Home | About | Donate

The Trump Divide


The Trump Divide

James Zogby

Over the years, there have been many divides that have defined the American social, cultural, or political landscape. Some have been philosophical, regional, issue-based, racial, economic, gender or age-related. But none have been as deep or as disturbing as the divide that is currently fracturing the American people.


Trump is a disgusting individual, but his presidency and the polarism that has resulted from it is a logical culmination of 25 years or more of neo-liberal policies and liberal hypocrisy. Eight years of Clinton, eight years of Bush, and eight years of Obama have been a consistent slide into deregulation, economic insecurity, jingoism and increasingly permanent and expanded warfare, and denial of the catastrophe that awaits us due to climate change.

Liberals all know "What's the Matter with Kansas" and the book's message about how rural and small town conservatives ignorantly vote against their own interest. But they conveniently overlook the book's message about the contemptuousness and hypocrisy American liberalism. For decades, Democrats have pretended to support working people, but sided with the obscenely wealthy every time; criticized 'Republican' wars when they don't sit in the White House, and then intensified and expanded those wars when they do; given lip service to the dangers of climate change, and then sold coal and fracking around the world.

Trump, at least, is not a hypocrite.


Would argue against that. Even with the few positive campaign promises he made are falling through. He seems to have no interest in creating jobs that mean anything and even though during the Obama years he tweeted that being in Syria is a huge mistake here we are the week after Trump launched a sudden strike on an airbase.


Good point. He's definitely a hypocrite in many ways... but he's been pretty honest about wanting to drill every last drop of oil, bomb the rest of the planet into oblivion, and blame non-white people for America's problems.


Yours is a sad simplistic view that because democrats are not perfect (or even close to perfect), then they are the same as republicans. That kind of thinking is a strong part of why we have Trump. Too many think it does not matter which party or person is in power. It leads us into a deep dark hole as the liars and con men of the republican party exploit the ignorant. HL Mencken in 1920: “As democracy is perfected, the office of the president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”


You misread my post if you think it is saying Democrats aren't perfect.


"Trump, at least, is not a hypocrite."
Of course he is a hypocrite and a liar and all of the other things you mentioned as well.


Trump got elected because the Democrats didn't get out the vote and now we are paying the price for their affluent and lazy ambivalence.


I was gonna give u a heart up until your last sentence "Trump not a hypocrite? Huh? Draining the swamp with billionaires, maybe I am getting lies and hypocrite mixed up.



Yes, I am walking that statement back. Definitely a hypocrite on some issues, on others he has been pretty straightforward.


I think it all comes down to conspiracy theory. The Trump side has lumped a large group of people into the category of elites who only care about their own interests. These are scientists, journalists, professors, politicians, etc. Many are not rich but all could be called professionals. Trump supporters believe him because he says you can't trust the elites but you can trust him. For us on the other side of the divide who oppose Trump it is somewhat difficult to understand how people can believe in this conspiracy theory but they probably can't understand why we trust scientists, etc. They probably think we are dumb for not seeing through this conspiracy of the elites. And of course we think it is dumb to believe Trump.


Perhaps that divide between the intellectual and the emotional self is neither so sharp nor so well defined as it readily appears. Let's go back to this, for one re-consideration: "It is difficult to understand how Evangelicals could vote for and continue to support a thrice-married hedonist. Or why so many women would vote for and continue to support a misogynist who has spoken of women in such degrading terms. Or why honest, hard-working Americans facing economic hardships could put their faith in an individual who in his multiple bankruptcies has brought economic ruin to tens of thousands of folks just like them." This prompts several questions that have not to my knowledge been addressed.

First, has anyone made substantive efforts to discern how many of these T supporters also require themselves to vote and also only vote for one or another of the dominant two parties/candidates? I thought of this because I was raised evangelical, told repeatedly through childhood I was given to God to become a preacher the day I was born, etc. Two things that matter here: I do require myself to vote, but gave up on voting starting in 1980, and didn't go back until I required myself to honor the vote, and also vote someone other than either of those two clowns. That was 1992. I also vote in every election, though I often vote for only one of several options, no matter how many "open" offices are on the ballot. I can discern when the only option for something to drink is either coke or pepsi: I will dehydrate instead of poison myself. How many of those T supporters have ever given any thought to either voting alternative to the Wall Street twins, or voting for only the things that clearly matter on any ballot?

