The Watergate scandal in 1973 triggered my interest in politics at age 18. With those tumultuous times as a personal benchmark, today’s political turbulence feels even more chaotic and uncontrolled. Such havoc has caused extreme anxiety, heightened anger, passionate polarization, and growing uncertainty over who or what to believe – all within my party!
Subsequently, and from my perch as a loyal Republican since 1975, a Trump-era phenomenon has developed that I call “Tripolar Republicans.”
The term refers to three distinct poles of Republican opinion symbolically set in solid concrete, soft mud, and shifting sand. Each pole represents a different attitude toward President Donald Trump’s volatile five months in office.
The concept of Tripolar Republicans evolved after numerous casual conversations and observations with Trump-voting Republicans from around the nation in both red and blue states, leading me to conclude that currently, party voters are divided equally among the three poles. Tripolar Republicans is an opinion concept not based on a scientific sampling of Republicans from 50 states, but rather a phenomenon I have personally observed.
Gathered around the concrete pole with unwavering enthusiasm and unshakable faith are the “Trump can do no wrong” Republicans. The following statements easily identify these true believers:
“The media are out to get him.”
“The mainstream media are all fake news.”
“Trump has created 700,000 jobs.”
“It’s the economy, stupid.”
“The economy is booming.”
“Trump will be re-elected in 2020 because people will vote with their wallet.”
“Trump was right to fire Comey.” (Contrasted with only 22% of Americans who supported Comey’s dismissal.)
“All the polls are wrong.” (Except the Rasmussen Reports Daily Presidential Tracking poll, especially on June 16 when it showed Trump with a 50% approval rating, which the president promptly tweeted and concrete pole people could not stop citing. Today Rasmussen has Trump approval at 46% and 54% disapprove. )
This group firmly believes that Trump should continue tweeting unabated since it’s the most effective way to get his message directly to the people and helps his presidency achieve its goals.
Concrete dwellers parrot Trump’s words such as “witch hunt” to describe the Trump/Russia investigations. They say that Trump is “draining the swamp.”
Concrete pole Republicans proudly wear “Make America Great Again” hats at Republican-only gatherings, while public sightings of these famous red hats have dramatically diminished. Sean Hannity is “worshiped” and often quoted.
The question most often heard: “Why weren’t the Clintons investigated like this?”
Gathered around the pole set in mud are formerly enthusiastic Trump-voting Republicans who now fear mud on their faces. They are increasingly feeling disappointed by Trump’s performance and his inability to push through major legislation. However, they are hopeful that Trump will “turn things around” because, “it’s still early,” he is “not a politician,” and “he deserves a chance.”
In their hearts, mud pole Republicans want Trump to succeed. They are quietly cheering him on but growing increasingly skeptical that Trump is not up to the job. Their support for Trump is mud-soft, but if Trump triumphs, the soft mud will instantly harden.
Similar to the “concrete pole” true believers, Republicans around the mud pole also think the media are “out to get Trump.” The major difference is that mud pole dwellers believe most of Trump’s problems are self-inflicted. In fact, the most common refrain heard around the mud pole is “If only Trump would stop tweeting.” Followed by “Why can’t his advisers shut down his Twitter account?”
Mud pole concerns are that Trump’s “reality show presidency” is wearing thin while the midterm elections are dreaded (though Karen Handel’s victory in Georgia is certainly a short-term boost). Still, in “political dog years” the midterms are decades away and thousands of tweets from today.
Statements commonly heard around the mud pole are:
“Firing Comey was a disaster.”
“Trump acts too impulsively.”
“He must be driving his advisers crazy.”
“I would not work in the White House even if asked.”
“At least Trump will appoint some conservative judges.”
“If Congress fails to pass any major legislation, we will be toast in 2018.”
The final triad of Tripolar Republicans finds this group congregated around a pole stuck in the shifting sand. These are largely professional, college-educated, white-collar Republicans who held their nose and voted for Trump only because they could not stomach the thought of voting for Hillary Clinton.
Overwhelmingly, sand pole people are anxious that Trump is a disaster in the making, and their greatest fear is how he will respond to a real crisis, foreign or domestic.
Sand pole Republicans can’t talk about Trump without shaking their heads. They are trying to understand his behavior in the same way a parent tries to understand their obstinate 15-year-old. Some common statements uttered by this group:
“He has to stop tweeting.”
“What do we do with this guy?”
“If Trump keeps it up, he is going to get impeached.”
“I think we will lose the House in 2018.”
“He is going to ruin the party.”
“In the morning, I am afraid to turn on the news.”
They ask each other, “Do you think Trump will finish his first term?”
There is broad agreement that Trump does not “act presidential.”
They feel exhausted by his young presidency.
Lately, they are more convinced that no major legislation will be enacted.
I have heard many in this group say that they think Trump is “nuts.”
They laugh about Trump’s communication style sounding like that of an 8-year-old.
Many secretly wish that Vice President Pence would take over.
One trait that unites all three groups is their common hope that the president succeed and fulfill his promise to “Make America Great Again.” That is also the trait that separates Republicans from the vast majority of Democrats, who as a group are also seriously splintered at this point.
Cross-posted at WND