Why would anyone vote for a man who has broken all the rules of common decency? He’s even broken the rules of campaign decency, if there are such things. Then follows a brief litany of specifics, each well known to all. As it turns out, he may also have broken a good many laws, and seems to get away with it. So, what’s going on? How can so many otherwise salt of the earth solid (church going?) folks have voted for him, and continue to support him?
I’ll tell you why. Because he’s broken all the rules. The question is, whose rules? I don’t know about your part of the county, but in mine they are seen as rules set by big money coastal elites who have little respect for, and less knowledge of, Western rural interests. The rural intermountain West has been dominated by tea party loving lower middle income people, and a smaller number of more affluent life long Republicans. Together they live under the illusion that the government is their enemy, except, of course, for the military. There’s little recognition that their existence and livelihood is dependent on a strong federal government underwritten by taxpayers on the other side of the mountains financing their continuing way of life. Nope! They’re all hard working, self reliant, individualists. They’ve earned every penny by their hard work, and don’t expect a handout from anyone, especially Uncle Sam.
What did Trump represent for them? A self made man who thumbed his nose at the entire elite establishment and all of its snooty politically correct rules. A man who showed you didn’t need to be a high-brow filled with intellectual hokum to make it big. A man who was, in many ways, just like them – if they had ever won the Power Ball. A man who would stick to the liberal elite. While he was at it, he would stick to all those socialist Europeans, job stealing Mexicans, and money grubbing Asians. If he could get away with breaking all the rules, then maybe their tea party hopes could yet be realized. Yes, that was their man, and they voted for him. Why are they still with him? It could be changing, but It’s hard to admit you’ve been had by an incompetent, malevolent humbug. That those coastal elites might have been right all along is humiliating, and no one likes to be humiliated. They’ll stick with him as long as they can for the sake of their own dignity.
These then are the Trump voters. They’re not the majority of the population in the region, nor are they the majority of eligible voters. But low voter turnout is the norm, and they are committed voters. Is it changing? Perhaps. Demographics are certainly changing. Small, rural towns are declining and dying. Farms and ranches are fewer and bigger. Resurgent urban centers, often hundreds of miles apart, owe their good fortune to higher education, health care, tourism, and government. It’s a combination that attracts residents who tend to be center-right, center-left, better educated, and comfortably aware of their place in a global environment. Things might change even quicker if the coastal elite, whoever they are, would show a little respect for the people of the rural intermountain West.