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President Trump is slumping in the national polls, but evidently he’s still playing in Peoria—Oklahoma.

trump racism

In Trump Country, Shock at Trump Budget Cuts, but Still Loyalty,” read the headline on a recent Nicholas Kristoff musing in the New York Times.

The columnist had huddled with Trump voters in the Sooner State. “Democrats gleeful at the prospect of winning penitent voters back should take a deep breath,” he warned. “These voters may be irritated, but I was struck by how loyal they remain to Trump.”

He queried several of them about the negative impact of Trump’s proposed budget cuts on them. He found that “none regretted their votes in November. They said they might vote for Trump for reelection.”

I’d bet the farm Kristoff would hear the same thing from Trump loyalists in the rest of flyover America, including Kentucky, where I’ve lived all my 67 years.

The Bluegrass State, like Oklahoma, is mostly rural, mostly white, and mostly Bible Belt conservative. Both are among the reddest of the Republican Red states.

Trump polled 65.3 percent of Oklahoma’s vote and won every county. The president claimed 62.5 percent of Bluegrass State ballots and carried all but two counties, urban Jefferson (Louisville) and Fayette (Lexington).

Conservative Christians can be remarkably forgiving souls when their favorite office-seekers stray from the straight and narrow on other “family values, notably staying married and monogamous.

White fundamentalists insist that their candidates toe the mark on social issues like the Three Gs + the A: God, guns, gays and abortion. Yet conservative Christians can be remarkably forgiving souls when their favorite office-seekers stray from the straight and narrow on other “family values, notably staying married and monogamous.

Their man Trump is on his third spouse. Death did not part him from his first two helpmeets. Divorce did; he cheated on wife one, at the very least.

He also has been known to talk dirty about womenfolk.

“Even though Donald Trump has some rough edges, there’s something inside of him that desires the counsel of Christian men and women, and I don’t know one Christian on Hillary Clinton’s team,” bloviated Franklin Graham, a Christian of the Jesus-loves-me-but-He-can’t-stand-you-persuasion and son of the famous millionaire evangelist Billy Graham.

Clinton is a Methodist; Sen. Tim Kaine, her running mate, is a Catholic.

Trump’s not the only Republican president whom white Christian conservatives forgave for fornicating. Nancy Reagan was pregnant when she and Ron wed.

Anyway, more than a few liberals seem to think that Trump’s America—the America where few of liberals live live—is, to use an old Baptist term, “a fertile mission field” for politics of our persuasion.

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The problem on November 8 was the messenger, not the message, they insist. Some swear socialist Sanders would have topped plutocrat Trump in places like Oklahoma’s Peoria and—westernmost Kentucky, my end of the state.

Clinton, they argue, was tone deaf to white heartland voters who flocked to the union-busting, outsourcing, big-city Trump. “A lot of people seem to have fallen upon a common, incredibly stupid narrative, which is that Donald Trump won because the rest of us were too gosh darn unfair to the citizens of middle America,” Drew Magary wrote in GQ shortly before inauguration day.

“We don’t get it, you see. We don’t realize the suffering a lot of people have been going through. East Coast ELITES like me were too busy antagonizing Trump voters and branding them as racist troglodytes to properly connect with the heartland.”

Magary said he grew up in “Middle America.” He said that “most people in these regions of our country are very nice people” who aren’t “all racist.” He conceded that Democrats have “done a shit job offering them things of value.”

Yet all that “doesn’t, and shouldn’t, explain nor excuse what just happened. You will pardon me if I still resent a great many Trump voters for willfully taking democracy and flushing it down the toilet, thinking their concerns have been ignored when a great many other people—minorities of all kind, gay people, the majority of American women—can make a far more convincing case for it."

“The racism and misogyny we all saw during the campaign wasn’t some fluke. It was real, and it needed to be condemned. It shouldn't be explained away by socio-economic circumstances that NO other demographic group is ever allowed to use as a crutch. Excusing intolerance does nothing to erase it.”

Magary poured it on:

“…. I think a lot of these supposedly poor, misunderstood souls in the hinterlands knew damn well that Donald Trump wasn’t gonna bring their jobs back. They just didn’t like the fact that OTHER people are now prospering. Their Trump vote was an act of aggression, a stamp of tacit approval for his campaign of hatred.

“…. I’ve had enough of being told that Middle America is being portrayed unfairly when, time after time, red state voters have embraced a party that FEEDS on demonization, bigotry, and paranoid obstructionism. After a certain point—like, NOW—the excuses ring hollow.”

He said the heartland hasn’t cornered the market on hard times. Besides, he wrote, “the median income of Trump voters was HIGHER than the national average.”

The scribe reloaded and fired again:

“There are a lot of people living in cities and elsewhere who have it just as rough, if not worse. And guess what? No one seems to give a shit. In fact, the GOP just orchestrated a whole campaign to disenfranchise a lot these voters, so you’ll pardon me if I save my empathy for the people who are actually screwed now, instead of the voters who did the screwing.”

Magary preferred “not waste my time trying to psychoanalyze why so many people were captivated by a political message rooted in pure hate. There’s no time for that.”

He’s ready to fight. “I’d rather be part of an aggressive movement to overturn shitty voting laws, impeach Trump, abolish the electoral college, put Mitch McConnell behind bars, thin out the wingnut portion of the Federal judiciary, and lessen the influence of voters who have a disproportionate amount of it. Because I can reach out and offer all the compassion in the world to Trump voters. But a great many of them just proved that they don’t give a shit about the rest of us either way.”

Berry Craig

Berry Craig