Trump critics complain about how intensely his supporters defend him against even mild and demonstrably valid criticism. This is not merely cultish devotion to Trump. It’s about people on the Right waking up to the realities of a binary political system.
This is not to justify the ferocious rejection of all Trump criticism – it’s a bad idea for any leader to be supported without question – but rather to understand it. The president’s most ardent supporters are not necessarily acting out of irrational devotion.
The Left has long understood the stakes in a binary system better than the Right. They have developed many techniques for whipping their voters into line behind their presidents and presidential candidates. They make very specific promises to voting blocs in their coalition.
Long before Trump, the Left caricatured even mild-mannered GOP candidates as inhuman monsters. The current pitch to wavering Democrat voters is contempt signaling: vote for the Dem, even if you don’t like him or her, just to annoy the heartland Republicans you hate.
Voters on the Right have long been told NOT to view presidential elections as binary choices with all of their vital issues on the line. They’ve been attacked as paranoid extremists for thinking that way. The media tells them every Dem candidate is a reasonable moderate.
A good number of people on the Right denounce or deny the binary nature of elections, too. Some are third-party enthusiasts, others ideological purists. Many are in a symbiotic relationship with the media and political class that treats all Dems as moderates.
The thing about this perpetual camouflage of Democrats as moderates – get ready for Elizabeth Warren to be described that way! – is that it obfuscates the binary nature of elections. It’s deliberately designed to make GOP voters consider 3rd-party protest votes or staying home.
Democrat voters march into each presidential election thinking their very lives and souls are on the line unless the Republican loses. Dems tell black voters the return of SLAVERY might be only one election away – “gonna put y’all back in CHAINS!” as Joe Biden put it.
GOP voters are told, eh, it’s just an election. Another one is coming in four years. You’re paranoid to think your way of life is at stake. Why not send the GOP leadership a message with a 3rd party protest vote? Why not just stay home if you really don’t like the GOP candidate?
This mindset is maintained with great effort even if the Republican wins. Dems support their presidents with feral intensity through every scandal and retroactively deny the scandals ever existed. Repubs are told to abandon their president to prove their open-mindedness…