This was a cute anecdote, but it hardly qualifies as a sociological study of Trump supporters. Theres a lot of poor analysis going on here. First, the author commits a fallacy common among the Right, which is to act as if “the Left” is some kind of monolithic blob that is universally “extreme.” This is because the right-wing media paints a few Dems (usually centrist Nancy Pelosi and House Rep AOC) as representative of the whole. They’re not, and they’re not extremist or radical by any actual measure used by people who study politics. But it makes for good sound bites among low information voters. Second, the author accepts that Trump lies constantly, but doesn’t think of this as problematic. Third, she treats people attending Trump rallies as representative of Trump supporters. They’re not. Fourth, she denies that Trump voters are part of a cult, but then mentions several things that make them seem like…well…a cult. She writes, “They love him despite his flaws because they believe he has their back.” No intelligent human believes for a second that Trump actually cares about them, whether it is the farmer from Nebraska or the coal miner from West Virginia or the union worker in Wisconsin. What Trump is good at, however, is telling people what they want to hear to make them feel good about themselves. I cannot emphasize enough how much of Trump’s appeal is based on this simplistic form of pandering. There is no bigger example of this than in the domain of patriotism, where a rich New York playboy who got out of military service due to alleged bone spurs has convinced the good people of the heartland that he’s a real patriot who loves his country. Hogwash. He’s an opportunist who knows how to use his rough rhetoric to rile his base. Imagine a candidate not named Trump who ran on a platform in which he/she says “I’m an American, and proud of it, because America is the best country in the world, and all other countries suck!” This person would instantly get 30% of the vote from the most simple minded people in this country because patriotism is an easy play for support among those whose identity is wrapped up in the fiction that America is the “shining city upon a hill” (in Reagan’s terms). Fifth, she makes Democrats sound vile and mean because they booed candidates they didn’t support, while all Trump supporters cheered for their man. This is such a stupid remark that it doesn’t deserve much attention, but suffice it to say that Trump supporters attend Trump rallies because they like Trump. There are no other candidates present. A better comparison would be to attend a REPUBLICAN primary event and see how Trump supporters act towards OTHER GOP candidates like “Lyin’ Ted Cruz” and “Little Marco Rubio.” Sixth, what this author completely misses in her assessment of Trump supporters is the slow violence committed by their political views and unyielding passion for Trump. She suggests that all Trump supporters are really just nice, nurturing people, while totally ignoring the harm that has occurred under their watch by the person they love and the policies he has advanced- homes raided by ICE that result in families being torn apart, long-term environmental problems due to rolling back environmental regulations, not fixing healthcare, working towards banning abortion through the installation of ideologically biased judges, alienating the LGBT community, eroding support for public education, tarnishing the image of the United States held by our allies, making Iran more bellicose, etc. There are just enough fair insights here to not render the entire piece nonsense, but it does have the feel of an extended #WalkAway post. I don’t think people actually assume that you will be subject to violence when you attend a Trump rally; after all, it’s filled with people who want to be there! But the author’s account of the majesty and wonder of being at a Trump rally is a bit pollyanna-ish and glosses over the real shortcomings of the people who would wait in line for hours to see their shining star and soothsayer, Donald Trump.

I’m an associate professor of political science, Fulbright scholar, and author. Follow me @JoshGellers or visit my website

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