The Real Deplorables


We must not judge all Donald Trump supporters by the actions of his most obnoxious social media cheerleaders

With polls showing that Donald Trump would be cruising to likely victory in November’s presidential election if only men (with whom Trump leads in the polls) were allowed to cast a vote, a depressing new hashtag – #Repealthe19 – has started trending on Twitter, advocating for the repeal of the Nineteenth Amendment granting women’s suffrage.

Deplorable? Of course. But it is also likely the handiwork of a few bored Trump-supporting trolls, and hardly representative of the millions of women and men who choose to support Donald Trump’s candidacy. Yet this will not stop commentators on the Left, politically and emotionally invested in a Hillary Clinton victory, from portraying this juvenile and offensive stunt as being part of a broader Trumpist attack on women, and extrapolating the actions of a few immature idiots to smear the character and motivations of other, innocent Americans.

As it applies to Donald Trump’s own personal behaviour, such criticism is entirely justified – by bragging that his celebrity entitles him to “grab [women] by the pussy” Trump has further highlighted an especially unsavoury aspect of his character which we should all have already been aware, and not soon forget. But while criticism of the man himself is entirely valid and even essential, we must be careful to avoid falling into the comforting trap of assuming that the many people who support Donald Trump share the same retrograde views of the candidate and/or his troll army.

In the ongoing aftermath of Hillary Clinton’s recorded comments stating that “you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables“, journalist Michael Tracey warns political pundits against making the mistake of tarring all Trump supporters with the same brush.

Writing in The American Conservative, Tracey warns:

To broaden their horizons, such pundits might consider visiting some places in so-called “swing states” where Trump support is widespread, rather than just bloviating from behind their computer screens. Traversing these areas, one can’t help but bristle at Hillary’s “deplorables” theory as not only politically counterproductive, but seriously foul. She—like the pundits promoting her—has gotten the analysis totally inverted.

The real “deplorables” generally aren’t the people whom Hillary denounced as wholly “irredeemable,” or at whom economically secure commentators fulminate on a regular basis. More obviously “deplorable” are Hillary’s fellow financial, political, economic, and military elites who wrecked the economy, got us mired in endless unwinnable foreign wars, and erected a virtually impenetrable cultural barrier between everyday Americans trying to live fruitful lives and their pretentious, well-heeled superiors ensconced in select coastal enclaves. It is thanks to the actions ofthis “basket of deplorables” that we’re in the situation we’re in, where an oaf like Trump is perilously close to seizing the presidency.

At a recent Trump rally in Lancaster County, Pa., I was bemused to encounter a coterie of local Amish people who’d traveled there together by bus. Asked why they backed Trump, the overwhelming response was that Amish folks just wanted to preserve their traditional way of life (which they saw as under siege) and perceived Trump as enabling them to carry on with it. Some told me they supported Trump not because of some overweening disdain for their nation’s fellowmen, or immigrants, or even coastal liberals, but because they felt that the federal government was intruding on their ability to properly run their small farms.


This also holds true in Lewiston, Maine, where Trump is favored to win the 2nd Congressional District and therefore at least one (potentially crucial) electoral vote. (Maine and Nebraska allocate their electoral votes by congressional district.) Lots of Franco-Americans populate this area, and many old-timers still speak French with a distinctive Central Mainer dialect. (Often it comes out when folks get inebriated at the bars in town.) When I visited recently, everyone basically had the same story: mills use to be the lifeblood of the local economy and by extension its civic institutions. Once the mills inexplicably shuttered, these workers lost their sense of location and community. Social-club memberships dwindled; parades and marches down the main thoroughfare became less of an attraction. There’s just not a hell of a lot going on nowadays, except Patriots games on TV, drinking, and drugs. Anybody with the means usually either bolts for relatively more prosperous Bangor to the north, or south to Boston and beyond.

Are the people who live in Lewiston really “deplorables”? Most of them like Trump, but they’re not the ones who crashed the economy or agitated to invade Iraq, as Hillary did.

