Who are Trump’s supporters—and why do they stick around?

UNWAVERING SUPPORT: A crowd gathered on the White House lawn for the Republican National Convention on August 27, barely a mask in sight. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

By Maxine Davey | Editor in Chief

September 18, 2020

Last week, President Trump traveled to California to address the wildfires terrorizing the West Coast. His newly infamous statement concerning global warming, “I don’t think science knows,” has quickly become a source of mockery for Democrats and Republicans alike.

The lewd, narcissistic, and dishonest comments that Trump has made (or tweeted) over the course of his Presidency would have been political suicide for any other candidate. Yet his core support base remains steadfast as ever—and it is naive to believe this will change. 

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters,” President Trump said.

REJECTING SCIENCE: Donald Trump attended a wildfire briefing in California along with governor Gavin Newson (second from left) on September 14. Photo courtesy of The New York Times

Donald Trump has the “X-Factor;” that intangible quality which transfixes an audience no matter how repulsive the performer. His gaudy showmanship has a hypnotic quality, lending him the ability to lodge absurd, offensive statements inside people’s minds (“s***hole countries,” and  “grab them by the p****” come to mind). 

“There is truly nothing he could say that would surprise me,” senior Emily Schad said.

Those who find Trump’s antics amusing forgive anything he says as long as they are entertained. Those who hate the President watch in apprehension, unable to tear their eyes from the burning wreckage. Most importantly, however, those with little-to-no opinion are drawn in by the shock factor, unable to ignore Trump’s inescapable presence (especially online).

APPEALING TO CERTAIN DEMOGRAPHICS: In 2016, white voters without a college degree backed Trump by a 39-point margin. Image courtesy of the Pew Research Center

Donald Trump also knows his target audience. His public denial of scientific facts and evidence is a manipulative ploy to appeal to uneducated populations. When Trump tells these audiences that Democrats want to confiscate their guns and help immigrants take their jobs, they take his word for it.

Additionally, Donald Trump’s refusal to support the Black Lives Matter Movement is a clever tactic garnered toward ultra-nationalists, white southern rural populations, and law enforcement families. Trump already knows he won’t win minority or female votes—and he doesn’t waste time trying.

Finally, Trump is fostering an environment of uncertainty and confusion by refusing to take expert advice. His derisive treatment of intellectuals and experts, most notably White House Coronavirus Task Force member Anthony Fauci during the pandemic, exhibits his determination to eliminate any sense of reason or security in this country.

“Trump’s loyal base may like to put on a confident facade of toughness, but at the very root of it, their support for the President comes down to one emotion: fear,” senior John Koenigshofer said. “Many within Trump’s base are convinced that all of these [China, Iran, the Democrats, protestors, undocumented immigrants, Hillary Clinton] are the enemies of America, who will stop at nothing to destroy their lives and values, and that only Donald Trump can save the country from such a drastic fate.”

As for the more moderate portion of Republican voters, the economy seems to be an intractable reason to vote for Trump, regardless of his actions.

“If I were 18, the only reason I would vote for Trump would be purely for economic reasons,” Schad said, citing her support for the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as well as her fear of increased taxes under Joe Biden. “I do not support his personality whatsoever, nor do I endorse the type of narcissistic person he is.”

As a result of Donald Trump’s unbending support base, this country stands on the tip of a dangling precipice. A single step—our decision in November—will either hurtle us into a downward spiral of fear and insanity or pull us towards the safety of moderacy and reason. So much relies on this election: the survival of the environment, the treatment of immigrants and minorities, the fate of every American citizen threatened by COVID-19, even the future of democracy itself.

But while Trump’s core support may not waver, young Americans are getting mad and more politically involved than ever. As long as rising generations continue to question authority, hold leaders accountable, and fight for justice and equality, a glimmer of hope remains in the darkest of hours.

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