There's a popular argument floating around left wing sites that liberals have got it all wrong about Donald Trump supporters. Rather than being bigots and idiots, Trump supporters are in fact just worried about jobs and want a strong leader to take charge and do something about it. Writes Thomas Frank in the Guardian:
Here is the most salient supporting fact: when people talk to white, working-class Trump supporters, instead of simply imagining what they might say, they find that what most concerns these people is the economy and their place in it. I am referring study just published by Working America, a political-action auxiliary of the AFL-CIO, which interviewed some 1,600 white working-class voters in the suburbs of Cleveland and Pittsburgh in December and January.
Support for Donald Trump, the group found, ran strong among these people, even among self-identified Democrats, but not because they are all pining for a racist in the White House. Their favorite aspect of Trump was his “attitude”, the blunt and forthright way he talks. As far as issues are concerned, “immigration” placed third among the matters such voters care about, far behind their number one concern: “good jobs / the economy”.
Trump's rhetoric about issues like trade and bringing jobs back to America is actually fairly coherent and decidedly left wing -- he wants American corporations to stop outsourcing jobs, will threaten CEOs with tariffs if they continue the practice and has stated that free trade deals that have hit American workers hard will be renegotiated. So in that sense, yes, it is conceivable that Trump supporters are getting behind his stance on jobs and the economy.
But here's the problem -- there is another high profile candidate with an even more pro-worker, pro-job stance than Donald Trump. That is of course Bernie Sanders, who has made his entire election campaign about bringing back jobs to the American middle class and reversing wealth inequality. Yet Trump supporters have decided to get behind the guy who hates women, insults Latinos, openly advocates committing war crimes, and talks about his penis size during presidential debates. This as opposed to backing a decent man with a proven track record of fighting for American workers, taking on corporations and opposing the power of big banks.
Why is this the case? Because while Trump supporters do care about jobs and economic security, they are also idiots and bigots -- as the polling evidence conclusively shows. Public Policy Polling released a poll late last year showed that liberal perception of Trump voters was entirely correct:
Our new poll finds that Trump is benefiting from a GOP electorate that thinks Barack Obama is a Muslim and was born in another country, and that immigrant children should be deported. 66% of Trump's supporters believe that Obama is a Muslim to just 12% that grant he's a Christian. 61% think Obama was not born in the United States to only 21% who accept that he was. And 63% want to amend the Constitution to eliminate birthright citizenship, to only 20% who want to keep things the way they are.
Trump's beliefs represent the consensus among the GOP electorate. 51% overall want to eliminate birthright citizenship. 54% think President Obama is a Muslim. And only 29% grant that President Obama was born in the United States. That's less than the 40% who think Canadian born Ted Cruz was born in the United States.
Let's repeat that: 66% of Trump's supporters believe that Obama is a Muslim to just 12% that grant he's a Christian. 61% think Obama was not born in the United States.
Nope, no idiocy here. None at all.