New York fans stay hopeful for the 2018 season after this year’s successes
The Santa Clara
November 2, 2017
I n January 2016, then presidential candidate Donald Trump famously claimed that he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue, shoot somebody [and not] lose any voters.” The statement was tasteless, outlandish and had no place being said in the middle of a presidential campaign. It is equal parts tragic and absurd that his statement ended up being true.
This past Friday, a federal grand jury approved the first charges in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia. But the President’s core base remains entirely unmoved. Trump supporters are sticking by their man even as it is becoming more and more apparent that his campaign may have cheated our democracy.
Donald Trump might as well have shot somebody in the middle of Fifth Avenue, and accordingly, his supporters could not care less. They are willing to put Trump before America, and that is some brutal irony coming from a body of self-proclaimed patriots.
The culture surrounding Donald Trump is unlike that of any political figure in modern American history. As far as I know, he is the only president ever to have supporters emphatic enough to refer to him as “The God Emperor.” Hardline Trump supporters’ loyalty is unwavering, and they have a history of defying all logic in his defense. For instance, a recent Huffington Post/YouGov poll found that only eight percent of Trump supporters believed he was guilty of ever sexually harassing anyone in spite of the infamous “grab them by the p****” conversation he had with Billy Bush.
The tendency toward blind trust has held steady in the midst of Mueller’s Russia probe. After it came to light that charges were formally filed in the investigation, Trump supporters demonstrated exactly how little they care about facts or the implications of Trump’s actions. A poll by Public Policy Polling found that only seven percent of Trump supporters believe members of the President’s campaign team worked in association with Russia to help him win the election. Even worse, only 11 percent believe Trump should resign if collusion can be proven.
Trump has done his best to deflect from these charges, but his words should not hold weight at this point—especially in the case of George Papadopoulos. Papadopoulos, a named foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign, has already pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about meeting with Russian agents for “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. His plea also implicates many higher-ups from Trump’s campaign team, including the President’s former campaign manager: Paul Manafort.
Immediately after his plea was made public, Donald Trump tried to paint Papadopoulos as being a “young, low level volunteer” who hardly anyone involved in his campaign knew. That is a bald faced lie. In an interview with the Washington Post in 2016, Trump referred to Papadopoulos by name when he was listing off his foreign policy advisors; he even called him “an excellent guy.” Papadopoulos’ plea and the reaction it generated are damning, and at the very least, they should be able to trigger some sort of skepticism amongst Trump’s base. Unfortunately, Trump’s supporters would sooner die than subject him to that much scrutiny.
This trend has always been unnerving, but after these charges, it is absolutely inexcusable. Ardent Trump supporters consistently bemoan how their country is being taken from them—how American values were undermined under the Obama administration. Now, it is coming to light that our democracy—the quintessential application of those very values—was compromised, and Trump’s base refuses to care so long as they can keep “The God Emperor” in office.
Donald Trump is not at the head of a movement so much as he is at the helm of a cult. By his base’s logic, there is no questioning his actions, and whatever flaws he may have must be excused or ignored entirely. Mueller’s findings are a huge deal, and the fact that Trump’s supporters are indifferent to the prospect of him being at the center of the biggest political scandal since Watergate is both alarming and demoralizing. There is a dead body in the middle of Fifth Avenue, and a third of the country is closing their eyes, insisting that it is not real.
Jay Fuchs is a senior communication major.