Donald Trump

What Trump Supporters Want

If Washington runs on deals, why not embrace a schemer?

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Trump rally
Credit: Gage Skidmore / photo on flickr

Donald Trump is essentially running a third party campaign from within the fractured guts of the Republican Party and succeeding magnificently.

The frustation from within the party is loud and furious. He's not even a real Republican, they insist.

But that's not what matters to Trump's supporters, The attempt to use arguments that appeal to either party loyalty or party identity to get to his supporters is doomed to fail. That's because Trump supporters are essentially third-party voters.

What does that mean?

The struggle to suss out the motives of Trump supporters, at least by those who are willing to looking beyond (the very real) fears of nativism, authoritarianism, and racism, is reminiscent of the way participants of established, controlling political movements sometimes have a hard time grasping third-party voters. These voters would rather "throw their votes away" then support Democratic or Republican candidates, even if the end result is that another candidate that voter also detests may win instead. There is a not-insignificant number of conservatives who believe that Trump's campaign will undoubtedly help Hillary Clinton win come November. There are conspiracy theories that this is even deliberate.

It just so happens that I wrote about this dynamic back in 2013, when Libertarian Party candidate Robert Sarvis challenged Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli for governor of Virginia and came away with more than six percent of the vote in a close race. Sarvis was seen by some (inaccurately) of having cost Cuccinelli the election, and there was palpable frustration at voters who went third party rather than lining up against McAuliffe. My post was titled "Read This If You Believe Your Candidate Lost Due to Third-Party Voters." It may seem strange to invoke the piece now, given that Trump is doing so well compared to any actual third-party candidate we've had in modern times and is leading a takeover of an established political juggernaut. But stick with me while I go back through my bullet points and see if it can't help grasp what is going on with Trump's supporters in a way that doesn't dismiss them or treat them like they're dumb or don't understand the kind of man Trump is.

Before going through this list, I'll state that I am not a Trump supporter and will not be voting for him in November if he gets the nomination. In all likelihood I'll be voting Libertarian Party or not even voting for president at all. Rather, like Nick Gillespie has been doing, I'm trying to get past a certain amount of establishment-fed oversimplification about what the Trump vote means and what may be learned from it. What can the "establishment" learn from visualizing Trump's supporters as third-party voters?

1. "[They] don't like your candidate." As I noted with Sarvis, you'd think this would be the easiest fact to grasp, but for some it seems to be a struggle. In this presidential cycle some confusion does make sense, because somehow Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are having to fight against the "Washington insider" label, even though they're both new senators who had to defeat "establishment" candidates themselves in order to get here in the first place. There are actually no "insider" candidates left on the Republican side in the conventional sense.

Nevertheless, the argument that voters should support a candidate they're not fond of in order to defeat the "other team" is not a compelling suggestion to those who don't see themselves as being on either team (and also as being abused or victimized by the policies of both teams). A big chunk of the Trump supporters we're talking about are not regular voters. They do not feel any obligation to go along with party wishes.

And in fact, the possibility that Trump could be the GOP nomination is allegedly prompting some establishment Republicans to consider voting for Clinton instead, and for some others to suggest a third party to drain votes from Trump, meaning they're going to help cause the very outcome they're telling Trump supporters they'd be responsible for. Because they don't like Trump. And so we end up full circle.

2. "You need to make an actual case for your candidate." In the original context I meant that attempting to reach third-party voters meant promoting their own candidate's appeal over complaining that the voter was helping the "other team." Make a positive argument why a libertarian should support a Republican instead of a libertarian.

In this case, Cruz and Rubio have been loudly trumpeting the case for themselves, even though the argument that Trump allegedly can't beat Clinton is still getting pushed. There is still the matter of the cases Cruz and Rubio are actually making. First of all, the two of them have been going after Trump for the lack of policy details. They're absolutely correct, but they're also completely missing the point. Trump voters don't want more policies. Accurately or not, they believe the policies that get put together in Washington ultimately end up hurting them. What they want is for Trump's "negotiation" skills to keep that from happening and make sure that they end up on the "winning" side.

And about those negotiation skills—let's make special mention of a recent turn in how Cruz, in particular, is attempting to attack Trump. Trump is on the record saying that the details of his anti-immigration policies are negotiable. "Everything is negotiable," he has said, though he also says the building of the absurd wall between the U.S. and Mexico is itself not.

Cruz and Rubio have both attacked Trump for not being hard enough on illegal immigration and responded accordingly to this idea of "negotiating." Cruz hit Trump in his victory speech Tuesday night, saying that he would not be "negotiating" with Washington; he would be "standing up" to them. He hit Trump for supporting Planned Parenthood and said Trump wanted to expand socialized healthcare.

So consider this line of attack for a moment: Trump is being called an authoritarian fascist with incredibly heartless, immoral plans for dealing with immigration and securing the border. Cruz's response is "No, he doesn't really believe this. He's lying. I really believe it, though! So vote for me!" That doesn't make any sense at all. You cannot make the case that Trump's positions are dangerous and then also make the case that they don't go far enough and expect to be treated seriously.