Again: perhaps the true deplorables are the unaccountable elites whose decisions directly worsened life for millions of Americans. Oddly, you never hear Hillary running around to high-roller fundraisers condemning Goldman Sachs for their deplorable conduct; maybe that’s because they’ve directly given her and Bill hundreds of thousands of dollars for “speeches,” excerpts of which finally came out last Friday and are just as degenerate as you’d expect. (Goldman banned partners from giving money to Trump’s campaign, but handing over cash to Hillary is still perfectly fine.)

Tracey concludes:

Maybe the Amish of southeast Pennsylvania or the Franco-Americans of central Maine don’t use the correct Twitter hashtags or subscribe to Lena Dunham’s newsletter, but they’re still good people with normal ambitions for a happy, secure life. Screeching “deplorable!” at them is itself deplorable, especially because it lets the elites who bungled the country’s affairs off the hook.

This is my assessment too. There is a world of difference between some of Donald Trump’s most prolific (and obnoxious) social media supporters and the quiet men and women of middle America who see him as preferable to a President Hillary Clinton. You can argue (as this blog does) that these people are wrong, and that they are attaching their hopes and dreams to the wrong champion in supporting an egotistical authoritarian like Donald Trump. But they in no way, shape or form can they be described as “deplorable”.

Many of these people work hard, for stagnating pay which dooms them to falling living standards scarcely comprehended by the coastal journalists who scorn them. They raise families, attend church, give to charity, serve in the military. Sure, they might not be steeped in the latest fastidious trends of social justice or identity politics, but very few of them could be described as being full of hate.

Last Christmas, while we were back Stateside with my wife’s family in McAllen, Texas, I was perusing the shelves at Costco or Sam’s Club when I noticed Donald Trump’s new book “Crippled America: How To Make America Great Again” staring up at me from the bargain bin. Noticing me notice the book was a kindly-looking old man who wandered over, pointed at the volume in my hand and said, without a note of hesitation in his voice, “that man will save America”.

I had the briefest of conversations with him. Was this man an overt racist, sexist or homophobe? It certainly didn’t appear so, as far as I could tell. The baseball cap he was wearing suggested that he was a veteran, while his general appearance suggested that perhaps he was not brimming over with disposable income. And oh yes – like many people in that part of the country, he was Hispanic. Maybe that accounts for the strength of Clinton’s seething contempt toward members of her taken-for-granted minority constituencies who refuse to “see the light” and support her.

You can call this man deplorable if you will. Hillary Clinton has already preemptively labelled him so. Perhaps he is not quite “irredeemable“, though. Perhaps, like the African American protester she had thrown out of her rally the other day, by virtue of being a minority he might get away with merely being followed home and re-educated to better appreciate everything that Clinton is doing for him.

But the Hillary Clinton campaign and the American political elite in general are making a grave mistake if they assume that Donald Trump’s noisiest and most obnoxious cheerleaders on social media are representative of that beleaguered rump of Middle Americans who see him as their only route of escape from a status quo which has profoundly failed them.

Clinton has suggested that Trump supporters who repeat the “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan are somehow being unpatriotic for effectively suggesting that America is not already great. And if you are a typical Clinton supporter, perhaps your America is unquestionably great, delivering bountiful career opportunities and a consistently rising standard of living for you and everyone you know. But many others are less fortunate. In fact, the version of America which confronts many Trump supporters each and every day is significantly less “great” in nearly all of the ways which matter most to someone struggling to get by.

And these people deserve better than to be scorned and preemptively written off by the likely next president of the United States.


Donald Trump Protesters - St Louis

Top Image: Pixabay

Support Semi-Partisan Politics with a one-time or recurring donation:

Agree with this article? Violently disagree? Scroll down to leave a comment.

Follow Semi-Partisan Politics on TwitterFacebook and Medium.

