The survey results are out. Ninety-eight percent of Trump voters, if given the opportunity, would again cast their ballot in his favor. Despite his broken promises, inconsistent statements and lack of wisdom regarding international affairs, his base still attend his rallies and will still provide the waves of hot air required to maintain his inflated ego. To dismiss Trump and his base is tempting, but it is important to fully examine why the rest of the country should be troubled, if not outright afraid, by the voting power held by Trump loyalists.
The first troubling point is that Trump overlooks details and his base seems fine with that. In an interview with the Associated Press, President Trump correctly stated that his administration approved the launch of 59 Tomahawk missiles. Mere seconds after making that correct statement, Trump said there were 79 missiles launched. This kind of lack of attention to detail is troubling. Did he misspeak or did he simply not know? Or, perhaps more tellingly, has he grown so accustomed to exaggeration that he simply doesn’t know when it is appropriate to stay true to the facts versus when it is forgivable to fudge for the sake of a good story?
As for details and Trump supporters, their fixation may not be on the number of missiles but on the strength of the attack itself. Never mind that the president was seemingly unaware of whether the missiles were fired on Syria or on Iraq. He confused the two during an interview with Fox Business Channel’s Maria Bartiromo. These inaccuracies do not seem to faze Trump loyalists. In their minds, perhaps the Middle East is all one big country, much like the continent of Africa.
This leads to another troubling element of the Trump presidency of which his followers seem to be in full support. The element is ignorance, particularly of foreign policy and the subtleties of international affairs. Whether it is geography or foreign policy, not only do the details matter but relationships matter, and the details of the relationships matter. Stating that NATO is obsolete simply because one doesn’t fully understand NATO is irresponsible on one hand while on the other hand it is frighteningly ignorant. To be fair, NATO is likely irrelevant to a real estate developer and therefore obsolete. To the owner of a small landscaping company in Florida, or Ohio, or Michigan, NATO is likely also irrelevant. So when the leader of the free world states that something you don’t care to know is obsolete, well then you are justified in staying misinformed.
One thing that a Trump-supporting landscaping company owner and the current president have in common is a head for business. What neither seems to understand is that governments are not businesses. They are non-profit agencies. Their measure of success is different. Governments are not selling anything to their citizens. Citizens are not consumers. Yet in his Associated Press interview Trump states:
“This is thousands of times bigger, the United States, than the biggest company in the world. The second-largest company in the world is the Defense Department. The third-largest company in the world is Social Security. The fourth-largest — you know, you go down the list.”
Not only is this comparison massively inaccurate, it sounds massively impressive to the uninformed or misinformed.
A large number of United States citizens have priorities that do not include civic education or keeping up with current events. Fortunately for them, the leader is as ill-informed as the electorate. The Associated Press interview will not undermine Trump because his supporters likely won’t watch it.