The Real Tragedy Is That Most Trump Supporters Aren’t Stupid

by | Apr 26, 2024 | Opinions & Commentary

Photo by David Todd McCarty, Unsplash

The Real Tragedy Is That Most Trump Supporters Aren’t Stupid

by | Apr 26, 2024 | Opinions & Commentary

Photo by David Todd McCarty, Unsplash

It's time we stopped giving adult human beings the benefit of the doubt, simply because we think they're not smart enough not to be fooled by religious shysters, fake news peddlers, and political snake oil salesmen.

Republished with permission from John Pavlovitz

Ignorance is not a compelling argument.

We’ve all heard the theories for the past eight years: people still supporting Donald Trump are somehow victims of the partisan media and Evangelical alternate reality that they’ve been raised in and are still captives of. They’re continually surrounded  by fake news and false stories, and so they aren’t bad people they just aren’t seeing what we are seeing and we need to be more understanding.

This just isn’t acceptable anymore.

There simply isn’t a sufficient excuse for being an adult so sheltered from facts and so truth-deprived that you can’t see Trump’s complete sociopathy and you can’t discern the existential threat he and his party are to this nation.

These people aren’t being asked to dig beneath some complex, brilliantly crafted ruse perpetrated by Conservative media and religious conglomerates working in concert. If you can simply read Trump’s own social media feed and not be fully disgusted to the point of vomiting, you either aren’t a reasonable human being or you are willingly choosing to engage in wild intellectual and theological gymnastics in order to avoid a reality that makes you uncomfortable, and to intentionally avoid some really vile stuff that no one is even attempting to conceal anymore.

I’m fully convinced that nearly everyone still supporting Donald Trump knows he is a reprehensible human being and guilty of high crimes against this nation—but they simply can’t admit to themselves or anyone else they made a mistake and so they are doubling down again and again.

They’re not stupid, they’re just willing to let America die on the altar of their pride, which may be far worse.

Being an adult means being responsible for ferreting out what is real and what isn’t, and for making good decisions with the available information. This is what we demand from our children isn’t it? We only let their ignorance be an excuse for so long, and then we remove that option because we expect them to be smarter than that at some point. And if we realize that they are smart enough to know better, then it becomes an indictment of their character.

If grown men and women aren’t willing or able to sift information and choose wisely because of their media choices or their circle of friends or their mental effort, the net result is the same: they are enabling and protecting reprehensible behavior that places people in great danger.

If FoxNews creates your reality, you’re going to be hateful toward lots of people. You’re going to be afraid of Muslims, LGBTQ people, immigrants, people of color, refugees—and on and on and on. And if you’ve been on the planet for a few decades, you should have developed the critical thinking not to allow a network that brokers in fantasy and fiction to be your baseline for truth. That’s a you problem.

If The Religious Right defines for you what it means to be a Christian, your Christianity is going to look nothing like the actual teachings of Christ. It’s going to be an angry, violent thing devoid of compassion and gentleness. That isn’t your preacher’s fault and it isn’t Franklin Graham’s fault and it isn’t the Devil’s fault. As a thinking Christian who supposedly reads the words of Jesus and reflects on them regularly—you should see through this sham in a hot minute and soundly reject it.

If the brazen, unapologetic racism and xenophobia and misogyny on display right now is too subtle for your sensibilities, and if Nazis marching through town squares and supremacist politicians and election interference fall beneath your radar, you either intentionally have your head in the sand or it isn’t on straight to begin with—and either is a problem.

Many of my white Evangelical friends supporting Trump aren’t as much stupid or unaware as they are cowardly. They held their noses in 2016, voted in anger or haste or error—and then quickly got out of the politics business, choosing to escape the consequences of their decision on other people. So FoxNews and the Conservative Christian Church have become convenient places of sanctuary for people with privilege wanting to hide from the results of their vote.

Again, they aren’t ignorant of reality—they just are opting out of it altogether. If it is stupidity, the affliction is highly selective, extremely localized, and very convenient.

It’s time we stopped giving adult human beings the benefit of the doubt, simply because we think they’re not smart enough not to be fooled by religious shysters, fake news peddlers, and political snake oil salesmen. If that is true, then they’re also not smart or mentally available enough to be presented with objective data or compelling argument and to filter them responsibly. They are practically speaking, unreachable with rational measures.

I’m tired of having to treat people like children when they aren’t capable or willing to see what even a child can see, what my children can see. They know hatred and bullying without needing to read a think piece or do online research or unpack layers of religion and history.

I’m over justifying bigotry and racism and the horrible stuff happening in the country, and giving people who perpetuate it a pass because they supposedly don’t realize they’re supporting a monster—when most of the watching world seems to get it.

In a time when information is available at our fingertips and when conversation and study and exploration are limitless, I’m through excusing supposed adults for not being able to make a decision that is based in reality, simply because they’re in some hateful, self-righteous, nationalistic bubble. That’s their fault, not ours.

I don’t hate these people but I’m also not going to coddle them and encourage their ignorance anymore because lots of people are damaged when that happens.

Sooner or later we adults all have to own our supposed stupidity—and choose to be wiser.

John Pavlovitz

John Pavlovitz

John Pavlovitz is a writer, pastor, and activist from Wake Forest, North Carolina. A 25-year veteran in the trenches of local church ministry, John is committed to equality, diversity, and justice—both inside and outside faith communities. When not actively working for a more compassionate planet, John enjoys spending time with his family, exercising, cooking, and having time in nature. He is the author of A Bigger Table, Hope and Other Superpowers, Low, and Stuff That Needs to Be Said.

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