Why Do Trump's Supporters Remain Committed Despite His Ineptitude?

President Trump is breaking his bargain with his most vulnerable voters. They don't care.

There are many outrages in the (now more than 100-day old) Trump Administration.

They include hypocrisy, nepotism, corruption, incompetence and dishonesty, just to name a few.

But the biggest outrage, and the one that gains the least attention, is the outrage inherent in how he does it.  

Trump’s approval rating is at 40 percent and was lower for much of the past few months, it having advanced ever so slightly in the last two weeks largely as a consequence of the bombing in Syria. These are historically low approval numbers. In fact, they are the lowest in the history of presidential polling for the first 100 days of any administration.  They reflect Trump’s practiced and continuing aversion to the truth, his rampant narcissism and in-your-face “I am the greatest” sheer boorishness, and the fact that, lacking any real commitments on policy that extend beyond a video clip designed to boost ratings, he has been captured by the far right in the Republican Party and is supporting their extreme agenda. That agenda includes gutting health care, enormous tax cuts for the wealthy, de-funding environmental protection and education, and a somewhat schizophrenic foreign policy in which the Commander-in-Chief talks tough and threatens unilateral action in his service to “America first” nationalism,  while his seconds tour the planet re-assuring a nervous world that we remain committed to our longstanding strategic alliances.

The domestic side of that agenda is radically unpopular and, on foreign policy, the administration is at no better than break even.

As an example of the former, Trump’s and the GOP’s on-going effort to repeal Obamacare comes in the face of the Affordable Care Act now being supported by 60 percent of the country.  Americans understand that Trumpcare ― or, more accurately, Ryancare ― would eliminate insurance for more than 20 million people and, in the latest proposal now being bantied about on Capitol Hill, would also likely eliminate coverage for many with pre-existing conditions. The right-wing GOP’s new proposal allows states to avoid the ban on exclusions for those conditions that Obamacare enacted and the public overwhelmingly supports.  It does so by allowing states to claim their own plans will result in lower premiums overall and ostensibly equal or greater coverage as a consequence of that lower cost. 

The sale was and is fraudulent."

Conservatives claim they can accomplish this hat trick through the creation of high-risk insurance pools. 

Good luck with that. Because...

Absent enormous, government-funded subsidies, those high-risk pools into which all those “pre-existing” diabetics and cancer patients will be thrown will be pools where premiums will  be extraordinarily high and therefore unaffordable for many who need the coverage most.

And when was the last time Mississippi ever voted to subsidize those who can’t afford something?

Nevertheless, among the 62 million or so who actually voted for Trump last November, 96 percent still support him.

This is what is known as a disconnect.

It exists for two reasons. 

First, among that portion of those 62 million voters who are wealthy, Trump is a windfall waiting to happen. They are willing to forgive and forget his transparent personal failings (narcissism, sexism, dishonesty, and ignorance) in exchange for the millions in tax cuts he promises and the right wingers in Congress are eager to enact. Second, among the middle and poor swaths of that voting group ― in other words, among the rural, white working class that hasn’t had a raise in thirty years and is moving down, not up, the economic ladder ― Trump has sold them a bill of goods that holds immigrants abroad, minorities at home, and globalists in D.C. responsible for their economic plight.

The sale was and is fraudulent.  

But those who want to repeal Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society have been making this same pitch for more than thirty years.

And it is working.

There are really only two ways to improve economic conditions for those in the middle and at the bottom.  The first is to improve economic productivity as a whole, and the second is to both insure that the gains from any improved productivity are distributed widely on the one hand while re-distributing wealth to those who still lose out on the other. Fair productivity distribution depends largely on the existence of equal bargaining power between capital, the investing class, and laborers, the working class, and re-distribution can take many forms ― unemployment insurance, food stamps, housing subsidies, college loans, increased payments under social security, increases in the minimum wage, even old-fashioned work of the sort created by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.  

But you can’t improve without both.  

And for thirty years we haven’t had both.  

Unions have been weakened to the point of practical non-existence and globalism without labor standards has arbitraged wages down even as cheap imports have helped consumers.  You can’t consume if you don’t have a job, and as a consequence, the lives of all those West Virginians living in poverty (18 percent of the state’s population, at last count) have not been improved much merely because tchotchkes in Wal-Mart became cheaper. Meanwhile, the GOP’s love affair with tax cuts and inflated defense spending has put enormous and predictable pressure on any spending designed to redistribute or level the playing field. In fact, that was the whole point of their tax cuts in the first place. They were designed to “starve the beast” of government, as President Reagan’s first budget director, David Stockman, admitted in a moment of honesty back in the ‘80s. With high deficits and lower revenues, the safety net has been gutted and even Social Security and Medicare have been put on the potential chopping block.

None of this should sell in West Virginia.

But it does.

Because the right wing’s corrupt bargain between Wall Street’s rich and West Virginia’s poor is that the former get their tax cuts and de-regulation windfalls so long as the latter believe their poverty has its roots in illegal immigration and affirmative action.

Trump did not create that bargain.  

But his neo-fascist campaign and presidency by insult, thuggish rallies, and fact free propaganda has done more than anything in the last thirty years to seal it.