This quote about President Trump's supporters via former New Hampshire governor and senator Judd Gregg is deeply insightful — and important:
I'm with Gregg on that question, at least in the short and medium term. Go back to this great story in June by The Washington Post's Jenna Johnson about what Trump supporters expect out of their guy. It contains these key lines:
The wall along the Mexican border is one of Trump’s most enduring and popular proposals, prompting raucous cheering and chants wherever he goes. Yet many of Trump’s fans don’t actually think he will build a wall — and they don’t care if he doesn’t.Many also don’t think that Trump as president would really ban foreign Muslims from entering the country, seize oil controlled by terrorists or deport 11 million illegal immigrants. They view Trump’s pledges more as malleable symbols than concrete promises, reflecting a willingness to shake things up and to be bold.
The insight in Gregg's quote and Johnson's piece is this: For Trump's supporters, the specifics of any proposal or policy isn't all that significant. What matters far more is the way he says stuff — usually brashly with utter confidence — and the very fact he is willing to say it at all. Trump's appeal to his supporters is tonal: They listen less to the words than the fact that when he says them he sounds exactly like the anti-politician and change agent they want so badly.
His supporters, in Gregg's words, like the “confrontational verbal approach” and are willing to give him a pass on actual results. Freaking out the squares is enough for them right now. So, when Trump insists the wall along the Mexican border is going to be built, his supporters cheer rather than wonder about the funding mechanism to make that construction real. When he insists the media is biased because he thinks they aren't reporting the extent of the crowds at his inauguration, Trump's supporters are fully on board because it shows he's willing to stick it to the bully, liberal media.
You get the idea. Giving politics and politicians the middle finger isn't a policy. But, for Trump supporters, it's more than enough.
The question, of course, is how long Trump's willingness to be that guy will be enough for his supporters. Democrats believe fervently that when Trump is unable to deliver on some of the pie-in-the-sky proposals he made during the campaign, congressional Republicans and even many of his most fervent supporters will begin to second-guess their support.
Maybe. I'm less certain of that fact because I'm not convinced that most Trump voters cast a ballot for him because they were absolutely convinced he would fundamentally change politics and Washington through a series of policy initiatives or accomplishments. I think the primary motivating force behind their votes was that Trump became the symbol of radical change to the political process. Everything he said and did screamed “NOT A POLITICIAN.”
People voted for the middle finger. I'm not sure they then will hold that middle finger to the same standards for Trump that they applied to all the establishment politicians who came before him.