Lately, whenever someone calls out Donald Trump’s depravities, he and/or his surrogates invariably claim that when we attack him, we’re also attacking those who voted for him. For the better part of three years, one of the most common responses to an attack on Trump is to wail that we’re trying to wage war on the 63 million people who powered Trump’s upset victory in 2016.
For instance, four days after the Democrats fired the starting gun on the impeachment inquiry, First Daughter-in-Law Lara Trump responded with this meme.
The meme purported to show a county-by-county map–since revealed to be inaccurate–of the 2016 election. The message was obvious–by attempting to impeach her father-in-law for attempting to use the power of his office to intimidate a political rival, the Democrats weren’t really waging war on abuse of power. They’re trying to wage war on Trump’s supporters. As if to drive the point home further, Trump himself shared the same meme on Twitter and Facebook.
To anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of history, this argument is pure horse puckey. After all, by that logic, the Democrats were embarking on a fool’s errand when they opened impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon after his 49-state landslide of 1972. By pushing to impeach Nixon for his role in covering up the Watergate break-in and a host of other abuses and offenses, the Democrats were attacking the 47 million people who gave Nixon the biggest popular vote margin ever.
But according to former HuffPost associate editor and Raw Story executive editor Larry Womack, there’s actually a method to Trump’s madness. In an op-ed for The Independent, a prominent newspaper in the United Kingdom with a considerable online following on this side of the pond, Womack argues that Trump has convinced his rural base that he’s one of them–and therefore, they naturally want to defend him.
Womack, who grew up in a small town in interior California–a world away from places like the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Sacramento or San Diego–claimed that many of Trump’s rural supporters identify Trump with “their father, their uncle, their boss.” Additionally, due in part to his years on “The Apprentice,” they see him as a “hometown success story” which resonated with a demographic mostly left behind when jobs and people flowed to the cities and suburbs.
What of the mounting evidence that he has not only not even begun to wage war on the swamp, but is overflowing it? Well, according to Womack, many rural voters are conditioned to believe that “all politicians are corrupt to the core.” As they see it, even if Trump is corrupt, he’s no more corrupt that past presidents from both parties. As the story goes, the media is only trying to wage war on Trump “because he’s one of them.”
Suddenly, a lot of things we’ve heard from Trump diehards makes sense–or at least, what passes for sense in Trumpland. For instance, earlier this month, Mac Thornberry of Texas, the ranking member and former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, went on ABC’s “This Week” to suggest with a straight face that the Democrats were ganging up on Trump for something he’s done all the time. No, this isn’t snark. Watch here.
Thornberry told guest host Martha Raddatz that it was “inappropriate” for Trump to try to pressure Ukraine into investigating former vice president Joe Biden. But in a display of mental gymnastics that is breathtaking even by the standards of the Trump-era GOP, Thornberry claimed that based on the transcript, Trump wasn’t saying anything that was “different from what he says in public all the time.”
Thornberry represents a large and mostly rural swath of the Texas Panhandle centered around Amarillo. It is literally THE most Republican district in the nation; it has a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+33, and in the last four presidential elections, Republicans have run up 75 percent or more of the vote. As ridiculous as it may have sounded to us, Thornberry was telling his constituents back home that those evil libruls want to wage war on Trump just because they don’t like how he talks.
It also explains Jerry Falwell Jr. suggesting in 2018–again, with a straight face–that complaints about Trump’s boorishness aren’t really a big deal. Why? Trump, unlike past presidents, is supposedly “authentic.” No, this isn’t snark.
It also explains the spate of religious right luminaries wailing that Democrats are actually out to wage war on their values by mounting a bid to impeach Trump.
Womack believes that the only way Trump’s rural base will desert him is if they “stop seeing him as one of their own.” There is something fundamentally wrong when small-town wage earners and farmers have been led to believe a man who has never worked for anyone unrelated to him before and who is the very embodiment of the entitled one-percenter as one of them.
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