote two years ago. To change would be to admit they were wrong.
Progressives who believe that Trump has no chance of being re-elected in 2020 ignore this loyal 40 percent at their peril.