I was wrong about Trump voters (plus “get stuff done”)

September 17, 2017
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During the campaign I insisted that Trump had no actual beliefs, and that all his campaign promises were merely empty rhetoric—telling us precisely nothing about what he’d do as President.  And of course I was completely right.  No repeal of Obamacare, indeed he never even came up with a proposal to do so.  No slashing of income taxes down to a top rate of 25%, indeed his administration never even put together a tax plan.  No infrastructure.  No wall on the Mexican border.  He also abandoned his promise not to intervene against people like Assad (except to protect Americans.) He abandoned his pledge to go after China on trade.  Etc., etc.

But I was wrong about Trump voters.  Like many other people, I wasted many hours during 2016 reading thoughtful opinion pieces by left and right wing intellectuals, discussing “what the voters were telling us”.  One common theme was that voters were becoming more nationalistic and anti-immigrant.

Then when Trump reversed course on DACA and signaled he wanted to deal with the Dems to protect those illegal immigrants, the right exploded and warned darkly that his “base” would not stand for this.  Oh really?

Donald Trump’s tough talk on illegal immigration was a big part of the reason Dave Hagstrom and many others in this booming Phoenix suburb supported him for president. “Walls make good neighbors,” Hagstrom said.

So when the president moved this week to cut a deal — with Democrats no less — to block the expulsion of 800,000 immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, was Hagstrom disappointed?

Not at all.

“If you were to deport them, where would they go?” Hagstrom, 60, a car-warranty manager, asked on his way to a Bible-study dinner at an upscale shopping mall. “To send them across the border would be inhumane almost. There’s no life for them there.”

It turns out that all of those opinion pieces on what the voters were trying to tell us were completely worthless.  The Trump voters have no principles at all.  They will support Trump in whatever he does.  He could install a Maoist economic policy, or a fascist regime, or a libertarian paradise, and his base would be equally happy. They just like the guy.  (Which is weird, as he has the most unlikeable personality I have seen in 62 years of existence—worse than Nixon.)

You’ll probably claim that I’m overreacting, that Hagstron is just an outlier, a 1 out of every 100 Trump supporter, while the other 99 are tough on immigration.

Then consider this:

In more than a dozen conversations with Trump voters in this sweltering Sonoran Desert oasis, not one found fault with Trump’s abandonment of his vow to deport the young immigrants, often referred to as Dreamers. In the bargain, he said, Democrats agreed to much tougher border enforcement, though not construction of a physical wall.

The odds of interviewing “more than a dozen” Trump people (in Arizona!) and finding that all just happen to be among the 1% of Trump supporters who are soft on immigration is . . . well I think it’s less than one in 10 to the 24th power.  I’m not good enough at math to describe those odds, but I think it’s roughly one in a septillion.  Or, maybe those “more than a dozen” are actually pretty common among Trump voters.  That’s the hypothesis I’m going with.

And this is really good news!  Trump has no fixed values.  His base had no fixed values.  It’s a complete crap shoot as to what will happen.  That might not seem good, but it’s less bad that the alternative—that Trump and his supporters actually believed the things they said in 2016.  It also suggests that Trump has no coattails—when he leaves the scene no one will able to pick up his voters, even with the same position on issues.  The issues never mattered.

PS.  This comment from America’s favorite racist cop brought a tear to my eye:

Indeed, even Arpaio seemed willing to go along with the compromise reached this week, if Trump thinks it best.

“He’s trying to make deals and get stuff done,” said Arpaio, a staunch supporter of the president who faced a prison sentence for racial profiling before Trump pardoned him last month.

That suits people like Joseph Wise just fine.

“I know a lot of these kids,” said Wise, 75, a retired electrical engineer from Gilbert, who paused to talk about Trump and immigration as he loaded groceries into the back of his sport utility vehicle. “They’re good kids. I’ve talked to some of them about how they crossed the border and barely survived.”

That’s right, get tough on “illegals” just as long as you don’t hurt any actual, physical, flesh and blood human beings.  As always, when the public is educated into the inner feelings on “the other”, utilitarianism wins.  Sorry Ann Coulter, but you are on the losing side of history.

PPS.  Oh, and Trump’s broken promise on Syria?  That was caused by pictures of children horribly maimed by poison gas.  Utilitarianism wins again.

 

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