Wednesday, December 27, 2017

More On Trump Supporters

A carry-on from the previous post.  I like to bring things forward into a new post because some people don't like getting into deep comments sections, so after about comment #9 it is the same four people endlessly. I have been one of those four people in a bunch of other discussions, but I don't think it's efficient, and it tends to shut out some good thinkers.

Both Donna B and Edith Hook wondered what my pool of Trump supporters is, with the suggestion that I was choosing unreasonably or even unfairly.  I don't think so, but judge for yourself.

In my liberal place of work I know of six people who are quite conservative, and I think most or all voted for Trump.  They at least don't have the huge objections to him that liberals and popular media have, even if they voted for the libertarian. They divide nicely.  Three of them are clearly reveling in the fight part of politics.  Trump is sticking it to the liberals and that's the first thing out of their mouths. Wailing Democrats is music to their ears. Mine too, though there are places where I go "Wait, that's just not reasonable." The other three don't generally talk about the day-to-day battling and the news, but are more concerned with specific issues.  One is irritated at the tax reform because he thinks it's mostly nothing, and he is distressed that Democrats warning "death, death, death" over it and partially succeeding does not bode well for tax simplification in the future.  He doesn't credit either Congress or Trump, because he doesn't think much credit is due.

My friends, mostly from church, who were Trump supporters were mostly reluctantly so.  They weren't comfortable, but the alternatives were so much worse that they didn't hesitate much. Let me pause to comment on Edith Hook's comment that "millions" got off their sofas, with the implication that these were new or very-infrequent voters who turned out for Trump.  That is not so, and it is the type of worrisome myth that is going to defeat us going forward if we can't face reality. There was not this huge sea-change in the electorate creating any mandate going forward. When all elections are close, a swing of a few thousands who voted for Obama or no one last time but showed up this time for Trump looks huge, but it's actually not.  Trump supporters are completely overlooking that the overwhelming majority of Trump's votes came from standard Republicans who just didn't want Hillary. If you think anything else, you are fooling yourself.

My other exposure to Trump supporters are posters and commenters at Maggie's, Neoneocon, Althouse, Powerline, and a few other shops.  I don't count the pro-Trump comments I encounter at bigger sites, such as Instapundit or the major news sites, or sites generally opposed to him such as National Review or more liberal sites because a) they might be trolls, b) they might be sockpuppets, and c) the people who go out looking for fights are not necessarily representative of the rest of humanity. I don't even read them.  I only read in places where there is a fair chance everyone is reasonable.

This pool of commenters is likely unrepresentative, because people who bother to comment are usually more intense.  However, I think the other limitations I have placed on who I read improves the picture.  Not all of these people are unreasonable, by a long shot. But a whole lot are, and they reinforce each other and start going down paths that don't square with recent history.

Example, you may think that George Bush was too nice and too much of a squish and therefore didn't get anything accomplished, so that's why we need a balls-kicker like Trump.  Except George Bush won the war in Iraq until Obama threw it away, remember? Winning wars is usually considered a fairly sizable accomplishment.  He inherited a recession and improved the economy despite a catastrophe until the people who were too good to vote for him stayed home in 2006 and we couldn't pass the regulations that Bush, McCain, and Sununu had been screaming about for a decade, and the economy collapsed and we got 8 years of Obama to boot.  So thanks a lot for that.  Blame the GOPe now.

So, people are going back and saying it was a bad idea to go into Iraq anyway, and we made some major mistakes early on, or never knew what our goals were, and such like. All true, maybe, but at the time, he was doing exactly what an enormous majority of conservatives said they wanted from him. And accomplished it. Everyone is entitled to second thought, but not to pretending they had always felt that way. Bush spent all his political capital on the Surge in 2006, but the piss-and-moan conservatives stayed home that year and we got lots of new Democrats. Those piss-and-moaners stayed home in 2008 and 2012 because they didn't like the candidates, and then blamed the Republicans who were left for not doing anything.

There were places I would have liked to see those Republicans go to the mat, and I agree that too many had gone native. But this four-legs good, two legs bad reasoning is for liberals.  I go over to conservative sites and I read a lot of Trump supporters, sneering and insulting people who agree with them 75% of the time and talking themselves into the idea that none of this would be happening if Trump weren't tweeting about True American Football Players grabbing their crotches.

