Type to search

Stop Trying To Understand Trump Supporters

Campaign 2016 Elections Featured Post Politics

Stop Trying To Understand Trump Supporters

Donald Trump supporters at a rally in Nevada

Twenty-year-old Hana Barkowitz had never before had this reaction to a stranger’s T-shirt.

“I really wanted to say something,” she told me Wednesday. “This has become so personal for me.”

Since the Trump video, she means.

Last Friday, The Washington Post released a 2005 video capturing Donald Trump admitting on a live microphone that he is a sexual predator.

He was talking to Billy Bush, who was then working for “Access Hollywood” and has just been fired from NBC’s “Today” show. In the video, they were chuckling it up before Trump’s cameo appearance on the soap opera “Days of Our Lives.”

“You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful. I just start kissing them,” Trump said. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything — grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

The video went viral in the time it took us to draw our collective breath.

When Hana Barkowitz — her first name is pronounced HAHN’-uh — first heard about it, she resisted watching.

“I thought, ‘2005? That’s a long time ago.’ But so many were talking about it that I finally decided to watch it.”

She was stunned.

“My mouth dropped open. He kisses women without asking. He is promoting rape culture and sexual advances without consent.”

Barkowitz is no political neophyte. A native of Pittsburgh, she grew up talking politics and is currently president of Kent State’s College Democrats. I first met her during a panel discussion on campus, after I started teaching journalism there as a professional in residence. She was standing with her Republican counterpart at the time, and they readily admitted to being friends.

She is a cup-runneth-over kind of activist. Her enthusiasm for politics — and life in general — leaves you feeling more optimistic than before you met her. She is, by her own admission, sometimes confrontational about issues that concern her. That’s a long list.

Last weekend, though, was different. Barkowitz and a friend had decided to drive to a popular flea market in Cleveland. For the first half-hour or so, she enjoyed the respite from a long week.

Then she saw the white man in his 50s wearing the Trump shirt.

“I really wanted to say something,” she said. “I wanted to say to him, ‘How dare you? How dare you wear that shirt? You’re a white man. What Trump says doesn’t affect you at all. You will never know what this feels like. You’re so lucky.'”

Instead, she said nothing, after her friend pleaded with her to resist.

“She said, ‘Please don’t. What could he possibly say to make you feel better?’ And she was right.”

Still, it weighs on her, which I found out Wednesday after running into her on campus. She sounded like so many young women I’ve talked to this week, many of whom have never before cared much about politics. They can’t believe this guy is running for president or that anyone would openly admit to supporting him.

“I wouldn’t want to vote for someone with whom I wouldn’t feel safe in a room,” Barkowitz said.

Trump has dismissed his comments as “locker room talk.” On Wednesday, Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James shut that down in an interview after practice:

“What is locker room talk to me? It’s not what that guy said. We don’t disrespect women in no shape or fashion in our locker rooms. That never comes up. … I got a mother-in-law, a wife, a mom and a daughter, and those conversations just don’t go on in our locker room. … What that guy was saying, that’s not — I don’t know what that is. That’s trash talk.”

For months now, I’ve been trying to understand some of our fellow Americans who support Trump, the champion of racism, xenophobia and misogyny. We should not judge them, the pollsters and pundits lecture. We should get to the heart of what is really bothering them. They have their reasons for being so angry.

Well, you know what? Hana Barkowitz and so many young women like her are angry, too, and they have their reasons. They are coming of age as a major presidential candidate ramps up misogyny, aided and abetted by the cowardice of Republican politicians who continue to support an admitted sexual predator in his quest to be the leader of our country.

I’m done trying to understand these Trump supporters. Hana Barkowitz is right. They’ll never know how this feels. And they don’t care.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. She is the author of two books, including “…and His Lovely Wife,” which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz (con.schultz@yahoo.com) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Photo: Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump signs autographs for supporters after speaking at a rally at the Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, Nevada February 23, 2016. REUTERS/James Glover II

Connie Schultz

Connie Schultz is a nationally syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicated. Schultz won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for commentary and was a finalist for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. She has also published two books: Life Happens: And Other Unavoidable Truths -- a collection of her previously published columns -- and ...and His Lovely Wife: A Memoir from the Woman Beside the Man, which chronicled her experiences on the campaign trail with her husband, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown.

  • 1


  1. A. D. Reed October 19, 2016

    As a 63-year-old white North Carolina man who was born here, left for college and a career, and returned 22 years later, I am totally boggled by how anyone could vote for Trump. Especially the women who support him.

