How should we liberals perceive them: Who are the people who voted last night for Candidate Donald J. Trump?
Presumably, most of these people are New Hampshire residents. Beyond that, we'd be slow to offer a generalization, not even a demonization!
Slightly more than 100,000 people voted yesterday for Candidate Trump. Across the nation, millions more are waiting to follow suit.
For ourselves, we'd be slow to offer a generalization about that many voters. That said, this morning's New York Times offers some information about yesterday's legion for Trump.
The report was written by John Broder (no relation). After sifting yesterday's exit polls, the Timesman started like this:
"Two-thirds of New Hampshire Republican primary voters agree with Donald J. Trump’s proposal to temporarily bar Muslims from entering the United States. And they overwhelmingly express fear of another terrorist attack."
For reasons we'll flesh out by the end of the week, we compliment Broder for inserting the word "temporarily" into his description of Trump's proposal. That said, two-thirds of yesterday's Trump voters agree with the proposal in question, which the candidate first adumbrated on December 7 in some sort of written statement which fell short of being a formal tweet.
You're right! Like many of Candidate Trump's "proposals," this proposal isn't exactly a real proposal. In part because he quickly began to calibrate, sand and refine his proposal, it isn't enormously clear what Candidate Trump has proposed, to the extent that he has proposed anything at all in this area.
Meanwhile, the broadcasters who fight for the right to pretend to interview Trump have never tried to nail him down on this proposal's content. Doing so might anger Trump! That could be bad for a TV star's ratings, thus for his millionaire salary.
That said, two-thirds of yesterday's Trump voters support the proposal for that temporary ban. Doesn't that make it fairly obvious that we can deploy our favorite bombs as we describe these people?
Can't we drop our N-bombs and X-bombs, along with our I-, R- and B-bombs? Isn't it clear that these people are haters? Doesn't that justify H-bombs?
For ourselves, we'd advise a bit of caution. After all, if two-thirds agree with Trump's proposal, that means that one-third of his voters said they don't.
We know that most of those vermin are lying. Still, that's at least what they said.
(For the record, Vermin Supreme finished fourth yesterday on the Democratic side, attracting at least 251 votes. With admiration, we recall his platform from New Hampshire 2000: "It's too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter." Vermin Supreme is completely authentic. You always know where he stands!)
Back to yesterday's Trump voters, and the question of how to describe them:
Candidate Trump advanced his immigration "proposal" on Monday, December 7, in the aftermath of the shootings in San Bernardino. That Thursday, he journeyed to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where he received the endorsement of the New England Police Benevolent Association.
Outside the event, a small number of Trump supporters stood opposite a somewhat larger group of anti-Trump demonstrators. On the Rachel Maddow Show, two members of each group spoke on videotape.
For MSNBC viewers, this represented a very rare chance to see Trump voters explaining themselves. First, though, let's review what the anti-Trump people said.
The interviewer seems to have have been Katy Tur. At any rate, this is what the first Trump opponent said:
REPORTER (12/10/15): What brings you out here today?To us, this person seemed completely sincere. She wanted to be with others "who stand for caring and love," as she apparently does. She said Trump's proposal was "very bigoted and racist." It was "stirring up hatred and anger."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm here just to, just to—in solidarity with others who are very concerned about Donald Trump's very racist and bigoted remarks about Muslims and about trying to deal with the problems of terrorism by banning everybody who has a certain religious belief. I think that's un-American. It's unconstitutional. And it's stirring up hatred and anger. And it's all about just trying to attract attention, but to the detriment of all of us really, and our safety.
REPORTER: Why is it important to get out here and be on the street with a sign and be visible rather than—
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess I just feel that I need to be with people who stand for caring and love and the values that I believe in. And I want to—I don't want to be alone sitting in front of a TV watching this. I want to be part of a movement that's standing up and saying we need to do something to speak the truth about what America is really about.
It's not about hatred. It's not an American value.
This person made no attempt to characterize Trump voters. Her characterizations were restricted to Trump alone.
The same was true of the second anti-Trump demonstrator that night. As presented on videotape, this is what she said:
REPORTER: What brings you out here today?To our ear, this person was a bit more acerbic. That said, she too said nothing about Trump voters. She ascribed hatred to Trump, said nothing about the people who support him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tired of listening to Donald Trump spout off hatred, anger, fear-mongering on people, ruining America. I just can't stand listening to it anymore.
My Muslim friends, my African-American friends, my Hispanic friends, it's exhausting. It's not OK. It wasn't that long ago that the Irish people were pariahs? Who's next?
My family's been in this town since the 1600s. If anyone should go, it should be him, not us. He needs to leave. If anything, he's not welcome in my town.
Within days, that would change. A string of columns in major newspapers described Trump voters in every possible negative way.
In a headline on a New York Times column, they literally seemed to be "Goose Steppers." (According to Timothy Egan, "35 percent of Republican voters...say they’re all in with the man sieg heiled by aspiring brownshirts and men in white sheets.")
Paul Krugman described them as "a bloc of xenophobic and/or racist voters who have been there all along." Krugman also described them as "monsters."
Gene Robinson noted the fact that the sitting president is black. He said this "adds insult to injury" for Trump voters: "For Trump's supporters, it is hard to imagine a more perfect target for fear and loathing."
The people interviewed by Tur had savaged Candidate Trump. At least as excerpted on the air, they'd said nothing about Trump voters.
Liberal journalists were less dainty, and this doesn't even count what was being said at sites like the new Salon. This helps explain why experts and scholars are now describing last year, 2015, as a "year of liberal loathing."
Could those scholars be right? Tomorrow, we'll look at what that pair of Trump voters said for themselves when they spoke that night, apparently with Tur.
Trump voters are very rarely interviewed on MSNBC. More often, our cable hosts sit around saying that they can't imagine what goes on in such voters' heads.
This allows us the liberals to imagine such things for ourselves. Sometimes, the things we imagine can get pretty rough.
In each case, we were struck by what that pair of Trump voters said that night. Scholars are describing 2015 as a year of liberal dumbing-down and as a year of liberal script. They even refer to "liberal loathing" when they describe this past year.
Could these experts be right in some sense? As we finish work on our new pavilion and transition to a new set of concerns, we'll explore that question in the next two days.
We think the question is important. But then, "you may say [we're] a dreamer," much as John Lennon once said.
Tomorrow: What the Trump voters said