Do you think critics have been too rough on Trump voters?


An image from the Trump campaign website of a rally in Fayetteville. Who’s to blame — Trump, or all those thousands cheering him?

William McGurn, writing in The Wall Street Journal today, thinks critics on the left and right have been excessively mean to “Trumpkins,” the people who have inflicted Donald Trump upon us.

Says he:

In the land of NeverTrump, it turns out one American is more reviled than Donald Trump. This would be the Donald Trump voter.

Lincoln famously described government as of, by, and for the people. Even so, the people are now getting a hard lesson about what happens when they reject the advice of their betters and go with a nominee of their own choosing. What happens is an outpouring of condescension and contempt….

Start with the fondness for the word “Trumpkin,” meant at once to describe and demean his supporters. Or consider an article fromNational Review, which describes a “vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles” and whose members find that “Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin.” Scarcely a day goes by without a fresh tweet or article taking the same tone, an echo of the old Washington Post slur against evangelicals as “largely poor, uneducated and easy to command.”…

Sure, plenty of dismissiveness has been directed at the Trump voter. Many a critic has written or said something along the lines of, “We blame Trump too much; we let those who voted for him off the hook.”

I’ve seen that; you’ve seen that.

But on the whole, those who say that are more in the right of it than Mr. McGurn, I think. Those of us who are appalled by Trump pile on him day in and day out. He’s a big guy, a billionaire tycoon; he can take it — right? (Except, of course, that he can’t — we may never have seen a more thin-skinned presidential nominee.)

And while there is the occasional slap at his supporters, by and large, we don’t seem to blame them as much as we have their candidate. There’s good reason for this — most of us have an aversion for going after “the people” themselves, even when we’re just talking about a minority subset of the people. In out secular religion, it seems impious to blame them. We’re supposed to mumble about their economic dislocation and other things that allegedly give them an excuse for what they’re doing.

Well, I don’t buy that. I’ve been more economically dislocated than most — the average Trump voter easily has a higher income than I currently do — yet I have not lost my freaking mind and joined a movement to elect a fascist blowhard to the highest office in the world.

So I really don’t buy the idea that Trump voters have it so hard that it’s worth doing something like this to the country. In fact, no amount of hardship is worth that. But that’s not really what it’s about, is it? It’s about the fact that a lot of people actually like the nasty, spiteful, ignorant, clueless things that he says.

And remember — without the people voting for him, and telling pollsters they’d do so again in November, Donald Trump would still be the joke he was a little over a year ago, and no kind of threat to our country.

So I appreciate that Mr. McGurn is taking a swipe at elitist snobbery and all that. I’m not for calling anyone names or otherwise hurling insults. But we should not for a moment regard Trump voters as blameless. They’re the reason we’re in this mess.

65 thoughts on “Do you think critics have been too rough on Trump voters?

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    I agree with you, Brad. Of course, the National Review article is nasty–that’s what they do a lot of. In fact, though, studies repeatedly show that Trump supporters are better off and have more education than average Americans. It appears to be the fear of losing white, Christian, male privilege that motivates most of them, not actual economic dislocation or loss. Doing less well can feel bad, but is hardly justification for supporting der Drumpf.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        Huh? I am merely countering the common assertion–one I have made–that we should have compassion for the economically dislocated people who felt that Trump was their savior–because statistically speaking, that isn’t the demographic. It’s hard to drum up much compassion for privileged people who perceive loss because they are gaining less rapidly than they expected, no?

    1. Juan Caruso

      ” It appears to be the fear of losing white, Christian, male privilege that motivates most of them.” -KF

      The real motivation derives neither from fear nor ethnicity. In fact, the real motivation is rightfully everyone’s expectation of the best possible performance of duties.

      Simply put, what motivates is abhorence of lowered standards, avoidance of costly debacles resulting if true competence is sacrificed by marginalizing competitive strengths (achievements of progressive merit and ongoing integrity) to dodges advantaging superficial attributes like gender, race, and attractiveness.

      A recent example, lovely attorney Kathleen Kane convicted on all counts:

    2. Claus

      So chastising those who have bettered themselves is a more appropriate action than expecting those less motivated to follow their lead is the correct method of action? Isn’t this like the new SC Education grading policy, that of 10 point grading scale is better because now a student who gets a 75 on a test will get a C instead of an F when schools were using an 6 point scale? Under the 10 point scale the grading scale should be 90 (A), 80 (C), 79 or below (F). I guess this new system will make students smarter because the number of A and B Honor Roll students should double or triple.