I like the deregulation that's happening under the radar, and the judicial nominations, for which Trump relies heavily on the hated GOPe. I have hopes for this repeated-pressure foreign policy, though it could prove disastrous. I don't know if anyone could have gotten McCain, Collins, and Flake on board, but what Trump did din't work, did it? Kelly Ayotte would be Senator from NH if Cruz had been the nominee.  Are there others around the country like that?  Don't know.  It's at least a possibility.


james said...

The after action stuff I've read suggests that if Hillary had spent more of her volunteers and staff drumming up votes in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania she'd be president. Not showing up herself, of course--staying invisible would probably have been better for her campaign--just having people do the grunt work of busing voters to the polls. The political machinery was there.

If that's true, and I've no great reason to doubt it, where is this vast and permanent change in politics they speak of?

Christopher B said...

The discussion of whether we've seen a fundamental realignment reminds me of the joke about a Baptist minister and Lutheran pastor discussing how much water is needed for baptism. The Lutheran asks if immersion to various levels - waist, neck, nose, eyes - is sufficient, and of course the Baptist keeps insisting on complete immersion. Finally the pastor asks if all but the very top of the skull is acceptable. Upon receiving the anticipated answer he replies, "so you agree the last few drops make all the difference!"

Those hundred thousand votes that Hillary missed only matter *if the race wasn't already that close* and nobody expected that it would be given Trump as a candidate. Trump won or came close in places the GOP hasn't won since the Reagan landslides. When you put that together with control of Congress (even if some candidates lost) you see a very different political landscape than the one in 1980.

Grim said...

Except George Bush won the war in Iraq until Obama threw it away, remember?

Having been in Iraq in 2007, 2008, and 2009, I frequently think about that fact.

GraniteDad said...

Actually, as much as I like to make fun of Hillary for screwing up Wisconsin and Michigan, Pennsylvania was the real decider. Brandon Finnigan has done great work on how Pennsylvania is the important piece. It had been trending red for years, and finally flipped. That’s probably at least partially due to Trump, and partially just the trend.

Two great articles he had in National Review:

GraniteDad said...

Also, I know that I read too many comments on Facebook articles, which definitely skews my perspective on both sides. Then again, I hate most of humanity, so it’s just reinforcing prior beliefs for me.

james said...

I remember the sea of Obama signs in Madison in earlier elections. Last year there were Hillary and Bernie, but in the end not nearly so many signs for Hillary as Obama had had. My take was that there was an irruption in both parties, but that the basic machinery was still likely to be the deciding factor. I could be wrong, but when the machines work they seem to be pretty effective.

Donna B. said...

In your workplace - 6 people out of how many total? Out of that total, how many were obnoxiously pro-Hillary or pro-Bernie? I'm not trying to be snarky here, I honestly don't know how many people you work with, but I have got the impression from you that more are progressives or liberals than not. (Actually, I've got the impression that more than a few of them define themselves as one or the other without ever having given much thought to it.)

However, I suspect that those who generally align with your views, but are obnoxious about it, get more attention from you because being obnoxious offends you. Of course, I could just be imposing what's happened in my life onto yours. I know that I come down harder on my friends who are obnoxious than I do on those I disagree with about everything.

"reveling in the fight part of politics" -- I think that probably does occur more on the conservative side of the spectrum. Contrast to the progressive/liberal side of the spectrum where it's just assumed you agree with them... and woe be unto you if you don't. At the least an "ewww... how could you think/say such a thing?" Two different sides of a "purity" test.

Also, Maggies' and Neoneocon are so incredibly different from Althouse and Powerline that I'm having trouble figuring out how you grouped them together. I sort of like them all and Althouse has toned down her judgmental tendencies gradually over the past 10 years and she's policing her commenters as well. Powerline has never been appealing to me and I can't quite put my finger on why.

Back to the topic -- I was spurred to comment on the other post because I got a fairly strong whiff of "deplorable" from it. I don't think you meant that, but it was there.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Those sites aren't the same, which is why I think I've got a variety of Trump supporters that I observe. I think few of them are obnoxious. Yet some. And increasing.

