Do y’all know any actual Trump supporters?

I was having a conversation with Burl via text today, and he told me about viewing the above interview with South Carolinians, two of whom who have good things to say about Trump.

One of the guys indicated he’ll likely vote for Trump, Mr. Outsider, in the primary, but then vote for Hillary in the general because she’s so experienced and qualified. So… go figure.

Anyway, it got me to thinking…

I still can’t say I know any Trump supporters. No, let me correct that — I know two people who support him rather prominently: Nancy Mace, who’s working for his campaign here in SC, and Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster, who so improbably endorsed Trump recently.

But I haven’t talked with Nancy in a couple of years — since before her quixotic attempt to run against LIndsey Graham from the right (with a crowd of others). And I haven’t spoken to Henry in a month or so, since well before his endorsement.

So I haven’t been in a position to ask, “Why?” I mean, I read Henry’s public statement of why, but it was definitely in the “Black is white, and up is down” category.

But what about just regular folks: Who, among your neighbors, family members, co-workers or others in your day-to-day life are Trumpites? And how do they explain it to you? Does it make any more sense than the explanation of the guy who’s voting for him in the primary, but Hillary in the general?

Because I remain curious. As you know, I have trouble wrapping my head around the idea that any adult who has ever tried to teach a child how to act around other people could possibly support such a person — and yet, obviously, many who fit that description do. And I’d like to understand that better, because, improbably, this is having an actual effect on the country in which I live, the country I love…

42 thoughts on “Do y’all know any actual Trump supporters?

  1. bud

    Brad you really do live in a bubble. I know several Trump supporters. Plus there are signs all over my neighborhood. Many folks at work have indicated they’re choosing between Trump and Cruz. Not sure exactly what your point is but it’s very dangerous to infer anything from anecdotal observation.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I’m not inferring anything. I’m asking: How do they explain their reasoning to you? I haven’t had a single Trump supporter walk me through their reasons.

      And that’s sort of weird.

      You know what else is weird?

      Normally, if we write here on the blog about someone running for office, SOMEBODY will leave a comment saying that they support that person, and here’s why — perhaps getting on my case for NOT supporting the person, or whatever.

      That has not happened yet, in all these months that Trump has been riding atop the charts.

      And here’s the thing: I in no way screen such people out. The only screening that goes on is for civility, and I haven’t had to bar any Trump supporters for that. They’re just not knocking at the door.

      So that means my readers are self-selecting, and either Trump supporters aren’t coming here, or they’re lurking and not commenting, or they’re… well, I don’t know what.

      Which is pretty much unprecedented. In years past, we always heard from supporters of practically everybody. Yet here’s a guy who has stayed at the top of the polls, and not a single pro-Trump argument is being offered here?

      It’s very weird. I haven’t seen this before….

  2. bud

    And I’d like to understand that better, because, improbably, this is having an actual effect on the country in which I live, the country I love…

    Now you know how I felt in 2004. Easiest POTUS vote I EVER made and will EVER make. Bush was so completely and utterly unfit to be president yet somehow 53% of voters picked him that year. Frankly Trump isn’t nearly as bad as W. And we’re still trying to recover from the horrors of the Bush years.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      OK, Bud has given me a small piece of what I’m looking for here: He says he likes Trump better than W. Of course, coming from him, that’s not saying much (although with most people, it would be a startling statement indeed).

      So… anyone else have any insights into the phenomenon — something from real-life experience with actual Trump supporters, not something you’ve read about or seen on TV…

  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    I mean…

    I’m sure that I know quite a FEW Trump supporters. Statistically, I MUST. But none of them have given the slightest indication of that. Which is very, very weird. Most of my adult life, one of the first things people want to do when they run into me is talk politics….

