Forty-six percent of this country’s electorate voted for Donald J. Trump to be our president. The fivethirtyeight.com average of approval ratings show Trump’s poll numbers currently stand at about 43 percent. Some polls show approval higher or lower; the highest have it close to 50 percent.
How in the world is this possible?
In the weeks since taking office, Trump and Co. have shattered all known records on presidential mendacity. They have broken countless conventions and traditions. They have proposed gutting Obamacare by kicking some 24 million people off their health insurance. They enacted a shameful, racist Muslim ban in all but name.
Trump himself has demonstrated autocratic tendencies. He has sought to delegitimize and silence anyone who disagrees with him, including but not limited to the bureaucracy, the intelligence community, our allies, the press and the judiciary.
And then, of course, there’s Russia. Mike Flynn, who for all of 24 days was the national security advisor, resigned in disgrace after it was revealed he lied about his contacts with Russia. Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied too, though he remains in office. Perhaps most unholy, FBI Director James Comey confirmed Monday that there is an active federal investigation looking into whether Trump and his campaign actively colluded with Russia ahead of the election.
Still, Trump’s support is hanging on.
I tend to recall many who swore time and time again that they had misgivings about Trump but would only reluctantly vote for him anyway because of bigger qualms with Hillary Clinton. Where are they now? The silence now from these #CheerfulWhiteFolk is deafening.
Hillary Clinton is out scaring children in the woods — or something like that. Our opinions on Trump are no longer dependent upon comparisons to Clinton. Still the #CheerfulWhiteFolk remain silent, offering little besides platitudes such as, “He’s our president!” or “Get over it.”
This is because the 2016 election was not at its core a repudiation of Clinton — though in a contest decided by 80,000 votes, sexism against her was surely one of many deciding factors. Trump’s victory was an embrace of Trump and the demagogic, populist proto-fascism for which he stands.
The lying, the duplicity, the ineptitude and even the alleged collusion with a hostile foreign power matters little to the #CheerfulWhiteFolk. As I noted last year in this newspaper, there is nothing different in Americans’ DNA than the Germans’ or the Italians’. The #CheerfulWhiteFolk, the descendants of those guys with the German Shepherds and the fire hoses in Birmingham, Alabama, inherently want to isolate, persecute and hurt people who are different than them.
I keep hearing, every time a supposed bombshell about this, that or the other involving Trump is published in a major newspaper, that it will spell the end for him. But the polls just do not show that. They do not show any large-scale defection from Trump.
As long as we keep traversing the dark road toward autocracy, the #CheerfulWhiteFolk will back Trump. It will be eight long years, I’m afraid.
Horwitz is a first-year law student from Houston. He is a senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @NmHorwitz.