May 5, 2016.
Donald Trump lives by his own rules. Which is one of the big reasons most of us don’t want him to be President. It’s why the Republican establishment didn’t want him to be nominated. They know he won’t follow their rules. Now, of course, they’re going to have to follow his.Too bad for them. But that’s a big source of his appeal. His supporters are sure he won’t follow their rules. Or any rules except the ones he makes up as he goes along.
Which is something we’d all like to do, live by our own rules. Of course most adults know what would happen if everybody got to do this. We’d be living in Westeros.
There are plenty of would-be marchers to their own drums who qualify their longing for such rugged individualism with the thought, spoken or unspoken, “Rules are for other people.”
They trust themselves with so much individual liberty because they know they’ll always do the right thing with it. But those people? They need to be kept in line!
I suspect there’s a lot of that type of rugged individualist among Trump’s voters. Trump himself, of course, is selling himself as that type.
But Trump’s voters are a more diverse group than many of their well-meaning apologists in the media demanding sympathy on their behalf contend. Hope you don’t mind but I’m going to repeat myself. Again:
Not all working class people are white.
Not all white working class people support Trump.
Not all Trump supporters are working class.
There’s research that shows that even in the economically hard-pressed areas glibly dubbed Trump Country the Donald draws strong and broad support from the middle and upper middle class, that his base might be better classified as petit bourgouis than blue collar. I’d like to see more data but anecdotally (and yes, I know, anecdotes aren’t data), our area isn't Trump Country but it is pretty rural with plenty of pockets of rural poverty and there are working class neighborhoods in the cities---Newburgh and Poughkeepsie---and what used to be small factory towns and all almost the Trump signs I see around here are on lawns in decidedly middle class and upscale neighborhoods or out in front of family businesses. Lately, among Mrs M’s fellow commuters on the bus into New York City have been contingents of striking Verizon workers on their way to join the picket lines in front of Verizon’s headquarters in the City, and they’re all for Bernie.
The Donald is not their second choice.
The very few Trump supporters I know well-enough to have talked to about their views are all middle-class and they all have different views so I really have no idea what the Trump supporters who aren’t attracted by the racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and general resentment of anyone who can be othered and they see as enjoying success at their expense are thinking. I just know they’re out there. But I suspect that many of them are not as attracted to Trump’s politics as they are to his business acumen.
Or what they suppose is his business acumen.
Trump is the successful businessperson they’re working hard to be.
He’s the boss they want to be.
I don’t mean they want to be able to bully their employees and fire people at whim. I mean they want to be free to make an honest buck without having to worry about running into trouble because they broke some law, violated some rule, or neglected to follow some regulation they didn’t know was there to break, violate, or neglect to follow.
It’s not that they want to be able to make their own rules. It’s that they want to know what the rules are and they want to know that if they happen to break them it won’t break them.
This is routine to the point of being standard business practice: someone sets out to start their own business. They go through the proper procedures. They fill out all the right forms (they think). They lay out all their money, and rack up onerous debt just to cover the minimum costs of doing business. They get things up and running and then they discover that they goofed. They misread something in the fine print. They forgot a step. They dealt with the wrong person in the wrong office. They missed a deadline. Their contractor, supplier, lawyer, accountant, assistant manager, dog messed up. And suddenly they’re hit with a hefty fines and facing trouble that only spending money they don’t have on repairs, upgrades, additional services can get them out of.
When that sort of thing happens, which is all the time, it’s hard not to feel that they system is against you, that instead of the rules being there to help you do business, they’re there to run you out of it. It takes Trump-like will, confidence, optimism, and braze disregard for what other people think of you to get through that. Trump-like money wouldn’t hurt either. But Trump-like money can be relative. Trump-like money is enough to money to buy your way out of the trouble you wouldn’t be in if it weren’t for the stupid bureaucrats and their dumb rules, money you would have if the stupid bureaucrats left you alone and didn’t butt in to clobber you with their dumb rules to begin with.
I don’t know if these frustrated small businessmen and women make up a sizable percentage of Trump voters. But I can imagine that if I was in their place I’d at least see the attraction to Trump.
Trump the businessman. Not Trump the demagogue.
If they’re out there, my sympathy for them is as limited as it is for the working class Trump voters, which is to say it’s almost non-existant, for the same reason.
Just about everybody is still reeling from the Recession. Just about everybody is struggling. Every small business owner has a hard time of it and every small business owner has had the experience of discovering that the rules are not written in their favor.
But not every working person and not every small business owner thinks that the solution to their problems is to elect a racist, xenophobic, woman-hating, demagoguing, lying, hypocritical, irresponsible, reckless, and blithely and proudly ignorant bully and con artist President of the United States.