3. "Don't presume to tell [them] what [they] believe." This argument was initially presented as a criticism pointed toward those who would presume to tell libertarians what they're really supposed to stand for to try to get us to line up behind a candidate we didn't like.

Trump art
Credit: Scott Shackford

But there's a completely different issue with Trump: There's an entire bipartisan movement to attack and shame Trump voters, as though this would somehow affect the election in some meaningful way. Why would a Trump voter care if people who already despise them and Trump think they're authoritarians or racists? They still get to vote exactly the same way more enlightened folks do.

For that matter, let's talk about "authoritarianism" for a little bit. Trump voters are being singled out as authoritarians. I happen to agree that Trump supporters are clearly driven by authoritarian urges as a way to get what they want and to bypass the machinery of Washington. The consequences of this actually happening could be very serious and harmful.

But here's the problem: They are far from alone in this election cycle. And yet, there is a concerted effort to find a way to finagle the definition of the term "authoritarian" via social science in such a way that it applies to voters and candidates on the right but not to those on the left or elsewhere. I've written about this before and it's coming up again. Social scientists have framed authoritarianism to a particular type of appeal to government power so that it seems to apply only to certain types of conservatives, and thus we end up with analysis like this at Vox:

This positioned the GOP as the party of traditional values and social structures — a role that it has maintained ever since. That promise to stave off social change and, if necessary, to impose order happened to speak powerfully to voters with authoritarian inclinations.

Democrats, by contrast, have positioned themselves as the party of civil rights, equality, and social progress — in other words, as the party of social change, a position that not only fails to attract but actively repels change-averse authoritarians.

Only by describing authoritarianism as "being averse to change" is it possible to ignore the significant amount of authoritarianism by the left or among Democrats. Apparently using the law to violently force change is not authoritarianism? Vox, recall, hosted Ezra Klein's argument for authoritarian "Yes Means Yes" laws where the government tells you what to you must do in order to make sure sex between two adults is consensual. He made no bones about his appeal to the power of authority. He said that the goal of such laws was to "create a world where men are afraid" of being prosecuted. And it's impossible to ignore the current college environment where student activists are attempting to deny their peers of the First Amendment right of free speech when they promote disliked ideas and the Fourth Amendment right of due process for sexual misconduct allegations.

Reason
Reason

And it's ironic, given that Trump does not to appear to be much of a fan of the Bill of Rights himself. Frankly he's terrible. The problem is not that just that Trump and his voters are awful on civil liberties, but also the number of people who don't realize that they are awful as well and are trying to reframe the debate to cast themselves as heroes. Why should a Trump supporter allow themselves to be designated the villain in this scenario? Robby Soave has pointed out how backlash against the PC movement has helped give rise to Trump for this exact reason. Yes it's hypocritical. But remember, Trump supporters see this as a defensive reaction to the power displayed by other factions. Watch a clip of protesters being ejected or facing violence at a Trump rally. Then watch fired University of Missouri professor Melissa Click trying to forcibly eject journalists from a college protest.

4. "No really, don't pull this 'blue versus red' crap on [them]." Nobody can really say for certain what Donald Trump was actually thinking when he had New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie introduce him at his victory speech/press conference Super Tuesday night and then stand behind him, trying hard (and failing) to not look utterly defeated and broken.

It may not have been Trump's direct aim to humiliate the governor—Trump, as crude as he is, does typically show a certain grace in victory. But given the subsequent social media response and mocking of Christie, Trump might as well have just had Christie's head removed, glued to a plaque, and hung on the wall like a trophy.

Peter Suderman noted how the spectacle of Christie falling in behind Trump demonstrated the governor abandoning all his principles in the pursuit of a relationship to power. Christie's positions on issues are absolutely nothing like Trump's. They are not even compatible. And yet there he is. And some are utterly furious with Christie over it.

Let's consider the possibility that Christie's "defection"—scare quotes here because nobody can rightfully claim the authority to declare what the GOP is supposed to be—completely reinforces Trump's approach to this race and a significant reason why Trump's followers rally behind him. You say Trump is a con man who buys and sells politicians? His response is, "I sure do, and look at what it gets me. Don't you want to be part of this?" Trump is corrupt. His response is that everybody involved in politics is corrupt—and he is good at navigating that system. He is not there to "fix" the system. He is not there to "break" the system, though the Republican Party may end up breaking as a consequence. Rather, actually similar to most politicians, he's promising to make it work for the behalf of a particular constituency that supports him. The difference is he's not even pretending it's about principles or the creation of policy. It is the pure representation of application of naked political power. It's fascism—because he's not interested in following the political process to get his plans implemented the legally recognized way.

