While I'm loath to borrow Donald Trump's negative epithets, I am forced to conclude there's a significant portion of his supporters who are just plain stupid. Not fanatically aligned to an ideology, because it's not clear Donald Trump subscribes to one. No, sadly, as Shakespeare showed us with his famous speeches in Julius Caesar, where at first Brutus turned the crowd against Caesar and then with superior oratory Marc Antony convinces the multitudes Caesar was their benefactor, we have been witness during the GOP presidential contests that a lot of people are not intelligently ingesting what Donald Trump is saying.
It would be bad enough if we could dismiss his supporters as simply in line with his racist and sexist comments. And we can presume, after it was clear he'd wrapped up the nomination, a lot of heavyweights like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell reluctantly came aboard because it was anathema for them to have another Democrat fighting them from the White House. This latter viewpoint is cynical but understandable.
But a large segment of the Republican voters who lined up behind Trump, when there was a huge field of experienced office holders with proven conservative credentials, perhaps unwittingly backed someone who'd flirted with liberals. In 2012 he termed Hillary Clinton "terrific," saying she performed well as secretary of state. He also supported abortion rights, telling Tim Russert in 1999 "I'm very pro-choice." This shows me many of his supporters know very little about their candidate.
Nor do they care about his insults. They probably enjoy them, giving him their support in a vicarious manner as they thrill that someone is finally putting these big shots in their place. This, of course, tells us something about the tenor of these voters, that they are for the most part imbued with a mean spirit and cannot glean that their candidate who "tells it like it is" might be a dangerous person to have at the helm when negotiating with our adversaries.
But what really makes them stupid is that they continue to support Trump, even though he repeatedly makes misstatements, then tries to back out of them further exacerbating his mistakes. Worse still, he has lied about people, from his first serious foray into politics in 2012 when he became leader of the birther movement against Barack Obama. This past year he stooped to making charges about opponents, implying Ted Cruz's birth in Canada made him ineligible to be president, though his mother was an American. Another tactic he employs when making wild accusations is to quickly add that other people said those things, as if spreading false charges "made by others" in front of his huge audience somehow insulates him from culpability when the "facts" are debunked.
Now, as the campaign has become serious come the further flow of outrageous statements that so many serious GOP leaders are worried about. From his suggestion we might pull from NATO or at the least not support other members should they have a crisis, to building a wall between us and Mexico, to banning most Muslims from our shores, to apparently not knowing the Russians have already invaded part of Ukraine. And then taking issue with the Khans, as he equated the sacrifice of an American Muslim mother and father and the grief they suffered in the loss of their son in combat to his construction of buildings and the hiring of workers.
Nothing seems to phase the rank and file people, who shrug about Trump's almost daily belittling and uninformed drivel. No, these potential Trump voters stay the course, disregarding the outpouring of rebukes from GOP leaders. These voters don't appear concerned or possibly mindful that two living Republican presidents refuse to endorse him, nor has the 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, nor a number of GOP congressman and senators, so what other appellation can there be than that these people are stupid?
Granted, they don't like Hillary, even with her vast experience. Not to mention the speakers, famous and not, who lauded her at the convention, but at what point does distaste for a candidate not get (forgive me) trumped by a candidate with so much baggage as Donald Trump? If Joe Lieberman, the Democratic candidate for vice president in 2000 was able to jump ship in 2008 and endorse his friend John McCain at the GOP convention that year, why can't McCain do the same for Hillary, or at the least take back his endorsement of the man who last year pointedly said that McCain, as a prisoner of war, was not entitled to be called a war hero and today said he was not ready to endorse him or Paul Ryan, for that matter, for re-election.
What does it take? Will voters be too stupid to remember how Trump talked about "Lyin' Ted Cruz" through the Indiana primary, and then the next day when Cruz dropped out, Trump said "He is a tough, smart guy and he's got an amazing future ahead of him."
Or that Marco Rubio was "Little Marco" and a "lightweight"? But when Rubio dropped out after losing the primary of his home state, Trump said, " He's tough, he's smart, and he's got a great future." He reverses course when it suits him.
Trump himself has no problem using the "stupid" put-down. "We have people running this country who are stupid," he said in Grand Rapids last December, then, bragging about his ivy league education, he said "I have this incredible vocabulary," then wondered "How could I describe our leaders better than the word stupid... I used to say grossly incompetent, but stupid's stronger."
All this while repeatedly crowing about himself with superlatives. "We will have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with winning." Yes, he actually said that.
So, either his supporters are incapable of discerning or caring about facts or because they show no concern about the importance of truth and decency in their next president I reluctantly borrow Trump's favored description to decry those with whom he is in disagreement and state forthwith these people are just plain stupid. It may well be the only word they can comprehend and take to heart.
Michael Russnow's website is www.ramproductionsinternational.com