Trumpers: Villains or victims?

Jake Tapper

At best, some of both, because no way are Trump supporters completely innocent.

But Jake Tapper, CNN‘s chief Washington reporter, told Vanity Fair that “I feel sympathy for them. I feel bad. They’re outraged because they’re being told things that aren’t true. And that’s a disgrace for the people who are telling the lies, not the people who are hearing them and getting outraged.”

I can’t totally go along with that. Trump is responsible for the consequences of his lying, absolutely. But people have a responsibility to recognize when they’re being lied to. We’re supposed to use our brains — that’s why God gave them to us, and why the state invested so much time, effort, and money in our educations — to think critically, evaluate sources, weigh evidence. This responsibility is not less merely because the subject is politics.

Something like 70% of Republicans believe Biden won because of “fraud,” according to post-election surveys (see, e.g., this story). Why? Because Trump told them so, and other Republican officials, campaign staff, and lawyers reinforce this lie. But none of their fraud claims, often announced with great fanfare, have been upheld by the courts. They’ve all been dismissed for lack of evidence. That should mean something to these people, but it doesn’t, and for that they are responsible.

It comes down to this: If Trump can’t win in any court, even with Republican judges, including ones he appointed, shouldn’t those people question whether he has a case, and aren’t they inexcusably dense or close-minded not to?

Maybe, but there’s an alternative explanation. We don’t see it because we forget that, in the English language, words have multiple meanings and often mean different things to different people. To judges and lawyers, “fraud” has a precise legal meaning; to the general public, a broader and fuzzier meaning; and, as I’ve proposed elsewhere in this blog (here), to many grassroots Republicans it’s a dog whistle with racial overtones (which makes them more, not less, culpable).

Tapper doesn’t believe Trump and his Republican fellow travelers (which is most Republicans) are saying the election was “stolen” to delegitimize Biden’s presidency, as some liberals suspect. I’m inclined to agree with him; their efforts are neither coherent nor organized. The Trump camp’s post-election strategy is makeshift and uncoordinated; the media have used the term “flailing” to describe it. Tapper thinks Trump simply refuses to acknowledge reality; that, for whatever reason (he declines to psychoanalyze him), “he’s not accepting it.” That’s plausible; it would be difficult for a sociopathic narcissist to process that eighty million people don’t like him.

It’s no mystery why Trump lost. As Tapper says, “he has white male non-college-educated voters, that is his base. And they’re with him, but that’s a real minority of the American people,” and Trump never made any effort to expand his base beyond that. As for that group, they’re people who’re angry about the hand they’ve been dealt by the vicissitudes of life, and he gives voice to their grievances. For them, that’s enough to win their unquestioning loyalty; the fact his policies actually hurt them, and cater to the billionaires and corporatists who did this to them, also flies over their heads.

The entire Vanity Fair article is worth reading (here) for what Tapper says about the news media’s struggles to deal with Trump’s lying, the Republicans who go along with it, his supporters, and Trump’s future influence over the Republican Party.

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  1. The pity is in the not fact finding to check for truth #

    The pity is also in being “gullible”? The pity is: are they that stupid and ignorant of the truth? Or? Are they just blind followers of authoritarianism? Which is how cults are developed. Someone does the thinking and lying for them. Swallowed wholesale, they follow their leader. Just like former cult leader Jim Jone.

    Kool-aid swallowed. No questions thought of? They followed their father-figure to perish.

    In the case of trumpers, their souls are burning without having the intelligence? to discern the lies, they are fed.

  2. Mark Adams #

    The question is how many of Biden’s voters were really voting for Biden. The fact the Republican’s picked up seats in the House and while Georgia may give the Democrats two more Senators, it is likely both seats will remain Republican. During four years in office Trump got a lot of what he wanted (and in regards to military spending even more than what he asked for). Biden is not likely to have an easy time of it in Congress.

    There is one sure proof that Trump is not a dictator or anti democratic and that is Joe Biden has walked about the US for the past year rather than being arrested and jailed or in prison. Trump is pretty bad at being a dictator and he has broken one of the tenants of the Dictator’s little book for Dictator’s. And dictators win the final vote count usually by a lot, though it helps when there is no one else running.

  3. Better to fact check than believe trump #

    It is correct that trump failed to govern, failed to be the dictator-in-chief that he wanted to be. He did try. Parcel out personal protection equipment to the red states and dole out penalty to the blue states.

    The criminal acts of trump are being investigated. There is your criminal walking about the WH now.

    Conspiracy theories are just that. Where is the evidence against Biden? There isn’t any.

    There is evidence against the trumps. ” “Two separate New York State fraud investigations into President Trump and his businesses, one criminal and one civil, have expanded to include tax write-offs on millions of dollars in consulting fees, some of which appear to have gone to Ivanka Trump.”

    trump has acted like a dictator in doing and saying everything he can to destroy the credibility of this election. The only thing trump destroyed is the remnants of any credibility he had.

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