How Voters In Rural Iowa Still See Trump In A Much Different Light

From Robert Leonard of Marion County

I’m a political junkie. Every day I read The Washington Post and The New York Times, among other media giants, with great interest and appreciation. I understand and value the great writing, thoughtful analysis, logic and reasoning. And the fact checking. Especially the fact checking.

Given that I live in Iowa, The Des Moines Register, The Chicago Tribune and The Kansas City Star are among my favorites as well. I also try to catch a variety of broadcast news organizations over the course of the evening. Being ADD, Twitter presents an endless buffet of delightful and distracting news commentary and stories.

I’m learning that President Donald Trump continues to offend, make missteps, court World War III and faces isolation in the face of the worst presidential polling in history. That he faces possible impeachment, or removal from office when his cabinet invokes Section 25 of the Constitution. I learn that the Republican Party is in disarray and may never recover. In this chaos commentators are speculating just how many Democrats will gain seats in the House and Senate and if it will be enough to take over one or both bodies of Congress in 2018. Possible Democratic candidates for president are being vetted for 2020.

This is delusional.

Here in conservative rural America, Trump is ascendant.

I was loafing in a booth at the coffee shop Saturday morning, and my friend Mark said something like, “Hey Bob, if you want to understand why rural conservatives like Trump, watch the speech he gave at the Values Voters Summit.”

I replied, “Just tell me why,” not wanting to tell Mark I can hardly stand to watch or listen to Trump, I despise him so. I thought, how perfectly ironic and hypocritical of the religious right to have a man without honor or dignity preach about “values.”

“No, you have to watch it first. Then we’ll talk,” he said.

I tried to remember what I had read about the speech. The only thing I could recall was that Trump had made either a mistake, or misspoke and had referred to the Governor of Puerto as the president. The media had been all over the gaffe. What a clown, a buffoon Trump is! More evidence of his ignorance, his lack of preparation, basic courtesy, and more proof of how unfit he is for office. While certainly more was reported on his speech, that is what I remembered.

While I couldn’t bring myself to actually watch Trump give his speech, I read the transcript as provided by the White House.

Looking only at the written word, and putting Trump’s arrogant off-script comments aside, it was a beautiful speech. Powerful. Inspirational. Brilliant even.

That’s not what I took from the reporting — which may well be the fault of my selective reading and viewing — but if President Barack Obama had given a similar speech I know much of the media would have lauded it, leaving me with a completely different perspective of the speech, and likely of the man.

Doing my best to understand how my conservative friends might read Trump’s speech, I read it again. Only this time, I contrasted Trump’s messaging with how rural conservatives often view Democratic messaging. Here goes.

Trump began by saying we are a nation of believers and that “together we are strengthened and sustained by the power of prayer.” Democrats want prayer out of the public sphere.

Trump called the Las Vegas shooting a “horrific mass murder” and an “act of pure evil.” Democrats blame the guns and want to take yours away.

Trump honored the heroes of Las Vegas, including the police officers and other first responders. Democrats elevate thugs and view our protectors in blue with disdain.

Trump quotes scripture. Democrats ridicule those who do.

Trump stresses unity. Democrats divide American society into victims and oppressors.

Trump says, “We love our country.” Obama went on an international apology tour.

Trump says, “We cherish the sacred dignity of every human life.” Democrats murder babies.

Trump says, “We believe in strong families.” Democratic policies pull them apart.

Trump says, “We are proud of our history.” Democrats tear down monuments.

Trump says, “We respect our great American flag.” Democrats take a knee.

I could go on. There’s much, much more in Trump’s speech that’s fodder for conservative thought.

So, big media, keep up the great writing, thoughtful analysis, logic and reasoning. And fact checking. But, remember here in Trumplandia, you won’t change any minds. The cultural fissure is too deep, and relates to fundamentally different worldviews with respect to freedom and the nature of man.

Given so, Trump’s sinking poll numbers are irrelevant. My conservative friends will vote for a fence post before they vote for a Democrat.

Keep preaching to the choir, coastal media elites. Continue to predict the downfall of Trump in 2020 if not before, and great victories for Democrats in congressional races in 2018, and we’ll see if it works. That’s my hope. I fear, however, such stories will only lead to complacency among the Democratic electorate.

My conservative friends remain “Trump-strong.” And remember, we in the hinterland have the Electoral College by the throat.

I’ll be seeing my friend Mark again soon. I’m not looking forward to it.


by Robert Leonard
First published in Kansas City Star
Posted 11/2/17

11 Comments on "How Voters In Rural Iowa Still See Trump In A Much Different Light"

  • Every Democrat should read this in order to grasp why we Democrats are losing on all levels. Until we counter these Trump falsehoods 2018 will be more of the same Republican dominance.

    • Are you implying that the problem is white people? If so, I have seen suggestions of that in other posts in other places. It appears to me that there are some people in the Democratic Party and some progressives who would like to drive white people driven from the Party, especially white men.

  • Great article and so right. The overriding question is ,how do we get the country-both sides -back together-at least partially-again? You laid out the problem very well. Now for the solution-that’s the tough part.

    Dick Goodson

  • As a white rural woman with two grown sons and daughters, please stop pushing the idea that Democrats do not have any idea of what is going on. I have a novel idea I have used for forty years when it comes to elections at all levels–I vote for the best interests of my family in all aspects of their lives in the future. The future is the key ingredient the past is never as great as people keep saying. Live a little–read a History book.

  • All Leonard has really said is that Trump is a con artist and that Leonard is willing to repeat Republican talking points if it makes for a good essay.

    Trump certainly does not pray or know scripture. He is not a uniter. He believes in strong men, not strong families. He is selectively proud of our history as are most people: He loves Confederate monuments but today criticized our justice system and said it is a laughing stock. Democrats don’t elevate thugs like Putin or Duterte or take apology tours.

    This essay did not deserve to be reprinted here.

  • Who are Trump’s speech writers? They are the ones who are to blame and Trump is only a parrot who must communicate his ideas one at a time on Twitter.

  • Yes, Trump”s speeches are political comfort food for the peaked-in-high-school crowd. Nobody is “delusional” about that, particularly not those of us who left the old home town to pursue opportunity, see more of the world than what is contained within our rural zip codes and live comfortably in the 21st century.

    • That’s pretty arrogant, Jeff. Some folks live pretty comfortably even in the old zip code. Some make their own opportunities here, too. And some come here from the big city and stay.

  • The problem is the contrasts that allegedly are the conservatives view of Democrats, all of which are either baldface lies or gross simplifications of complex issues. I for one refuse to stoop to lying and treating others like children.

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