The MAGA Conundrum

Phil Rossi
Lacie Slezak/Unsplash

Trumpism and MAGA are here to stay

For every right-wing podcast and pro-Trump rally crying election fraud, multitudes of Trump voters remain grounded in reality. They know the 2020 Presidential Election wasn’t rigged. Disappointed Trump lost, but remain grateful that our institutions held up.

Why? These are normal, decent, and honest Americans. Hard-working who play by the rules. They believe in our constitution, rule of law, and process.

Grateful, for the sake of our country. Grateful that Republican-appointed judges followed the law. Board-appointed and elected Republicans who practiced integrity instead of partisanship.

We all witnessed Trump and his legal team circumventing our institutions. Pressuring Republicans in high places for political favor. Expecting payback through privilege, appointments, and party affiliation. Instead, each one stood up to Trump’s baseless lawsuits claiming election fraud.

Many Trump voters are the folks working 80 hours a week for themselves to bypass the 40 hours per week for someone else. No one handed them their business and success. They’re not connected to high places mitigating their financial risk nor evaporating their debts.

In our rigged economy of winners and losers, have and have-nots, they’re the ones paying the freight. The ones stuck in the middle of this muck. Over-taxed and over-burdened.

“I have never understood why it is “greed” to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.” — Thomas Sowell

I have family members and friends who are Trump voters. They’re not the fat cats of conservative lore. The country club elites pretending to give a hoot about lost jobs, stagnating wages, and the shrinking middle class.

The ones who publicly support BLM but secretly enjoy white privilege and all of its perks. The ones protected by corporate welfare, competition, and tax shelters.

Here are the breakdown and profile of the anonymous and Main Street MAGA voter. The person who wants more mileage out of their money. In other words, the guy next door:

A small business owner who risks exposure to the virus and infecting others, including family members.
Forced business travel including high-risk areas.
Nobody giving them $600.00 a week to shelter-in-place.
Raised taxes to cover health-care costs with compromised coverage for them, their familes, and employees.
An over-stressed healthcare system becomes their issue when the states require more tax dollars and funding.

Many Trump voters are the entrepreneurs who took a hit from the pandemic. The lockdowns that have compromised business. Mandates that have shortened hours and seating capacity. All of these dynamics strip their bottom lines.

These folks are fighting to keep their businesses afloat. Hard-earned dollars to meet payroll and expenses. Any remaining profits are funneled back into their enterprise.

Most are forgoing a salary, tapping their rainy-day funds. The litany of sacrifices and the continued risk they endure in order to survive. Even the business-to-business sector, feeling the crunch of their customers’ cash flow.

All they’re doing with their vote is exercising self-preservation. Here is some of their internal dialogue:

The government mismanaged my tax dollars.
The government failed to solve a social problem and needs more money to fix it.
Why do I have to pay for their malfeasance?
How are I and my family supposed to survive?
How could my business prosper, much less function under such financial stress and added regulations?
Can’t we find politicians with a business acumen, understanding, and ability to plan?
Who is looking out for me? Who has my back?

These are the honest conversations we need to have. We all need to put ourselves in each other’s shoes. To listen and engage. To craft partnerships instead of tribes.

It’s the current path of partisan politics that has poisoned our society. The body politic that has created our divisions. We should be working together, on a social problem by social problem basis. Instead of choosing sides, we need to find workable solutions.

For the record, many of the Trump voters I have spoken with voted for Obama in 2008. Others supported Kerry in 2004. Their answers were the same:

The country’s headed in the wrong direction.
We need a change.
I expect my taxes to go up, but it’s best for the country.

Do these sentiments sound greedy, selfish, or racist? Hateful, supremacist, or xenophobic?

Watching Trump’s post-election antics and disgraceful conduct, I doubt the Main Street Trump voter would welcome a 2024 return. I’m guessing it’s not Trump they aim or wish to resurrect. It may not even be Trumpism itself.

What they want, is to be heard, respected, and protected. They seek the reassurance that the after-tax money they earn works for them. The financial risk they’re taking on to create a higher, beneficial, and just reward. It’s the pursuit of the American Dream.

Many aren’t keen on the former president. Privately wishing he were more presidential from the get. More personal and less abusive. Professional versus crude. The list goes on.

Many in this sector do vote Republican more often. If liberal, most remain fiscally conservative. They want a fair economy, equality, and safer streets. Better schools and police reform. Most also support BLM and wish to abolish systematic racism.

There are those that liken Trump’s brand and politics. The Viking burning the boats and leading the charge. Forcing the world community’s hand to put more skin in the game. To pay their fair share of blood and treasure.

It’s their country too. We don’t have to agree with this philosophy. Turning our disagreements into fist-to-fist combat is never the answer. The proxy rumbles between Antifa and the Proud Boys on TV only add to our anxiety, division, and confusion.

We also know this toxic climate has seeped into our own living rooms. Our social circles and workplaces. Hating on one another over our political bias.

Many think it’s appropriate. Others find it funny and entertaining. It’s neither and very sad when you think about it. Friendships and relationships have suffered and even been absolved over politics. This is progress?

Like many, I remain flummoxed over Trump and his hardcore followers. Who would want this man at the controls when he’s showed us his stripes? Failing to govern. Failing his duties, the public, and the nation he spouses to love. For what? To cry in his beer over a lost election? Golfing, tweeting and claiming voter fraud as the country continued to buckle under the pandemic and its economic strain.

An AWOL president when there was plenty of work to do. Not to mention the missing goodwill during the transitional period. On Inauguration Day, Trump finally suffered a major power outage.

Despite all of Trump’s faults and darkness, MAGA will live on. Like any political apparatus, it’s more complex than we’d like to believe. Just as Senate and House Democrats recently discovered.

Not all Democratic precincts share the same philosophies. Some are more liberal and less progressive than others. It’s no different with Republicans. The pushback in their town halls and poll stations told them this.

The middle ground is the country’s North Star and where we have to go. In order to arrive at a better place takes hard work, respect, and compromise. Isn’t it more prudent to come together than to hate? To share rather than dominate?

I’d rather agree to disagree while finding workable solutions. To end this undeclared civil war we’re waging on one another. It’s more work and compromise, yet more realistic than expecting 74 million citizens to self-deport.

Trump didn’t create MAGA. MAGA dreamed up and brought us, Trump. It’s the remnants of the Tea Party that morphed into MAGA. Trump seized on the TP’s populism theme and ran with it.

It’s in these vacuums of the partisan divide where disconnect festers. Opportunities for charlatans posing as saviors to hog the political stage. Trump won’t be the last.

It’s not a matter of if but when the Never-Trumpers return to the Republican column. No different than the Reagan Democrats and Obama Republicans. This is politics.

To the hardcore left and right, these factions of centrist voters are wishy-washy. Disengaged and on loan. I disagree.

It’s the stuff that travels full circle and returns to the core. The fight for what’s right. Respect and communication. Partnership over partisanship.

I’m not suggesting anyone abandon their politics and principles. All I’m asking for is a robust debate in lieu of cannibalism and civil war. It’s still the best way forward.

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Phil is a blogger interested in sports, culture, politics, and the art scene.

Hackensack, NJ

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