    I suppose I lack the imagination to put myself in the place of people who are gullible enough to have believed all the phony “scandals” about the Clintons over the past 25 years; ignorant enough to believe the blatant falsehoods spouted on-air by Fox “news” personalities; uneducated enough to lack even the most basic understanding of our government, science, world affairs, history, logic, business (success, failure, banking, bankruptcy, etc.), critical thinking, or psychological dysfunctions; debased enough that they somehow feel uplifted by the disdainful pandering of Donald Trump at his Nuremburg-like rallies; frightened enough that they allow unfocused paranoia to revolve around and settle on one scapegoat after another to the point that their blinders allow them to see only a deep, dark abyss as their future.

    Maybe if I could imagine being driven by feelings without brains or heart, I, too, could become a dangerous demagogue like Donald Trump. Instead I can only hope and anticipate that the GOP has, because of him, lost an entire generation, or perhaps two generations of potential members, supporters, and voters.

    1. Independent1 October 19, 2016

      Let’s hope that what you expressed in your last sentence, does in fact, come to be.

    2. charleo1 October 20, 2016

      Great A.D.! Well said. Thanks!

      1. A. D. Reed October 20, 2016

        Thanks, charleo1.

    3. Dominick Vila October 20, 2016

      Most of his supporters are more interested in proposals such as the deportation of 11 million illegal immigrants, who they believe are all Mexicans, overturning Roe V Wade, banning same-sex marriage, making access to lethal weapons easier, and hoping that The Donald’s expressions of bravado, and alleged business acumen, will allow him to bring back the assembly line work that once upon a time allowed semi-skilled American workers to earn a living. Add to that the fear, hatred, and overt prejudice they express, and it is not too difficult to understand why they believe all the pseudo scandals attributed to the Clintons, the claim that trade agreements benefit other nations and harm the USA, and the simplistic “solutions” that Trump makes about issues as complex and dangerous as suggesting that we should let countries like Japan and South Korea acquire nuclear weapons, dismantle NATO, and that we may not come to the aid of our allies if they don’t pay us enough money.

  2. Bess October 19, 2016

    My theory is that many Trump supporters are single issue voters. He will protect me and my guns! He’s not going to raise my taxes. They are able to overlook all of Trump’s baggage because he agrees with them on their most important issue.

    1. Independent1 October 19, 2016

      Given how many still seem to support Trump, it is hard to take in that there are so many millions in this country who would actually support Trump’s outright hatefulness. I think what you’re suggesting is probably what’s really taking place – which is even still very sad: that so many millions of Americans would be willing to accept someone as their president who so clearly outright unfit and incompetent to serve as our president – just because they feel he’s willing to address some issue that they champion.

      It’s akin to today’s wealthy – those in the upper 5% of income earners (the outright wealthy); who clearly must understand the misery they are creating for the vast majority of Americans when they take advantage of the Supreme Court’s nonsensical Citizen United decision , just to let them onstantly push politically to elect politicians who work for gimmick legislation that lets them continue becoming even more wealthy than any human has the right to expect that they would have ever attained.

      1. charleo1 October 20, 2016

        Like many long time Democrats, I have failed to appreciate the culture, and mindset of the staunch Republican. It seems to go something like this. It’s a given, that Democrats are never to be considered an acceptable alternate choice….ever! The good Republican believes no matter what they say, they are all at best tax and spenders. And at worst, un-American Communists want to bees. And therefore, may never be supported under any circumstances.
        Conversely, uniting behind the Republican, that would be any jackass with an (R) behind his name is mandatory. It’s how we win. It a totally Party centric approach to the political, built around a few simple brand identifiers. Trump has tested this formula to, and in many cases beyond its limits. Casually disposing of, and at times obliterating so many of these core brand identifiers, as to mark himself by any measure, an apostate to Republican dogma. As he continues on at unbelievable levels to show himself fundamentally unfit for the job. Leaving the Party faithful with nothing but that (R) behind his name to hold on to. Nothing other than that deep ingrained directive, that if they are to be good GOPers, they must line up, and at least pretend to support this ridiculous dangerous mess of a candidate. Just head out to the voting booth, and pull the lever for this idiot, for the sake of the Good Old Party. And don’t worry, we’ll control him with the Congress. To their credit, I think a lot of Republicans are having a really hard time with that proposition. It will be interesting to see how this plays out….

        1. stcroixcarp October 20, 2016

          Now these anti communists are all for Putin’s cheerleader. How ironic.

