Misinformation: Donald Trump’s supporters are racists.
Information: A strong argument could be made for the claim that many of Trump’s supporters are racist, and also probably for the claim that racists are more likely to support Trump than to support any other political leader.
But…many of us know people that support Trump whom we would not describe as racist. How they can reconcile the belief that America should be a land of equal opportunity for all with their support of a man and movement whose beliefs and actions operate so nakedly to deny that opportunity is a matter for their own consciences and personal integrity. Nonetheless, these are people who believe in fairness in justice and equality of opportunity, or at least purport to hold such beliefs
There are, however, two things that no Trump supporter can even pretend to believe in: 1) science, and 2) democracy.
Science, because the Trump movement is nothing if not an anti-science movement. It must be so because science is the pursuit of objective truth, and for Trumpers, as for Trump himself, there is no such thing as objective truth—there is only the version of “truth” that supports their beliefs.
You can test this for yourself—just ask any avid Trump supporter if they believe in science as a valid route to truth. Their answer will be either a flat out “no,” with a justification, or at best an equivocation.
The problem with choosing to disbelieve science is not that science is invariably right. At its heart, science is not after all a body of knowledge, it’s an approach to the discovery and verification of knowledge. The route of discovery often travels down blind alleys. What’s more, like any human endeavor, science can be corrupted.
But just because science can be flawed doesn’t mean it should be discarded. The process of scientific inquiry has an impressive string of victories over the past couple of thousand years, including an astounding improvement of standard of living for nearly all of humankind, an understanding of the mechanisms of human biology that have made it possible to dramatically reduce the incidence and effects of disease, and advances in physics that have recently given us information technology, GPS, and the ability to explore distant planets and distant planetary systems, and will soon give us a limitless supply of clean energy.
One simply cannot simultaneously hold any respect for the power of scientific inquiry to discover truth and for the nonsense Trump spouts in relation to, for example, climate change, wind generators, and epidemiology.
Democracy, because whatever else Trump is, he is a fascist in his view of how government should operate. His supporters are not drawn to him in spite of that view, but because of it—none of them trust democracy as a form of government, and they are likely quite willing to confess to that when pressed, because they’re proud of holding to a philosophy that only the “best” should be, or should determine who is, in charge.
Like science, democracy is often flawed. And like science it requires sustained creative effort to live up to its promise. But the effort needed is not just on the part of scientists and government leaders, it’s required of all of us. Those who hold that arrogance of belief and autocracy of government are preferable are demonstrating that they aren’t willing to expend that effort, which leaves that much more to do for the rest of us. They may or may not be racist, but they aren’t much help in our efforts to improve the nature of the game of humankind’s survival and the viability of the field that we’re playing it on.