Understanding the Base: The Dialog Continues

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The Trump years have certainly been a learning experience. We have gained a great deal of knowledge about ourselves and about our fellow ‘Mericans.

The main lesson we have learned from the internet age is that human beings are actually much worse critters than we had thought, or at least than we had hoped. The main lesson we have learned from the Trump years is that ‘Mericans are considerably worse than we had thought, or at least hoped.

I, for one, am not shocked that lots of Trump supporters might think, “Well, he may be an asshole, but he’s OUR asshole.” Progressives sometimes think like that, too, It’s hardly admirable, but it’s not loony tunes. I get it that ideology and tribalism might cause you to support a bad person, a jerk, an inveterate liar, an asshole, a crook, and/or a narcissist. That point of view is sad, or, better yet, tragic, but life is full of sadness and tragedy.

But if you want to lend your support to a bad person, a jerk, a liar, an asshole, a crook, and/or a narcissist, you can find plenty of candidates to support who are not actual crazy people.

And what I don’t get—to this very hour, as I type the next word—is what perverted species of anger, what insane rage, has caused so many of my fellow ‘Mericans to think it’s a good idea to have an actual crazy person as President of the United States.

The quest for answers continue, as it must. We must peel the artichoke apart layer by layer until we finally gain some real understanding of our neighbors’ lunacy.

In a March 25 post I recommended Michael Gerson, The Last Temptation: How evangelicals, once culturally confident, became an anxious minority seeking political protection from the least traditionally religious president in living memory.

I still recommend Gerson’s article, and think there is much wisdom in it. But I also highly recommend this morning’s response by political scientist Nancy Wadsworth, The racial demons that help explain evangelical support for Trump.

Professor Wadsworth’s piece, whose title gives you the gravamen of her position, argues persuasively that Gerson’s more sanguine view of evangelical history is seriously incomplete. I commend her thoughts to your attention. In her telling, Trump’s racism is not a bug, it’s a feature. His principal virtue, in the eyes of his most rabid supporters, is simply that he pokes a thumb in the eye of the modern, inclusive, rational world. And if he threatens to bring America’s institutions down around their ears, well then, so much the better.

To get yourself in the mood for Professor Wadsworth’s history lesson, you might wish to watch this video. Please pay careful attention to the color of the dog.