Trump’s GOP con­ven­tion should make the left worry

Chicago Sun-Times - - OPINION - S.E. CUPP @se­cupp S.E. Cupp is the host of “S.E. Cupp Un­fil­tered” on CNN.

Will we ever learn?

In the wake of 2016, many on the left, in the me­dia and cer­tainly on blue-check Twit­ter were caught off-guard by Don­ald Trump’s un­fath­omable win. I count my­self among the sur­prised.

Over the past four years, how­ever, we’ve seen over and over again that Trump’s ap­peal wasn’t merely the re­sult of a fluke or an ir­rel­e­vant pro­ce­dural mishap.

It was real. Sup­ported by real peo­ple. For real rea­sons.

These peo­ple sup­port Trump de­spite what I may think are un­for­giv­able and dis­qual­i­fy­ing trans­gres­sions. As he grew more em­bold­ened, so too did his cor­rup­tion and abuses of power. His stok­ing of racial ten­sions pit­ted Amer­i­cans against each other. His war on the press and free speech made us less free. His af­fec­tion for dic­ta­tors made us less safe. And his in­com­pe­tence and de­nials about COVID-19 has cost lives.

It’s easy to as­sume these are clear and un­de­ni­able fail­ures, that any­one who dis­agrees is a quack, a racist or liv­ing in an al­ter­nate re­al­ity.

Any­one who made that as­sump­tion may have been sur­prised, there­fore, to see so many peo­ple of vary­ing back­grounds tell com­pelling sto­ries of why they still sup­port the pres­i­dent at the first two nights of the Repub­li­can Na­tional Con­ven­tion. I was not.

Among them, ev­ery­day work­ers like Maine lob­ster­man Ja­son Joyce; Min­nesota dairy farmer Cris Peterson; and Wis­con­sin’s John Peterson, owner of Schuette Metals.

There were women, in­clud­ing pro-life ac­tivist Abby John­son, An­gel Mom Mary Ann Men­doza, and Florida’s first fe­male His­panic Lt. Gov., Jeanette Nunez.

There were Democrats, in­clud­ing Ge­or­gia state Rep. Ver­non Jones and the mayor of Eveleth, a min­ing town in Min­nesota, who blasted for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den in a scathing re­buke of his trade poli­cies.

And there were peo­ple of color, in­clud­ing Kim Klacik, a Repub­li­can con­gres­sional can­di­date from Bal­ti­more, and the Black Repub­li­can at­tor­ney gen­eral of Ken­tucky, Daniel Cameron, who also swung hard at Bi­den for his past poli­cies and re­cent com­ments on race.

No, these peo­ple don’t rep­re­sent all work­ing-class vot­ers, all women, or all peo­ple of color, ob­vi­ously. But they are real, and they do rep­re­sent real vot­ers, many of whom be­lieve their val­ues are un­der at­tack, that Democrats are push­ing a so­cial­ist agenda, that politi­cians and govern­ment have made their lives worse.

While many on the left and in the me­dia have hyped how crazy the RNC would be — and sure, there’s been plenty of crazy — but there’s been plenty of com­pelling, ef­fec­tive and, for lack of a bet­ter word, “nor­mal” too.

While we’ve been shud­der­ing at the in­fil­tra­tion of the GOP by quacks and con­spir­acy the­o­rists like QAnon, mil­lions of sane and ra­tio­nal vot­ers are there, too — peo­ple and pre­scrip­tions I may not agree with, but whose per­spec­tives are hardly fringe.

While we’ve been cor­rectly cat­a­loging ev­ery one of Trump’s colos­sal fail­ures, his naked cor­rup­tion, his rank abuse of power, plenty of or­di­nary peo­ple still be­lieve that he’s bet­ter than the al­ter­na­tive.

And while we’ve been ham­mer­ing away at Trump’s ob­vi­ous racism and fo­ment­ing of white su­prem­a­cist rage to gin up his base, we may for­get that some of his vot­ers re­ally do just care about the fate of their small busi­nesses, the bur­den of un­fair trade deals on their man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try, the rav­ages of an opi­oid cri­sis in their com­mu­nity.

The first half of the RNC has been, in many ways, a to­tal white­wash­ing of Trump’s first term, dis­hon­estly ig­nor­ing the many demon­stra­ble fail­ures of his ad­min­is­tra­tion. But it has also been an im­por­tant re­minder that as much as Trump props him­self up with base­less boasts and an ar­ti­fi­cial ed­i­fice of suc­cess, there are real peo­ple sup­port­ing him for real rea­sons. And if 2020 is any­thing like 2016, they may be un­der­counted and un­der­re­ported.

Ev­ery time a new poll of Trump’s ap­proval comes out, the “re­sis­tance” earnestly asks, who are the peo­ple who could ac­tu­ally ap­prove of this?

Maybe enough to keep him in of­fice, it turns out. As some­one who wants Trump gone, that wor­ries me, and it should worry the left.


Ken­tucky At­tor­ney Gen­eral Daniel Cameron (top) and pro-life ac­tivist Abby John­son speak at the Repub­li­can Na­tional Con­ven­tion.

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