Why Many Small Business Owners Still Support Trump

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Ideology and Unwillingness to Listen to Others Are Our Two Worst Conventions

On my last few trips outside of the bubble of major metropolitan areas I have been listening to a different class of Trump supporter – small business owners. There has been much written from Hillbilly Elegy to Chris Arnade’s writings about the alienated white working class voter. But it is a mistake to believe that a brash property developer from Queens is merely duping high school dropouts.

Many of Trump supporters I meet are small business owners and entrepreneurs.  They are builders, developers, shop and restaurant owners. They are small service providers in fields like pest control, accounting, insurance, and agriculture. Often these are leaders in rural towns and communities. Many of them are veterans.

Almost none of them portray any of the personal characteristics of President Trump. They are soft spoken. They favor jeans, Carhart, or camo over a suit and tie. Their spouses are usually someone they have known since childhood, not a fashion model from Eastern Europe. What unites them to Trump is not ideology or personal admiration.

It is a desire for change. On economic issues they simply do not believe the Democratic mantra that slow growth is all that is achievable in a just America. Their experience is government is one of their burdens to making a dollar. On cultural issues they simply do not believe that Norman Rockwell was a bad era for America. Surviving the Great Depression, winning World War II, and the civil rights movement were Rockwell’s subjects. Those were not perfect subjects. But they were more than white supremacy.

They are action focused problem solvers. On race they want to know how to once and for all climb out of the quagmire. A quagmire they view as worse today than in their childhoods. A constant conversation with no action and solution is not how they run their businesses. It is why their defunct competitors failed.

And in Trump they see a man who is acting. They see the Resistance as not a symbol of resistance to fascism, but resistance to action.  It is one reason I observe progressives so frustrated with Trump supporters.

Trump signs orders and seeks deals to demonstrate action. They are often a flip-flop of his campaign rhetoric. They often demonstrate no coherent connection to the ideology of the two parties. But since his supporters want decisions and actions, not talk and inertia, Trump maintains his support.

And the reaction of the mainstream press to the President’s “fake news” campaign produces howls of laughter. Finally, one of the people they voted for went to Washington, DC and did not turn into a “squish”. And if the press attacks, instead of acting meek their guy fights back.

On kneeling for the flag at NFL games they agree players have the right. But these Trump supporters want the right to say the players are making the wrong decision. And progressives yelling “shame, shame, shame you must agree or you are a white supremacist” is not an effective message.

That is the most important thing I have ever written, so let me say it again.

“Shame, shame, shame you must agree or you are a white supremacist!”

That is not an effective message. It drives people right back to Trump.

To anyone on the right or left who craves ideological purity and rigor, Trump is chaos. To this group of Trump supporters he is a man of action.  And as long as he continues to drive change, upset conventions, and deliver deals this group of Trump supporters is in for the long haul.

 

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