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I know he’s popular among people who normally don’t engage in politics — and are therefore people who don’t know or care who I am and as a result don’t try to talk politics with me — but to THIS extent? Very weird…

  4. David Carlton

    Given that the people I mostly talk politics with are Vanderbilt types and liberal Presbyterians, I guess that I, too, live in a bit of a bubble. I also know a lot of people in rural Alabama who are Trump fans, but I carefully avoid talking politics with them (they’re fellow Sacred Harp singers, and we check our politics at the door). I’ve overheard some of them talking, though, and they talk like fanboys and girls, not comparison shoppers. Trump is a lot like Cole Blease, who I studied in my younger years, and who attracted a lot of fanatical loyalty from people who felt themselves (with reason) to be on the political margins, and who saw him as their champion against the high-collared crowd (as they’d be called back then). I’m loath to say that it’s because he expresses their hate (The Trump people I know are nice people), but I do think he addresses their fear, and vows to stand between them and everything Out There that they’re afraid of. It’s difficult to make a case for Trump on policy grounds (as I suspect you want to hear), because his policy positions are so incoherent. The closest thing to a pro-Trump argument I’ve seen is really an anti-everybody-else argument; since They’ve made such a mess of things, it’s time to bring in a superhero. And that’s the sum total of Trump’s argument for himself; he’s so awesome the whole world will cave to him. Brendan Nyhan has developed what he calls the Green Lantern theory of the presidency, which contends that a president can do anything he wants if he just imposes his will; Nyhan, of course, regards it as fantasy, but you see it pop up all the time across the political spectrum (Bernie Sanders actually used it against Obama in an interview today–another reason to stick with Hil, in my book).

  5. Bart

    Well, I have to admit, I do know a couple of Trump supporters and they plan to vote for him in the primary and if he is the Republican candidate. When asked their reason or reasons, it pretty well reflects what most are saying. He is not a member of the Inside the Beltway crowd; he doesn’t have to accept funding unless he wants to and is beholding to no one; he “tells it” like it is and apologizes to no one; he says exactly what is on his mind without reservation or worrying about what others think; he generates excitement and brings up subjects in a manner none of the other candidates dare to try; and a long list of other positive attributes that appeal to the disgruntled voters who believe they are no longer relevant or listened to.

    Voters who believe the country is not only headed in the wrong direction in most ways and are convinced there is no real difference between the Democrat and Republican establishment that is noticeable. Voters who believe the establishment Republicans will sell their soul to stay in office and do nothing but lie to the voters who put them in office. They no longer trust any of the other candidates on either side of the political aisle.

    And, these are not the ignorant, uninformed rednecks you would expect to support Trump. They do not like the Cruz campaign commercial where he says he will kill terrorists and talks like a tinhorn as the old description goes. They don’t want another “legacy” president, especially Hillary and Sanders is a little too far left for their taste. In the final analysis for the ones I know who are Trump supporters, they are accurate reflections of the line from the movie, “I’m mad as hell and not going to take it anymore….”. While it may be lame on the surface, there seems to be a real underlying anger this year because the choices are so poor, for many voting will be a genuine “hold the nose” and vote exercise.

    A friend went to the Trump rally in Florence and even though Trump didn’t say anything of substance, he and his wife liked what he had to say and the way he said it. And, both are educated, well respected, and are financially very well off.

    Go figure.

  6. Norm Ivey

    I know a few. I’m related to one. And they keep telling me things like, “There’s none of that pc crap with him,” and “no one owns him.” “You can trust him.” All of them are people who believe people on the left side of the spectrum are evil and untrustworthy.

    In a way they remind me of the Oregon occupiers. Not in the their political views or methods, but in their unalterable belief that they are 100% correct and if the rest of us would just open our eyes we could then see the truth.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      You’re probably right about that. It does come in handy whenever the Germans get all uppity, though. 🙂

      [Disclaimer: This is a joke. Repeat, this is a joke.]

  7. bud

    I haven’t heard much here or on Keven Cohen’s radio show supporting Hillary. I’ve defended her email server but plan to vote for Bernie. I’ve heard quite a few supporter for Trump on Kohen’s show. It really depends on who you hang with.