Pointing out that Trump was obviously a supporter of Democrats in the past means utterly nothing when this campaign is all about populist appeals to authority and outcomes over processes. What the Christie cameo Super Tuesday showed is that affiliation is no longer all that meaningful. Why should Trump voters care about electoral processes and identification if they think they're being screwed over by everybody else?

Furthermore, it's a reminder that political parties are not identities. While many may associate the Republican Party with conservatism and the Democratic Party with liberalism, that's an identity organically grown from the desires of the people who belong to it. It can, and will, and does, change and evolve. The Republican Party is whatever the most numerous and powerful members determine it to be. The Democratic Party may soon be facing a turn toward full-blown democratic socialism rather than liberalism. We'll have to see. Jesse Walker analyzed the evolutions and possible realignments of the parties here.

5. "Respect that voters determine their own political priorities." Ron Bailey researched and noted in the wake of Super Tuesday that living in an economically distressed community is a good indicator of Trump support. His supporters tend to be poorer and less educated, often without a college degree.

Consider the fight over "income inequality." The left thinks they own this issue. The problem is overstated, but the fact is, the biggest indicator that you're one of the people who are on the bad side of the income shifting is that you have less than a college education. The Pew Institute looked through the demographics of who was benefitting and who was getting hurt by the current levels of income inequality. The worst were those who were just high school graduates or less. Racial and gender demographics didn't matter as much. Blacks, women and Asians were actually doing better, as were whites and men. The gap that did exist was almost entirely due to education level.

So if these folks are Trump's constituency, their embrace of Trump's terrible concepts of trade makes sense. It's not that they're correct on trade. They're absolutely not. Free trade helps everybody in the long run. Americans benefit greatly from trade with China with cheap goods. A lower-class American still has access to the kinds of goods and services the poor of the past could only dream about.

But! Those of us who support free trade are also very familiar with the capitalist cronyism and corruption that attempts to capture and redirect market forces not just in the United States, but in other countries (like China and Mexico, both of whom Trump hits a lot in his speeches). Trump gets attacked as one of these crony capitalists, and it's absolutely true.

Trump's constituency is made up of people who believe that they are the ones who have been hurt the most by this system. One might think, then, that Trump would be seen as the enemy here. Trump is "winning" by going completely mercenary with this approach: He is offering to use his knowledge and ability to manipulate this system to benefit those voters. He is going to negotiate to bring jobs back to the United States. He is going to do so many amazing things you just won't believe it! That's the way he talks. He doesn't provide details, because these are just the opening offers, right? Once he has power, he'll hash it out. Taxes, spending, whatever. Everything is negotiable. He'll make sure you get the best deal, if you're a Trump supporter.

There's no concept of a win-win scenario within Trump's perception of trade, and therefore what he's proposing is anathema to free marketers. But the problem is that his supporters do not see the possibility of a win-win scenario in the way Washington currently operates. They just see everybody except them "getting rich" off the government. Trump is going to be the crony capitalist who serves them. He's a con artist; he's their con artist.

They don't believe the current system of patronage is going to end, because why would they? Does anybody actually believe that Bernie Sanders can successfully "fight Wall Street" (even if they think this is an admirable pursuit and not something that presents dire consequences)? Every politician under the sun promises to "take back Washington" and stop "the bastards," whoever those might be. But the bastards are still there. Rather, this is about gaming the system for the Trump voters' own benefit. It's counting cards. It's about stacking the deck for themselves rather than other people. Of course, that's right up the alley of a guy who has built casinos.

That is why the obsession with "winning." And it's absolutely vital to understanding the authoritarian draw of Trump. It's as defensive as the man himself, but it didn't happen in some vacuum. Actually engaging Trump voters requires getting past the authoritarianism and nativism to truly understand what sort of outcome could please them without destroying the country's foundations, assuming they'll actually listen after all this time.

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131 responses to “What Trump Supporters Want

  1. Please…stop. We get it.

  2. Thanks Scott. Maybe I’ll dig the water bottle Reason sent me out the trash can now.

  3. Nobody can really say for certain what Donald Trump was actually thinking when he had New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie introduce him at his victory speech/press conference Super Tuesday night and then stand behind him, trying hard (and failing) to not look utterly defeated and broken.

    Its quite simple, really. He was displaying a trophy, to dishearten his foes and lift up his supporters. Just like the Romans used to parade their defeated enemies in their victory parades.

    1. Are you implying that he ceremonially strangled Christie to death once the speech was over?

      1. I think Trump is going more the “hostage” route.

        1. Probably the wiser choice, especially given that there is no garrote on earth capable of fitting around that many chins.

          1. Christie is Trump’s Dan Quayle; a political human shield.

          2. Garrote? Wouldn’t Christie be far more worried by a lap-band?

            1. I thought he already had the lap band surgery. And yet he’s still that much of a fat fuck. Although he was worse before, believe it or not.

