As I have more and more conversations with people who ask how Trump can be so popular, I’ve been thinking about writing this post for the last couple of days. Unfortunately, somebody beat me to it … Kevin Drum. In one word, he describes it. Resentment. It’s that simple. You may not see it where you live or in the people around you, but we live in a sea of growing resentment.
I live in a blue city in a blue state, a cocoon of liberalness, but even in my blue state, I am surrounded by conservatism — in the foothills to the east and the farmland to the north and south. A lot of long time conservatives populate those areas. And in the rest of the country, in the South, in the Midwest, in some of the Mountain States, there are huge swaths of this country filled with conservatives and people on the right-wing fringe who have spent years and decades in similar cocoons — only they are dominated by different beliefs and leaders than the cocoon I live in.
Before I go further … please understand that I’m not claiming all conservatives are a particular way. I’m not claiming all conservatives are filled with resentment. Or like Donald Trump. In fact, I know that last part isn’t true because pretty much every conservative I know is also asking the question — why Donald Trump? I’m also not claiming liberals don’t have any resentment of their own. Look no further than Bernie Sanders for the liberal response to our resentment issues.
But when it comes to a certain faction in this country, they are filled with resentment. And they have had it with traditional politicians. The House of Representatives has been led by Republicans for years now and nothing has changed — from this faction’s perspective. Now, the Senate is led by Republicans and nothing has changed — from this faction’s perspective. Traditional politicians have not achieved the objections of this faction. Abortion is still legal. Political correctness still rules the land. Black Lives Matter. Taxes, taxes, taxes. Immigrants are stealing their jobs. Their American Dream isn’t what they thought it would be. They want to take our guns. The list could go on and on and on. And so, hell yeah, Trump isn’t a traditional politician and he says what he wants. He says what the faction wants to hear.
But what it really comes down to is resentment that their way of life is no longer the dominant way of life in this country. They want to be able to say what they think when they want to say it. They want to go back to the bygone era when men were men, women were women, and white people ruled this nation, when Taco Bell was the only Mexican food around, and you could make fun of whoever you wanted to make fun of without being called out for it. Disabled people. Fat people. Women. Minorities. It’s a far easier world to live in, don’t you know. And they desperately want to go back to those days.
Before I go further … I share a bit of their resentment. I’m tired of the victimization culture we live in today. Everybody is a victim. Every slight is worth on outrage and a protest. Every thing must have a movement. Even the whacko right is getting in on it with their claimed “War on Christmas.” And actually, Donald Trump is the ringleader of the victimization of the right with his claims that he must be treated fairly during the Republican campaign. Before the campaign really got underway, he was claiming, what, advance victimhood? But I digress.
I live in my cocoon. You live in your cocoon. We don’t always see what’s in other people’s cocoons. We need to get out of our cocoons because there’s a whole lot out there we don’t see, or don’t want to see.
The way I figure it is that Trump is at about 25-30% support in the Republican Party. I don’t anticipate he’ll ever get much higher than that, particularly once the field narrows a bit more and more support goes to the Rubios or the Cruzes or the Bushes left in the race. But that 25-30% — yes, those are the people on the right side of the political debate in this country who’ve had it and love what Trump is doing. He defines political correctness and every day he says what his supporters wish they could say. He thinks out loud what they say amongst themselves and wish they could should to the skies.
It’s resentment, folks. Resentment that their way of life is no longer the one that dominates in this country. They’re scared and angry and they’re not going to take it anymore.
My one big fear? That something happens in this country, like a serious terrorist attack, that turns all of that anger and resentment into a fear that metastasizes into a cancer that grows to a larger pool of voters between now and next November.