A week ago I expressed the hope that President Donald Trump‘s lamentable performance after the protests in Charlottesville, Va., would hurt his standing in the polls. This didn’t happen. If there was a blip, it was in the other direction. I’d be pleased if Trump’s regrettable decision to pardon former sheriff Joe Arpaio dented his popularity, too, but I’m not holding my breath.
Trump’s supporters are loyal. What is one to make of this?
There are two main theories of Trump’s support. One is that a large minority of Americans — 40 percent, give or take — are racist idiots. This theory is at least tacitly endorsed by the Democratic Party and the mainstream liberal media. The other is that a large majority of this large minority are good citizens with intelligible and legitimate opinions who so resent being regarded as racist idiots that they’ll back Trump almost regardless. They may not admire the man but he’s on their side, he vents their frustration, he afflicts the people who think so little of them — and that’s good enough.
It’s disappointing that Charlottesville hasn’t changed their minds — but then it hasn’t changed my mind either. I still think the first theory is absurd and the second theory basically correct.
The first theory, if it were true, would be an argument against democracy. If tens of millions of Americans are racist idiots, how do you defend the popular franchise? That isn’t a sliver of reprehensible people who’ll be safely overwhelmed when elections come around. And there’s plainly nothing, according to the first theory, you can say to change their…
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