Monday, March 09, 2020

The Flight of the Flighty Fanatics

During the course of the Obama administration, I knew some folks who had previously identified as committed Democrats who hated Barack Obama. Hated, hated, hated him -- and not "from the left". These were folks who at least played with all the conspiracies (birtherism, closet Muslim, etc.), thought he was selling America to Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood -- they really went off the deep end. Often times, they were die-hard 2008 Hillary Clinton supporters, but even that has the potential to mislead because by the time 2016 rolled around they viewed Clinton as toxic too because of her tenure in the abominable Obama administration (Benghazi!). In the last election, they often were very loud in calling themselves "independent" because "the Democratic Party left me".

Given the degree to which their hatred of Obama stemmed from truly wild xenophobic fantasies, I kind of just wrote them off as lost to the Trumpist movement. Honestly, they seemed like his perfect voters. All the things that should make a reasonable person detest Trump seemed to me like basically souped-up version of the politics they had been increasingly indulging in since 2008. People who viewed Obama as an incompetent naif cum reckless dictator whose deepest fantasy was to give Iran an open pipeline to import Sharia Law into America weren't going to be repelled by Trump's actual incompetence, recklessness, authoritarian tendencies, etc.

And yet, I've observed some of these people and -- they really don't like Trump. They do think he's incompetent and racist and reckless and at least quasi-authoritarian. From my vantage point, they seem to be just wildly pinballing. At best, it is confirmation of the conventional wisdom that "independent" is another way of saying "low-information and politically incoherent". But I suppose it's good news for the next election?