Six Reasons Why Trump Supporters Won't Turn on Him Even if He's Impeached by the House [Part 2]
Last weekend we described the first three reasons why Donald Trump's Republican base will stick with him even if he is impeached by the House of Representatives for extortion. The first three reasons spoke to the nature of politics in America today.
Additionally, there are three issue-based reasons for conservative loyalty to the President and they are the glue that holds the Republican coalition together: race, religion and the idea that those in poverty are undeserving of government assistance.
In 2016, President Trump recognized that the emergence of the "tea party" element of the Republican Party wasn't really motivated by the 2008 mortgage crisis, bank bail-out, and growing federal deficit. It represented a populist-conservative backlash to the election of a black, progressive President. Harvard University sociologists Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson’ studied the movement and published their findings in the book The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism. It paints a much different picture of the group than the one they showed the public. The Columbia Journalism Review summarized the findings.
Columbia Journalism Review: "Tending toward the apocalyptic, the tea party mindset saw in Barack Obama’s election something more than a Democrat taking the presidency—it was a symbol for an America that was becoming unrecognizable to them."
Another analysis done by Professors Bryan T. Gervais of the University of Texas at San Antonio and Irwin L. Morris of the University of Maryland, came to similar conclusions by studying Republicans in the House of Representatives elected under the tea party banner. They argue in their book, Reactionary Republicanism: How the Tea Party in the House Paved the Way for Trump’s Victory, that the tea party's agenda wasn't at all what it seemed and that Donald Trump tapped into their more deep-seated resentments.
Washington Post Review: "What distinguished tea party Republicans in the House was not their views on fiscal issues, but their views on social and racial issues. House members most aligned with the tea party were more socially and racially conservative than other Republicans. In this way, tea party Republicans in the House resembled rank-and-file members of the tea party movement." ...
... "Instead, it is social and racial issues. For example, House tea party members were more likely than other House Republicans to take conservative positions on abortion rights and employer-mandated coverage for contraception — not unlike the conservative position Trump has taken on these issues as well as other social issues such as LGBT rights."
As Donald Trump reigns over a growing federal deficit, where is the tea party? Gone, dead, neutered. The tea party movement was absorbed by Trumpism which embraces its cultural agenda on issues such as abortion and immigration, but exacerbates the deficit problem. In 2016, Trump understood, probably at a gut level, that it was never really about bank bail-outs and the federal deficit. The tea party was largely motivated by the election of an African-American President and the changing culture and demographics of America.
In 2016, the GOP establishment still thought that Republican voters wanted balanced budgets and smaller government, but Donald Trump understood the party's voters much better than they did. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans now realize that their activist base, once represented by the tea party, will ignore blowing up the federal deficit as long as Republicans are steadfast on a core group of social issues and remain loyal to their champion, Donald Trump.
4. The LGBT Movement and Abortion. Evangelical Christians of the Southern Baptist variety became an important component of the Republican Party after Democratic President Lyndon Johnson sponsored the the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Originally, their new-found affinity to the Republican Party resulted from their opposition to the civil rights movement in the South, but Ronald Reagan expanded the partnership to include opposition to abortion and the Equal Rights Amendment. And once Barack Obama got behind efforts to legalize gay marriage the bond between white evangelicals and the Republican party became unbreakable. They believe that LGBT rights represent a direct threat to their ability to practice their religion.
Donald Trump understood the bond between Republicans and conservative Christians so he adopted a harshly anti-abortion platform, promised to appoint conservative judges to the federal courts and actively sought out evangelical leaders to anoint his campaign for President. In the summer of 2016, Trump met with about 1000 Christian leaders near Times Square to solicit their support.
NPR: Trump then turned to what evangelical leaders have told him is a top priority – religious freedom. Many conservative Christians say they feel threatened by lawsuits aimed at requiring business owners to provide services for same-sex weddings, restrictions on prayer in public schools, and a growing move to allow transgender people to use the restrooms they choose.
"The next president is going to be very vital ... in freeing up your religion, freeing up your thoughts," Trump said. "You really don't have religious freedom."
Despite Trump's many faults and indiscretions, white evangelicals signed on with his campaign in 2016 and still represent his most dependable constituency, even as his support has declined with almost every other religious group. Trump's impeachment by the House won't change that. They see him as their last, best hope for their socially conservative agenda. And while he has had few successes during his administration, he has delivered on his promise to appoint two hard-line conservatives to the Supreme Court and many more to lower federal courts.
