Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The Basic Math Of Trump's Base

I've lived in Kentucky now for 15 years, I grew up in western NC and lived there for 25 years, I've seen, met, worked with, went to school with (and have often been the only black face in a room of) people who gladly consider themselves hillbillies, rednecks, and countrified mountain good 'ol boys. 

My hometown is famous for NASCAR drivers, bootlegging moonshine, the actor who played Roscoe P. Coltrane on the Dukes of Hazzard and being far enough up in the Appalachians where people had the grace to not fight the Civil War there because it was a pain in the ass to get around.  The last time we had a Democrat in the House, Dr. Martin Luther King was still alive. Republican scold Patrick McHenry probably has that job for life.

The point of all this is Trump's base was Trump's base long before it was Trump's base, and CNN doing things like this guarantees it will remain Trump's base for years to come, as Washington Post writer Eugene Scott reports.

President Trump has long argued that CNN’s coverage of him is negative because the organization thinks little of him and his supporters. A recent segment on the cable network seems to be making that case for him.

During a panel discussion about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s tiff with a NPR reporter over her Ukraine reporting, GOP strategist Rick Wilson went from questioning Trump’s foreign affairs intelligence to describing his supporters as uninformed “hillbillies.”

Wilson, a conservative who has long been critical of Trump, referred to the president’s base as “the credulous boomer rube demo” — a bloc of Americans who believe “Donald Trump is the smart one and y’all elitists are dumb.”

In mocking accents, Wilson and CNN contributor Wajahat Ali began imitating how the president’s supporters must criticize journalists and Trump critics as elitists because of their knowledge about foreign affairs and other political matters.

“You elitists with your geography and your maps and your spelling,” Ali said.

“Your math and your reading,” Wilson added.

All the while, Lemon laughed loudly.

Since early in the 2016 election, Trump has been the choice of white working class voters — particularly those who live in rural America. Despite Trump being a New Yorker with an Ivy League pedigree, these Americans have said he understands them in ways other politicians and the elite media do not.

As negative headlines about this administration continue to pile up, Trump’s support with those voters who sent him to the Oval Office remain strong. One of the reasons they continue to stick by him — despite critics’ claims that Trump has failed to keep the promises he made to rural Americans — is that the president and many of these voters share what they perceive as a common enemy: elite media and specifically, CNN. (Disclosure: This reporter worked at CNN.)

Two observations:

One, Scott isn't wrong.  The Trump outrage machine feeds on stuff like this and turns it into votes for Trump and his policies, no matter how racist, hateful, islamophobic, anti-Semitic, misogynist, and economically crippling they are.  The targeting of the press as "enemies of the people" is easy when CNN does things like this.  This segment will be burning up the MAGA base all the way to November.

Two, this is why I don't trust Never Trump republicans.  They curiously end up creating problems for Democratic candidates and making Trump stronger, and Rick Wilson is one of the worst of the bunch.  Never forget that he was Poppy Bush's point man in Florida, a Dick Cheney lackey when the Nameless One was Secretary of Defense, and worked on Rudy Giuliani's campaign for Mayor and then Senate.  The guy is a GOP lifer and gosh, look at the mess he started.

Trump's base aren't morons.  They're smart enough to go to the polls and to vote and they do so willingly, which is more than I can say for some folks on the left who snipe from social media all day but in the end never seem to get around to helping people register or to cast ballots.  They're not all stupid, they're not all racist, they're not all Muslim-haters or Jew-haters, they're not all bigots or sexual assaulters.

They're all people okay with a person in the White House who is all of those things, though. One who has managed to reinvent himself from New York millionaire to salt-of-the-earth defender of the rural voter.  Like I said, it's willingness on everyone's part who is engaged in Trumpism to be there.

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