            2. Christie has served his purpose. The Donald!!! will just let him starve in a dungeon.

    2. Sissies. Real Men – Winners like the Scythians – make drinking cups from the skulls of their enemies.

  4. Starting to think those Koch dollars aren’t so elusive. anybody up for starting a website?? apparently just mail it in and spend about 30 minutes a day churning out predictable writing.. then count that cash!

  5. Actually engaging Trump voters requires getting past the authoritarianism and nativism to truly understand what sort of outcome could please them without destroying the country’s foundations, assuming they’ll actually listen after all this time.

    Pretty sure it’s whatever outcome turns them into the slavers, so, no thanks.

    1. And if you really are as condescending and dismissive of them as this article seems to be, well, good luck getting through.

      1. Bingo. Nikki, God love ya, you’re causing this problem. Engage these people; don’t sneer at them. Their concerns are real, even if some consider them misguided. Ignoring them and looking down your nose at them feeds this thing.

        1. Their concerns are real, even if some consider them misguided.

          My concern that I still don’t have a Herm?s purse is also real. Does someone want to give me welfare?

          1. Hock the purse first.

      2. I’m sorry, do they want to smash the state, or use it for their benefit to oppress their neighbors?

        1. Is this the cosmo version of “What’s the Matter With Kansas”?

          1. No, it’s the anarchist version of, “Fuck off, slaver.”

        2. LOL

          Well, you and the other anarchists who actually care about high-school girl level slogans like “smash the state” can get together at the local Denny’s and squabble about whether or not direct action will at last overthrow the bourgeoisie regime.

          The rest of us who find that paradigm unhelpful and redolent of useless signalling might want to do something besides sneer at a group of people who have been legitimately ill-served by the state, regardless of their own preferences.

          1. Sure, go help them get the government’s hands off their disability check. That’s definitely better than having principles.

      3. Maybe I read a different article, but I didn’t find this to be particularly condescending or dismissive toward Trump supporters. It’s not like he just waved them away as being a bunch of retarded hill billies who should just shut and do what their bettors want them to do, which is kind of what caused all this shit in the first place.

        Rightly or wrongly, they feel as if they’ve been treated like the red headed step child of a rented mule by both parties. And they’re not libertarians. They’re not interested in decreasing the size and scope of government, they just want someone to rig the game in their favor for a change. I don’t agree, but most people’s response to feeling like they’re being shat upon is not to say “Let’s decrease the power of the government to shit on people” it’s to say “Let’s use this big government leviathan to shit on someone else and ‘get mine’ for a change.” Unfortunately, that’s human nature. The idea of a constitutional republic based on limiting government was able to stave off this natural tendency for a while, but it’s over now. Stick a fork in it, it’s done.

      4. Sometimes the best approach is to let your enemy destroy himself.

        Even if Trump isn’t brutally trounced in the general election, his Presidency will be an epic disaster the likes of which we haven’t seen since George W. Bush.

        1. oh yeah because mandatory health insurance that the middle class has to pay for (so welfare kings and other ne’er do wells can get another free ride) has been a real success.

          1. Please don’t mistake me for an Obama supporter.

            1. Well Obama has been at least as epic as GWB. Probably more so.

              1. at least bush didn’t start a couple of secret wars

  6. The problem is overstated, but the fact is, the biggest indicator that you’re one of the people who are on the bad side of the income shifting is that you have less than a college education.

    So, Trump’s supporters are the stupid people?

    I guess this makes sense if you think that embracing socialism and progressivism is the smart thing to do, since those are the ideologies of choice on college campuses.

    1. It should be obvious to anyone that the future options of middle-aged skilled workers are much worse than those dudes and dudettes that have MA’s in the humanities and serve coffee to the public.

    2. That strawman didn’t put up much of a fight, did he?

      1. Hugh, I have a really hard time reading point five without seeing an assload of condescension at these poor uneducated rubes who just can’t see past the fact that the past years of barely controlled immigration and multiple “free trade” treaties coincide with the evaporation of their economic hopes.

        1. Look, I didn’t call them rubes. I called them slavers. And you had a problem with that too.

          1. And you had a problem with that too.

            My reply to your post was not well drafted/threaded. The “you” was directed generically/at Scott, not at your assertion that they are slavers. I was after the condescending tone.

            Sorry about that. Like most people, Trump’s supporters have a big authoritarian streak in them, making the “slaver” appellation apropos.

            1. Got it.

              1. Chalk it up to my irritation with Reason’s bizarre editorial priorities on covering this campaign.

          2. Who isnt slavers?

            Seriously, we have maybe 5 ( I can name 3) elected federal pols who arent full time slavery advocates.

            1. People who don’t vote.

              1. No, a lot of them are just lazy slavers.

        2. You notice that Scott didn’t actually say that people are wrong to believe that, right? He said that people with less than a college degree are attracted to Trump because he’s promising to make deals that will put them on the winning side economically for a change.

          And they are on the losing side. The growth of the information economy and the influx of immigrants and outsourcing are squeezing the uneducated from both sides. So supporting a politician that promises to put a halt to those things isn’t any dumber than believing a politician who makes promises they can’t keep targeted at any other demographic. And Scott didn’t call them dumb for believing Trump.

