Immediately following the 2016 election, various cable news hosts fought for the privilege of being the first to suggest that Democrats need to reach out to supporters of Donald Trump. Hell, even before then, Saturday Night Live tried to tell us Democrats and Trumpers had nearly everything in common and we should all find a way to communicate.
Twenty-one months later, such a concept is as ridiculous as ever. There's very simply nothing that can be said to Trump loyalists that'll convince them they've inflicted significant damage to American politics, institutions or our national reputation abroad. As I wrote earlier this week, the Red Hats have rejected facts and knowledge, leading to a new Republican Party in which the concepts of hypocrisy and consistency are antiquated ideals, killed in the harrowing mission to shoehorn an incompetent crook into the Oval Office; a screeching, erratic dilettante whose only loyalties are to himself and his Russian paymaster Mr. Putin.
Some of us thought Trump's base might dissipate when they realized his policies are bankrupting or poisoning them. Indeed, I've always thought Trump's poll numbers for artificially high due to the relative health of the economy, and that when the Obama economy begins to wobble due to Trump haphazardly ripping out Jenga pieces with Obama's name on them, the Trumpers would start to abandon ship. Specifically, as of this month, Trump's whimsical trade war of choice is set to officially kick in, leaving thousands if not millions of red state Americans, especially workers in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, caught in the crossfire. I still believe it's possible even though early indicators aren't so positive.
But so far, the fealty of Trump's disciples is unwavering. The Los Angeles Times reported today:
Jimmie Coffer, a machine programmer at the nation’s largest nail-making plant, voted for Donald Trump partly because he was confident he would bring manufacturing jobs back to America.
So the 39-year-old factory worker was shocked last month when 60 of his co-workers were laid off after the Trump administration imposed a 25% tariff on the steel his company imports from Mexico. Now, as his bosses cut back hours and warn they may have to let 200 more workers go in the coming weeks, he worries he may lose his job as a result of the president’s policies.
But Coffer is still gung-ho about Trump.
“I support him 100%,” he said last week. “In fact, I’d like to shake his hand. He’s doing a great job.”
Don't worry. If your brain began to slip out of your ear while reading that passage, you're not alone. There are countless explanations for why Coffer and others feel the way they do, but chief among them is the brainwashing. Coffer has been convinced, like any follower of a cult, that he and Trump are one-in-the-same, not unlike how sports fans relate to their teams, only deeper and more emotional. Trump is Coffer's guy, and nothing Trump does to hurt Coffer is bad enough to drive him away.
Of course, the propaganda aimed at the Red Hats is careful to filter out the bad news such as the reality that economic growth is roughly the same if not worse in some quarters than the Obama economy, which Trump labeled "American carnage," and that job growth is a continuation of a trend that began in 2010. Nor do they understand that Trump's tariffs are completely optional, merely a point of fun-and-games for the president, therefore jeopardizing the livelihoods of people like Jimmie Coffer for no reason. Trumpers have been presented with a rose-colored view of an extremely dangerous time in the history of the nation, so it's almost literally impossible for them to see anything other than upsides.
Here's a brief selection of headlines that ought to freak out Trump voters, but they're not.
WSJ editorial board: "New satellite photos show that Kim Jong Un is continuing to develop his nuclear weapons program…This wasn’t supposed to happen after the Donald Trump-Kim summit last month in Singapore."
Yeah, um, MAGA?
Trumpers have "gone clear" in the Scientology sense: "a being who no longer has his own reactive mind." Leaving Trumpism would almost be like coming out of the closet to your very conservative parents. Or to piggyback on my earlier sports metaphor, leaving Trump for another party would be like a Red Sox fan deciding to root for the Yankees.
No one wants to be seen as an apostate in the face of the Red Hat mob, so don't hold your breath believing that if you construct just the right argument or collect the perfect arsenal of links to factual research and news items you'll be able to shake Trumpers out of their drone-like torpor. They won't budge, and, in fact, they'll cheer even louder -- especially in the face of your facts -- for anything their cult leader says, even though most of us on Earth One fully understand what Trump's all about and exactly what he's up to.
Trumpers think their guy is swinging his bat in one direction, knocking down SJWs and the "fake news" with every swing. They don't understand that Trump is also thwacking Trumpers in the mouth on the follow-through, but the numbness of their loyalty isn't allowing them to feel the sting. But they will, some after it's too late. And, looking at the political cup half full, some of them might vote the other way while insisting publicly (on social media and around the water cooler) that they're Red Hats to the end. If not, this dark ride's about to get darker...for everyone.