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Opinion: A Last-Ditch, Almost Certainly Vain Appeal to Trump Voters

by on October 28, 2020 5:00 AM

Dear Trump Loyalists,

I’m sure you’re aware that you drive the rest of us crazy. For some of you, that’s probably part of the fun of being a Trump loyalist. Whatever the libs are for, you’re against, right? 

Same here when it comes to the items on most conservative wish lists. 

One thing many people yearn for, across the political spectrum, is an end to this kind of rancor. 

Washington Post columnist Max Boot – a conservative – recently asked how it can be “that so many still back [Trump] despite everything that has gone wrong.”

I think I understand those of you who supported Trump because the thing you cared most about was getting more conservatives on the Supreme Court. (Mission accomplished! Now you can move on.)

I think I understand those of you who supported Trump because you’re rich and you thought he would make you richer. 

I think I understand those of you who supported Trump because you’re not rich and you thought a guy who appeared to be a titan of industry would be a mighty job creator.

I think I understand those of you who supported Trump because he stood apart from a federal government that you believe takes your money, curbs your freedoms and gives you nothing in return. 

And I think I understand those of you who supported Trump because you get your information from sources that played up Trump’s supposed strengths and played down his defects.

Example: admiring Trump as a “self-made man” (never mind the multi-million-dollar boost he got from Daddy Fred).

Let me say a few words about the news media part of this equation. All but the most delusional defenders of Fox News and talk-radio gas bags like Rush Limbaugh acknowledge their conservative bias. The justification for that bias is that it’s a counterweight to the liberal bias of most other mainstream news outlets. 

The claim that these other big news organizations are just as slanted as Fox doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. What Trump sees as a bias against him is the news media doing its job of holding leaders accountable. You can be sure there were many days when Presidents Obama and Clinton were just as unhappy with The New York Times as Trump is now.

Ask yourself this: Did anyone from the mainstream media appear on stage at a rally for any of this year’s crop of Democratic candidates for president the way Fox’s Sean Hannity appeared on stage for Donald Trump?

Consider, too, how much mainstream news coverage of Trump is little more than a faithful relaying of his ravings on Twitter or at a podium. The problem, according to many critics of the mainstream media, is not that these outlets are distorting Trump’s messages. It’s that they’re amplifying them, no matter how false or irresponsible or ignorant or hateful they are.

Which brings us to 2020. The last election was a hiring process: We were choosing between applicants. This election is a performance review. Trump has been in the Oval Office for almost four years. Does he deserve to stay there? 

He claims, in that hyperbolic way of his, that before COVID, thanks to him, the American economy was the best it’s ever been. The boast can be picked apart in at least two ways: 

  • It ignores the degree to which economic growth since 2017 was a continuation of a recovery that began while Obama was president. 
  • It glosses over the degree to which tax cuts and a robust stock market have disproportionately benefited the rich.

Then there’s coronavirus. When called on to defend their response to the pandemic, Trump and Pence tell us that they stopped flights from China. This is one of the few true things they say, though it grossly exaggerates the effectiveness of the ban. 

Notice what they don’t say: nothing about providing clear guidance about wearing masks or keeping social distance or developing guidelines that could have kept schools and businesses open. Or do you still think coronavirus is a hoax? 

Finally, there’s Trump’s total lack of integrity. Forget the viciousness, the whining, the blaming,  the ignorance of history, science and world affairs. Look at his taxes. Look at OUR taxes, and the way they’re being spent on his kids and his properties.

There’s a simple reason why Trump hasn’t done anything about coronavirus or climate change or systemic racism or health insurance or gun violence or drug addiction. It’s not that he doesn’t believe they’re problems. It’s that they’re not his problems, so he doesn’t care about them or the people affected by them.

Donald Trump has but one philosophy: In your pursuit of money/fame/sex, etc., do whatever you can get away with. Unless that’s your philosophy too, keeping Trump on the payroll requires, as The New York Times put it in an editorial over the weekend, “a constant betrayal of one’s own integrity and values.” 

Have I convinced you?

Didn’t think so. Sometimes one just wants to vent. 

A collection of Russell Frank's columns, titled “Among the Woo People: A Survival Guide for Living in a College Town," is available from the Penn State University Press. His columns for won first place for commentary in the 2019 Society of Professional Journalists Keystone Chapter Best in Journalism contest. The winning columns: The Women’s March: Notes from New York, It’s Time to Change the Script and Mixed Messages at Bellefonte High. Frank is a member of the journalism faculty at Penn State. Before launching his academic career, he worked as a reporter, editor and columnist at newspapers in California and Pennsylvania. He is, by academic training, a folklorist (Ph.D., UPenn), which means, when you strip away the academic jargon, that he loves a good story. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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