  8. Ryan

    I am not a Trump supporter, nor have I met anyone who admits that they are, but I think the most basic explanation for Trump’s rise is that people are just so darn angry at our entire political system and they want someone who channels their own anger and promises to do something, ANYTHING different. While the Tea Party movement was mostly about policy, Trump is all about emotion. And, as much as I personally dislike Trump, I grudgingly sort of understand what people see in him. I seriously often contemplate whether representative democracy is a functional form of government any longer. And I’m not some wacko with a tin-foil hat who stockpiles gold coins in my basement. I am a college educated, middle-class, family man. But when our own state Senate is so completely and utterly incapable of passing even a roads bill because no one can agree on anything, I start to wonder if we wouldn’t just be better off with some type of elected monarchy. At least we wouldn’t have to deal with this wholly dysfunctional system of government we have now. Of course, I say all this partially in jest, and I am just venting. But the fact that I even entertain the thought of abandoning representative democracy is extremely disconcerting.

    One other thought….part of the problem is the inability of the “new” media to properly vet these candidates and get people to understand that all Trump ever says is “You’re gonna love me! It’s gonna be great!” Today’s media is so spread out that no outlet is able to have enough traction to make a difference. We have always been taught about the crucial role of a strong and vibrant press in maintaining a functional society. Unfortunately, I think we are experiencing what happens when there is no moderate, “mainstream” media outlet to properly vet these candidates and reflect to voters how empty Trump’s promises are.

  9. Harry Harris

    To the term “low information voters,” I would probably add “angry” and looking for someone to blame.

  10. Brad Warthen Post author

    As Bart says, “there seems to be a real underlying anger this year because the choices are so poor…”

    Absolutely. I share that frustration, although I wouldn’t necessarily call it “anger.” I take the long view. Compared to most people through most of human history, we’ve got it pretty good. I’m unhappy that I don’t have a choice between two people I like, the way I did in 2008 (McCain and Obama), but I know how unusual that was. The really bad thing is that there’s no one I really like at all.

    But I don’t understand how anyone who is frustrated with the lack of good choices would react by embracing the very WORST choice available. The one guaranteed way of making sure things are worse than they are would be to elect Trump.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Let me walk that back a bit. I may have found someone I could vote for, and not have to hold my nose… More on that after I have time to reflect, and time to write about it…

  11. Karen Pearson

    Of the Trump supporters I know, the most common response I get from them is that he will “get things done.” They also say he won’t “back down” or “apologize” for America. I get the feeling that they are looking for a “superman,” a hero, who can single handedly if necessary make everything right again. But I wonder, has he promised to make the planes run on time?

  12. Chandlee Bryan

    I live in New Hampshire and am registered independent. I had dinner with two Trump Supporters back in December – at a healthcare related event – and they got into a heated debate with a Bernie fan. Other than that, I have not talked to anyone who mentions that they are a fan of Trump or that they would vote for him. There are not Trump bumper stickers on cars or in yards where I live; in fact I only saw one “Make America Great” sign on the side of a public road during the entire pre-primary campaign.

    1. Bart


      Good point but Trump won in NH going away and is pulling away in South Carolina. Sanders kicked Hillary’s political tin can down the road to South Carolina and she may not win here. No two states could be farther/further apart than NH & SC politically yet Trump is winning by double digits in both states.

      Brad doesn’t agree with my “angry voter” analysis but I talk to some of the voters who are the rank and file and they do not apply the same degree of logic or look at the long view the way he does, they really are angry. They see what has been going on the past several years beginning in the 60s and the rapidly changing landscape of politics and social changes that are still foreign to so many.

      And before anyone gets on their podium and starts accusing these angry people of racism because they don’t like Obama, again, I have talked to too many who have no problem with the color of his skin, they have a problem with his politics – period. In addition, they don’t want another legacy candidate running for office including Clinton, Bush, and any Kennedy who may have political aspirations.

