The answer is not complicated. Most of his supporters are white men who long for an America they remember as “GREAT”. Which is to say the America of our founding fathers, who three hundred years ago conceived a nation of liberty and freedom of religion where all the benefits of freedom were controlled by and for white men. Then freedom of worship was controlled by ministers all of whom, Protestant, Catholic and Jewish, were white men. So were all government officials, policemen, judges, merchants, and businessmen. All the soldiers, sailors, generals, and ship captains were white men too. Trump would say it is “terrible” how the country has changed.
In 1776, “all men were created equal” meant what the words said. It did not say all men and women or all people. America in 2020 is not the same as it was when the Constitution was written. That is one reason “originalism” is such a manufactured legal concept. Useful only to avoid facing the changes some don’t want to accept. Trump and his supporters are having a hard time accepting an America that has changed for the better. One that isn’t all white and is striving to live up to the promise of equality and fairness for all.
It has been almost seventy years since the U.S. Supreme Court ripped off the band-aid of ‘separate but equal’ which was, like “originalism”, another euphemism for avoiding the truth. The unanimous Brown v. Board of Education 9-0 decision in 1954 sent shock waves through the country that too many including Trump are still resisting. It was well into the sixties before the South allowed blacks to enroll in their whites-only schools and universities. I know because I was a freshman at the all-white University of Florida in 1960.
Then there is the continuing problem of ‘ambitious” women. In the 1970’s barriers to women began falling. My law school class of 275, seated only fourteen women and one black man. And this was in Berkeley! Now, law schools, medical schools, and professional schools are graduating more women than men. Many are people of color. We now have businesswomen, and policewomen, and judges, doctors, generals, Senators, and Governors who are women. It is still an adjustment for too many.
And this week, we have a woman former prosecutor, state attorney general, and U.S. Senator on the Biden/Harris ticket that hopefully will help pull this nation out of the “tremendously, horrible, nasty” mess this sexist, racist President and his administration of “acting white men have been so unwilling and incapable of addressing.
Why so many white men and some of their white wives, continue to follow such a corrupt, incompetent, and contemptible man as Donald J. Trump is a mystery to me and may remain one to future historians. Of course, that assumes our country survives.