How is it possible that Donald Trump is ahead in the polls? What, if anything, will it take for Republicans and independents to finally turn against him?
These are the questions that are first and foremost in the minds of just about any non-Trumpy news consumer.
Yet our elite media isn’t doing jack shit to answer them.
Sure they run the occasional article about inflation, or Biden’s age, or a Democratic split on Gaza, pointing to Democratic weakness.
But there’s also an emerging critical mass of articles describing the dystopian white Christian dictatorship that a Trump victory would enable, complete with criminal charges against political opponents, a purge of ethical government workers, and draconian action against immigrant and LGBTQ communities.
Seemingly every day, Trump makes his threat to end democracy as we know it more vivid and noxious. One day it’s calling his opponents “vermin” – like the things you exterminate – and the next day he’s calling on his supporters to “finish the job once and for all” in 2024.
Plus, there’s the whole matter of that attempted insurrection and the dozens of felony counts and the million things Trump has done that would normally disqualify someone from holding any office, not to mention the presidency.
So why why why?
Nothing else matters nearly as much to the future of our country as understanding why Americans are so susceptible to Trumpism — and what, if anything, can be done about it.
So I’m perplexed and appalled that our top political reporters appear to lack any interest in truly exploring this mystery.
I suppose it’s because they are lazy.
Because the only way to really figure it out is to talk to people. Lots of people. Lots and lots of people.
But actual in-depth interviews, with thousands of real voters, to understand how so many of them have arrived at a place where they think Trump is going to save the country rather than destroy it.
Is it tribal? Is it ignorance? Is it the effect of Fox propaganda? Is it the anodyne tone of the pox-on-both-your-houses mainstream media coverage? Is it racism? Is it know-nothingism? Is it inchoate fury? Is it an impatience with democracy? Is it a psychological need for a domineering daddy figure?
An intelligent interviewer, asking non-judgmental questions, could elicit a lot of responses that would be insightful. And we could all learn something.
Ever since I launched this website in 2019, I’ve been calling for a rededication to the old art of voter interviews – open-ended, empathetic interviews that explore not just voters’ political opinions but their formative moments and their value systems.
The day after the Trump’s 2020 election loss – in which, you may recall, Trump still got 74 million votes – I called for “an army of reporters” to delve deeply into the pathology of this huge chunk of the American electorate – to fan out to communities all over the country and figure out what is happening to our country.
I’ve even tried to find funding (so far with no success) for an effort to pay local news reporters to conduct long, deep-listening interviews to feed an AI-enabled database of responses that journalists, researchers and the public could access to plumb these mysteries.
I am agnostic on how this gets done. But it is imperative that our political reporters get off their butts, off their phones, and out of the office to figure this out before it’s too late.