“I guess the thrill is gone,” J says to me. J owns a small landscaping business. He drives a pickup truck. He is in his fifties with long hair. He is prone to conspiracy theories. He used to recommend these suspect websites to me. I was surprised last winter when he admired my “Bernie for President” sign. He liked Bernie. But his candidate was Donald Trump, and he voted for him last November. Now he was telling me that the thrill was gone.
Why, I asked, and he explained that he figured out that under the Trump-Ryan health insurance plan, he would be paying $8000 to $10,000 more a year than he is now. That had soured him on Trump, although he still didn’t think much of the Democrats, who, he thought, would oppose Trump even if he proposed something good.
I know some regular Republicans who are now disillusioned with Trump, but they were never that excited about him in the first place. They voted for him because he wasn’t a Democrat. J is different. He has the sensibility of the white working class voter. I don’t think he would call himself a Republican or a Democrat.
Some liberals believe that all Trump voters were consumed by racism or sexism and voted accordingly, but that’s not been my experience with Trump voters. It’s also defective political psychology. Like J, many of them thought Trump would make their life better rather than other peoples’ lives worse. And maybe a lot of them, like J, have now realized that Trump is full of hot air.
John B. Judis is Editor-At-Large at Talking Points Memo. He was a senior editor of The New Republic and senior writer for The National Journal. He is the author most recently of The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics (Columbia Global Reports, 2016). He has written six other books, including Genesis: Truman, American Jews, and the Origin of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2014), The Folly of Empire: What George W. Bush Could Learn from Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson (Scribner, 2004), The Emerging Democratic Majority with Ruy Teixeira (Scribner, 2002), and The Paradox of American Democracy: Elites, Special Interests, and Betrayal of Public Trust (Pantheon, 2000). He has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Mother Jones, and The Washington Post. Born in Chicago, he received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in Philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley. He lives in Silver Spring, MD.