        1. Claus

          A 61 is still a passing grade under the new system…. good job Jr. you got more than half of the test correct.

          I remember when a 75 was a failing grade, now it’s a solid “C”. Why not go back to when a 94 was the cut-off for an “A”? Just more of the dumbing down of America, pander to the lowest common denominator.

        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          OK, um, here’s where I, as a words guy, convince all the numbers people here I’m an idiot — even though I would claim that I’m thinking more deeply about numbers.

          Y’all are speaking of numbers as absolutes. They aren’t, in this context. They describe a complex reality.

          A test can be hard enough (or poorly devised enough) that the smartest, best-prepared student in the history of the world can’t get better than a 75 on it. At the same time, a test can be devised that even the biggest idiot in the class would ace.

          So, what is the absolute quality you’re considering that makes you sure an “A” has to be a 92 instead of a 90? Or that a 75 should be a failing grade, as opposed to, say, a 69?

          It seems to me what you’re saying is that 90 for an A sounds too easy. It might be, and it might not be.

          Make 98 the floor for an A if you like. If it’s a crib course, with easy tests, everybody will still get an A.

          You see what I’m saying? Does this make sense to anyone but me? We’re talking about things with a lot of variables, and y’all seem to be speaking as though all variables were equal…

  2. Karen Pearson

    From those I have talked to (nicely) I have seen/heard that they thinks things are wrong, and they believe Trump when he says he is going to go in and set it right on the first day. They don’t want to hear about the (constitutional) limitations on the president, much less anything about treaties, or any other involvement that the US needs to attend to. Furthermore, they are firmly convinced that Clinton is a lawbreaker at least, and possibly a murderer, but that the facts are covered up because “they’re Clintons.” Apparently the Clintons own the IRS, the FBI, the CIA, and the Supreme Court. They attribute it to the Clintons having so much money and political connection. I fail to understand why they think the Clintons have this control, but the Bush family doesn’t.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well, remember — they don’t like the Bushes, either.

      A better point would be, why don’t they see Trump that way, since he makes no bones about the fact that he’s used his money to try to influence politicians to his advantage for decades…

    2. Kathryn Fenner

      Sticking you fingers in your ears and singing la la la whenever inconvenient truths are lobbed your way is no basis for a system of government. People who are stubbornly willfully ignorant of basic governmental realities should not be allowed to vote…

      1. Bart

        “People who are stubbornly willfully ignorant of basic governmental realities should not be allowed to vote…” Kathryn


        Does the same apply to recruiting voters off the street, feeding them a sandwich and soft drink, taking them to register to vote and then escorting them to the polls to cast their vote? People who had no idea of the issues, no idea of basic governmental realities, or any other idea of what is going on other than the need for another drink or fix? Should they be allowed to vote or not? They may not be “stubbornly willfully ignorant of basic governmental realities” but they are ignorant none the less. Are they to be in a different category, given a pass because they are not aware of the issues, etc.?

        It just so happens, I don’t necessarily disagree with you but if we are to start placing restrictions on the right to vote, ignorant or not, what do we call it? Should each voter be given a questionaire to complete and have a passing score before being allowed to vote?

        My vote belongs to me and no one else. How I cast it is my personal choice and no business of anyone else. I plan to vote for the Libertarian or do a write-in. Is that throwing my vote away by not voting for Clinton or Trump? Or is it exercising my right to vote my choice and my conscience since I cannot in good conscience vote for Trump or Clinton?

        I resent anyone making the comment that voting for a third party candidate or a write-in is the equilavent of throwing my vote away or wasting it. It is thrown away or wasted if it is not cast. If I don’t vote, my voice is silenced and that is the true offense for anyone who is of voting age and does not participate.

        1. Kathryn Fenner

          I have said many times that the unfortunate poll-tax era practices make it very problematic to actually test people’s fitness to vote, but since Trump is happy to “vet” immigrants, I guess it’s not beyond his pale to vet (certain) voters.

          Look, why shouldn’t we have a basic civics test to get a voting license? (I can argue both sides, but in my heart of hearts, I get frustrated with people who think the President can force store clerks to wish you a Merry Christmas, or to put a chicken in every pot.) A healthy democracy depends on an educated electorate, not one bought by bread and circuses. …and both parties are guilty of that.

          1. Bart

            I won’t defend Trump but projection of his idea to “vet” immigrants to doing the same for certain voters is a bit of a stretch. And I would like to believe that if an unfortunate set of circumstances were to occur and Trump ends up in the White House, if he were to try to introduce the idea, hopefully he would be impeached immediately and kicked out of the White House.

