Doyle McManus poses the question, “What do Trump supporters want?” and comes up with three answers: “jobs, healthcare, and ‘drain the swamp.'”
While McManus does acknowledge that Trump is taking credit for things he had absolutely nothing to do with (the 5,000 Sprint jobs) or congratulating himself on crappy deals (“saving” 800 Carrier jobs by making Indiana taxpayers pay out the ass for them while 1,300 still get outsourced), he still comes to that troubling conclusion most pundits do: “[H]e’s on thin ice. Even among his voters, Trump’s honeymoon could turn out to be short.”
How I wish this were true.
I have a couple of theories. One is that if the right-wing media his supporters consume merely insist that Trump is creating jobs and that their non-existent healthcare replacement is better than Obamacare, Trump supporters will believe it. This is especially true when it comes to jobs. I’d be willing to be anything that, let’s say a year into the Trump presidency, if there’s a month where, oh, I don’t know, 300,000 jobs are created, Trump supporters will be falling all over themselves about ‘winning’ too much. Never mind that we’ve had consistent and comparable job growth for 72 month under Obama, though, and that those same supporters insisted jobs were evaporating faster than a drop of water in 120 degree Death Valley heat. If job growth is pitiful or if there’s employment loss? Blame Democrats.
Another isn’t so much a theory as it is observation of his loony supporters. The ‘drain the swamp’ thing is a phrase whose content they either don’t care about or don’t understand. To pick just one small example from McManus’s piece:
Asked what “drain the swamp” meant to them, the Ohio voters talked about corruption.
“Eliminate corrupt politicians and wasteful programs,” offered Kevin Koehler, a deputy sheriff from Lorain County.
Asked if they were worried about billionaires in the Cabinet or business conflicts of interest on Trump’s part, they shrugged.
“He already has his wealth,” Berger said. “He doesn’t need to profit off anybody or anything.” Others nodded.
And though comments sections and Twitter threads aren’t a substitute for scientific polling, it gives you a bit of an idea of what’s going through these people’s heads. They’re not worried about Trump explicitly using the White House to further increase his wealth because, uh, he’s already wealthy? I mean, I don’t understand how, if you think this is true, it isn’t then the easiest thing for Trump to make a few moves to ensure to the best of his ability that he is in no way profiting financially from obtaining the office. But the motherfucker isn’t even trying.
I’ll also bet that these supporters couldn’t name a single program they think is ‘wasteful’ in the way we think of programs being wasteful: that they improperly allocate significant funds that in no way help to achieve the aims of the program in question. My guess is that they think NASA is wasteful because they don’t understand any direct benefit they receive from it, or that welfare and food stamps are wasteful because they don’t use them but lazy poor people use them.
They completely gloss over the idea of billionaires being in positions of power that could be used to increase their personal wealth as well as the wealth of their friends and allies in industry is incredibly corrupt. They gloss over this idea because they don’t know how business or capitalism work. They don’t understand that running a business—which is about increasing profits and decreasing costs—is not comparable to managing a large, interacting economy. They don’t understand that the reason a wealthy person might abuse a position of power to increase their wealth is because the point of capitalism is to increase wealth. I mean, the leaders of Enron were already rich, so why defraud everyone at all? To make more money. But these are people who have been led to believe that the golden age of the Reagan 80s is a time to look back fondly upon, and that’s why they don’t understand squat about vulture capitalists.
So no, I have no faith that his supporters will turn on him if and when he fails to deliver on these three promises. Mostly because I think most of them are stupid enough to be distracted by a wall, or that if they’re told repeatedly that Republicans repealing Medicaid was somehow the Democrats’ fault, they’ll believe it. So what do Trump supporters want? They want to feel like they’re winning, irrespective of whether they really are. It doesn’t matter what the policy or the results are, so long as Trump keeps being the machismo clown, calling liberals ‘losers’ and such, they’ll be happy. I would love for them to prove me wrong.