It’s time to stick my head into the lion’s mouth, once again and ask why so many people still support President Trump and his administration amidst multiple investigations, numerous accusations of illegal activities, countless lies and distortions and more coming every day.
When I've asked this question, I've been called names (irrelevant), heard such claims as “but Obama” or “but Hillary” (deflection) or been told that I'm just plain wrong. I’ve been roasted by former friends and even family members when I ask them to justify their choice.
Yes, there are still millions of MAGA hat wearing die hards who refuse to face facts. They believe Trump's cries of “witch hunt” and echo his claims of “fake news” and taunts like “lock her up”. They believe the NRA propaganda that “____ is coming for your guns”. Their posts litter the comments of “main stream media” while parroting often outrageous claims by Alex Jones or Sean Hannity. More frightening, they pass on the propaganda of social media Russian trolls and bots; the same ones who disrupted the 2016 elections.
Why do they still support this administration?
The answers are as complicated as the accusations this administration faces. Many stubbornly refuse to admit they made a mistake. Others are staunch Republicans who support party over country. Then, there are the most frightening, most fervent supporters, his base. Trump has willingly made decisions contrary to the views of a majority of Americans, (such as gun control, healthcare or abortion rights), simply to rally those voters. It’s no wonder they still support him, but at what cost to the rest of the country?
Trump's supporters are quick to point to tax reform as a victory. But, many were not happy when filing their tax returns this year. Those supposed reforms resulted in a small increase in many weekly paychecks, but that had to be repaid when taxes came due. Yes, some corporations passed on tax breaks to their workers with a one-time bonus, but many companies used those breaks for the sole benefit of corporate executives.
Tariffs were another big “victory” for Trump's base. The aim was to force consumers to buy more American-made products, the prices of which would not be affected. Instead, prices increased on foreign products sold in the U.S. and the administration was forced to provide more than $12 billion in subsidies to American farmers who were devastated by the tariffs. Meanwhile, many Trump products are made overseas, and he has negotiated that they be exempt from increased tariffs.
We also are experiencing a stratospheric rise in the trade deficit, thanks to this trade war.
Nevertheless, Trump's base, with its cries of “Build the Wall”, continues to support him, leaving me still searching for answers: Why? Is it that he just says what they want to hear, regardless?
Republicans always have been the party of less government intervention, yet the purported need for this multi-billion dollar wall, despite being opposed by Congress, has become “a national emergency.” Why? Because Trump believes it’s what his base wants.
The issues of nepotism, emoluments and security clearances also have fallen upon deaf ears. All of this is in direct opposition to the stance these same supporters held when Obama was president. They screamed when Obama went golfing, had a fit when his family accompanied him on overseas trips and now say nothing about the administration's numerous business entanglements with Trump related properties.
I’m still searching for answers. Why does anyone still support Trump?
CJ Waldron is a retired English teacher from upstate New York. An adjunct instructor at Horry Georgetown Technical College, he lives in Conway, SC with his wife, Donna.