          In fact, the only person in this thread conflating a lack of education with stupidity is you.

          1. You notice that Scott didn’t actually say that people are wrong to believe that, right?

            So if these folks are Trump’s constituency, their embrace of Trump’s terrible concepts of trade makes sense. It’s not that they’re correct on trade. They’re absolutely not.

            The “these rubes are stupid” bit is in the next paragraph.

            In fact, the only person in this thread conflating a lack of education with stupidity is you.

            Uneducated plus “absolutely incorrect”. I’ll stick with “condescending tone”, thanks.

            1. Ah, so disagreement is condescending. I guess Scott should be more respectful and just humor people he believes to be wrong because they’re not as educated as he is.

              1. Its a tone issue, Hugh. When you combine “uneducated” with “completely wrong”, I tend to infer “stupid” is implied, and see condescension.

                YMMV. Its a free country.

              2. What, no one ever told you that?

            2. Just because I think somebody is wrong about a particular issue doesn’t mean that I think they’re stupid. That would be a terrible way to go through life (and wouldn’t exactly make for a successful career for somebody trying to convince people to embrace libertarian philosophy).

              1. I read that far more charitably than RC did. I don’t think you’re right here, RC.

        3. “the past years of barely controlled immigration”

          Barely? Then why do laborers entering the US from Mexico have to spend more than $5,000 / trip to get in to the country?

    3. I have to admit that “the screaming campus garbage babies”, as Iowahawk calls them, are starting to scare me.

    4. Trump’s supporters are the stupid people?

      No, they’re less educated. Less educated =/= stupid. Don’t fall into the same trap as progtards of assuming that anyone who doesn’t have a college degree from the “right schools” is stupid.

      And I don’t think that’s what Shackford was implying here either (although I’m not a mind reader, so who knows maybe he really is one those filthy COZMOZ/ stealth progtards that I keep hearing about).

    5. They’re both stupid. And their policy preferences aren’t that different. Not a coincidence.

    6. Not stupid, just poor. College is a consumption good. People don’t go to college because they’re poor, they’re not poor because they don’t go to college.

  7. I’ve never seen Trump’s toupee as close to falling off as it is in that picture.

    1. It’s a double comb-over. While I am a tepid Trump supporter, I don’t own a comb. I really can’t imagine myself spending more than 2 minutes in front on the mirror in the morning to pretty myself up.

      1. Sanders voter, huh?

      2. I have Jeb Bush hair.

  8. Woot!

  9. When Scott says he’s not a Trump supporter, I take that to mean he’s most definitely a Trump supporter.

  10. A Trump voter came into my office today ( I work elections) to ask about runoffs and find out who was running. Made sure we knew he was a Trump voter and that he voted for Trump because he is the only one speaking the truth unlike all the other politicians. So basically Trump voters view Trump like they want to believe he is rather than what he is, simple as that.

    1. The new Obama.

      1. The new “insert every politician here”.

      2. Pretty much this. He’s using the same kind of vague “vote for me and all your wildest dreams will come true” strategy Obama used in ’08.

    2. So basically Trump voters view Trump like they want to believe he is rather than what he is, simple as that.

      Trump is the Rs cult of personality. Just like Obama was for the Ds. The only cure for that has been 8 years.

      The consolation prize? Trump is a better entertainer.

    3. Ross Perot was like that. I was surprised at how conservatives and lefties that I knew both thought he stood for their values.

  11. Authoritarian is a good word to describe Trump. But I am getting real sick and tired of the fascist label.

    Libertarians should know better. Fascism sought to position itself between Marxism and capitalism. It hated the feeble people, but also equally hated the corrupt bankers. It allowed for the profit motive, but not at the expense of the good of the nation. A combined public and private ownership of the means of production. Fascism put the good of the nation above the good of the individual. In many cases there was a racial component, but not always, and not completely. Obviously, it was one of the defining things of Hitler and the Nazi version. But, that was very extreme. Mussolini did try to tie Italians to “Aryans”, but that was as much about appeasing Hitler as it was about any sort of ideology. And Franco wasn’t truly about “race”.

    So does this sound like Trump? Maybe. But it sure sounds equally like Bernie, Hillary and Obama (and yes many of the other GOP as well).

    1. Basically, it has simply become an epithet to throw at anyone the left or “libertarians” don’t like.

    2. Mussolini treated slavs in Italy like Hitler treated Jews. There was a big racial component to Italian fascism.

    3. Trump’s campaign slogan is “Make America Great Again” and he consistently speaks in zero-sum terms about other countries “beating” and “winning” over America. He wants to make the tough deals that will make America win and the other countries lose. He’s threatening to slap crippling tariffs on Chinese imports and to “go after” companies that outsource production overseas.

      1. He’s a negotiator and is throwing out high numbers to plant fear and doubt in the Chinese in case he’s elected. He’s not going to impose a 45% tariff on China…period.