            Equating some religious zealots, Westwood Baptist for an example of zealots, who want to have the President force store clerks to wish anyone a Merry Christmas or any other such nonsense is giving them more credibility than they deserve. However, I don’t believe it should be an offense if a clerk in a store were to wish a customer a “Merry Christmas”. When a simple, long established holiday greeting becomes offensive and results in an employee being reprimanded or fired, that is an overreaction by the customer and store management. But, when it reaches the level of federal intervention, that to me is abuse of power and one of the reasons out of many that has created an atmosphere of anger IMHO, the majority of Americans.

            Question: is civics still taught in public schools today? Maybe that is a good starting point and maybe it should be a required subject, taught in every school across the nation if it is not already.

          2. Harry Harris

            Are you kidding? Though I question the judgement of my friends and acquaintances who have formal education, but think the world is about 6500 years old because of supposed biblical chronology, I don’t question their right to vote. When they state that man-made climate change is incredible because God is in charge of the weather, I rebut them and chuckle a little, but I don’t challenge their right to vote. Neither should you.

            1. bud

              I question the judgement of my friends and acquaintances who have formal education, but think the world is about 6500 years old because of supposed biblical chronology,

              Yeah those people are absolutely nuts. Everyone knows the world cannot possibly be older than 6000 years. Go read your bible and do the math.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              I’m allergic to bread.

              When do the circuses start? That’s what I want to know.

              Oh, wait — is that what the Olympics are?

              The Games aren’t distracting me from having political thoughts. They are, however, distracting me from watching “Vikings,” “The Last Kingdom” (which is a lot like “Vikings” — same narrative, just a few years later) and “Boardwalk Empire.”

              But they’ll wait…

        2. David Carlton

          Actually, Bart, your vote *does not* belong to you. It’s a trust given to you as a citizen, and is supposed to be used to further the good of the country. No one can order you to vote for anyone, because no one has the right to predetermine what the good of the country is. But it’s not responsible to treat your ballot as simply a form of personal self-expression. You’re obligated to make it count.

          1. Bart

            Sorry David and Brad,

            As long as I meet the requirements to vote in an election, my vote does belong to me and no one else. It is my right as a citizen to vote as I so choose and if I determine to cast my vote for someone I believe will further the good of the country over another candidate, then I have met my obligation to make it count.

            I really do not appreciate your attitude or Brad’s when it comes to defining my right to vote my conscience and whether my choice meets your definition of obligation and what both of you believe is good for the country. It is beyond arrogant, it is insulting. Is it because I will not vote for your candidate, Hillary Clinton? In the race before us, of the choices available, the Libertarian candidate or one I choose to write-in is in my opinion what is best for the country.

            In essence, you and Brad are indirectly telling me my vote will be irresponsible if it is not cast for Hillary Clinton because I will not be fulfilling my “communitarian” obligation for the general good of the country. That is the simple truth and both of you know it.

            My obligation is to my conscience over personal self-expression and a vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump would be a direct violation of my conscience. If I were to write-in Daffy Duck, that would be an example of personal self-expression.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Bart, I wasn’t reacting to what you had said; I was just agreeing with the thrust of what David said — that our vote isn’t some personal possession, but a sacred public trust. That was the communitarian part — seeing it as more of a responsibility than a right.

              When I’m on my iPad, I see individual comments in isolation in the WordPress app. I was reacting to David’s comment, and could not see yours.

              I certainly meant you no disrespect whatsoever.

              1. Bart

                Voting is not only a right, I agree it is also a responsibility and one I take very seriously before deciding who to vote for. If my conscience dictates that I do not vote for either one of the candidates and I find that I believe it is in the best interest of the country, then I have fulfilled my obligation as a responsible citizen of this country.

                What I object to is the almost religious fervor of voting rights groups who will scour the streets looking for people to register to vote, feed them a sandwich and soft drink, take them to vote, and all the while, the individual they help register and vote most likely has no idea of the issues or the names of anyone on the ballot other than the presidential candidates. And if one makes a comment about the practice being an abuse of the right to vote, all hell breaks loose. Exactly how does one effectively make a case the person is acting responsibly under those conditions and circumstances?

                I hold the person picking the street person up more responsible for tainting the process than the street person.

                And I appreciate your comment.

          2. Doug Ross

            “You’re obligated to make it count.”

            If they count it, it counts.

