News US Election 2016

Sunday 22 April 2018

Standing by their man - the devotees of Donald

Trump supporters seem willing to overlook any flaws as they put blind faith in their man

Commitment: Supporters at a Trump rally in Florida State Fairgrounds yesterday Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty
Commitment: Supporters at a Trump rally in Florida State Fairgrounds yesterday Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Shona Murray

'I'm pretty sure every man who's straight has grabbed a woman by the pussy before," says 28-year-old Justin at the Trump-Pence health policy meeting in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania on Tuesday.

Justin is far from alone among Trump supporters who've long since made a pact with themselves that the greater good for America is an unhinged demagogue with a truly hideous record, rather than another term with democrats in the White House.

"When you're a billionaire, obviously you're going to have more opportunities with the opposite sex. I don't know what the problem is.

"Also, he said they 'let you do it' - and 'let' implies consent," adds Justin.

Montgomery County, and the attendees at this event are not the disenfranchised, lower-middle class, worker down on their luck.

There's 27-year-old Julie, a mother of two, who says Donald Trump speaks to her both as an American and "as a woman".

"I don't approve of it, I don't condone it and I don't appreciate it, but it has no bearing on how I'm going to vote in this election," she says of the litany of contemptuous issues that have defined Donald Trump's character over the past several months.

"I don't want another Democrat in the White House," she says, adding that Hillary Clinton is "just awful".

Heavily orchestrated, the local GOP manages to find around a 65:35, male-female gender presence at this event - and not one woman says she is concerned about Donald Trump's behaviour.

There's 65-year-old Julie Gage from Florida, who admits she's read "a lot of stuff that's not good" in the press about Trump's sexual and racially-infused attacks against several women; as well as the claims from others that he sexually violated others. Julie remains convinced, however, that it's all a "conspiracy" engineered by the press and by Clinton to "try to not make him our president".

"Oh yeah," she says. "I think it's a conspiracy, a lot of us do."

There appears to be very little that can hurt Donald Trump in the eyes of some voters, regardless of how profane, offensive or destructive his behaviour.

His diatribe against the parents of slain US soldier Capt Humayun Khan who died when he put himself in the way of a car bomb having told his subordinates to stay back, should have dissuaded, in their droves many millions of flag-waving so-called patriots whose political constituency is based on absolute devotion and sacrifice for their country and ethnicity as Americans.

"Those things were early on, and people are thinking - how important are these issues in the grand scheme of things," says Rob Gleason, chairman of the GOP in Pennsylvania. He sees it as a global phenomenon. "This is a movement - it started in the UK with Brexit."

As of yesterday, Clinton has regained a very slight edge nationally, but it's by no means a lock. She's banking on several of things to happen on election day to prevent Trump taking the critical, battleground states.

In these places, signs are worrying for her, such as anaemic early voting within the African American community in North Carolina - a key constituency for her in this battleground state that offers 15 of the 270 electoral college votes needed to become president. "The great fault line is education," says Dr Michael Bitzer, professor of political science at Catawba College in North Carolina, of the type of voters who are supporting Trump. Most pollsters say Clinton's likely electoral college votes add to 224, while Trump has 164, with 150 up for toss in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Although Pennsylvania is almost an entirely blue state, having not voted Republican since 1988, its demographic is such that it is more likely to respond favourably to the populist lower middle class rhetoric and approach that Trump is taking. "Every four years GOP thinks they have a shot at Pennsylvania but it's nearly always a fool's run but the dynamics these days may be determining something different," says Bitzer.

Almost regardless of the outcome, the issue is less about what happens on November 8, but on November 9 and the willingness of the losing side to listen with civility and respect to what the people have said by conceding the race.

Sunday Independent

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