2016, 2018, Barack Obama, Donald Trump — August 23, 2017

Yes, Trump’s diehard supporters just want to piss you off

by

But let’s not pretend there are enough of them to keep him winning

Pity the Obama supporter. After eight years, no one tried to understand you.

There weren’t probing front-page profiles in the New York Times marveling at how Tamara Levine — an Esthetician loving life in Torrance, California — is still thrilled with her president, despite the failure of Cap and Trade. Somehow, Obama’s five or six other major legislative victories secured his first years in office sufficed.

Trump supporters, meanwhile, are teased out, analyzed like fresh turds and elevated by the press who feel they missed the story of the 2016 election — as if 78,000 votes in three states is evidence of much more than a fluke, a fluke many major media outlets helped enable with stories they elevated beyond parody or downplayed into near oblivion until it was too late.

In an effort to not be fooled again, the press is trying to explain to itself why Trump’s horrid poll numbers aren’t actually that bad.

And in this effort, they’ve discovered a truism: Trump’s biggest supporters want him to be terrible. Or, rather, Trump supporters want you — a libturd — to think he’s terrible. His gift for pissing you off is how he got the GOP nomination and then snuck into the presidency.

You don’t hire a birther for his discretion or respect for minority rights.

And because his “movement” is almost entirely tied to melodrama, the melodrama itself is the reward, NBC’s Steve Kornacki argues.

“It’s not that they like him or even think he’d be a good president,” Kornacki wrote on Tuesday. “They’re voting against the other side of a vast cultural gap.”

Trump’s approval numbers aren’t that much worse now when he defeated Hillary Clinton, who as the first woman ever to win an electoral vote endured decades-long attacks on her character from the right, a drubbing from the hard left and Trump’s particularly vile weaponization of the worst of America’s fine assortment of misogynistic tropes.

And he still barely won.

“If Trump’s surprise win was primarily due to weaknesses that are unique to Clinton, then his current poll numbers are as dire as they seem,” Kornacki notes.

There’s no doubt that Trump’s most ardent supporters love watching Trump nominate a birther who isn’t scientists to be the FDA’s chief scientist. It’s thrill to see him to pardon another birther who terrorized immigrants beyond the limits of the Fourth Amendment. And it’s a gas gas gas to watch our Birth in Chief humiliate and menace everyone from the press to Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain to his own chief of staff in a campaign rally held just for them more than three years before his next election.

But Trump’s big problem is there just aren’t very many hard core fans of his pro wrestling politics.

Turning nonvoters into voters should be the Prime Directive of the Democratic Party. But for the midterm elections especially, we must also keep an eye on reluctant Trump voters, who cast a ballot for the GOP nominee with fingers knuckles-deep into their nostrils.

These voters, unlike unshakable MAGA maniacs, will help decide the future.

“More enthused Trump voters feel about the same as they did last time we tested that in early June, but the percentage of reluctant Trump voters who approve of the president’s job is down 11 percentage points, from 74 percent before,” FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten notes. “That’s a fairly substantial slide.”

These reluctant Trumpers are far more likely than they scary cousins to want actual governance to happen. They want to see bills become law and white supremacist kerfuffles avoided. They prefer the government being open to useless border walls.

They’re the kind of voters who are susceptible to “narrative.” They will likely see Trump passing his agenda, regardless of how awful it is, as a good thing. And they almost certainly would be happy to see tax breaks of any kind become law, even if those cuts immediately or eventually threaten safety net programs they love and Trump promised to protect.

If Trump feels successful to them, they’ll probably vote solidly Republican. If Democrats can unite and get turnout near 2012 levels in 2020, they still can win even if Trump wins over his reluctant fans.

But baring an actual political revolution we have no hope of taking the House in 2018 if reluctant Trumpers swing hard for the GOP.

This doesn’t mean Democrats should cater to people who were willing to vote for Trump. Democrats should keep doing what they have been doing, defeating his agenda and doing their best to make him look tiny and whiny to everyone but Fox and Friends.

The melodrama that made Trump president and his superfans love is getting in the way of him succeeding as president. But with one huge legislative win, that could easily change, which is why the actual meat of politics — the lawmaking that gets C-SPAN 2 ratings in the hundreds — is the key to melting this con.

[Image by Gage Skidmore | Flickr]

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