What’s it going to take to get Donald Trump’s supporters to see the light? It’s a question on the minds of not only liberals but anyone who still cherishes our democracy, and it grows more intense as evidence piles up of corruption and even suspicions of criminality in the Trump administration. Indeed, waiting and watching for signs of buyer’s remorse in Trump supporters has become a minor cottage industry within the mainstream media, with reporters and TV anchors displaying an almost pornographic interest in watching the mental hoops that Trump voters will go through in order to stand by their man.
“Trump voters want jobs. Not noise about Russia,” reads a headline from CNN from May 16. A June 7 headline at Vox notes that Trump voters are “disappointed” but are “still voting Republican.” After the James Comey hearing, CNN held an on-air focus group of Trump voters and correspondent Gary Tuckman could barely contain his surprise at how they had not budged one bit from believing Trump was a good guy.
When will these people see? Those of us who are not in the cult of Trump keep tuning in to find out. How many times does he have to admit to obstructing justice in public? How many angry, incoherent tweets about the investigation before his guilty-acting behavior gets to them? How long do we have to wait for Trump’s biggest fans to call their friends and apologize for their votes?
Well, folks are going to have to keep on waiting, because the answer to the question of when Trump voters will come around is somewhere between “a long, long time from now” and — more likely — “never.” Don’t be fooled by news stories where journalists dig up the occasional person willing to say they were wrong to vote for Trump — those people are the exceptions, not the rule. Don’t be fooled by polls that show his approval ratings slipping; he’s only losing people who didn’t like him that much to begin with. Meanwhile, that quarter-to-a-third of Americans who love him now will likely stay with him to the bitter end.
And those who do change their minds about Trump? Most will never admit it, but will move seamlessly into pretending they were never that into him in the first place.
“We are really uncomfortable when a decision we’ve made, or an action we’ve taken, or a belief we’ve come to is contradicted by evidence that we’re wrong,” explained psychologist Carol Tavris during a recent Skype interview.