Is Trump the problem, or also his voters?

I have a link saved from a few days ago of a column by Nicholas Kristof called Trump Voters Are Not the Enemy, which he tweeted a cautionary note about not demonizing the people who voted for Trump.

It’s a nice thought, but his column is about the blowback he got, e.g.

“Sorry,” Jason tweeted back, “but if someone is supporting a racist ignoramus who wants to round up brown ppl and steal my money, I’m gonna patronize.”

Kristof goes on to defend his position, exploring reasons people might have voted for Trump that did not involve racism and nationalism, e.g. victims of changing economic circumstances. (Not that those coal jobs will ever come back.)

But I have some further, indirect, experience with Trump voters that does not support Kristof’s case. On the local NPR station in the Bay Area, KQED, a Forum program last week specifically sought out four Trump voters in the region, and had them come in to evaluate how they thought Trump was doing. You can listen to the whole thing yourself.

Bay Area Trump Voters Weigh In On the President’s Progress

What struck me most especially was the tone of one of the women — not the student, I’m guessing, so Carol Hehmeyer, I suppose — whose tone was one of unremitting outrage at the state of the nation and the sins of the opposition. She’s a caricature of my go-to stereotype of conservatives as being perpetually outraged (with an element of fear underneath) of one thing or another, angry at the enemy liberals — while, again in my general impression, liberals are merely bemused, if not a bit horrified, by people like her. She defended Trump’s comment about the immigration tragedy in Sweden by saying, look, go Google “Sweden rapes”, there are lots of stories out there!

Indeed, I did so, and all the results are to right-wing media sites that reflect the conservative outrage echo chamber. Other, more sober sites have reported that Sweden disavows these reports and has no idea who the person Fox News interviewed about this is, certainly no government official with any kind of authority.

That woman’s attitude aside, any sympathy I might have felt for the panel completely disappeared when, at the end, the host asked if there were anything about Trump that has given them pause. His stiffing contractors? His demonization of Mexicans? His crude treatment of women? His vindictiveness toward the media, his short attention span, his fourth-grade vocabulary? [I don’t know if every one of these were suggested by the host, but they are all legitimate charges.]

No, they said; no. Not one. None of those issued troubled them at all.

There are people like this in the world. And I don’t have to respect them, or ‘try to work with them’, at all.

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