Progressives are still scratching their heads over the election. It's not dandruff or the fact that Joe Biden won, mind you, it's that after four years, 250,000 COVID-19 deaths, 4million lost jobs, $8.3 trillion in additional debt, 20,000 lies, 296 golf outings, white supremacist dog-whistles, and attacks on democracy itself, it's that Donald Trump still got 72 million votes.
Progressives have always believed that Republicans loved America as much as they do. Today, there's reason to doubt that. After preemptive excuses in which Trump blamed an expected loss on election fraud, millions of flag-waving Republicans support a reverse-coup to keep this mob boss in power. Democracy be damned.
Republicans aren't who we thought they were.
Trump's purposefully discredited two pillars of democracy: the free press and free elections. It's Page 1 in the dictator's playbook. It's not intellectually taxing to be a Trumpette these days. Don't like what journalists report? Fake news. Anything that makes the president look bad? A Deep State conspiracy.
Folks, you can't have a democracy if people don't trust it.
Get this, a Yahoo/YouGov poll found that half — HALF! — of Trump supporters believed the QAnon theory that Satan-worshipping Democratic blood-drinking pedophilliacs control the world. If you do the math, that means 36 million Trumpers are insane. A sad commentary on mental health care in America.
So who are the other 36 million Trump voters? I'm just spitballing here, but let's suppose that 3.6 million of them are in the top 10 percentile, which, in North Dakota, according to U.S. Census Data, would mean they make $207,000 annually. They received a tax cut from 33 to 24%.
Corporations scored a 40% break that was supposed to pay for itself as businesses trickled down profits to workers thereby stimulating the economy. Instead, it added an estimated $2 trillion to the national debt.
It's transactional. The highest Republican earners simply voted in their self-interest.
Furthermore, if you've been pondering why Republicans, including North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, would overturn the Affordable Care Act during a pandemic, endangering the healthcare of 20 million Americans, it's simple: The top .01% would save $200,000 a year, according to the Tax Policy Center.
So how do we explain the other 32.4 million Trump voters? Tribalism and wedge issues, mostly. Republicans have employed busy-body social issues to woo religious voters who frown upon LGBTQ equality and Roe v. Wade. Actually, 70% of Americans support Roe v. Wade. Most folks don't want the government policing women's bodies. Mandatory reversible vasectomies for men, who theoretically could impregnate hundreds of women annually, have even less support. The “my body, my choice” mantra, however, has found new meaning among Republicans as of late, when it comes to government oppression involving masks.
Interestingly, Christian edicts like feeding the hungry and healing the sick seem to have waned in popularity among Republicans.
Republican messaging has successfully demonized Democrats as lazy socialists leaching from noble capitalists, and blue-collar Republicans have bought into it, even though every major safety net for working families, from Social Security to Medicare to the ACA, came from Democrats.
Ever wonder why Republicans undermine education (See Betsy DeVos)? Because naïve, low-information voters are necessary to maintain their power. Voters capable of independent critical thinking would reinvigorate democracy. And that's the last thing The Party wants.
Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column for Forum News Service.