What Explains Trump’s “Base?”

As bizarre and lie-filled as the recent Republican Convention was, one would think that it could only do damage to the Cause of Trump.  And yet 35 to 45% of our country remain rabid Trumpists.  Is it simply that they are stupid?  It’s certainly not rational what he and they say about  “evil” Democrats.  Is it getting back at Democrats for electing a Black man not only once, but twice?  What explains them?  I’ve heard it said that these folk vote their feelings rather than with reason.  But what explains those feelings? 

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Yes, there is anger and fear and even self-righteousness.  W. J. Cash wrote The Mind of the South 79 years ago trying to explain why people —— I think he was writing of people beyond the South, but of like mind —— hung onto their prejudices even against their own interests and betterment.  One of the reasons Cash arrived at was that Southerners felt so low about themselves that their thinking required some group to be lower than them, which is why Jim Crow laws and behaviors were so cherished and lasted so long.

Does thinking like this begin to explain the fear and anger, racism and resentfulness of our time.  We would also have to add the anger and resentment toward Jews, Muslims, Hispanics, and perhaps soon toward Chinese for rising in American society and economics.  But why aren’t they angry at the huge corporate conglomerations that ruin American small businesses and farms?  Or Big Insurance?  Or Wall Street?  All of which support Trump and many other Republican office-holders and hopefuls?

Louis D. Rubin in the Spring 1991, Virginia Quarterly Review, offered more of W. J. Cash’s theory, saying that, “those who have flattered their self-esteem and confirmed them in their prejudices have been able to manipulate them to vote and act contrary to their own economic and political interests.”  Which applies so closely to Trump’s demagoguery.

  One of my several pet unproven and unprovable theories is that these folks, Trump’s “base,” are the progeny of unregenerate Tories who emerged on the losing side of our Revolutionary War, yet remained in America.  Perhaps there is a dark yet sparking corner of their minds that welcomes or even needs a king, if not necessarily a Fuhrer, to be led by someone who flaunts and acts above the laws that govern them. 

These next 60+ days will be interesting, and not only in the sense of that ancient Chinese curse which says , “May you live in interesting times.”

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