Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Sunday, May 20, 2018

They support activist government. They’re not socially conservative. They resent big money in politics. And if you administered a truth serum, they would probably say nice things about Obamacare.

These are blue-collar supporters of Donald Trump. Democrats would do well to ask themselves, “Why aren’t some of them ours?”

I say “some” because a good chunk of Trump’s fans consider the combo platter of liberal social policies incomplete without a side dish of racist ranting. Others are simply so hungry for tough talk that they’ll avert their eyes from the nastiness on the plate.

Hillary Clinton talks tough, too, minus the detritus of Trump’s recycled fascism. Those who revere Trump for his theatricality will probably stay with Trump. But it shouldn’t be impossible for Clinton to pick off some supporters of the man who’s on record praising both her and single-payer health care.

Democrats routinely hold up polls showing that the American public favors their agenda. Yet time and again, politicians opposed to what the voters want win the elections. Here’s Trump appropriating some of their agenda while tacking on populist lunacy — and look how well he’s doing.

Here’s an explanation: People badly want respect, and liberal “leaders” tend not to be good at making ordinary folks feel respected — or even noticed. They come to the debate armed with logic, facts and historical analogies. But Republicans go for the gut. To do that, one has to understand what’s in the gut. Trump the salesman has an excellent endoscope.

When Democrats find a candidate who can connect emotionally, then bingo. That was Bill Clinton’s magic potion. Clinton was a magnet for controversy — political and personal — yet he left office with higher approval ratings than did Ronald Reagan.

Many liberals err in attributing too much of President Obama’s alleged low likability among working-class whites to racism. That’s too simple. How to account for Ben Carson’s strong support among many of these same groups of voters?

Obama is an educated intellectual, prone to cold reasoning and recognition of facts. I happen to like him for that, but that’s me. The political reality is that many voters want to imagine the president as their pal.

A rancher from central Nebraska once complained to me that Obama is an elitist who thinks he’s better than everyone else. The rancher was a savvy, well-informed guy. I asked him why he cared that Obama has a high self-opinion. An answer was not forthcoming.

Does a black elitist intellectual seem more grating to some white guys than a white elitist intellectual? Perhaps, but raw racism was not powering the rancher’s feelings.

This time around, Republican establishment candidates seem to have lost the playbook. They’ve been showering almost all their love and attention on the big-money people. That’s an especially bad move at a time when many blue-collar Republicans feel economically beaten up by these same donors. The party leaders seem to assume that working-class voters, however angry with them, will fall into line after watching their 4,603rd campaign ad.

Dear liberal politicians, think tankers and media personalities: You need to rewire your analytical brains for chats with the heart. You need to say “howdy, neighbor” more than you do and to openly express your love of country. And do trade in your “critiques” for sentences starting with “I feel that…”

When Bill Clinton said “I feel your pain,” he meant it — or at least convinced the public that he meant it. It would be hard to match the master for such skill, but Hillary Clinton should have excellent coaching. If she does that, many Trump supporters could be within her reach.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at COPYRIGHT 2015 CREATORS.COM

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump takes the stage at a campaign rally in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire December 1, 2015. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

10 Responses to Democrats Could Pick Off Some Trump Supporters

  1. Trump could pick up some Hillary supporters and he already has. He may end up with 25% of the Black vote. Seems Obama hasn’t helped their cause very well.

    • Joe, if you think Trump OR ANY GOP is going to win 25% of the black vote, I have a bridge I want to sell you in New York…

      • Joe doesn’t get out from under his rock too much but apparently someone let him crawl out from under it today and now as usual his ignorance starts spilling out like oil from Exxon Valdez.

  2. We may pick up some Independent and moderate Republican votes, but that’s about it. The real question is, will Trump pick up Democratic votes? The mass hysteria, fears, prejudice, immaturity, irresponsibility, and narcissism that characterize Trump’s message and his persona is not limited to the fringes of the Republican party.

  3. Well Trump has already pi$$ed off the Mexicans, Jews, Women, Muslims, Immigrants, etc., who next, left-handers and people with glasses?

    And the trolls of the GOP think this is the way to pick up voters?

  4. The article is right, voters don’t want facts, they want to feel good. The fact that they are more likely in the US to be killed by a vending machine falling on them then a Jihadist shooting them is lost on them. The media is selling fear and a smart person would figure that out, Trump has. People buy for there wants not for their needs. Trump is promising them what the want and even though he can’t give it to them if they elect him they are buying into it. Every day I present facts to people and am told that I’m wrong. They would believes lies before the truth as long as it makes them feel good. I hope Trump goes down in flames but a smart person would figure out how he got to where he is and learn from it.

  5. Just like Reagan Democrats, the LEFT pushed to hard, too fast, Americans didn’t want Obama’s transformation, & now see much more clearly their Socialism.

Leave a reply