The Five Trump Supporters You Meet In The Green Room

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Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Much ink has been spilled trying to figure out the rank and file Republican primary voters (working class Americans, white nationalists, anyone sick of political correctness, etc.) who helped propel Donald Trump to presumptive nominee status. Less time has been spent thinking about the more prominent backers—the politicians, operatives, and commentators—who have supported him along the way.

Without betraying any confidences, I’ve been thinking about who these people are, and how to categorize them. What follows is my effort to do so:

  1. The Partisan: Some people still prize partisan affiliation. People in this camp believe you duke it out in the primary, but in the General Election, you always support the party’s nominee—no matter what. To some people, doing anything else is almost sacrilegious. Personally, I’d rather be an ideologue than a partisan, and there’s no doubt that this is a dying breed. But when you see people like Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal reluctantly support Trump, you are inclined to believe this species still exists.
  2. The Opportunist: For people who have failed to make it into the big leagues in the current political or media establishment, Donald Trump offers an opportunity to hitch your wagon to his star. Don’t have the chops or connections to be a national spokesman on a regular presidential campaign? Now’s your chance! Whether you’re a politician with nowhere else to go (see Chris Christie), a political operative who is down on your luck (or a second tier operative who couldn’t make it through the front door), or an ambitious pundit aspiring to fame, this is a golden opportunity to reinvent yourself—and to fill a much-needed niche.
  3. The Has-Been: A close cousin to the opportunist, The Has-Been is living on borrowed time. He is a man in a hurry. But his motives aren’t always impure. He may also be someone who appreciates that life is short. As such, he may put a premium on making sure the next president is a Republican —no matter the the downsides.
  4. The True Believer: Not all Trump elites are cynics or opportunists. Some of the top people supporting Trump are true believers. In some cases, they prioritize law and order over things like limited government and conservative philosophy. In other cases, they are young people who simply want something to be excited about—something to believe in. Lastly, there are a lot of people in the talk radio world who have always called themselves conservatives, even though they are more accurately “populists” or “nationalists.” These folks have sincerely held cultural beliefs that, until Trump, were not fully represented in the modern GOP.
  5. The Authoritarian. One’s propensity to support Trump seems to correlate with authoritarian tendencies. It has been my observation that conservatives who question authority and worry about civil liberties are much less likely than “law and order” conservatives to support him. This may help explain why people like Rudy Giuliani—and maybe even Dick Cheney—are backing him.

Note: It’s fair to say that these categories overlap. In fact, many prominent Trump supporters are combinations of two or three of these.

Additionally, consider this a work in progress; so let me know if I’m missing anything…


Matt K. Lewis