5. Globalism and Immigration. President Trump used his address to the UN general assembly in September to deliver a nationalist manifesto, denouncing “globalism” and illegal immigration, and arguing that patriotism means renouncing the alliances and global economic order that was nurtured by the United States after WWII to enrich our nation and keep the peace.
Trump Quoted in The Guardian: “The future does not belong to the globalists. The future belongs to patriots,” the president said, echoing another consistent theme of the hard right."
It's a standard and hopelessly simplistic theme of his presidency which haphazardly mashes together several global trends that have little to do with one another. But, it's meaningful to his supporters who blame immigrants, multinational corporations and China for America's ills.
Quartz: "Today, “globalization” can mean anything you want it to mean: open borders, lower wages, the European Union, that godawful Pitbull record. Whatever it is, Donald Trump is against it. Over the course of his candidacy, the Republican presidential nominee and international businessman has rebranded virtually all outward-looking engagement with the rest of the world as “globalism”, which his supporters now use as a slur."
And, to Trump's supporters, globalism also encompasses America's growing racial and cultural diversity which they see as a threat to white dominance in the United States. We have touched on this issue in several other articles.
Illuminate: "In her new study of 1200 American voters from 2012 and 2016, University of Pennsylvania professor Diana C. Mutz came to many of the same conclusions as Wuthnow. "She found that traditionally high-status Americans, namely whites, feel their status in America and the world is threatened by America's growing racial diversity and a perceived loss of U.S. global dominance." Trump capitalized on this anxiety during the 2016 campaign."
"Another question within the Pew survey drives home the point. 71% of Democrats say racial and ethnic diversity is very good for the country, while only 39% of Republicans agree. That is a significant gulf to overcome, but doing so would go a long way toward overcoming the hyper-partisan nature of our politics today, so much of which has a racial element lurking below the surface."
Immigration, job losses in manufacturing, and America's growing diversity are the issues that propelled Trump to the White House. Other Republicans have discussed the issue, but few with the President's zeal. His supporters believe that he is the only individual that will stem the tide of Globalism, however they might define it.
6. Taxes and the Undeserving Poor. Another issue that holds the Republican coalition together is taxes. Both "country club" Republicans and tea party Republicans believe in low taxes, although for different reasons. The first group doesn't want to pay them and the second doesn't want the benefits they buy to go to the "undeserving poor." Yes, a bit of a simplification, but not by much, according to Skocpol and Williamson’s research.
Columbia Journalism Review: "The freeloader looms large in the Tea Partiers’ nightmares. “I would prefer that the moocher class not live off my hard work,” said one. Indeed, one of the revelations of Skocpol and Williamson’s interviews is that the specter of welfare continues to spook many conservatives. The anti-moocher strain assumes an uglier cast when you consider what the villains look like in Tea Party cosmology. As the authors note, “Compared to other Americans, including other conservatives, Tea Party participants more readily subscribe to harsh generalizations about immigrants and blacks.” Other targets include the young, Muslims, and the poor—the parts of America that don’t look like the Tea Party."
Skocpol and Williamson’s research helps explain why Trump's 2016 tax cuts were popular with his supporters even though they mainly benefited corporations and the wealthy. The 2016 tax cuts, like Bush's in 2001, reduced the federal government's ability to provide assistance to lower income families who, by-and-large, they believe are "undeserving." This shouldn't be surprising; it's conservative dogma, and not a single one voted to approve the Affordable Care Act [Obamacare]. It's in their DNA and Donald Trump knows that as well as any Republican.
Investopedia: "We believe the government should tax only to raise money for its essential functions," the Republicans state their case plainly on the Republican National Convention website. That is, Republicans believe the government should spend money only to enforce contracts, maintain basic infrastructure and national security, and protect citizens against criminals."
Or, consider this recent statement by a Republican leader in the Senate.
The Conversation: "Sen. Chuck Grassley, for example, recently justified reducing the number of wealthy families exposed to the estate tax as a way to recognize “the people that are investing, as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”
Such statements reflect old discredited stereotypes, but they won't fade anytime soon. And while Donald Trump may have few successes to tout, he did get Republicans their tax cut. That's more important to many in his base than anything Democrats will throw at him during their impeachment inquiry, no matter how anti-democratic and corrupt his actions might seem to the majority of Americans.
By: Don Lam & Curated Content