            Sheesh.. we’ve lived for decades with Republicans and Democrats who have done such a FINE job in Washington that they now collectively are despised more than any other group. So why would it not be worthwhile to register the dissatisfaction with both groups by voting for a third party? Especially when that third party promotes the ideals that I believe would be best for the country?

            Go ahead an vote Democrat. It’s done wonders for us for the past eight years. What could go wrong?

  3. Tex

    I read this and had to post it somewhere.

    The results of 50 years of democrat social engineering……

    1965….Blacks were 13% of total population and 13% of prison population.
    2014….Blacks were 13% of total population and 57% of total prison population.
    1965….21% of blacks lived in poverty…
    2014….26% of blacks lived in poverty..
    1965….12% of blacks were on welfare.
    2014… 64% of blacks were on welfare.
    1965….Black on black crime was .03%
    2015….Black on black crime was 87%
    1965….94% of Black children lived with both parents.
    2014…83% of black children live in a one parent household.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          You know, when I was a kid, the idea of Republicans being in charge of Congress seemed an impossibility, as though the Constitution forbade it. Oh, one could be president now and then, but the Democrats in Congress seemed the permanent government.

          Of course, when you’re a kid, a few years seems like an eternity. But still, they had a really, really long run. From the time I was 1 year old and not aware of it until I was 27, the Democrats controlled BOTH houses of Congress.

          I was a big fan of Jimmy Carter and it was hard to take when Reagan beat him. But the truly shocking thing, the thing that seemed to me to defy physical laws, was that the Republicans took control of the Senate in that same election.

          Oh, and Democrats controlled the House from the time I was a baby until I was 41. So Gingrich’s revolution was pretty amazing to me.

    1. Mark Stewart

      Really makes one stop and consider the carnage wrought by the “war on drugs” and other white political policies aimed squarely at blacks, doesn’t it?

      Jim Crow is alive and well in parts of our society – from public schools to policing to prisons. I took a dim view of the Occupy Wall Street movement, but it is a lot easier to empathize with the Black Lives Matter movement. Our society has been staggeringly successful at criminalizing being black. I don’t think that is the conclusion you were aiming for; but it is the one that hits the mark.

    2. Bart

      Social engineering was an attempt to do what was not done immediately after the end of the Civil War. By not making an effort to assimilate freed blacks into mainstream society, the country as a whole committed the worst blunder in the history of this country. When a large segment of the population once held as slaves with no idea of what independence was were suddenly cast adrift with no sail or how to navigate their new freedom and if we are honest, to a degree, their plight was almost as bad as slavery.

      Who stepped forward and took a stand to offer education, training, job opportunities that was not more of the same they were freed from but in a different form? Who took the initiative to teach freed black men and women to read, write, and learn the other essentials necessary to advance and become equals in a society that was already light years ahead of them?

      In 1965 when the statistics you listed were made known, it was too late for most people of color but not for the younger generation. Instead of taking a look into the past, projecting it into the future and understanding what was to come, society closed their eyes once again and did nothing. If anyone tried to step forward and do anything, they were called “n1&&*r lovers” and treated as if they were from another planet. While the South is the most convenient section of the country to point the finger of blame to, considering the poverty conditions in the major cities outside the South, it is an obvious fact that racism was evenly spread across the country.

      I don’t know if true equality will ever become the norm for this country or any other country because we, society, have allowed the cancer to spread and so far, no cure has been discovered and as long as it is spreading, we can expect more and more unrest, anger and distrust that will encourage more violence and division.

      I guess the old adage still holds true – “…give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” The problem with many aspects of social engineering is that the first part was not followed up by the second part of the old Chinese proverb.

      I can recognize the problem and can do whatever I can in my little corner of the world. Hopefully enough citizens will do their part in their little corner and maybe in time, the corners will come together as a whole. That is my prayer.

  4. bud

    The people who deserve the most derision are the enablers. Yes I’m talking about you Brad. You are the people who helped bring about Trump with all this insane false equivalency. While the Republicans became more and more bizzare with people like Sharon Angle and Sarah Palin Brad and his ilk were on this constant rant about how bad BOTH parties were. That gave them to cover to continue getting more and outrageous. After all no matter how bigoted, misogynistic, science-denying, media bashing the GOP became it was never any worse that what the Democrats were doing. So while it may be reasonable to blame the Trump voters, the real culprit in his rise to power are the false equivalency enablers.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      The reason you think that is because you see Trump as being on a continuum with other Republicans. Which of course is not only ridiculous, but dangerous.