11 thoughts on “The Real Deplorables

  1. The Independent Whig October 14, 2016 / 1:31 PM

    re: “the prospect of a Trump presidency scares me far more than a Clinton presidency depresses me.”

    Then you’re not paying attention.

    The greatest single threat to America, American values and principles, and for that matter liberty and democracy in general, is the unconstrained vision of the liberal world view, and the notion that America needs to be “fundamentally transformed.”


    • Samuel Hooper October 14, 2016 / 1:35 PM

      Yep, I’m clearly not paying any attention at all. I don’t think and write about politics every day, I’m not deeply enmeshed in conservative and libertarian thinking, I haven’t done any kind of cost/benefit analysis on Trump v Clinton policies and their respective temperaments, I’m just some bozo who woke up one morning and decided to start shilling for Hillary Clinton because I love progressivism so darn much. You caught me.


      • The Independent Whig October 14, 2016 / 3:19 PM

        I’m serious that Liberalism is a far greater threat than anything Trump promises or actually would or could do.

        Just as there are different physical body types (e.g., ectomorph, endomorph, mesomorph) so too are there different brain types; different mental processing types, like PC and Mac, different psychological profiles, that connect the dots of the information received from the senses in different ways.

        Like the blind men encountering different parts of an elephant and not agreeing on the nature of the creature they encountered, different people through the ages have offered their own take on these two different cognitive styles.

        Examples include:

        “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion” by Jonathan Haidt.

        “A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles,” by Thomas Sowell

        “The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization,” by Arthur Herman.

        “The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Left and Right,” by Yuval Levin.

        “Rationalism in Politics” by Michael Oakeshott

        In “The Cave and the Light” Plato and Aristotle serve as metaphors for the two cognitive styles.

        Plato’s position was that everything in the real world is but a shadow of its ideal self, and it is the role of philosophers, the “enlightened” among us, to identify this ideal and help us to move toward it. This is the liberalism of which I speak.

        Aristotle agreed that we should always strive to improve the human condition, but the real world places practical limits on what is actually achievable. This is conservative psychology.

        In “The Righteous Mind” Haidt describes the two cognitive styles in two ways. First is WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Democratic) vs Holistic cognitive styles. Second is the one-foundation vs the all-foundation moral matrices.

        Here’s Haidt regarding WEIRD thinking:

        In “A conflict of Vision” the liberal world view, or vision, or cognitive algorithm is “unconstrained” by practical reality, and it is characterized by Oakeshott’s rationalism and it places most of its faith in what he describes as “technical” knowledge.

        But the conservative disposition is “constrained” by practical reality, and uses technical knowledge ALONG WITH what Oakeshott calls “practical” knowledge.

        A Venn diagram of liberalism and conservatism would depict liberalism as a circle around Haidt’s “individualizing” moral foundations and Oakeshott’s technical knowledge, and conservatism as a larger circle completely surrounding the liberal circle AND Haidt’s “binding” moral foundations and Oakeshott’s “practical” knowledge.

        The Platonic idealism of the WEIRD, rationalist, unconstrained, technical-knowledge based, liberal cognitive style places its faith in the religion-like belief in the power of the human mind to overcome obstacles and solve problems, in which enlightened elites are anointed with the god-like position of “designing” the “good society” and the “new man” through social engineering. It is in essence epistemologically arrogant social creationism. See “The Evolution of Everything” by Matt Ridley.

        Each and every time a society has attempted to turn this vision into reality the result has been crimes against humanity an industrial scale. From the French Revolution to Russian, Chines, Cambodian, and Cuban Communism to Italian Fascism to German Nazism, all of which were social creationism and claimed in one way or another that “science” and “reason” were on their side, the result has been the worst mass murder, genocide, purges, oppression, and abuse the world has ever seen.

        Note Haidt’s description of the unconstrained vision in a lecture he gave at Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.”

        Also see “Pathological Altruism” by Barbara Oakley.