    4. ED abuse is a big sign of fascism. While Trump isnt alone, the label sticks on its own.

      1. ED abuse

        There a several pills for that, you know.

    5. So does this sound like Trump? Maybe. But it sure sounds equally like Bernie, Hillary and Obama (and yes many of the other GOP as well).

      Pretty much this. They’re all pushing slightly differing flavors of fascism, but they’re all still fascists.

  12. Why should I engage in Trump voter? What is the benefit? What will I learn?

      1. We’re picking up what you’re putting down.

  13. “Blacks, women and Asians were actually doing better, as were whites and men.”

    That’s some magic statistical analysis…who is doing worse, then? Native Americans? Transgenders?

    1. Yeah, that is kind of strange.

    2. When it came to ethnic and gender demographics only Hispanic immigrants were doing worse (on the average, not individually). But when you sort for education instead, those without higher education (presumably of all races and both genders) were doing worse on the average.

      1. It’s difficult to tease out what group is doing better or worse from raw demographic data. Ron Unz has a knack for this. Take mexicans, for example. Mexican have much higher propensity to commit crimes than whites. But in all groups, males between the ages of 17 and 25 are the most criminal. US mexicans had baby boom in the 1980s and ’90s. So there are proportionally many more mexicans in that age group than there are whites. Mexican are more criminal than whites when this taken into account, but only slightly.

    1. not falling for it

  14. Let’s consider the possibility that Christie’s “defection”?scare quotes here because nobody can rightfully claim the authority to declare what the GOP is supposed to be

    This is really the biggest point to take away from Trump’s run so far (and, to a certain extent, Sanders for the Dems)–that the GOP in particular is going through an existential crisis right now where the populist anger its stoked in its base the last 7 years has resulted in a probable realignment. It’s two most popular candidates for the top seat right now are Trump and Cruz, the latter of whom gets along with hardly anyone in his own party. Rubio became the Great Establishment Hope after Trump bullied Jeb out of the race, but that’s mainly because he’s the only one left who they think they can actually work with. It’s certainly not because he was their first choice.

    1. Trump bullied Jeb out of the race? Give me a break. Jeb never had a chance for the following reasons:

      1) His last name. A couple of generations need to pass before another Bush will have a chance.
      2) He has expressed support for Common Core, which all but openly pushes leftist drivel to kids
      3) He has called allowing illegal immigration “an act of love,” which doesn’t pass the hysterical laughter test. People are tired of living in a country where laws are optional for some people but not for them. They rightfully ask why they can’t just waltz into their neighbor’s house and crack open a beer. Because that’s essentially what they’re being asked to swallow for illegal immigrants.
      4) Jeb is not personally likeable. He’s been known to shame audiences at his speeches for making the typical ringing sounds of their forks against the plates. And he’ll threaten to close the open bar if people don’t stop it. This may be anecdotal, but it points to a person who isn’t the kind individual his older brother seems to be.

  15. I think the subhead gets closest — why not embrace a schemer?

    I think Trump supporters are just monumentally frustrated with the way nothing seems to ever change, and especially the way that election campaigns have become a kabuki where the candidates literally can’t even speak in plain language about issues. Trump speaks in plain language. I doubt anyone is fooled that Trump is religious, or that he’s any kind of SoCon. The funniest one to me was when the media and Facebook wanted me to believe a native Manhattanite and international businessman was some sort of closeted Klanner good-ole-boy because he paused before denouncing David Duke.

    Beyond that, he’s very much of a piece with Obama, in that he’s an archetype that a large swathe of the population wants to identify with–successful self-made man, not a political mandarin, talks like a regular person. It’s hard to imagine all these people NOT going for him, even if just as a protest vote.

    1. ^^This.

      Your words should be carved in stone and then plated in gold.

  16. “I’m trying to get past a certain amount of establishment-fed oversimplification about what the Trump vote means and what may be learned from it.”

    Are you including Reason as part of the establishment? You should be. This website spent the entire summer dismissing not only Trump, but even those who responded to polling questions back when no votes had yet been taken. You know, it is easy to just say you would vote for Trump when in actuality you wouldn’t. And if you did then vote for him, you might do so for utterly irrational reasons.

    https://reason.com/blog/2015/08…..n-be-rough

    I guess reality forces nuance. Reason certainly acted like part of the establishment even if you would like to think you’re not part of it.

    1. I’m voting for Trump for the entertainment value. An entirely rational decision.

      1. To be honest, it’s as good a reason as any at this point.

  17. “But the problem is that his supporters do not see the possibility of a win-win scenario in the way Washington currently operates.”

