Deplorable Baskets

Hillary Rodham Clinton

So, I was watching the talking heads a couple of days ago, and one of them (sorry, I didn’t get the name) said something like this: Bernie Sanders’ theory is that lots of people voted for a racist, misogynist prick because they want fundamental economic change; Joe Biden’s theory is that they voted for a racist, misogynist prick because they feel forgotten; but my theory, said the talking head, is that they just wanted to vote for a racist, misogynist prick.

Despite the vulgarity, the comment does raise a compelling question: are there any persuadable left, and, if there are, what would it take to persuade them? Particularly when you see results like this: if it’s Trump versus Biden, 34 percent would pick Trump—no big surprise, the only surprise is that the number isn’t a little larger; 42 percent would choose Biden; and 19 percent are undecided.

Nineteen percent undecided?

Who the hell are these people, and what are they thinking?

Well, if the Democratic nominee wants to win the race, then she or he had damn well better be about figuring out who the hell these people are and how to persuade them.

With that thought in mind, let us revisit Hillary’s infamous comments about the basket of deplorables, which I quote in full:

You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.

But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.

Well, she got a piece of it right. Yes, there are different kinds of Trump supporters. And a goodly number of them find him attractive precisely because he’s a racist, misogynist prick. Only it’s not half—it’s about three quarters of them, comprising about one third of the whole electorate.

As to her other basket, my understanding is that pretty much all the subsequent political science research has shown she’s wrong. There are surely economically downtrodden folks among the Trump supporters, but as a whole Trump supporters tend to do about as well economically as anyone else.

Based on my conversations here at Happy Acres, and based on what I have otherwise been able to learn or reason out, the other portion of Trump supporters may be less than thrilled with the more outré features of the Trump shit show, but they are pragmatic Fetus People, Tax Cut People, Deregulation People, and Anti-Brown-and -Black-People People. *

If that is the case, then I really don’t see what Joe Biden, or anyone else, could say to win them over.

That said, why did the Morning Consult/Political poll, conducted April 19-21 among 1,992 registered voters, find that 19 percent were undecided as between Trump and Biden?

Kind of suggests a follow-up question, doesn’t it?

* By the way, I would have a hard time deciding which basket is more “deplorable” than the other. Is it worse to be a natcherl born racist, or to be one who exploits natcherl born racists? Fortunately, I feel no need to arrive at a definitive opinion on this question?