Second, it was HRC, early on and throughout the primaries and general election who so radically over-played the woman card it turned off many feminists. I know. I went to college in Santa Cruz, CA, where feminism still rages; both of my daughters consider themselves staunch supporters of things women actually need and justly should have; yet neither would even consider voting for HRC after the primaries. And it had nothing to do with Bernie. They just didn't vote in the general at all. When we discussed this, neither of them could think of any of their many friends who was voting for HRC in the general, even though many had in the primary.

Third, the white working class has long been susceptible to the decisiveness portrayed by extremists. I remember being in VIetnam in 1968, and also having been delighted to find so many other airmen, grunts, marines, sailors, etc., who, like me, voted for Wallace in the general. We knew and discussed the obvious about both Godwater (totally mad wild card, and Curtis LeMay? Even wilder!) and LBJ (totally predictable: let's just keep killing and getting our own people killed and don't you worry 'bout a thing. HRC was far too much like LBJ for the general). I didn't figure this one out for myself (my opposition to voting for her was her totally unsubstantial concern for any of the major sectors of the environment - social, economic, political, ecological).

I was still most surprised that she actually lost. And to Trump of all people!

If the Democrats ever decide to become a democratic party, perhaps they have a future less bleak than is the GOP's. For my thinking right now, twit is doing both parties a favor by forcing them to focus on their priorities. And the Wall Street Ds are very clear now as they almost always are: Wall Street and Lipstick.


Walter, LBJ was not running for office in 1968. Personally, I don't see how anyone would avoid voting when Trump was on the ballot.


We need to keep talking with those differing in opinion


Thank you for the following summary Mr. Zogby:

"The academic part of me can understand what's going on, nevertheless, I am troubled. I did my post-doctoral work studying movements that spring up in societies under stress—where severe or prolonged social and political dislocation have produced societal shock sufficiently disturbing to leave portions of the population vulnerable and open to messages and messengers who can explain their plight and rationalize their anxiety."

Certainly initiating with Ronald Reagan, and subsequently reinforced with Bill Clinton, is a long abandonment of social programs for the subsidy of business. Such was hammered home by Trump's Republican competitors and Hillary Clinton's multithousand dollar a plate fundraisers. Yes, Trump fooled his supporters with pretense to populism, but for other than Sanders, no other candidate talked the talk. As for Sanders, the DNC insured his demise in his competition with Hillary.

Of what remains of the Trump bandwagon, I wonder how many express support only because lying to themselves about being punked. This does not takeaway their desperation after thirty plus years of a national policy of business over people. Whether so or not, no one seems in the offing to seek out responding to the pain and fear of the non-wealthy, other than Bernie Sanders, and he's viewed as too old. With what this leaves us, I do not know. I fear the future.


It's too bad the Hillary was willing to accept money from the wealthy. I'm sure all wealthy folks are scum, amirite? Now the Supreme's will be 5-4 in favor of corporations again. Yes, Trump supporters were mostly "punked," but those who stayed at home or voted for sure losers simply left us with our "fear of the future."


' His obsession with his own fame, wealth, and success, his determination to vanquish enemies, real and imagined, his craving for adulation'

Their obsession with their own fame, wealth, and success, their determination to vanquish enemies, real and imagined, their craving for adulation . . . this is as good a description of the US as I have seen!


It also fits the description of an Emperor or Dictator perfectly.


Or Hillary.


I believe that it's called the Stockholm Syndrome? Feelings for trust for your oppressor? The vulnerable love people who can give them an explanation, who take away their need to think things through for themselves. Those who explain give a short-lived "feel-good" When that feel-good dies (as it always does) who do the vulnerable go back to? The ones who can explain it away.