      2. Jim Samaras October 20, 2016

        LOL….many of the top 5% that you speak of are Hillary voters and want nothing to change

        1. Independent1 October 20, 2016

          Yes, dummkopf, only a moron like you wouldn’t realize I’m referring to the corrupt ones in the upper 5% like the koches, and Adelsons and Singers and Walmarts and on and on who are hellbent on getting Trump elected so they can continue the raping of the average taxpayer.

          Fact is dummkopf that the honest people in the 5% support the Democrats who are willing to start paying fair taxes so America can build its infrastructure and help those who need help. It’s actually Democrats who represent in the House the most wealthy districts in America – because despite those that are corrupt like I just mentioned, most wealthy people in the upper 5% of Americans aren’t narcissistic, hateful Republicans like you and your ilk!!!!!!

  3. Thoughtopsy October 19, 2016

    The only pro-Trump attitude I respect was one woman interviewed briefly who said:
    “I intend to vote Republican. If that ass is head of the mule-train, then I guess I’m voting for him.”

    Perfectly reasonable argument. She has a party she votes for.

    Everyone else appears to be trying to justify why they are voting for Trump based on aspects of his dumpster fire campaign….
    Those people haven’t a rational, moral leg to stand on and they know it…
    Or they are the deplorables that were mentioned previously, and, as the author of this article says: They won’t experience the results of their bigotry, racism and misogyny, so just don’t care.

  4. Oddworld October 19, 2016

    There is no mystery to understanding Trump supporters as long as you’re willing to visit the websites where his most fervent supporters congregate. Every concern the Trumpites have been talking about boils down to one major issue, America is no longer a country they identify with. It doesn’t matter to them who the candidate is, the fact that it is Trump makes no difference. Trump just happened to be the one to tap into the feelings that were already there. The greater challenge is getting a Trumpite to explain
    how they think he will be able to incorporate his policies into law with so much opposition stacked against him.

  5. Aaron_of_Portsmouth October 19, 2016

    Not only do Stone-Age men who support Trump have no empathy for women, or for any other oppressed group, but their vocal support of Donald shows a disrespect for their mothers, sisters, their wives, and all other women members of their family—yet this level of disrespect totally eludes them.
    Why? Because, first and foremost, the “Cord”(Urvath’l Vathqa in Persian), which Baha’u’llah speaks of often, has been severed in this Day and Age in such a way that those beings, mostly those who think and act as Trump, have been easily seduced to follow a dark path of “Separation” from their Creator. Oh, they may loudly assert themselves to Christians(or as Muslims, in the case of of those who espouse fanaticism in the Muslim diaspora), but the actions of Trump and his followers dictate by their deeds and words a break from the Ideals of Christianity—ideals which are so clearly evident in the New Testament, but which many clergy are blind to, having felt compelled to scour their Book to find justification for continuing to support Donald.

    So, in light of this one factor alone, this “severance” and the parallel evil incorporated in Trumpism and/or any divisive brand of politics, is a the problem and an expression of evil that transcends labels like “Democrat”, Republican”, Libertarian”, “Independent”, etc.

    And this is a major reason that we will never be able to understand Trump’s followers or be able to dissuade them by any earthly agency. Trump and his followers have been in a process of a moral corruption, and experienced a distortion of what it means to be noble, over the preceding decades to such an extent that an appeal to spirituality and the reasoning and logic that are associated with it, falls on deaf ears and inert minds and souls.
    The extent of this intransigent nature is evidenced by those in this forum who persist in irrationality, belligerence, and show a thirst to exhibit demonic characteristics by their keystrokes alone.

    “O MY FRIEND IN WORD! Ponder awhile. Hast thou ever heard that friend and foe should abide in one heart? Cast out then the stranger, that the Friend may enter His home.
    (from Baha’u’llah’s “The Hidden Words”, #26 in ‘The Persian Section’)

    This is another expression related to severing the “Cord”, which many in America, and elsewhere, have allowed.

  6. Beethoven October 20, 2016

    I can understand the people who support Trump because they are openly racist people who consider blacks and Hispanics inferior and undeserving of being considered American citizens. But what I have a great difficulty understanding is the people who not only claim to be “Christians” but say that their Christian belief is a very important, if not the most important, part of their life, but who nevertheless are supporting a candidate who is the very antithesis of Christian principles: he lies constantly, seemingly without any regard for whether what he says is true or not, or even if it clearly contradicts what he is on record as saying a few days or weeks before; he has committed adultery on a regular basis, and brags about it, and brags about committing sexual assault; he has cheated and stolen money from thousands of people, and seemingly has no shame in doing so, saying that proves he is a “smart” businessman; and he has no record of being involved in a church other than, perhaps, attending one in New York City once in a while, while displaying total ignorance about the Bible and Christian theology, while Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has a long record of teaching Sunday School in a Methodist Church, and has supporters who will attest to her commitment to, and knowledge of, Christian principles.

