Originally published on Planetsave.
It’s honestly astounding. Take just about anything that was at the top of the ideological list for Republicans 5–10 years ago, and it is now trampled on by the Republican president and Republican members of Congress.
It’s astounding. It’s a masterful course in propaganda, gaslighting, and essentially brainwashing.
The thing I keep coming to is: What the heck do Republicans actually stand for these days? Also, why the heck do so many Republican voters let Trump get away with this incessant trampling on everything they supposedly held dear just a few short years ago?
Aside from purely effective propaganda tactics (deployed by Fox News instead of Pravda and Republican talking heads instead of [name your dictator]’s henchmen), I honestly wonder if there’s anything these supporters genuinely care about. I mean, is there any actual policy or ideological reason why a certain percentage of Republican voters continue to support Donald Trump? Or are they simply being fooled by the basic propaganda tactics of a career con man and his enablers?
It has come down to three finalists for me. Well, three ideological finalists, as one other finalist is that it’s simply a cult of personality, that people watched and bought into the fake Apprentice reality TV show (which portrayed Donald Trump as a much more successful and intelligent businessman than he’s ever been), and that ongoing propaganda via Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Russian-backed Twitter bots, genuinely fake news, and so on are holding up that mirage for people to believe in. But let’s jump to the ideological possibilities.
1. Crush the government, please (even though the government of the US is of the people, by the people, and for the people).
Republicans have been anti-government for decades. Ronald Reagan was particularly effective at demonizing government. Of course, Republicans have long preferred loose regulations, letting corporations police themselves, and essentially letting corporations run over (hurt in various ways) US citizens in the course of doing business. It is Democrats over and over who prefer stronger consumer protections — whether they be from financial harm caused by banks, health harms caused by burning fossil fuels, financial harm from low wages, physical harm from improper treatment, or other harms. It appears the party leaders were losing the battle on this topic in the mid-1900s, as citizens started realizing corporations needed more guard rails, and then Reagan and team found that broadly demonizing government was a path to deregulation.
We have seen the results of deregulation or poorly enforced regulations over and over again — the Great Recession, millions of health problems, and tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of premature deaths from pollution are some examples. Yet, the “government is evil” ideology stuck like glue on many Republican voters.
There’s no doubt about it, Trump has been throwing grenades and dynamite at the government — putting oil & coal henchmen in charge of the EPA and Department of Interior, disbanding scientific oversight committees, putting climate deniers in roles that should be filled by climate scientists, defunding various government programs, and even attacking the CIA, FBI, NATO, Department of Justice, and Federal Reserve Chairman.
For those of us who see such government agencies and institutions as essential to a healthy, well functioning society and economy, this has been absurd and disastrous. To people who somehow believe the government is out to hurt them, this is apparently something they support — or are at least willing to turn a blind eye to.
2. Racism. Donald Trump launched his political career on racism — incorrectly claiming for years that our first black president wasn’t actually American, wasn’t born in the US. He launched his presidential campaign with pure racism — calling Mexicans rapists and murderers. He ran his campaign in other racist ways as well, but we don’t need to get into them all since the point should be clear by now. Furthermore, his former personal lawyer and “fixer” of approximately 10 years just called him a racist.
Yes, many Republicans get offended when you bring up racism, because they don’t want to be associated with that and they themselves are not racist. However, it seems as obvious as the grass is green that much of Trump’s support is based around racism. Much of his ongoing campaigning and policies are racist and appeal to racist voters.
Yes, if you are racist, Donald Trump is your president. Racists know that and Donald Trump knows that. (That doesn’t mean you, if you’re a Trump supporter, are racist, but it does mean you are supporting racism and a racist president.)
3. No taxes (and no services), please. It’s obvious — if you want a well funded educational system, transportation system, Social Security and Medicaid system, NASA, military, etc., you have to collect taxes from citizens and corporations. But people don’t like paying taxes. They’d rather use that money for their own benefit. I get that. I understand that it requires some mental–emotional work to say that it’s good to pay taxes. But honestly, without paying taxes, are societal infrastructure and social safety net crumble. As societal resources crumble, all of society suffers to some degree or another.
Some people are indeed convinced US taxes are too high (even though they’re lower than most other developed nations), so that is clearly another reason you might support Trump (especially if you are super rich, since Trump’s tax cuts have primarily helped the super rich and ignored the middle class).
Obviously, I don’t agree with this idea, since I think US taxes are too low and result in an inadequate educational system, poor transportation systems, a weak social safety net full of holes, wicked high health care costs, and horrible treatment of our veterans. But I understand there are a lot of people who think society is better off with low taxes and just letting money flow where it does in a capitalistic society with few overarching, guiding societal hands.
Those are honestly the only reasons I can see for why some Republicans still support Donald Trump. They don’t apparently care that Trump bashes our law enforcement and intelligence agencies (FBI, CIA, etc.), even favoring Vladimir Putin’s words over the words of our own intelligence officials. They don’t seem to care about balancing the budget or even trying to cut US debt — as it did under other Republican presidents in recent decades, US debt has skyrocketed under Donald Trump and a Republican Congress. They apparently don’t care about keeping checks and balances in Congress and sticking to core principles of the US Constitution — such principles as leaving the power of the purse to Congress, keeping presidential powers limited and relatively weak, keeping personal business and profiteering out of government, etc. They apparently don’t care much about honesty — Trump has lied or told untruths over 8,000 times as president, according to reporters tracking this — or Christian morals — aside from lying, Trump paid off a porn star and a former Playboy playmate after having sex with them soon after his 3rd wife gave birth to their son. They apparently don’t care to support other democracies (like European countries) and are fine with Trump buddying up with dictators in Russia, North Korea, and the Middle East.
If you have any other explanations for how the Republican Party has flipped so tremendously on so many issues, please offer your own ideas. In the meantime, I will pinch myself from time to time to make sure I’m not dreaming.
For more details about the muscle of these claims/notes above, there are hundreds of journalistic news articles you can read and, just from the past couple of days, dozens of video discussions of these issues that you can watch.
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