      They cannot see any improvement whatsoever with the current slate of candidates and the two “mavericks” offer a choice vastly different than the “establishment” candidates who are so desperately trying to come across as non-establishment outsiders. To add to the problem, Hillary has the lowest degree of likability among just about all of the candidates including Cruz. No wonder Sanders and Trump are polling so well because they really are outsiders and it is not beyond the realm of possibility that come November, Sanders and Trump may be the candidates on the ballot for the presidency.

      Just my observation after talking to a few Trump supporters. Don’t dismiss them too lightly.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I don’t DISAGREE with your analysis. I was saying that I can understand how people would be frustrated with the choices. I just don’t follow their thinking in going from that point to voting for the worst choice in the field….

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          And as for Obama and racism…

          I know people are sincere when they say it’s not racism. But I can also see why people think it is. The visceral nature of the way people react to him, and have from the start, has a flavor to it that is very like what I’ve seen all too often when the subject IS race.

          Here’s my theory about that, which I’ve stated before.

          Personally, I don’t think of Obama as a black man. But I know others do, so race is in the mix there, in terms of the way he is perceived.

          Mainly, Obama is different. He’s exotic. There’s never been anyone who even came close to the Oval Office even remotely like him. His upbringing was very different from what we’re used to.

          As I tried to explain in one of my longest columns ever, I sort of identify with Obama because he’s weird in some of the same ways I am. He spent some of his formative years in Hawaii, as did I, and we both graduated from high school there. And Hawaii is WAY different from the Mainland, more different than any other place I lived in the U.S. It’s different racially, ethnically, culturally… in a bunch of ways.

          His youth was sort of unsettled. Mine was, too. Unlike him, I had to blessing of growing up with both parents, but I was even more unsettled geographically than he was.

          He and I both spent parts of our childhood in the Third World, and became fluent in a language other than English. He learned to think in Indonesian, attending an Indonesian-language school. I learned to think in Spanish at Colegio Americano, where half my courses were in Spanish (Spanish, science, history, geography).

          All of this made Obama sort of exotic, and it comes across. (Take, for instance, his cerebral calm — the “No-Drama Obama” factor. That’s off-putting to lots of people, and when you add the exotic elements, it really pushes them away.) Race is part of it, but there’s just so much more than that, to the point that regular white folks here in South Carolina or New Hampshire or wherever — particularly they haven’t traveled much, and/or have never spoken anything but English — feel alienated from him.

          And I think all of this makes people uneasy, in ways that merely disagreeing with someone on the issues should not…

          1. Burl Burlingame

            Obama is a guy who has been over the horizon. That makes some people uneasy. And he has lived among “foreigners” without being at war with them. That is a difficult concept for some people to grasp.

            As for the Republican choices, it’s the chickens coming home to roost. They keep electing people who pledge to destroy the government, representatives who represent only themselves, and when Washington becomes dysfunctional, they blame everyone but themselves.

            I’m still appalled that elected Republicans carry on separate and divisive negotiations with states like Iran, receive foreign monies to oppose the Administration, and even parlay with outlaw states to keep innocent Americans imprisoned abroad. Smells like treason.

            1. Doug Ross

              As bad as the Republican candidates are, isn’t it disturbing that the three most viable candidates on the Democratic side (Hillary, Bernie, and Biden) are all past normal retirement age? Hillary, at age 68, is the youngster of the bunch. If she doesn’t win this year, who is there on the Democrat side for 2020? There will be a mix of nobodies that matches the Republican slate this year.

  13. Scout

    What I really don’t understand about the attraction of Trump is how people do not see through the way he talks. He sounds like a 6 year old – no detail but always insisting that he has one of those too but his is better, no matter what it is (even when its something your grandmother knitted and there is not another one like it in the world). Didn’t most people learn to see through people who talked like this when they were about 8. So what if he taps into the anger and non pc urges out there – does that matter if everything he says is stupid and untenable.

    The janitor at my school told me he likes him. He went to see him in Lexington a few weeks ago. He said he prefers to see politicians in person as opposed to watching on TV. He said he liked Trump’s idea about building the wall. When I told him I liked Kasich best out of the Republicans, he said “Who?”