    1. Dan S October 20, 2016

      As a Christian myself I abhor everything said & done by the GOP nominee. He’s broken all 10 Commandments repeatedly & has violated the 7 deadly sins such as greed, envy, lust & sloth. He’s just downright lazy & never even bothered to properly prepare for these debates

    2. Jim Samaras October 20, 2016

      He has never said they are inferior! He will help many blacks and whites for that matter, out of poverty. What don’t you get about LEGAL immigration? Christians are taught to do what is RIGHT.

      1. johninPCFL October 20, 2016

        Yeah, he leaves that detail to his alt-right minions.

    3. Shaymamma8 October 21, 2016

      Well stated, I have no respect for these so-called christians. Trumpf has shown complete disdain for them, he is only using these idiots for votes. You cannot claim to be christian and vote for the devil. This is even too sad to be hilarious!!

  7. Karen October 20, 2016

    Well now isn’t that a cliff hanger! Will the US build that wall?, exit Nato?, destroy the ACA?, encourage our enemies to build their own bombs? defund Planned Parenthood

  8. yabbed October 20, 2016

    There are not enough uneducated, racist, misogynist, white supremacists in this country to elect Donald Trump so not to worry. He faces a humiliating, resounding defeat on Nov 8.

    1. There are not enough uneducated, racist, misogynist, white supremacists in this country to elect Donald Trump …

      We hope.

    2. Dan S October 20, 2016

      Amen to that

    3. dpaano October 20, 2016

      Not in his reality world…..he actually thinks he’s going to win!!!

      1. ivory69690@yahoo.com October 21, 2016

        DONNY DUMP winning ?????????? hmmmmmmmmmmm NOT . he is a racist hater even of women . now what this clown is trying to do is fill him self in the last black persons job all the time being beaten by a women he cant catch a break ( and dose not deserve on )

    4. Sid Pevear October 20, 2016

      I tend to agree, but , I’m voting anyway, just to be safe.

    5. plc97477 October 21, 2016

      There’s way to many as far as I can see, although I agree, not enough to win.

  9. Concerned Citizen October 20, 2016

    I am NOT what you described as uneducated, racist, etc. and I feel that you are just like you are just like your Horrible Crooked Hillary candidate for even saying such a nasty thing. How dare you judge us millions of Trump supporters! Our country will suffer greatly if Killary gets into office. You will see. I’m done with you and your insulting comments to those of us who you do not even know! Ignorance is bliss for you fool!

    1. yabbed October 20, 2016

      Thank you for making my case. 🙂

      1. mary5920 October 20, 2016

        They just can’t help themselves, eh? No support really, of drumpf; just a pivot to their cartoon version of Hillary Clinton. Also no response to the woman highlighted in the article.

    2. Paul Bass October 20, 2016

      So says the RWNJ with only a 1/4 upvote rating.

      And, EVERYONE knows if anyone EVER says they are “NOT….(whatever)”, that assures EVERYONE that they ARE indeed a racist, uneducated, whatever.

      But, we already knew that, just look at your upvotes!

    3. Jim Samaras October 20, 2016

      I would love to see the look on the faces of these morons when DJT wins this election in the landslide that’s coming. I believe we come here for the entertainment value of listen to their poor excuses for the cankle queen! LOL

      You want real journalism and fellow conservatives check out Truth Revolt but it’s not as much fun when everyone agrees

      1. TiredOfTheHaters October 20, 2016

        And which dream of yours would that notion be a part of?

        1. dpaano October 20, 2016

          The one with the unicorns, I’m assuming!

      2. Bill P October 20, 2016

        Jim it must be nice in the alternate reality world that you describe where DJT wins in a landslide. I believe you meant he loses in a avalanche. Gotta love you right wing trolls who claim “real” journalism is on some extreme right wing website.

      3. stcroixcarp October 20, 2016

        You have just insulted your own grandmothers with your demeaning “the cankle queen”. These ladies need to cut you out of the will you ungrateful ignorant twit. Shame on you. Grannies know what sexual harassment , and sexual assault is. And we vote!

      4. ivory69690@yahoo.com October 21, 2016

        the poor excuses all come from DONNY DUMP him self for his whole life he blames all for any bad that happens to him . ///You want real journalism and fellow conservatives /// and this is you coming here to infect as many as you can with your cancer of the wrong ways in your pathetic pitchit filled life

        1. Jim Samaras October 21, 2016

          Yes I am!!! There’s no hope for goofs like you and many other regulars on this site but for the few that stumble on here seeking real information as opposed to group think, that is why I bother.

