Veteran radio host Howard Stern recently claimed that US President Donald Trump’s loyal supporters lack intelligence. Not stopping there, Stern fueled outrage saying that the President himself hates them.
Howard Stern‘s statement has drawn varied reactions with some saying Stern showed a lot of courage in what he said. However, while Stern might be courageous in his take but his assessment might not be entirely right.
Stern, who is President Donald Trump‘s former friend, set the cat among the pigeons saying the President ‘despises’ his own supporters. The 66-year-old, however, was not targeting the president through his sharp words but his supporters. He described them as lacking intelligence and mocked saying Trump would not even allow them in a hotel. Stern’s words have sparked controversy like wildfire. The radio heavyweight’s own listener base comprises of ardent Trump supporters.
Watch: Former friend Howard Stern talks about President Trump and his loyalists.
For some, Stern was genuinely courageous. But others, smell foul. Howard Stern is a rich man who has little to lose if he leaves the radio job. But poll-bound President Trump, on the other hand, has a lot to lose.
Stern, a former friend, has been notoriously annoying for Trump. He endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
Was Stern’s stunt an attempt to establish the theory of the crisis of followership? Did Stern try to hold a mirror in front of Trump’s supporters who blindly follow the president and in essence empowered his insanity?
To answer this in short, it is irrelevant whether Trump hates his own loyalists because most of them would vote for him once again. In March, Vox cited a survey to report that 10 percent of those who voted for the temperamental Republican in 2016 might not vote for him again this time. That leaves a staggering 90 percent who want to vote for him again. Is Stern’s ruling of any significance thus?
Trump and his supporters share a relation which is economics-based
The relationship between Trump and his supporters is more like in economics: Demand and Supply. There is little relevance for any human element in this relationship. Trump has a strong support base since he continuously supplies what his supporters seek from him: Undoing the historical wrong. The supporters do not feel the need to look at Trump through the lens of morality. This was evident during the 2016 election when he was heard speaking about women in the worst possible manner but yet it did not impact the contest. Similarly, Trump is often accused of lying incessantly against his opponents and about his administration’s achievements. But stats show the credibility of his statements doesn’t harm Trump’s approval ratings.
Watch: The truth about Trump supporters
For America’s conservative sections that support Trump, the man is more of a symbol. His slogan ‘Make America Great Again’ is more of revenge against history. Trump is admired more as a national hero by his supporters, made up majorly of neocolonial upper-class white Americans, who are impressed he speaks their language unapologetically. The demagogue in him has crafted the nationalist-populist script with such Houdiniesque aggravation that his core constituencies find little wrong when he visibly struggles in his administrative skills.
Trump Loyalist’s Pysche
The Washington Post’s Max Ehrenfreund spoke to a number of psychologists to understand the thinking of Trump’s supporters. He was able to narrow down on three aspects that make the president a Republican darling. Those supporters, according to experts, like people who talk big and tell people that their problems are simple and easy to solve (even when they are not) and do not like people who do not look like them.
After a series of administrations that were less than inspiring in the final analysis, Americans were looking at a leader who would savage the ‘political correctness’ that has been the byword over the last few decades. George W Bush’s foreign policy misadventures made America bleed economically while Barack Obama’s rise did not impress the white conservatives. Before them, Bill Clinton’s alleged acts related to women did not earn the liberals any clean tag either. For these voters, affinity towards Trump is a combination of events under presidents in the last couple of decades.
A showman with a bully pulpit
Looking at things from Trump’s perspective, he seems to hardly care about his supporters. But not caring doesn’t mean despising.
In a way, Trump is like most men. He comes across as someone who hardly cares for much other than himself and his immediate family. Trump’s interest in his voters is defined by the same demand-supply curve. As a showman, Trump knows he needs to cater to his supporters’ socio-psychological needs constantly. That is indeed the biggest source from which he draws his political power. As a man who knows what keeps audiences loyal, Trump’s presidential relationship with his supporters mirrors what he had as a TV star with his fans. A flourishing give-and-take equation is a bottom line in such a relationship. Whether Trump will not allow his supporters in a hotel is irrelevant.
Trump does his bit to impress his supporters at crowded rallies, in press conferences, and with his tweets. Trump won’t be seen confronted by his supporters at a public place, unlike Joe Biden. Take the following example of Trump’s confidence in his supporters.
“You know what else they say about my people? The polls, they say, I have the most loyal people. Did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s incredible.”US President Donald Trump before winning the 2016 election during a campaign in Iowa in January 2016
Watch: Trump asks supporters to weigh in on the US deportation policy.
Before he became the president he was also seen asking the people their advice on what deportation policy he should pursue. More recently, as the president, he backed his supporters mocking the ‘Squad’ members, including Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, at one of his rallies in North Carolina.
How Trump’s populism poses a threat to his supporters in the long run?
Trump poses a threat to his own people in the longterm, even if not willingly. Since his style is all about shallow populism and not real solutions, Trump does not show remorse when he is unsuccessful in protecting his own supporters against the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Furthermore, his grand idea of a protectionist America sounds decisive but doesn’t favor the average American economically in the long run. By pulling the US back from international commitments, Trump is reducing options for the USA when it comes to post-pandemic diplomacy.
Watch: Trump supporters chant ‘send her back’ for US Representative Ilhan Omar
Nevertheless, it won’t be surprising if only a few of the incorrigible loyalists are upset with Trump’s response to the Covid-19 disaster, as most have already given him the benefit of doubt and their sympathy as the unlucky President. On his part, instead of despising, the narcissistic Trump might even fall in love with his supporters, especially in this critical time, if they win him re-election in November against all odds.