Trying to make sense of Trump’s base

It’s all about a fear of change.

Contrary to what you may suspect, some aspects of the Republican Party used to appeal to me. On occasion, I even voted for Republican candidates, especially in state elections.

However, this was before a bigoted, egotistical, criminal, anti-science, two-bit con artist, and second-rate dictator — “second-rate” relative to Hitler or Stalin — became president. And before much of the Republican Party fell in lockstep behind him.

Without actually delving into the historical records to verify my suspicions, I believe Trump is probably the worst president this nation’s ever had.

And yet, much of his celebrated “base” continues to support him, which, according to current polls, is roughly 45 percent of the U.S. population. This figure is a bit misleading; a significant part of his base are lapsed Democrats or Independents who may, in the long run, abandon him. If we’re speaking of only his “hardcore base,” the figure is between 28 and 35 percent; that is, the percent of American voters who would support him no matter what he’d done, presumedly even murder. (Well, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but you get the idea.)

What-the-hell’s going on here?

Well, in fact their story is rather tragic. They’ve always followed the rules and done what they were told to do. They graduated from high school, got a pretty good assembly-line job, married their high school sweetheart, started a family, bought a house, and always worked hard. They’re out in the world, facing life’s trials and tribulations on their own, and they’ve never asked anyone for help. (Everyone has got to respect that.)

And yet, as they reach middle-age or late middle-age, they discover their lives aren’t going very well. The job they’ve held for the last 30 years no longer offers much security. In fact, they’re understandably anxious because they could find themselves unemployed any day — indeed, many of their frustrations stem from a changing economy that they’re ill prepared to function in — and the house payment is coming due. So is the car payment. They can only pray there aren’t any unforeseen medical expenses.

Furthermore, their marriages have gone to hell because they were never really “in love” to start with. (Like most kids who get married fresh out of high school, they were more “in heat” then in love.) A divorce may be eminent, but they hesitate because in hard economic times, it’s difficult to leave someone you’ve relied on for 30 years.

They feel threatened from all sides. By immigrants, by racial strains, by the changing morality, and by change in general. They wish things were like they used to be. And this is the promise Trump holds for them — to roll back Time to their youth, when “America was great.”

In short, his base is frightened — and fear often makes people more conservative. Fear mongering is one effective campaign strategy Trump is pretty good at. (As noted above, he’s a con man.)

So it goes.