The question most asked by liberals is this.
How did Trump win? “There can’t be more of them than us, there can’t be more.”
Well, first, as news networks and good prosecutors have been learning for two years now, he cheated. He used the Russians to scare people who were willing to be scared. He used money to hide things he needed hidden. That got him a few percentage points in key states. It may be responsible for 3% of the 46% he got. Remember we’re talking about 75,000 votes in four states for the margin.
But what about the rest. What about the base? Could there possibly be 43% of America that identifies with this SOB?
Yes. But it’s a good story. You might even say it's based on Moore's Law of Politics.
Moore's Law of Politics holds that technology slows our aging, but we remain set in our ways. The way you thought when you were a kid likely determines how you vote today, and as we age our memories get longer.
Consider. In 1968, when I was first getting interested in politics, Nixon got 43% of the vote and Wallace got 15%. The “southern strategy” tied those two coalitions together, and Nixon got 61% in 1972. Then Reagan got 60% in 1984, while Bush Sr. and Perot, between them, got 58%. GW Bush got 49% even at his peak in 2004, while McCain and Romney both got 47%. Before Trump, even with his shenanigans, got 46%.
See the pattern? It’s going down. The Republican Party has been an ebbing tide for decades. That’s why we have the Jim Crow Project. That’s why it’s a national thing. Wherever Republicans can get control of a state government, that’s what they do. They purge voters, they fix machines, they deny rights, they scare minorities. They run the whole KKK playbook, right out in the open in the 21st century. Knowing that, and calling that out, is powerful.
But what about the rest? What about the 43% who still love them some Trump?
Maybe 10-13% of Americans really want to “stick it to the libs” by screwing themselves. They grew up on Nixon, Reagan and Bush, Trump is a natural extension of that politics. They’re his base. But there aren’t that many of them.
What about the rest?
The rest – the Republican Party – consists of the same groups you’ll find throughout the Americas, in Guatemala, in Mexico, in Brazil or Columbia. They’re the crowd the U.S. has turned to for 200 years whenever the Monroe Doctrine was threatened by actual democracy, when our colonial empire is perceived to be under attack.
Generalissimos – These are the guys with fruit salad on their chests. They control the tanks. They can act. They can kill, it’s their business. Their ranks include local sheriffs. It’s a national organization. When democracy threatens these guys (and they’re all guys) they move, but they don’t move on their own, because they know they don’t know how to run a government.
Oligarchs – These are the guys with Swiss bank accounts. The accounts could be in the Caymans, but you get the idea. They control the national assets. They set the prices, run the economy. They own you. I’m talking less of the bureaucrats running the biggest countries and more the entrepreneurs and hedge fund monsters who created Silicon Valley’s “bro” culture. Trump himself comes from this crowd. So does Wilbur Ross. Since they know how to steal, they think government is just a larger version of it.
Priests – These can be Protestants. In this country they usually are. The whole panoply of the Religious Right, the ones who would make women slaves to sperm, who want to control every aspect of your lives in God’s name, they’re all priests. They could be Mormons, and some are. They could be Jews. They could even be Muslims, and would be if the rest would let them in. But more often they’re evangelicals. TV guys, and their wannabes, along with (most important) their followers. They know what to do. They have an agenda, to force people into the pews, and the rest of life into the shadows.
Each of these groups – the generalissimos, the oligarchs, and the priests – hold sway in roughly 10% of the popular will. The generals appeal to patriotism, the oligarchs to prosperity, the priests to morality, and people follow, because many people want to follow. Following is comfortable.
Taken all together, however, the GOP base and the Trump base represent an ebbing tide. You need to understand that. The polls all show it. They win only with older white folks, and with young people who have ambition but no brains, those who think that by following leaders of ambition that they’ll become those they follow.
There are a few people who switch sides, from time to time. I know some old hippies who now love them some Trump because they hate what they were and fear it might be in their kids or grandkids. There are the 9-11 conservatives who switched sides over Islam, or Judaism. There are people who have undergone a religious conversion, and there are people who suddenly woke up rich and think that their wealth depends on others having none.
All these are reasons the Trump coalition hasn’t dropped further, and faster. Just as there remain people who smoke cigarettes despite over 50 years of warning, there are people who go down dumb political roads, too.
None of this means they can’t be beaten. It really means they should be beaten, and that in a democratic election they will be beaten. But it is the responsibility of all who believe in democracy, in open markets, and in personal liberty to keep on the alert, to register and make sure your neighbors are registered, and to vote in every election, no matter what’s on the ballot. It’s the responsibility of those who know law to fight the shenanigans, and for the rest of us to throw a few shekels at them as well as our favored candidates and parties.
There will come a time, after all this is over, where reasonable people can freely disagree. Sadly, this is not one of those times. There is, right now, no reason on the other side, only lust for power, only a desire to control others, and to systematize that control through courts, legislatures, and police power.
So now you know the stakes. But you also know what to do. You know we can win.
There only remains the doing.