A year ago, in the wake of President Donald Trump’s stunning election win, you couldn’t swing a dead cat in the Rust Belt without hitting a Trump supporter who understood the president-elect’s flaws, but insisted on giving him a chance to follow through on his campaign promises. Over the next 365 days, reporters visited and re-visited so-called Trump country — even as support for him dwindled in those areas — searching for the reasons why people continued to pledge their support for making America great again.
A new Politico Magazine profile of die-hard Trump supporters in Johnstown, Pa — the heart of Trump country — suggests that Trump’s most fervent fans haven’t swayed in their support, even as the president continues to break (or forget) his promises. Here’s one Johnstown, Pennsylvania, native, telling a Politico reporter why he liked Trump.
“Everybody I talk to,” he said, “realizes it’s not Trump who’s dragging his feet. Trump’s probably the most diligent, hardest-working president we’ve ever had in our lifetimes. It’s not like he sleeps in till noon and goes golfing every weekend, like the last president did.”
I stopped him, informing him that, yes, Barack Obama liked to golf, but Trump in fact does golf a lot, too—more, in fact.
Del Signore was surprised to hear this.
“Does he?” he said.
“Yes,” I said.
He did not linger on this topic, smiling and changing the subject with a quip. “If I was married to his wife,” Del Signore said, “I don’t think I’d go anywhere.”
This is the Trump supporter in a nutshell: When confronted with facts, the topic changed. The sources they use to get their information on a daily basis are suspect: Friends, family and Fox News. The latter is, well, Fox News, but the former are the people who were absolutely certain that Obama was the antichrist.
In short, the Trump die-hards are not sound on policy or history — recent or otherwise. It wouldn’t be fair to say that they’re unfairly ridiculed, because they constantly wave their ignorance around like it’s a flag.
The modern Trump supporter is living in a state of downplayed disappointment — like a child taking a bite of black licorice thinking it was chocolate, feeling regret, then accepting the candy anyway. In a year, despite the president’s Twitter gloats, things aren’t really getting better in their town. They have essentially been forgotten about. But instead of screaming in anger, they’ve taken to rooting on the sidelines and overlooking the small slights that hint that Trump doesn’t care about them whatsoever.
Let’s head south for a brief detour, where, in Florida, an MSNBC correspondent revisited the Jacksonville-area town of Mayport. One woman said that she voted for Trump and was pleased with her choice. She was asked how things had improved since his election.
“A lot of more patriotism and everything like that,” she said.
Just like today, one year ago the conventional wisdom was that Trump was political