In the latest twist of the Democrats in the United States trying to make up political voter loss (while not making any headway) from the mess that is the Donald Trump administration, they are now pursuing a new tack.
They are naively trying to explain to Trump supporters how the truisms that the Trump agenda will hurt their economic interests - by depriving them of health insurance and cutting social services in order to steal even more citizen taxes for the already rich.
However, with that strategy, the Democrats are apparently getting nowhere: Nearly 40% of all voters continue to give their unwavering support to Trump. Moreover, in 17 Southern and Rust Belt states that are crucial for electoral calculations in the next presidential election as well as for controlling the Senate, his approval rating is still almost 50% according to a Gallup survey.
The Democrats are somehow surprised. They still foolishly believe in the old adage that people vote their pocketbook and expect voter’s eyes to open the moment they start hurting financially.
It is quite astounding that Democrats still believe that. After all, the U.S. working class stands apart from most working-class voters in other democracies. In other western democracies, those citizens are smart enought to vote their economic interests, while in the United States, they do not.
To a large extent, Trump's core votes on aspiration (affiliation with the Republicans offers them the lure of feeling to belong to a richer set of voters – even if their own economic circumstances are quite depressed).
Misunderstanding voter motivation
The other fundamental truth the Democrats miscomprehend is that Trumpism, like most radical right-wing movements, is fueled by resentment, not economics.
The resentment is not an exclusively American phenomenon — or Anglo-Saxon, if you consider the UK Brexit vote. All over the world people with low-tech manual skills and the traditional way of life are raging against their own national elites who are completely at home in the complex globalized, information-driven world.
Trump voters are resentful like the Russians
Donald Trump's election is exactly what happened in Russia and how Putin retains power. As we are seeing now with the Trump Cabinet and the neoRepublican Party in general, Putin placed his cronies, a clique of former military and security officers, in all the relevant positions of power. By doing so, he has turned Russia into a kleptocratic economic filling station. Russia’s globalized elites - especially those who can find jobs abroad - are now emigrating if they can.
Putin, to use the Russian slang word meaning "street thug," is a quintessential "gopnik." Russian Gopniks gather into politically focused gangs, respect the authority of a strong leader and like to pick on people under the direction of their leader. They resent “polite society” and accepted norms of conduct.
Trump’s diehard supporters are mostly American versions of Putinesque gopniks, which can be readily observed by their conduct at Trump's scapegoating rage rallies. They respect Trump like the Gopniks respect Putin: Trump's core feel they instinctively have more in common with him than with the American liberal elites and the educated domestic media.
Trump supporters adore Trump (as they would Putin) because he gives them license to voice their resentment of the elites, as well as minorities, gays, foreigners and women, or anyone who they can blame for their plight.
Racist and sexist remarks, booing of national leaders and chants “lock her up” have become acceptable and even encouraged by Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Rabid Trump supporters prize their freedom of speech - or rather "license to say what they really think” much more than their economic well-being.
The Russia/Putin/US healthcare connection
This is why so many Republicans in Congress have no fear of voting for Trumpcare - and for the proposed Trump uber-elite tax cuts for the rich at the expense of his mostly white blue collar supporters.
Hence, the Democrats’ attempts to appeal to the economic self-interest of Trump supporters have not worked - in the same way that such economics-based opposition to Putin didn’t work in Russia.
To rational minds, that is all the more surprising since Putin’s gopnik policies since 2014 have plunged more and more Russians back into poverty.
A serious deterioration of US society
There is an even smaller chance of voter economic appeals working in the United States. After all, a majority of Trump supporters have enough money to foster their obesity - and still have enough money left over to feed their opiate habit and then purchase laxatives for their opiate-induced constipation.
Sure, there will be discontent when Americans eventually get as impoverished as Russia - or as they did during the Great Depression in 2008.
But the Democrats will have to wait for awhile for this to happen. And until that happens, the Democratic Party's economics-based rhetoric will continue to fall on deaf ears.
Instead, they should try reminding the Trump’s electorate that an envisioned Trump clan alliance with Russia will likely end in a serious falling out. We just have to remember or re-research the late 1930s alliance between Germany and the Soviet Union to see the possible results.
The long political game
Under the circumstances, the Democrats - or even a progressive third party - are for now probably forced to play a long game. Instead of the economic appeal, they should drum into the American public the idea that an authoritarian, undemocratic regime of the type Trump and his supporters are clamoring for, and which the Republicans are rapidly constructing, has a tendency to rot.
Where a vitriolic insistence on strong-man rule can lead to a society like we now see in Venezuela, we will see a US in a state of collapse.
When the core of a Nation is rotten, Americans won’t be able to hide behind their powerful military or inflated military budget at the expense of the poor and the middle class. The Soviet Union, to use one example, had the world’s most formidable military when it suddenly disintegrated in 1989.
This grim picture of the future of the United States may be a more effective way to engage Trump supporters than to keep explaining to them how they will be worse off economically by continuing to support the kleptocratic Trump and the current Republican Party.
On the other hand, the worse case scenario would be to have the Trump Gopniks already so destitute that they want to bring down the rest of the United States to the personal state many of them are in already – angry scapegoaters of the "others" who lie to themselves and drug up to numb the pain of their constant lifestyle despair.