    No, the problem is that most people do not believe in “win/win” at all. They don’t believe in the invisible hand, and they don’t believe in free trade. Most people believe that there is “X” amount of money in the world, “X” number of good jobs. During times of prosperity, this “na?ve mercantilism” causes no harm, because people aren’t upset. But now a good portion of the country is upset. They resemble farmers in that they want the government to rig the economy so that hard-working people like themselves benefit, even though there’s no market for the kind of hard work they have to offer, not at the wages that they think they deserve. So they want Trump to force China and Mexico to give back the “good jobs” that have gone overseas, despite the fact that there is no economic justification for having those industries in the U.S. any more, and despite the fact that automation has reduced, and will continue to reduce, the number of those jobs in the future.

    Bernie Sanders is peddling the exact same thing, but without all the racism. So he’s stupid, but not wicked. Give the man credit for that.

    1. THIS.

      Trump and Sanders are both selling the delusion that government can force the market to offer good jobs at high wages to relatively low-educated workers. The low-education Sanders voters are liberal college grads with humanities degrees. The low-education Trump voters are high-school grads who have been displaced by immigration and globalization. They are far apart culturally, but their economic interests are largely aligned, and both Sander’s and Trump are pledging to protect their interests from foreign competition, on both trade and immigration.

      Sanders is selling outright socialism. And Trump is selling crony capitalism with a side of fascism. Not so far apart politically.

      1. True. Still, to entrenched looters it’s the Outsider Aporkalypse Now!

    2. Goddammit, An Anal Maven, quit making good points.

    3. they’re going thru the 7 stages of grief and haven’t gotten to acceptance yet.

      acceptance being that the one unifying lie sold by both parties really is never going to be realized. and that lie is that whatever version of the good old days you crave a return to isn’t coming back. you do have to adapt and change with the world around you and for the most part, the government is going to do nothing to help you prepare for your new reality.

  18. Trump made a commercial for Netanyahu in 2013.

    If that was widely known it would make his racist supporters explode. Or as I have encountered an extreme resort to hamsters.

    http://classicalvalues.com/201…..rts-trump/

    1. His daughter is married to a Jew and is a convert herself. Doesn’t seem to bother them based on what I’ve seen.

      1. hamsters = extreme rationalization

  19. “…that’s not what matters to Trump’s supporters, The attempt to use arguments that appeal to either party loyalty or party identity to get to his supporters is doomed to fail. That’s because Trump supporters are essentially third-party voters.”

    And he’s winning states, that should give hope to libertarians. If he does get the nomination or close to it and the establishment, aka donors, neo cons, big money interestes, then steals it away then any hope for another voice, a real choice, a libertarian choice will also be squashed, possibly forever. If he does win, then maybe libertarians can finally be able to get their message out there and actually have a hope to win.

    1. Only after Trump and everything he represents is defeated and discredited. Maybe then.

      1. It took about 7 years for Obama supporters to wake up.

        1. Obama supporters have woken up?

            1. If you hang around lefty sites you will find quite a bit of unhappiness with Obama. The wars for one. And the biggie – he hasn’t ended pot prohibition.

              Hillary has nothing to offer those people. Nada.

  20. Trump is corrupt. His response is that everybody involved in politics is corrupt?and he is good at navigating that system. He is not there to “fix” the system. He is not there to “break” the system, though the Republican Party may end up breaking as a consequence. Rather, actually similar to most politicians, he’s promising to make it work for the behalf of a particular constituency that supports him.

    This is dead on.

  21. There’s no concept of a win-win scenario within Trump’s perception of trade

    That seems to be common among those who’ve been in the real estate & development biz. Another, Robert Ringer, who’s as libertarian as they come, wrote that those who believe both traders gain from every trade are na?ve, & that in reality in every trade 1 trader gains & the other loses.

    Both views are correct w.r.t. some acc’ting. In terms of utility, everybody gains from trade. But if you think of it in terms of potential, i.e. what each might’ve been able to negotiate for, then even in a utility-gaining trade there’s a winner & a loser in terms of getting the better of the bargain.

  22. For my money, Shackford’s the best regular writer at Reason these days, especially with 2-chilly out of the running. Naturally, he’ll be snapped up by another outlet in weeks.

  23. Excellent article. I would like to see some support for this statement:

    “It’s fascism?because he’s not interested in following the political process to get his plans implemented the legally recognized way.”

    I am not seeing this in Trump’s statements, he has frequently alluded to getting congress in a room and making deals with them. Is that not how Johnson, Reagan, and other effective presidents have gotten things done?

    I think the whole fascism thing in the media stream is hyperventilation.

  24. So I feel alienated by the political system. Hmmm. Now! How can I make some money off of this cycle?

    1. That’s the spirit! Short the securities of all banks and financial markets just before the State Department’s next release of the new batch of AML rules. There will be an uptick of “compliance officer” conventions in the Caribbean and Mexico shortly before then. Don’t expect a lot of new asset forfeiture pushes right this minute. Too many people are connecting the dots between that and the Herbert Hoover Walker Bush confiscate-and-crash policies. None of this is intended as financial advice, but a movie plot.