        The Aristotelian empiricism of the holistic, rational AND intuitionist, technical AND practical knowledge based, constrained vision is epistemologically humble. See the first chapter of “Conservatism” by Jerry Z. Muller. It’s approach is less that of social creationism and more that of garden tending. It accepts human nature as it actually exists in the real world, and then seeks to put in place the circumstances that will allow it to flourish. Thus, for example, the concept that the enemy of liberty is concentrated, consolidated, government power and therefore the separation of powers of the American Constitution.

        The two cognitive styles are exemplified by the two main strains of thought that emerged during The Enlightenment, which played out in the American and French revolutions. The Platonic idealism of the WEIRD rationalism of liberalism drove the French Revolution. The Aristotelian empiricism of the holistic intuitionism conservatism drove the American Revolution, which was not really a revolution at all but rather a war for independence for the purpose of preserving and protecting (i.e., “conserving” the values and principles of the cultural and intellectual inheritance of the British tradition.)

        The two cognitive styles produce mutually exclusive conceptions of basic principles of liberty, equality, justice and fairness. In short, the liberal unconstrained conception of all of these is captured in the idea of outcome-based positive liberty: “freedom to.” The conservative constrained conception of them is captured in the idea of process-based negative liberty; “freedom from.” Every body says they love liberty, equality, justice, and fairness, but the conceptions of those things on left and right are antithetical to one another.

        The centuries-old conversation between liberals and conservatives about social issues in particular and human nature in general is like a conversation about rainbows between a colorblind person and a fully sighted one, in which the morally colorblind liberal thinks the fully sighted conservative is crazy and an extremist for seeing moral colors that “everybody knows” are just not there, and the morally fully sighted conservative thinks the colorblind liberal is naïve, short sighted, and small minded for NOT seeing moral colors that clearly ARE there.

        R.R Reno summed the situation nicely in his review of “The Righteous Mind” in “First Things,” when he said:

        “Thus the profound problem we face. Liberalism is blind in one eye, yet it insists on the superiority of its vision and its supreme right to rule. It cannot see half the things a governing philosophy must see, and claims that those who see both halves are thereby unqualified to govern.”

        The liberal culture of victimhood, identity politics, and entitlement is shredding the fabric of American culture, values, and principles, and that of democracy in general. It eschews the reality-based constrained vision in favor of the unmoored from reality fantasy vision of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” and seeks to “fundamentally transform” America into compliance with that vision. It is insanity on stilts, unmoored from reality, and dangerous.

        It truly is the greatest threat to all of those things that exists today.

        A vote for any candidate who embraces, endorses, or seeks to advance the unconstrained vision is a vote for the destruction of America as we know it.

        A problem, however, is that Western culture itself is still very much entrenched in the rationalist delusion, and is essentially in the thrall of the one-foundation moral matrix of “care” (sic) and WEIRD cognition. Much of what passes for analysis and understanding of what’s going on today is like the proverbial fish that’s unaware of the existence of water.

        If any regular person or any conservative politician did what Hillary did with her servers they’d be out of a job if not their career.

        She has blood on her hands from Benghazi.

        She’s an enabler and a protector of her husband who is an ACTUAL sexual predator and rapist.

        But in today’s Western culture she gets a pass. Ho hum. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Move along. Nothing to see here.

        But Trump, on the other hand, uses locker room language and OMG HORRORS! It’s virtue signaling. It’s tribal marking, like red and blue bandannas, signaling “I’m one of the good guys.”


  2. Chauncey Tinker October 13, 2016 / 1:00 PM

    “But while criticism of the man himself is entirely valid and even essential”

    Criticism of Hillary Clinton is of course equally valid and essential, but the utterly disgracefully biased BBC tends to gloss over all the problems with her career (echoes of Leadsom/”babygate”), such as:

    Laughing about getting a man accused of child rape off lightly:


    Clinton: Of course he claimed he didn’t. All this stuff. He took a lie detector test. I had him take a polygraph, which he passed, which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs. [laughs]


    Obama/Clinton tried to blame the murdering Benghazi attacks on the makers of a silly youtube video, to hide the security failings of their administration. Even a Democratic committee described the security as “woefully inadequate”. 4 embassy staff died and their relatives are still upset about it:

    “…and promising to take down the person who made the video.”