      As I’ve said over and over, the most dangerous thing to this country right now is Democrats and Republicans both making like this is just another choice between Democrats and Republicans, like every other year. Democrats acting that way give Republicans permission to embrace Trump as their nominee. Republicans voting that way is inexcusable, and Democrats speaking of the election in ways that encourage Republicans to think that way is ALSO inexcusable.

      And to change the subject…

      This “false equivalence” you speak of — which has nothing to do with Trump — is the function of something that you and my other liberal friends have trouble taking in, and it is this: I don’t like the Democratic Party any more than I do the Republican. I see the faults in both, and I point them out. I know that bugs you, but I’m not going to stop.

      And I’m CERTAINLY not going to stop now, during this election. The fact that I have always been, to your great irritation, evenhanded in writing about the parties and their candidates is the one greatest strength I have in terms of trying to get Republicans to believe me when I say this election is like no other and they MUST not allow Trump to get elected.

      Those who don’t know me try daily to dismiss me as just another liberal journalist who always carries water for the Democrats. I can easily refute that, because of my record of writing things that irritate you.

      Not that the Trump voters will listen. But if I can persuade away one or two Republicans who MIGHT consider Trump, but are capable of rational thought and therefor persuadable, then I’ll have accomplished SOMETHING for my country…

      1. bud

        Trump is a Republican. Bernie a Democrat (for the sake of this election anyway). You site Trump’s problems. That reflects on the Republicans, period. Why don’t you just leave it at that? But NOOOOOOOOOOO. You go off on anti Bernie rants. Seriously they are just even close to being opposite sides of the same coin. The Republicans nominated Trump, not Democrats. Yes the dems did nominate Alvin Greene for Senate so they’re not perfect. But the two parties are hardly the same. So yeh, the false equivalency does bug me. And it should bug any patriotic American who wants what’s best for the country. And that is made much harder when journalists just can’t see that the GOP is horribly wrong for the country. Hell, they won’t even allow a vote for SCOTUS!

  5. David Carlton

    OK, Brad–I’m going to have at it, because I agree with Edmund Burke that there is no method under heaven of drawing up an indictment against a whole people. Sorry, but a middle-class, middle-aged editor who went through a spell of unemployment before landing a new, professional job has no business comparing himself to someone whose community has been blighted by deindustrialization. Yes, I’ve seen those reports that place Trump voters’ median income at $76,000 (That’s less than mine, and I’m not a two-income household like lots of white working-class households are these days, so that doesn’t impress me). There’s been a lot of hurt generated by globalization, not least in your own back yard and mine, and there’s plenty of evidence that Trump has outsized appeal in those backyard places (See this piece in the WSJ last week; it focuses on Hickory, NC, a place not unlike my own Spartanburg).

    Far from people treating Trump voters with kid gloves, the people I read on the left are outright gleefully deploying their nastiest redneck stereotypes to explain the Trump phenomenon. Matt Yglesias of Vox, for instance, loves to put up pictures of menacing rednecks on his twitter feed as examples of voters “motivated by economic anxiety.”

    Are Trumpkins racist? Yes. I’ve been studying the industrial South all my life (not to mention having grown up at Saxon Mill, where the Grand Dragon was on my brother’s paper route and his son was in my scout troop), and know full well how racist the southern white working class can be. It’s hardly surprising, then, that when they get tripped up by forces they don’t understand, they view it through a racial lens. Elsewhere I’ve argued that white workers in the South got a pretty good deal after World War II–steady jobs with undemanding skill levels that allowed them to retain traditional bonds of family and community. And they were told–by Republicans, by employers and industrial promoters, and (ahem!) by local media that their fortune was a reward for their virtue–that they had a good “work ethic” (unlike blacks or those layabout union workers up north). Trouble is, by “work ethic” they didn’t mean anything like Max Weber meant; it was just a fancy way of saying “cheap and docile.” And the plants y’all recruited, and applauded, weren’t coming here to reward virtue; they were coming here to exploit low-skill, low wage labor.

    And then in the 21st century it all began to unravel. Some years ago I gave a talk at the Spartanburg County Library on the rise and decline of the textile industry. During the Q&A a woman got up with a story: she had come to Spartanburg from the North in the early 1970s, and as she was driving into town she heard a labor recruitment ad that began “Tired of doing homework? Spartan Mills is hiring without a high school diploma.” Well, if somebody bought that line, they may well have been in the mill when GE Capital showed up at midnight and ordered everyone out; Spartan Mills is now a dirt field. Now, whose fault is that? The worker, for not being like David Carlton and taking the risks that got me from Saxon to Vanderbilt? Nope–that worker had good reason to believe she had a deal, one that minimized her risk and her opportunity costs and allowed her to live the life that was really important to her. I’d rather blame the textile industry for encouraging that attitude and holding back the state’s willingness to invest in human capital, but what’s the point in kicking a dead horse?

