A year after his historic election, almost all the people who voted for President Trump say they would do so again, and it’s driving the mainstream media crazy.
Politico was the latest to try to uncouple the president from a few of his supporters. or at least attempt to explain why they stick with the president. Michael Kruse, a reporter there, returned to Johnstown, Pa., a depressed community toward the western end of the state, to talk to people he had met the year before covering the campaign.
How did they feel about Trump now? Had he kept his promises? Would they still support him? And how long would they have to wait for real change?
“Six months to a year,” one man had told Kruse.
“A couple of months,” a nurse had said.
“He’s just going to follow through with what he said he was going to do,” said another woman.
Trump promised to restore the coal industry, and unemployment has come down in Johnstown and mining activity has ticked upward, Kruse admitted. Not every boat has been lifted yet by the higher tide, though.
“Johnstown and the surrounding region are struggling in the same ways and for the same reasons,” he wrote. “The drug problem is just as bad.”
He does not mention that President Trump has begun to address the opioid problem – which he mentioned constantly on the campaign trail – by declaring it a national emergency and forming a commission to deal with it. Nor that Johnstown’s struggles date back decades and have to do with now deep-seated economic problems multiple administrations have failed to address.
Somehow, despite the president’s “30-something percent” support, his supporters remain locked in. They “resolutely approve of the job he is doing,” Kruse noted. They agree the Russia investigation is a “witch-hunt” that “has nothing to do with him.”
He’s doing things they like – not just reopening the mines but appointing good judges, declaring war on political correctness and gutting regulations across the board. But somehow what Kruse “wasn’t prepared for was how readily these same people had abandoned the contract he had made with them. Their satisfaction with Trump now seems untethered to the things they once said mattered to them most.”
Kruse said the basis of the support had “morphed,” that “Johnstown voters do not intend to hold the president accountable for the nonnegotiable pledges he made to them. It’s not that the people who made Trump president have generously moved the goalposts for him. It’s that they have eliminated the goalposts altogether.”
It’s more like Kruse and the mainstream media have moved their goalposts. He ticks through a series of mines that have opened, as Trump promised. He points out the unemployment rate has fallen, and local manufacturing businesses are expecting a boom within the next year. One man he talks to says if he could “find 150 people, I’d put them to work right now.” He needs machinists, welders, etc., but those who are qualified moved away, and older miners are reluctant to learn new trades.
But then he notes that “even with potentially several hundred new jobs, the long-term outlook for coal is grim.”
Finally, Kruse decides the public is just not smart enough to keep up with the notion that Trump is failing badly as president. He goes through a litany of supposed broken promises with one woman trying to get her to admit the president isn’t working out. The woman told him there wasn’t that much the president could do to help Johnstown and surrounding Cambria County.
He talks to a union official who voted for Clinton, thinks his heart is broken because she lost but has been hearing nothing around town but “a remarkable, undeniable, ongoing vehemence of support.”
Kruse says they blame shifting is working. People don’t mind the “intemperate tweets” nor the specter of scandal, “which they dismiss as trifling nonsense.” They feel safer under Trump than under Obama.
“Trump is their megaphone,” he says. “He is the scriptwriter. He is a singularly effective, intuitive creator of a limitless loop of grievance and discontent that keeps them in absolute lockstep.”