Want to Strengthen the Progressive Shift? Know the opposition voters.

National leadership from the White House has changed dramatically. Gone are incessant Tweets, bombastic macho posturing, fantasy spewing streams of consciousness, and all the rest that epitomized the former administration. In its place is calm, low key competency focussed on issues with bold initiatives to rebuild a foundation for the country’s future, and restore its place of leadership in the community of nations.

Good news? Not for everyone. There are millions of Americans who were fond of Trump and say they remain committed to his policies. Given the chaotic nature of his administration, it’s hard to know what is meant by his policies, but conversations here and there have boiled it down to a few key points that must be taken seriously if we are to strengthen the progressive shift in the political landscape.

Trump voters like his tough guy shoot from the hip posturing. They believe that’s how strong leaders act, and they want strong leaders. To them, Biden’s calm competency looks like weakness. They’re unaware that in politics and business, Trump style posturing produces only short lived illusions of success veiling inevitable failure. Corporations and countries alike self destruct, implode, under the leadership of blustering strong man rule. It’s inevitable.

Trump’s people are convinced that the federal government is the problem (thank you Reagan), so to them, mustering national resources to meet national needs is socialism in its most nefarious freedom crushing form. In their imaginations, an America with a small, powerless federal government would be idyllic. They can’t apprehend, much less comprehend, that rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure is an investment that will reap enormous returns for them and their descendants. All they can see is cost piling the burden of unbearable debt on tax payers. That health care, education, cyber networks, and the environment are part of the infrastructure makes no sense to them. They have an ill formed sense that somehow the private market can address needs, all on its own without government intervention. The idea that a massive public investment to rebuild our infrastructure will create private sector jobs, private sector investment, and make new technologies affordable for ordinary people is, in their minds, a non sequitur.

The majority of the population was born into a society in which the strength of the economy was based on consumption, not investment. Consumer spending has been the primary measure of economic vitality reported in the public media. The unemployment rate has been a close second, with no attention given to the kinds of jobs at what rates of pay and benefits. Various federal stimulus plans have helped pull the economy out of deep recession, and prevented others from taking root, but have done little for investment in the long term interests of the public good. Trump voters cannot conceive of taxes as the source of public investment in the collective future of the nation. Taxes, to them, simply take money away from more consumer spending, and that can’t be good.

What are the issues Trump voters believe are most important? They fear that hordes of brown, black and non-English speaking immigrants will overrun the white society that fought for and built America, no thanks to anyone else. They live in fear of WWII type invasions on American soil. They adhere to the myth of American individualism that treats government regulation as an infringement on their personal rights, except for the ones that protect their place in society. Their adherence to the myth is what convinces them that everything liberal or progressive is a move toward Russian style socialism. They believe government must be kept small and impotent if freedom is to be protected.

Trump made them feel he understood and that he was doing everything he could to address the issues they believed were important. They don’t believe he was a dictator in waiting, jeopardizing their cherished freedoms. Biden doesn’t act like a strong man, or speak their libertarian language, and he ignores their issues. Right wing super PACs representing libertarian oligarchy mine their fears with convincing propaganda. Disinterested in the welfare of the people, they only want Trump voters to return governing power to the properly dependable candidates who will rule, as instructed, for the benefit of an elite few.

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