    Wow, who’s the AUTHORITARIAN here? What happened to the First Amendment?

    “Hillary is a liar! I know what she told me.”

    “I know what she said, and not only did she say it, but Obama said the same thing to me, and Panetta, and Biden, and Susan Rice… I went up to all of them, begging them to tell me what happened, and they all said that it was the video. Every one of them.”


    Then there’s Clinton cash…


    The email server…


    • Samuel Hooper October 13, 2016 / 1:10 PM

      I do not contest any of these things, and this blog has been harshly critical of Hillary Clinton’s aversion to transparency and accountability, as well as her litany of outright falsehoods. But by temperament and the sheer scope of areas in which Donald Trump has declared an intention to trample the Constitution, the prospect of a Trump presidency scares me far more than a Clinton presidency depresses me.


      • Chauncey Tinker October 13, 2016 / 3:07 PM

        The problem of all problems right now for the West is uncontrolled illegal immigration. Trump is the candidate who is serious about tackling the problem head on. Clinton is planning to welcome 10s of 1000s more immigrants from Syria. Why? There is no moral sense to it whatever, the genuine refugees should be given shelter in a safe zone close to their country of origin. The others, the chancers, should be kept out by all means available.

        Tony Blair did the same to the UK now look at the problems we’ve got – equality before the law is being eroded by the day, freedom of speech also. 54 languages spoken in one single school. Now we have a Muslim mayor of London who is setting up a hate crime hub to intimidate the critics of the EU and mass immigration (not to mention his special religion). Meanwhile leaflets being handed out in a London mosque calling for the killing of those who insult the prophet (that’s me by the way, they are inciting my murder):

        FGM, grooming gangs, child marriages, forced marriages, 10-20 children all on benefits. We’ve even had a few “honour” killings now. A Muslim Manchester police chief tells us we can’t criticize other cultures, despite the fact that all those listed practices are ILLEGAL in the country he is supposed to be POLICING. The West is sliding towards chaos.

        This is the last chance for the right. Once Hillary is in power she will continue as Obama has done leaving the borders poorly protected and migrants will continue to flood in. Illegal migrants are poor they will be given an amnesty and vote left. The safe spaces you keep complaining about are the product of irresponsible “Democrats” who don’t care about democracy, free thinking or the burdens on hard working people that come with irresponsible generosity to win votes.

        Trump is not a problem free candidate of course he isn’t by any means. He makes a lot of daft statements that he should not be allowed to carry out literally. However people are looking to him because he is serious about the big issues that really matter right now, and he is prepared to break some rules to address those issues. Clinton will continue Obama’s policy of letting “BLM” “protestors” run riot. Clinton will continue the program of educating the young not to think, she will open the door further to Islamic infiltration through immigration and schooling. We have the exact same problems in Europe, except we’re further down the road on the Islamification front.

        Many more years of mass immigration into the West and left-leaning governments will be immovable and they will continue to aid and abet the Islamic takeover of the West, as they have been doing for decades now. Immigrants vote left. Mass immigration is gerrymandering. That’s the real issue here.

        I support Trump because Trump cares about Western civilization. Hillary Clinton cares about being in power.


        • Samuel Hooper October 13, 2016 / 3:52 PM

          Again, I agree with many of the problems that you identify. I just don’t believe that Donald Trump is really serious about tacking them, or about defending Western civilisation.

          This is a man who not long ago supported and raised money for Bill and Hillary Clinton, who expressed markedly left-wing opinions on guns and social issues, and whose sudden horror at illegal immigration didn’t lead him to take any kind of special precautions to avoid hiring them and being part of the “pull” factor when he ran his business.