          1. ivory69690@yahoo.com October 22, 2016

            then again it brain dead fools like you that have a DONNY DUMP personality stumbling falling and have no clue your self that thinks it all good what you think and feel . to each their own . at some point you should get tired of the stumbling and falling on ones face and see things as thy truly are (better with out a DUMPSTER in the house )

      5. johninPCFL October 21, 2016

        From David Stockman, Saint Reagan’s budget director: “If there was any doubt before, Trump demonstrated last night he doesn’t get it, says David. “He’s a philosophy-free one-man band who thinks Washington’s failures at home and abroad are due to bad deals made by stupid people, and that by force of smarts and willpower, he can set the ship of state aright — make America great again.”

        And so Trump gets tossed around like a cherry tomato in his own word salads, unable to channel the frustration of everyday Americans in a constructive way: “He can’t articulate at all the case against Big Government and the policies that have ruined American capitalism and left Flyover America out to dry,” David avers.”

        1. Jim Samaras October 21, 2016

          It’s only one reason the bad deals are made. While it’s true many are dummies, the smart ones who know, sold us out for profit. This guy Stockman, who’s been around a hundred years, may be part of the problem. Trying to save what’s left of the graft and corruption that IS both parties.

          While other word choices may be better, the American people hear him loud and clear.

    4. johninPCFL October 20, 2016

      It’s only half of you. Decide which half you’re in.

    5. Independent1 October 20, 2016

      “I am NOT what you described as uneducated, racist, etc.”

      You realize that that’s your opinion of yourself, an opinion that I feel most of us on his blog would totally disagree on. No non-racist, non-bigot, non-hate monger would support someone who is clearly all of those things. YOU ARE WHAT YOU SUPPORT!!!

      So stop lying to yourself. If you’re not uneducated, then you clearly got to be a racist, hate mongering bigot on your own!!!!!!!

      1. Concerned Citizen January 6, 2017

        …DEMS are the racists and bigots and HAVE BEEN FOR 200 YEARS! You don’t know me and you have no right to insult me because of my opinions. Go check urself!

    6. Sid Pevear October 20, 2016

      A little bit of honest self evaluation might do you some good. I try to do it regularly. That is something Donald Trump is not capable of. This man is truly everything that has been printed about him. When you can go back years and find the same kind of behavior he exhibits today it should be abundantly obvious that this is who he is. He is 70 years old! It is highly unlikely he will ever be anything else than what we see today. Crude, nasty, ugly,,narcissist, selfish, thin skinned and any number of pejoratives of which would take to long to list. If you back him you are endorsing this behavior. If you choose to ignore it, well, then ignorance truly is bliss. Defending the indefensible is, pretty much, indefensible.

    7. Xanthippia October 21, 2016

      Yet even as you protest the things you are not, you go out of your way to put forth distortions of the Democratic nominee’s name, hoping perhaps that your distortions will adequately express your dislike of the person. But it doesn’t work. Those of us who read these slurs (“Horrible Crooked Hillary,” “Killary,” etc) and the ones aimed at the Republican nominee (“Dumbf,” “T.rump,” “Orange Cheetoh,” etc) probably do exactly what I just did, which is dismiss your entire point as being inconsequential and not worth considering.

      You don’t gain ground with ad hominem attacks. You lose it.

      1. Concerned Citizen December 13, 2016


    8. Field Artillery October 21, 2016

      Don’t feel bad. I’m a Democrat with 3 Degrees and I still voted for TRUMP. They have no clue who his supporters really are do they.

  10. idamag October 20, 2016

    When George Washington warned against the dangers of political parties, he probably didn’t realize the full nature of our uphill battle. Political affiliation is often chalked up to cultural factors such as family upbringing and geographical location, but research suggests that biology is also at play, predisposing us to adopt certain political ideologies, and also preventing us from letting them go. So the next time you find yourself absorbed in political debate, remember, changing someone’s mind may be just as difficult as changing their brain. At the same time, being mindful of our political biases might ultimately help us to bypass them and more rationally form our own opinions

    1. Sid Pevear October 20, 2016

      Very well put! It is frustrating when there is willful ignorance that is breath taking in its lack of desire to even listen to facts.

  11. ivory69690@yahoo.com October 21, 2016

    Stop Trying To Understand Trump Supporters/// its imposable to understand the brain dead

  12. BrooklynChickLovesLiberty October 24, 2016

    F**K Trump supporters. Just burry them in November.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.