Now that one of the leaders of the Proud Boys can spend the next 17 years sitting in a jail cell contemplating how he will lead the next revolutionary wave when he gets out, I find myself trying to figure out how and why anyone could fall for the MAGA nonsense that Trump has been spewing around for the last eight years.
Are so many Americans really that dumb? Do so many Americans actually believe that the country is going down the drain and only Trump and his MAGA movement can make things right?
Most people vote the way I vote, which is to walk into a voting booth and pull the Democrat(ic) lever because that’s the way I have always voted since the first time I voted in 1968.
But the 1,100 men and (a few) women who have been charged with committing some kind of crime on January 6th aren’t just your average voter. They are true believers in every sense of the word.
So, I ask my question again: How do such people get such crazy ideas into their heads? Or better yet, how did Trump figure out that he could become a national, political figure by appealing to such schmucks?
Back at the beginning of the 2016 primary campaign, one of Trump’s political consultants, a guy named Matt Braynard, put together a strategy memo which helped Trump develop his approach to the Presidential campaign. The document, which you can read here, pushed the idea of Trump going after the one voting group which both parties tended to ignore, which was the group referred to by Braynard as ‘low propensity’ voters; i.e., poor whites.
What Braynard argues in his memo, which became the defining piece of the Trump political approach and narrative, was the idea that middle class voters who voted frequently could be convinced to vote for Trump through the usual media connections via the internet, radio, and TV. But to motivate poor whites to participate in the political process for the first time, a message had to be developed with would make them feel that Trump was running for President primarily to help them.
And not only did Trump’s narrative have to explicitly reach out directly to poor whites who had traditionally been ignored by both national parties, but this verbal handholding had to be done in a way and a style which would be appreciated by poor whites.
Incidentally, if you want to get some historical perspective on the place and role of poor whites in American political history, I strongly recommend Nancy Isenberg’s book, White Trash. The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America. Professor Isenberg has written a classic study of American political life.
Coming up with the proper rhetoric for the Trump campaign messaging was one thing, however, coming up with a way to deliver it was something else. And here is where Trump developed and delivered a unique campaign approach, which was to borrow Rush Limbaugh’s strategy for building his media following, namely, large, in-person rallies with music, food and entertainment held in conservative locations all over the place.
But there was one other element which enabled Trump to draw large crowds, which was to encourage his audiences to behave the way audiences behave at – ready? – professional wrestling shows.
Trump was promoting professional wrestling at his Atlantic City casinos since the mid-1980’s. The picture above is Trump standing between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant at one of those wrestling events. And what do you think happens before, during and after each wrestling match? The wrestlers yell and curse at each other and the audience follows suit.
Maybe educated liberals like you and me were offended when Trump told his Cabinet that the United States didn’t need any immigrants from those ‘shithole’ countries, but that’s exactly the kind of language which gets a good laugh at wrestling matches sponsored by the WWE.
Trump was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013. Other celebrities in the Hall are Mike Tyson and Pete Rose, the latter can’t get into Cooperstown because he placed bets on games in which he played, the former who spent three years in jail for rape.
But the truth is that people who pay as much as $85 to go to the WWE Smackdown at the Hershey Giant Center tonight will have a lot of fun. Which is the same reason that many people love Donald Trump, buy t-shirts and flags which carry the MAGA brand and hope they’ll be able to vote for him again in 2024.
That’s right. This is America and in America you can vote for someone to be President and have his finger on the nuclear trigger just because you think he’s a good guy.