    The fact is, deindustrialization has hit the South hard, and the transition is really difficult in a lot of places. And neither party has really addressed those issues. Trump has, though in the worst possible way–not only with racism and xenophobia, but with empty promises to restore a world that can’t be restored. The global economy is here to stay, and people have to be helped to adapt to it, not told that it can be solved by retaliating against some immigrant or sinister oriental. One would like to think that the issue of how to deal with the global economy’s losers (according to Branko Milanovic’s famous “elephant chart”, the bulk of the developed world’s middle class) has at least been brought to prominence. But, alas, right-thinking people all over the country (if not the world) seem to be shoving these people under the bus, sneering at their ignorance or their bigotry as if that’s all you need to do.

    And to beat Trump, it probably is. I think only a catastrophe can help Trump now; he’s alienated too many people. And I actually think Hillary the Listener will listen to people on the ground; her issues site shows that these problems are on her radar screen.

    Sorry about the rant–but this stuff is really getting to me.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Professor, I deeply appreciate your thoughtfulness, passion and COMpassion.

      But I’m not seeking to denigrate or indict a people, or a subset of people. I’m simply saying that the people to blame for Trump are the ones who have voted for him. I’m describing a cause and effect, not assigning virtues or damning anyone.

      And there is NO excuse for their having done so. For whatever painful circumstances in which these voters find themselves, there is no reason whatsoever for anyone to look at him, and listen to him, and conclude that he is the solution.

      It defies all logic. And I see no reason to excuse it.

      1. Doug Ross

        “It defies all logic. And I see no reason to excuse it.”

        Trump is a response. He’s the only option for some of those people who are sick and tired of the way government has changed over the years. They are sick and tired of Washington and both political parties. They see Hillary as more of the same,

        You have to get beyond Trump and understand WHY people would go in his direction. You have helped in your own small way by propping up the status quo politicians over the past decades. When you were torn between Obama and McCain, you demonstrated a similar type of mind boggling “logic”. There couldn’t have been two candidates of more diverse backgrounds, policy plans, and temperament. Talk about defying all logic.

        That you would now support Hillary says you want more of the same. How hard is it to understand that there are PLENTY of reasonably intelligent people who do not want that? Seems pretty logical to me.

        1. Harry Harris

          I feel confident that Brad doesn’t want more of the same. He does, however, like many of us want some continuity and policies based on knowledge and experience – not on a whim. He likely wouldn’t further destroy the fabric of our sense of community based on finger-pointing at “them.” I also suspect he favors incremental policy change rather than risky “throw the baby out with the washwater” decisions. That’s likely the reason he often derided Sanders, and now supports Clinton as opposed to Trump. Similar to the reasons I changed from Sanders support to Clinton four months ago.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Harry, I think that’s your most extended defense of me ever. And on the money, too — “continuity and policies based on knowledge and experience” indeed.

            Hear, hear! And harrumph to those who disagree…

        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          Doug, what you say doesn’t add up.

          “He’s the only option” you say. In what way is he an option at all, much less the ONLY option? He offers nothing. He’s not a solution or an antidote to anything. He is, obviously and undoubtedly, the perfect person to take whatever situation you don’t like now and make it MUCH worse.

          Speak against this “status quo” all you want. But offer alternatives. To say Trump is the answer would be laughable, if the possibility of his getting elected were not real…

          1. Doug Ross

            Trump is the only non-politician option. For those who are fed up enough with politics as usual and not willing to vote third party, he’s their man.

            You’ll just have to accept that your level of anxiety over Trump is not shared by many people. You can call them illogical, uniformed, crazy, whatever. They don’t care. They see Hillary as a worse choice than Trump. I would guess many of them know Trump is all bluster and don’t expect him to start wars. Many (millions) have seen him on The Apprentice and sense some disconnect between the person they saw on TV who seemed like a tough but fair boss and someone who worked with men and women of all races without showing any signs of being a racist or misogynist. You have to accept that people are capable of forming their own opinions of Trump outside of your “the sky is falling” ranting.

