Why They Fight On

Dr. Malcolm Cross

January 6 should prove to be a momentous day.  The electoral votes cast by the states in last year’s presidential election will be counted by Congress under Mike Pence’s supervision.  Republican senators and representatives have announced they will protest the vote, but Mike Pence will inevitably declare Joe Biden and Kamala Harris the new president and vice president.  And a “Stop the Steal” demonstration in support of President Trump will be conducted.  How many will participate remains to be seen, but it may well run into the thousands.

But why the unprecedented resistance and demonstrations in the first place?

The media’s most commonly offered reasons for Trump’s resistance are that he fears being branded a “loser,” and he fears the criminal prosecution to which he may be subject once he’s no longer President.

The media have likewise speculated that the Republican senators and representatives planning to protest the election results want to demonstrate their ongoing loyalty to Trump and hence escape being challenged for renomination in their primaries by more enthusiastic Trump supporters.

And why do millions of Trump’s supporters continue to so enthusiastically back him?  In essence Trump’s supporters resent the scorn they believe that the Democrats have for them, fear the policies the Democrats want to implement, distrust the mainstream media, and see Trump as the only major political figure who understands them and won’t desert them.  So they won’t desert Trump.

Democratic scorn was best summarized By Hillary Clinton’s remarks concerning “deplorables” in 2016.  As the New York Times reported:

“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?” she said to applause and laughter. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”

Moreover, millions of Trump’s supporters fear prospective Democratic policies, including higher taxes, expanded abortion rights, the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and student loan forgiveness.  Granted, Joe Biden has advocated a more moderate approach to these issues than what’s demanded by the more progressive or self-styled “socialist” wing of the Democratic party, but Trump’s supporters also think Biden is too malleable to stand up to leftist demands for a more aggressive approach to  these issues.

And Trump’s supporters fear and resent what they perceive to be the media’s double standard in reporting on Biden versus Trump.  They believe that the media were far softer and more sympathetic in reporting on Tara Reade’s accusations that Biden sexually assaulted her than they were in reporting on Brett Kavanaugh.  They further believe that Hunter Biden has gotten far less press scrutiny for his alleged business-related misdeeds than Trump’s children would have received under similar circumstances.

How justified the fears and resentments of Trump’s supporters may be is debatable.  Hillary Clinton in subsequent remarks toned down her criticisms of Trump supporters.  I personally believe the Bidens, both Joe and Hunter, should be considered innocent of any accusations, whether sexual or financial, that have been made against them until definitive proof of guilt is established.  But the intensity of the feelings of Trump’s supporters is real, and so their determination to demonstrate is perfectly understandable.

As for the protest itself, Trump’s supporters are well within their constitutional rights to hold it—provided they keep things peaceful and obey the law.  2020 saw too much violence from the BLM movement, Antifa, right-wing vigilantes, and the Proud Boys.  Should Trump’s supporters fail to keep the peace, their conduct will be all the more criticized, and their fears and resentments all the more ignored or scorned.  

Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present).  He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014.  He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.

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