  25. Ironically, my fellow “anti-establishment” enthusiasts favor Trump – a blatant Big-Government ideologue – over Cruz – a blatant limited government, States rights, Constitutionalists. Do Trumpsters really know what they want? Do they really care what they get?

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  28. “Free Trade works”

    No, actually, many economists have a theory that claims free trade works, and many economists say it is much too simple. Certainly, no real consideration of the effects of capital flights, labor arbitrage and environmental arbitrage in most of the models.

    Frederich List, the most important late 18th/early19th Century economist, recommended free trade only when a nation has a hegemony in industrial production, and is trading finished goods for resource products from underdeveloped nations. Although List was a 19th Century economist, he was reportedly very influential on a Deng Xiaoping, who as you know, following “failed economic policies” increased the Chinese GNP by 10x.

    There is also a country called the United States of America, which pursued economic protectionist policies from 1815 to 1914 (also influenced by List). It too became the industrial leader of the world in its time, before the “enlightened economists” started pushing free trade.

    1. Observe that none of these debunkers ever affirms that coerced trade works, which is what they really mean. Shifting the assertion to anonymous but numerous hypothetical economists is pure argument from intimidation. Capital flees precisely the looter governments they favor but haven’t the guts to openly advocate here. Unfortuntely, there is no disguising the leper’s bell of the approaching looter.

  29. There was also a place called Germany, which under protectionist policies grew its economy faster than England, until it was a geopolitical threat to England. This rolling thunder ended in 1918 for historic reasons, but it was protectionist Adolph Hitler who re-industrialized Germany to the extent that Germany was able to threaten the Eurasian land mass in slightly over 20 years from the conclusion of WWI.

    Follow up:

    Which leads to the last consideration, if one studies military history, you learn population + GNP is a rough estimate of relative power. National security suggests that you want a strong domestic economy whereas you want rival nations to have weak economies.

    Now I know libertarians think free trade will bring about world peace, but 1913 was probably the highest level of free trade in the history of the world, and it ended in one of the most brutal wars in the history of mankind.

    It is important to distinguish want has been demonstrated to work in history, versus what has been demonstrated to work in some abstract model.

    1. Gemany went to war in 1914 because China quit importing heroin (from Balkans opium) in 1911 and signatures were being added to the Hague convention to block military-industrial complex nations from tricking primitive populations till enslaved to opiates. Uninformed chemical enslavement is hardly free trade. A military expert would surely have noticed the references to “chemical drugs” on the armistice papers and Treaty of Versailles, no? As for rivals, our only rivals are looters, and we’re not joining them.

  30. Trump voters support one of the oldest ideas of European civilization:

    A Nation should be run for the good of all its citizens.

    Does our trade policies benefit all Americans? No. It is criminal to carry the balance of trade deficit we are carrying.

    Does our immigration policies benefit all Americans? No. Labor economist George Borjas of the Kennedy School of Government has provided plenty of empirical studies that show our immigration policies hurt workers.

    [And when did having the government intervene in the labor market to artificially increase the supply of workers become some radical “anti-statist” viewpoint?]

  31. Here’s hoping they get it… good and hard!

    1. Trump’s economic views on trade and immigration were standard fare for the Republican party from 1882 through the Depression. (There was trade liberalization in the 1920’s, but remember List’s caveat on when free trade makes sense for a nation.) I think people need to understand the difference between the American Old Right and the Koch’d-out modern libertarian.

  32. Trump supporters realize that there is a corrupt, ineffective One Party system in the USA and both sides of that One Party system continuously fail to deliver anything as promised. The debt continues to rise, the border is still unprotected, Islamism is rampant, and their standard of living continues to fall.

    They have NO faith in the establishment, both the Government and the Media. Trump represents a collective middle finger, FUCK YOU!

    Trump supporters are hopeful that Trump will shake up the establishment and might actually get things done. Considering the alternatives, Trump actually looks quite appealing.

    1. Please read a history of Germany between WWI and WWII. Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.

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  39. I’m still hoping Drumpf turns out to be another Nixon-subsidized Ross Perot/John Anderson puff of reflective chaff to keep voter radar from registering an image of the LP, then quitting just before elections. Clearly this is getting harder as the internet replaces Ministry of Truth telescreens and the LP celebrates, what? its 45th birthday?
    Now… here’s my plan: tell the abandoned voters to listen to everything the GOP and Dem candidates say about each other and remember that when they see the LIB option. Let them understand that it stands for Love Independent Booboisie (which is hardly stretching the truth)

  40. “The Democratic Party may soon be facing a turn toward full-blown democratic socialism rather than liberalism.”

    It sure has a long way to go, unless you consider the economic policies of the 1950s and ’60s to be “democratic socialism” As Sanders has pointed out, his proposed tax rates for the wealthy aren’t nearly as “socialistic” as those under the Eisenhower Administration.

  41. RE: What Trump Supporters Want

    Don’t forget what they want the most:
    A clueless, spoiled rich kid who thinks he’s entitled to White House occupancy for four years.

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