            Trump may lose but he will also open the door for someone outside the political spectrum to perhaps enter the race in 2020. Mark Cuban? George Clooney? who knows… if we have four more years like the last eight, there might be any number of outsiders with a little more polish who run.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              “Trump is the only non-politician option.”

              Which I translate as, he’s the only person still running who knows nothing about what he’d running for, and has none of the skills needed to do the job.

              But let’s say, absurd as it is, that that’s what’s needed — a totally clueless person who brings no relevant skills to the job.

              If that’s what’s needed, then the country would be better off dragging a net down the street and giving the job to the first person caught in it.

              Why? Because Trump is more deluded, more malignant, more petty, more in love with himself, more resistant to learning anything from anybody, than anyone I’ve ever met in my life.

              He’s not just some outsider. Any outsider I know would be better than he would be.

              This is not a rant, despite what you say. This is a description of what is on display before us, day after day…

              1. Doug Ross

                “But let’s say, absurd as it is, that that’s what’s needed — a totally clueless person who brings no relevant skills to the job.”

                That doesn’t describe Trump – and you know it.

                Let’s separate personality from skills. What SKILLS are required?

                Intelligence? It’s safe to assume that Donald Trump is smarter than several S.C. congressmen. Would you say his IQ is higher, lower, or about the same as John McCain?

                Negotiation skills? He might be one of the best in the world in getting what he wants. International experience? Check.
                Business and financial knowledge? Check. Ability to take a project from vision to completion? Check. Ability to communicate? Yes… you might disagree, but that’s because his style grates on you so much.

                What relevant skills did someone like George W. Bush possess that exceeded Trumps? Bush was handed pretty much everything he got in life and rarely worked hard. He was a legacy President.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  “That doesn’t describe Trump – and you know it.”

                  That DOES describe Trump — and I know it.

                  You mention ability to compromise. That’s a subset of a much, much larger category — the ability to act like a grownup in dealing with other people.

                  This guy lacks basic skills that we expect kids to learn in kindergarten, if not sooner. How to have a normal, polite conversation with another person, without resorting to insults or name-calling. How to avoid bragging about yourself to a laughable degree. How to deal with others in a way that is mutually beneficial, not just beneficial to YOU.

                  Let’s lower the bar. Let’s say we need him to get through a day without saying something to outrage at least half of the country, or for that matter much of the rest of the world.

                  I don’t think he can pass that test. In throwing out Manafort and signaling that he’s going to keep on the way he has, he let us know that he has no intention of trying…

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Oh, and is John McCain smarter than Trump? Yes. He was an A-4 pilot. And he evinces efforts to actually THINK about issues. That’s why he doesn’t fit comfortably with his party a lot of the time. He doesn’t just toe the party line; he thinks.

                  And I’m sorry, but I remain unimpressed by his ability to make money. I suppose that requires SOME intelligence, in the sense that it’s harder if your mental capacity is significantly below average. But as long as you’re anywhere NEAR average, it becomes less a matter of smarts and more a matter of determination. If you want to make money more than other people want to have sex — if you define yourself in terms of making money, you’ll make money.

                  I’ll bet you thought I was going to do like Bud and say “luck,” right?

                  Of course, luck can be a factor. But that’s more a factor in which you make a little money or a lot of money.

                3. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Let me qualify that. To make money the way Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and the Facebook kid did takes smarts, because doing what they did takes smarts — whether you make money at it or not.

                  I don’t really see any particular brilliance in the way Trump made money. He just put money ahead of everything else. He put making money for HIMSELF ahead of making money for anyone else — which is why he frequently made money while stiffing everyone else involved. (It seems like that would really worry these people who think he would make the COUNTRY successful. He’s been perfectly happy for the businesses he’s involved with to fail, as long as he escapes with money for himself.)

                  Of course, in the end, we don’t know how successful he’s been, because he won’t release the info. Which is weird. Seems like a guy whose supposed selling point is that he’s a successful businessman would want to show us HOW successful…

                4. Doug Ross

                  The richest hard working dumb person you know is whom? Go through the Forbes 400 and start checking off the dumb ones.

                  It’s too bad Mr. Rogers is dead. Sounds like he’d be your ideal candidate.

                  Trump has accomplished what only 10 people have been able to accomplish this century: Win the nomination for President from one of the two major parties. To claim he is incompetent is foolish.

      2. David Carlton

        In the end, I don’t excuse it either. It was growing up in that milieu in the late Jim Crow South (not just the working-class racism of Saxon, but the high-toned racism of the people on the silk-stocking side of Spartanburg who let me cross the tracks to go to school with them) that motivated me to hightail it to New England for my education–which paradoxically made me discover for the first time in my life how South-haunted I really was, and set my course for life.