    So what does that tell us about Trump supporters – people who go with their gut, who are more moved by feelings than details, who prefer real interactions with real people rather than something more abstract or intellectual, like TV or print commentary….

    Maybe? I don’t know. I remain mystified mostly.

  14. Harry Harris

    I’m convinced that the underlying cause of most of our odd-seeming political atmosphere is a near total loss of a sense of community. I think it started in the 80’s and has been exploited by various politicians and factions to the point it is quite pervasive. There’s a lot of what I would call Balkanized community with loyalty to family, small units of the fractured church, and communities that are relatively homogeneous (mostly sorted by economics). This is fertile ground for politicians of any persuasion to exploit fear, mistrust, “differentness”, and changes in cultural norms. Add rampant materialism, a hyper-sexualized culture, and a profound lack of restraint and discipline in our actions toward each other, and you’ve got a whirlwind that puzzles us all. As I’ve said, Trump ties into the “it’s them” tactic and gets lots of attention by stating in outrageous terms the biases and prejudices that most of us have suppressed. He makes it OK to nod affirmatively when someone is claimed to be the problem, called a “sissy” (or something related), or told to “get back.” He’s at his ceiling, but the media and press never put the numbers into context (What? 30% of the 30% who identify as Republican voters.) I know enough Republican-leaners and Democratic-leaners with suppressed racial views to fill plenty of venues around here. Exploiting hate and fear works, especially in a fractured community focused on “me and mine.”

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Absolutely. That’s what I’m always on about. It’s why I hate the parties, each of which defines itself by demonizing the other one.

      It’s why I’m a communitarian, and live with one of the greatest ironies in politics: Libertarians, who are all about “I, me, mine,” actually band together into a party. We communitarians are on our own, adrift individuals.

      But that while that phenomenon helps explain our politics for the past generation, it does not explain this year. Fragmentation is an old story now; something else is going on now.

      1. bud

        Brad, with all due respect you’re only a communitarian when it fits with your personal world view. You have absolutely no problem imposing your personal beliefs on the rest of us when it suits your way of life. Take blue laws. I find them to be a disgusting intrusion of religion into my life; a form of proselytizing really, but to you this is merely a means of promoting a healthy community. Take marijuana laws. I find them to be a gross intrusion on my personal liberty and for many they are ruinous to their lives, often resulting in incarceration. You view them as a means of furthering a lifestyle that you approve. Yet you have little use for the most communitarian of all institutions: college football.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Opposition to blue laws is a libertarian position. My position, the communitarian one, which is that if the community wants blue laws, it should have them, without the libertarian objections of an individual overriding that community preference.

          In other words, your arguments support my point.

          1. Doug Ross

            The community never voted fur blue laws. And they cannot easily change them.

            I would expect a communitarian to expend a significant portion of his time and money to community causes. Care to estimate how much of your time and money go to interests outside of yourself or your family?

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              I haven’t the slightest idea, Doug. It’s not something I sit down and calculate. And if I did, and it was a lot, I wouldn’t say so…

              And as tired as I get of talking about blue laws, something you and Bud always bring up — not me — and something we are NEVER going to see make a comeback, they didn’t magically appear. Such ordinances had to be passed through the community’s method of making community decision — either representative or direct democracy…

              It continues to amaze me how that mild, quaint artifact of bygone days thing sets you guys off so…

              1. bud

                Brad you totally have this wrong. Blue laws are religious based not community based. Do you really want a state religion?

  15. Burl Burlingame

    Which explains Brad’s hedline on this item — anyone out there supporting the “actual Trump”?

  16. Pat

    I spoke with an extremely conservative woman yesterday, and she said if Trump wins the Republican nomination, she will vote for Clinton. Someone else I know loves the way Trump “is stirring things up”, but it doesn’t sound like he will vote for him. I don’t think the majority of SC Republicans want Trump, but there are too many others running to keep him out. I see Kasich, Bush, and Rubio as the most palatable, but not enough support for one over the others.

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