Why Republicans love Trump
Another day, another series of Trump outrages.
Just in the past few days, he has attacked the media, fired the Inspector General who pointed out he shouldn’t be extorting Ukraine, directed needed medical supplies away from Democratic states and toward Republican ones, he joked about chasing models of the female kind, not the scientific kind, and he held briefing after briefing that reveal… nothing.
And all the while, we have to watch Mike Pence licking the President’s ass. It’s enough to make Frank Bruni of the New York Times declare that he is filled with “a sorrow and a rage that I quite frankly don’t know what to do with.”
What prompted Bruni to write those words, and set Joe Scarborough off on MSNBC, is the contrast between Trump and Queen Elizabeth. While Trump and his children may confuse him for royalty, nobody else is. The contrast could not have been clearer when we compared the press conferences the two leaders held over the weekend. While Her Majesty stressed unity, showed compassion, and gave hope, Trump attacked his critics and repeatedly urged Americans to take a dangerous, unproven drug. Dr. Fauci appeared to be biting his lip.
In such a time of national need, why can’t we have leadership like the Queen is providing? You don’t even need to go so far to find quality leadership in times of crisis. George W. Bush showed it in the wake of 9–11. Barack Obama showed it after a school shooting. And now, Governors are showing it as well. Consider Andrew Cuomo’s response in New York. Or, to be bi-partisan, Larry Hogan’s response in Maryland. This shouldn’t be a partisan, political issue.
And yet… to the horror of many of us, Trump’s popularity appears to be on the rise. According to Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, Trump’s average approval rating is now at 45.4 percent — the highest of his presidency. How could this be?
Now before we get too crazed out about this data, Trump is still viewed on net negatively — 50.3 negative to 45.4 positive. At this point in his presidency, his approval rating is worse than Barack Obama’s, George W. Bush’s, and Bill Clinton’s — all of whom were re-elected. Indeed, his approval rating is only higher than George H. W. Bush’s and Jimmy Carter’s at this point in their presidencies. Both lost re-election.
What’s more is that his increase in approval is not driven by Republicans, it is driven by Democrats. Republicans already love him — they are going nowhere. Some Democrats, however, driven by the uncertainty and fear inherent in a crisis such as this one, are grasping for something firm to grab onto. In the absence of anything else, the President seems like that thing.
Those Democrats, however, will still vote for Joe Biden in the general election. And indeed, the more Trump’s narcissistic incompetence is exposed, the more his ratings go down. Indeed, you can already see his approval ratings declining slightly from their height. That’s why Trump is still losing the head-to-head against the expected Democratic nominee.
Looking at state level polling is even more encouraging. In critical swing states Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and Arizona, recent polls show Trump losing to Biden — even now at the height of his popularity.
Finally, Trump’s popularity is especially high in red states that have yet to feel the full impact of the coronavirus. Once it hits those states, public opinion will change.
The bottom line: don’t panic. Things only get worse for Trump from here.
The fact that we are even worried he might be re-elected given his boorish incompetence is telling, however. Indeed, he continues to hold onto a 90 percent job approval rating among Republicans — the same as he has had just about through the entirety of his presidency.
We are mystified by his continued popularity. After all, Republican orthodoxy, and Tea Party passion, called for a smaller budget deficit. Under Trump, the deficit has exploded. Similarly, free trade was an article of faith among Republicans. Trump is tariff-man. Republicans advocated for a strong foreign policy. Trump has abandoned our allies. And character used to matter to Republicans. I don’t need to say anything about that.
Except with abortion, the Republicans seem so hypocritical.
Indeed, it’s worth noting that there are some principled conservatives. I used to hate William Kristol and George Conway. Now I follow them on Twitter. Joe Scarborough, we should remember, was a conservative Republican congressman who had a 95 percent lifetime rating with the American Conservative Union. Now reporters consider it “not noteworthy” that he is critical of Trump.
These folks are the exception, however. The vast majority of Republicans are enthusiastic.
In truth, though, we shouldn’t be so surprised. The Republican party has become the party of older white straight “Christian” patriarchy. They used to be the majority in America. Now they know they’re on their way out. They are desperate to hold onto the privilege they believe is their birthright, and they will do anything they can to do so.
This is the party, after all, that refused to give Merrick Garland even a hearing in the Senate. This is the party that took advantage of a period of political dominance to unexpectedly gerrymander Texas. This is the party that conducted ten unending Congressional investigations of the death of an American diplomat in Libya and found… nothing. So Republican abuse of power should not surprise us.
Republicans will say or do anything to keep power. Just look at Mitch McConnell, their Senate leader. After self-righteously claiming that the Senate should not confirm a Supreme Court Justice in an election year, he now claims he would be happy to confirm a Trump appointment this year. His prior position does not matter. His so-called morals were just pretext. The only guiding principle for McConnell is winning.
And that’s what Trump is all about. He has no ideals, no morals, and no beliefs. He wants to win, and is willing to do so at all costs. With his inherited wealth, whiteness and overt sexuality, he personifies the America Republicans want to keep in power. His willingness to do anything to keep that power is what they like about him.
There is such a thing as principled conservatives. Unfortunately, they are a small group, and to the person, they have been now driven out of the Republican party. It’s time to stop being amazed by Republican hypocrisy. It’s time to stop believing the Republican party stands for some set of ideals or policies. When we understand their party solely as a movement to keep the white straight male patriarchy in power, their actions make a lot more sense.