        But at this point I’m actually not all that worried about what they’ve foisted on us. Not only is the headline polling data getting worse and worse for Trump, but the internals make it clear that he’s incapable of reaching beyond a very narrow base–most importantly the educated and the young, without which Trumpism has no conceivable future. The only thing that can save him is a catastrophe, which we can pray won’t come.

        What worries me is the gap of mutual incomprehension that’s opened up–an incomprehension for which both sides in this particular war are responsible. A propos, I had an interesting conversation a few weeks ago with a far-left wing activist who does community organizing in Whitesburg, Kentucky, with specific interest in developing an economy independent of all “colonial” influences. Our politics and policy preferences were very different, but we found ourselves in agreement on one big point: the white working class in America has been thrown under the bus. I hope Clinton will recognize the need to tackle the problem, which is in many ways intractable. The radical dismisses her as an elitist who just thinks they’re in the way of Progress. I see all too many people speaking of them the same way.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I actually think that’s a goal she would go for.

          But as for “a catastrophe, which we can pray won’t come”… I worry that having Hillary Clinton as the only person who can save us from Trump is like walking in a minefield. Things will be going great, right up to the moment that we step on one.

          Also, general elections frequently tighten up at the end. Knowing that, we really don’t even have to step on a big mine. A small one would do us in.

          Yes, I’ve greatly encouraged by the last news about Trump deciding he wants to do the campaign HIS way. But the fact that he’s gotten to where he is when there is NO logical reason for it will keep me worried until this election is over….

    2. bud

      Yes, I’ve seen those reports that place Trump voters’ median income at $76,000

      That means HALF of all Trump voters make MORE than 76k. I submit that you are being way too dismissive of this fact. Many of Trump’s most diehard voters can’t possibly have significant economic considerations to justify support for this man. The “angry at the system” argument doesn’t make sense outside the bubble of talk radio/Fox news. It’s like the Rush Limbaugh diehards now have their own candidate. The propaganda machine has created Trump. Now it’s up to the sensible folks in this country to reject him.

      1. Doug Ross

        If you pay a lot of taxes, like people who make over 76K do, maybe you have a reason to complain.

        If you’re part of the 46%, why change things?

  6. Doug Ross

    Well, that’s where we’re different. I would rather see Obamacare repealed completely except for the one thing it should have done – guarantee the right to purchase insurance from a large enough pool to offer reasonable prices. Instead it will be tweaked and modified for years..and not get any better.

      1. Doug Ross

        Harry Harris said “I also suspect he favors incremental policy change rather than risky “throw the baby out with the washwater” decisions.”

        I think Obamacare has been enough of a failure from implementation to execution that it should be repealed and replaced with a much simpler solution. Full access to insurance without restriction, block grants to states (with no future state requirements), access to any American to the same policies at the same rates that Congressmen get. No new taxes, no penalties for not having insurance (but also minimal treatment if you choose to take the risk).

        Either that or blow up Obamacare and offer a Medicare for all that combines Medicaid, Medicare, and a basic level of “free” healthcare to all.

        1. Tex

          Obamacare is on life support, Aetna just announced that they will suspend Obamacare packages in SC, GA and other states. Other insurance companies will follow.

  7. bud

    No new taxes, no penalties for not having insurance (but also minimal treatment if you choose to take the risk).

    I guess you support letting people die. That’s the only way a purely “market” system can ever work. Prior to Obamacare we didn’t go that far, but it was really bad nonetheless. People were being ruined, especially those with pre-existing conditions. Who would want to go back to that failed system? Hey, I don’t much like Obamacare. It’s far too complex. But it is a small step in the right direction with substantially more people covered. This is incrementalism. Let’s do some tweaking and make it work even better.

    1. Tex

      bud are you in agreement that insurance companies should go bankrupt over this horrible program? Aetna is tweaking it, they’re dumping policies in SC and GA… it doesn’t get much more tweaked than that.

    2. Doug Ross

      Does incrementalism include all the insurance companies that are dropping out of the exchanges? Is that incrementally better?

      I don’t support letting people die. I support people being responsible. If you can afford insurance, you should buy it before you pay for cable TV, a cellphone, eating out. If you can’t afford it, there is Medicaid.

        1. Doug Ross

          Who supports that? I believe in a safety net for the poor. But except in cases of true disability, the safety net shouldn’t be a cradle to grave hammock.


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