Tuesday, March 7, 2017

On Trump's 91% Approval Rating Among Republicans

There's a Quinnipiac poll today that confirms something I've long thought: Republicans are still devoted to Trump. In fact, 91%, according to the poll, approve of his performance in office.

On the surface, this ought to be perplexing He has failed to pass any meaningful legislation thus far. His attempt at a travel ban was a complete shitshow. His National Security Advisor had to resign, and his Attorney General has also been implicated in the Russia scandal. Every day brings a new scandal for an administration that has failed to fill key government positions. He is shitting the bed worse than any president at the beginning of his term I've ever seen. He is shitting the bed so thoroughly that it ought to be a matter of simply observed objective reality.

But it apparently is not. Republicans so far are very pleased, and that is something worth examining. The main factor here, of course, is partisanship. We've seen this already in Kansas, where Brownback has been driving the state into the ground, but Republicans would rather cut off their left arms than vote for a Democrat, even if their Republican governor is breaking their state.  However, I do not think partisanship accounts for everything here. The vast majority of conservatives consume news from right wing organs. Anyone who has spent a lot of time dipping their toes into Fox News or talk radio soon feels as if they have entered some kind of alternate reality. Not only is this world a topsy-turvy place where Trump's failure turds are polished and the level of opposition to him downplayed, it is one that many conservatives see as part of their identity.

They feel that these organs are giving them the truth, and that the "mainstream media" is the enemy. Trump is feeding them the raw chum of resentment, and they are eating it up in a frenzy. Here's what Quinnipiac found:

"American voters disagree 58 - 39 percent with Trump's claim that certain news organizations are "the enemy of the American people." Disagreement is 86 - 10 percent among Democrats and 60 - 38 percent among independent voters. Republicans agree 81 - 17 percent."

That's right, 81% of Republicans buy his "enemy of the people" schtick. Unlike previous Republican presidents, he has fully embraced the fever swamps of right wing media. His main adviser is Steve Bannon, after all, former mastermind of Breitbart. The vast majority of Republicans are excited because they see Trump as fundamentally "one of us." Whereas Bush gave us "no child left behind," Trump is giving us an enemy of public education, in the form of Betsy DeVos. Whereas Romney called for "self-deportation," Trump is building a wall. He is the id of a talk radio host given life and allowed to run the country, and Republicans by and large love it.

Over the years, conservatism has become perhaps the most radical political movement to gain high levels of power in the American government. The conservative movement is effectively a right-wing equivalent of Bolshevism, seeking a total revolution in American society. They want to strip away the twentieth century, destroying the social state, public education, and equal voting rights. With the white nationalist wing embodied by Trump in charge, it also seeks to end America's role as an arbiter of global peace and to massively restrict immigration.

In terms of the right, Trump gives something for everyone. He keeps the neo-cons happy by building up the military. He is calling for tax cuts for the wealthy. He delights the bigots with practically every thing he says. The religious right loves him for his attacks on Muslims.And most of all, no matter how badly he messes up the country, his voters seem confident that even if they are hurt by the shitstorm that liberals, immigrants, people of color, gays, and transgender people will be hurt a whole lot worse. As long as Trump keeps smiting the people that his base hates, they will love him forever.

Trump's opponents need to reckon with these facts. They need to realize that trying to poach his voters is a fool's errand, and that when they oppose him, they are also facing Republicans as a united front. The notion that Trump is somehow separate from the Republicans is a false and pernicious one. He is their champion, their avatar, and when he succeeds in flushing the country down the toilet, I sure as hell do not want his right wing enablers and followers to be let off of the hook.

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