A year ago I thought there were a few Deplorables, as there are in any group. No big deal. I was pretty strident in defending Trump supporters in general from the claims that they were racist or uneducated or whatever, even though I wasn't voting for him. Even when they were wrong I felt they were wrong in understandable, defensible ways. But in the last few months they seem to have either multiplied or turned up the volume. There are either more Deplorables, or louder. The irony is that I think Trump himself is improved. I think he's learning this game quickly.

Donna B. said...

Are they increasing or are your antennae tweaking? My experience (and we read a lot of the same websites) is that the obnoxious level among Trump supporters is changing and probably for the better -- final results not in yet.

Trump himself is mellowing a little bit in his tweets and the "resistance" is losing a bit of steam. That means that the crazier of the crazies on both sides now stand out more and it's their reactions to each other that are the most obnoxious.

The climate for the progressive/leftist/liberal crazy has been friendlier for years than it has been for the alt-right/white-supremacist/ultra-libertarian crazy folks. I think the latter group is feeling around to see if they might gain a foothold in the mainstream. I doubt they will, but their forays do highlight the crazies on the other side.

Make some popcorn and enjoy the grudge match.

Donna B. said...

As for Maggie's, Neoneocon, Althouse, and Powerline... I've given some thought to why I more or like less each one.

First, Neoneocon -- she is scrupulously thoughtful and fair. So much so, that I sometimes find her posts boring at the beginning. I've learned to keep reading. It's worthwhile.

Second, Maggie's -- I like it because it's like a box of chocolates.

Third, Althouse -- She is sometimes brittle and sometimes brutally aristocratic. I've been reading her since her first post and she's become much more thoughtful over the years. She's always interesting.

Last, Powerline -- I've been reading them for years also. And I find them less and less interesting. The graphic that comes to mind is little plastic soldiers lined up neatly waiting... I realize that's pretty harsh, but it is what it is.

So, while you take into account each site's commenters, I don't -- especially not on Althouse or Powerline.

Oh wait... then there's Assistant Village Idiot. I can't remember when I started reading here, but it's been several years. Like Neoneocon, you are thoughtful and fair. Sometimes, the scrupulousness is in the form of a second post, but maybe that's even better -- you are willing to use evidence and feedback to adjust an opinion. That's really hard to do and I admire you for it. I also admire the fact that when you think you're right you don't adjust, but you don't get upset about it either. I enjoy seeing the thought processes exposed.

Another difference about AVI is that I do take into account the commenters here. They are much more likely to send me down an internet rabbit hole than those at other sites. This is both good and bad.

I often delete comments I write here because I'm insecure about my education and upbringing. Compared to the little I know about others here, I was brought up rough and I learned early that even if I know something to be true, if others haven't experienced it, I might be mocked. It's never happened here and for that, I thank you and everyone who comments here.

Texan99 said...

I was a reluctant and skeptical Trump voter, driven primarily by the twin impossibilities of voting for Clinton or throwing away my vote on a symbolic splinter party. I'm still nervous about him, but on the whole surprisingly gratified. I, too, like his skillful moves to reduce regulation and appoint conservative judges.

I never turned against President Bush, though I was mildly disappointed in him at times. I found the country's hard swing against him puzzling, the support for Obama even less accountable. Then I was surprised once again to see Clinton's campaign fail, and uneasy about the results given that so many people opposed her and supported Trump for reasons I can make little sense of. Still, on the whole I'm satisfied with the results and absolutely certain that I'd have been looking at a real horror-show by this time if Clinton had won. I'm with your friend, I think, about the tax deal, which mostly seems a nothing-burger but has its appealing points and is better than anything likely to have come from the Dems.

Trump's style will never appeal to me; nevertheless, I'd pretty much had it with the complete inability of candidates like Romney to communicate their beliefs forcefully, and with the inability of candidates like Cruz to communicate their beliefs charismatically. I still regret that we couldn't put someone like Scott Walker in the White House, because he combines conservative principles with some tactical political skill--though not enough, evidently.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Donna -

The intelligence level is very high here (I know a fair number of the readers), not always the education level. Of those whose backgrounds I know, I can't think of any who come from wealth, and at most are only a generation removed from hardship. That's not surprising, as in the 1940's almost half the country was below what we now call the poverty level.

You put things just fine.