          I think Donald Trump is a great opportunist. He has correctly identified that there is an anti-establishment mood in the air and that there are millions of people who have genuine, principled concerns about many of the points that you raise. But I think he is using those concerns to get power for its own sake, and for his own self-aggrandisement.

          This is a man whose campaign is publicly smirking about people not voting Republican down-ticket, and bragging about how many of his supporters intend to vote for Trump and no other Republican:

          If Trump really wanted to enact his stated policies, he would be doing everything possible to ensure a Republican-led Congress, including turning the other cheek when skittish Republicans distance themselves from his off-colour comments. But he doesn’t. He prefers to declare war on the GOP and risk a Democrat-led Congress because settling personal scores with Paul Ryan and responding to slights on his ego are more important to him than any political or ideological agenda.

          Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so. And if I am, I would love to hear more about Trump’s “Road to Damascus” moment when he forsook his previous known political opinions and became a tireless happy warrior for Western civilisation. But I don’t think it exists.


          • Chauncey Tinker October 13, 2016 / 4:12 PM

            Ok I see your point of view more clearly now, thanks for clarifying this. I may study Trump’s history a bit more but leopards can change their spots. At least Trump is talking about doing some of the things that need doing but we know full well that Clinton will not and doesn’t even say she will. I would still vote for Trump on that basis.

            What is clear to my mind is that Western “democracy” as we have it now is not working. Universal suffrage must be questioned therefore, although I believe (as I mentioned before) that it is universal suffrage in conjunction with the welfare state that is the source of the problems, not women’s suffrage.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. AndrewZ October 13, 2016 / 11:55 AM

    If Clinton wins the coastal elite will double-down on their arrogance and contempt for the masses. Imagine if “Remain” won in Britain and multiply the gloating by ten. They should take the rise of Trump as a shot across their bows from “flyover country” but instead they will take it as proof that the “deplorables” need to be forcibly re-educated in the ways of their betters.

    Clinton doesn’t believe in anything beyond the accumulation of wealth and power but she won’t hesitate to use “social justice” as a political tool, to motivate her supporters or as a pretext for cynical power grabs. The politicisation of the federal bureaucracy will continue. There will be lots of new “progressive” initiatives that are really just pork-barrels for Democrat-supporting special interest groups but which will impose more and more burdens and restrictions on the average citizen.

    So the culture war will continue to intensify. The first expression of popular opposition to the elite was the Tea Party, a moderate and civil movement that worked within the system. It was met with relentless abuse, slander, and harassment by the IRS. So the next iteration was Trump’s opportunistic imitation of populism, which is immoderate and uncivil but still works within the system. If Trump is defeated the next level of escalation is an authentic populist-nationalist movement which rejects the political system as irredeemably corrupt and genuinely wants to overturn it.

    Interesting times ahead!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samuel Hooper October 13, 2016 / 1:14 PM

      A great preview of what might lie in store for us if Clinton prevails – thanks for this.

      I agree that there will be zero magnanimity toward the struggling flyover country Trump supporters if Clinton wins, just as Brexiteers would have been ground into the dust if the Remain campaign’s Project Fear had prevailed in the EU referendum.

      But as you say, this will only cause the culture wars to intensify and delay the inevitable day of reckoning which awaits America’s political elites. The gap between the Tea Party (mostly principled and honourable) and Donald Trump is very large indeed – one wonders how big the gap between Donald Trump and the populist force which replaces him might be? I shudder to think.


  4. Steve Rogers October 13, 2016 / 7:28 AM

    It’s easy to accuse those who have held office of being an elite, but it doesn’t explain how the elite came to be nor how to dismantle it. Is there really any evidence that Donald Trump is any less likely to work in exactly the same way? Would he really replace so many people that there wouldn’t be an elite? It’s such a vague idea, this concept of the elite, I think all it means is “the government, whom I blame for my troubles”.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.