Trump supporters in their own words

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Trump supporters rally ahead of the candidate's visit to Costa Mesa, Calif. April 28, 2016 Photo credit: Saul Gonzalez
Banner image and above image: Trump supporters rally ahead of the candidate’s visit to Costa Mesa, Calif. April 28, 2016 Photo credit: Saul Gonzalez (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Donald Trump’s unprecedented political success has left many folks, from pundits to foreign leaders, scratching their heads. What about Trump’s style — seen as abrasive and unconventional among the political establishment types — speaks to his millions of supporters? KERA in Texas and KQED in San Francisco spoke to attendees at rallies in Oakland and North Texas and found a couple of common threads.

“I want a winner to be my president”

Donald Trump’s many supporters are inspired by his lack of “political correctness.” John Mainord, a supporter who spoke to radio station KERA at a rally in North Texas, compared Trump to the former Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett. “Kevin Garnett’s a jerk on the basketball court. He’s a bully, he picks on people. But at the end of the day, guess what? He’s a winner. And I want a winner to be my president.”

LALITA SMITH: “I like the fact that Donald Trump is a forthright man, that he speaks his convictions with clarity, and he’s bold and he’s strong. Making America Great means bringing us to a place where we’re unified as a nation.”

BENJAMIN BRACE: “I like that he’s not willing to be politically correct. It’s been so refreshing to hear a politician talk about anything that’s been on people’s minds, that’s been on the normal people’s minds, that’s been on the everyday workers’ minds. Controlling our borders, controlling immigration, controlling the money that’s going in and out of Washington. It’s just so refreshing because the Washington establishment has stopped listening to the people.”

JOSH MAINORD: “Is what he always says, is it nice, is it pleasant, does he have the best delivery? Absolutely not. You know, I once considered, I compared him to Kevin Garnett. Kevin Garnett’s a jerk on the basketball court. He’s a bully, he picks on people. But at the end of the day, guess what? He’s a winner. And I want a winner to be my president.”

There’s been a lot of talk about whether Trump fans are racist. Supporters at the Oakland and North Texas rallies felt that this was not true, that their opinions have been unfairly categorized as racist. “I don’t think you’re a racist just because you may talk about a certain race. Just like the Muslims, he never said he doesn’t like Muslims, and Trump supporters never said, ‘We don’t like Muslims,’” supporter John Rhodes told KERA.

Benjamin Brace agreed. According to him, America faces a crisis of oversensitivity, if anything. “Everything is racist. Everything is triggering. Everything triggers everybody. And we’ve become such a bubble-wrapped society that I don’t care about ‘racist’ anymore.”

After covering several Trump rallies, New Republic contributor joined To the Point. He wasn’t surprised by this “anti-PC” sentiment among Trump’s supporters, and said it’s a validation of sorts. “A lot of these people are feeling like they’re tired of being punished for having these views. And for losing social capital because of their expressions of them.”

Obama the “Globalist”

Several supporters at the rallies made a similar claim: Obama is more interested in advancing “global” interests, rather than those of the American people.

KEITH BRITTO: “I don’t believe the man is a patriot. I don’t think he truly cares about us as a country. I think he’s a globalist and he cares more about global agendas as he cares about the United States of America.

DELYNN DAVIS: “I think he has a good heart, But quite frankly, he was raised as a Muslim. So I don’t think we’re ever gonna see him, or would have ever have seen him be tough on terrorism

BENJAMIN BRACE: “He’s so out of touch with what the normal person thinks and feels and says. He’s calling for ‘kumbaya,’ be one, and be accepting when we just had this horrendous shooting in Florida.”

JOHN RHODES: “I think Obama has a philosophy of America having to apologize for things in the past. I don’t think we should apologize for anything. I think we’re great for a reason, and we need to get back to that.”

It’s not surprising that Trump supporters feel this way. Trump, after all, was the leading voice of the so-called “birther” movement a few years back, when he led the calls for Obama to release his birth certificate to prove he was born in the United States. By its nature, Trump’s birtherism cast Obama as an outsider. These supporters seemed to echo this sentiment precisely.

Getting to the bottom of what drives the Donald Trump’s populism isn’t an impossibly difficult or obscure task. One doesn’t need to turn to mind-reading or psychoanalysis, as some pundits have suggested during this election cycle. In a now-famous article in Politico, Matthew MacWilliams argued that a voter’s preference for Donald Trump was not determined by their opinions on issues, but by a subconscious desire for authoritarianism. But maybe that’s overthinking it.

If you really want to understand why Donald Trump will be on the ballot in November? Go ask a Trump supporter.

Listen to To the Point on the topic, below: