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Column: Trump supporters are standing by their man. ‘Nothing’s changed for me’

Supporters of President Trump outside the Senate chamber on Wednesday.
Supporters of President Trump outside the Senate chamber after breaking into the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
(Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)

We finally have a test of President Trump’s claim that he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?”

After Trump incited a rampage Wednesday in Washington and at least five people ended up dead, I reached out to Trump supporters I’ve corresponded with in the past to get their take.

They were all doing Tammy Wynette impressions, standing by their man.

“How do I feel about Trump?” asked my pen pal Steven. “Nothing’s changed for me. He’s been so unfairly treated by the corrupt left and you the media mob.”

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Carol was more interested in attacking incoming President Biden.

“Let’s see how you like a crooked money-laundering cheater who is senile and can’t string a sentence together and a V.P. who was a failed [California attorney general] and couldn’t get through the primaries.”

W. Lindsay was hopping mad, but not at Trump. He was ticked off at the GOP.

“The Republican Party just committed suicide BY NOT stopping the certification” of the vote declaring Biden the winner, he said. “The whites will be a permanent minority in this country now, the genocide of the whites will be complete.”

My old friend Dana Martin — a Temecula hardware salesman I have periodically met with in an attempt to understand Trump’s appeal — said he and his friends were “shocked in disbelief” by what happened in D.C. on Wednesday. But he didn’t think the fault lay solely with Trump.

“The media and many of our political leaders share the blame,” said Martin, who also told me he has bailed on “messed-up” California and moved to Idaho.

I agree with Martin about media and political leaders sharing the blame, but I think we have different villains in mind.

Trump was propped up for four years by Fox News, through all the lies, the hypocrisy, the policy failures. Day after day the network normalized the ugliest, most divisive and abominable behavior ever seen in an American president.

I nearly gagged Wednesday night when I switched to Fox and saw the “talent” wondering how the Duck Dynasty attempt to take over the Capitol could have possibly happened.

Maybe because Trump tore down civility and faith in American institutions for four years while Fox cheered him on?

And let’s not forget that Fox, in the end, was shunned by Trump because it wasn’t loyal enough to him and didn’t embrace every preposterous conspiracy theory perpetrated by the goofball fringe of right-wing propaganda machines.

As for political leaders sharing the blame, let’s start with Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), who has been so tightly affixed to Trump’s backside the last four years that you would have needed the Jaws of Life to pull him free.

On Wednesday, McCarthy was shocked, shocked at what was happening in the Capitol, where he and other lawmakers had to take cover in their offices because Trump acolytes, juiced by the president, seemed ready to burn down the building.

“This is so un-American,” McCarthy said on a phone call with Fox News. “I condemn any of this violence. I could not be sadder or more disappointed with the way our country looks right now.”

Really? It took a marauding band of white zealots taking over the Capitol for McCarthy to open his eyes and realize the horror he and others have wrought by serving as apologists for a bully, a despot, a liar, a hypocrite and a bigot?

“This is not the American way,” McCarthy went on.

Well, it is now. And it may be here to stay for years to come because McCarthy didn’t have the decency, the humanity, the spine, to stand up to all the abuses of Donald Trump.

Now we have a few Trump loyalists such as Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky stepping away from the flaming remains of the Trump presidency, rats jumping off a ship that’s going down. Not in the interest of truth and justice, but for their own political survival.

And oh, my goodness, look at the integrity of all these Trump staffers resigning now because of the Capitol debacle, as if it just occurred to them that their boss was a dangerous, egomaniacal madman.

From Idaho, Martin reminded me that, just two months ago, 74 million people voted for Trump. To be honest, that’s even more demoralizing for me than the fact that Trump exists. And a large percentage of those voters, Martin argued, believe the election was rigged.

“Don’t you think that all of our lawmakers have a responsibility to the American people to conduct a thorough inquiry into the documented voter irregularities in this last election?” Martin asked.

I believe the courts, election officials and state legislatures looked at dozens of rigged election claims and found them to be a joke.

I believe the inquiry should be into why the president and white lawmakers tried to suppress the vote, and when they failed, insisted that the vote was rigged — especially in largely Black communities.

Where was the outrage, Martin asked, during “the rioting, shootings, burning of buildings we saw over the summer in some of our largest Democratically controlled and run cities?”

There was outrage, as I recall, including from President-elect Biden. Maybe not enough in some quarters, but let’s get something straight: That unrest was fueled by centuries of racial injustice and the nationally televised killing of a Black man by a white cop.

The unrest in D.C. was fueled by a sore loser of a president who can’t accept the irrefutable evidence that in four years, he lost
the House of Representatives, the Senate and the presidency.

I was driving south on the 5 Freeway on Wednesday when a six-wheeled white pickup truck the size of Staples Center merged onto the highway with U.S. and Trump flags flying. The occupants wore MAGA hats, and a sign on the window read: “It’s Not Over.”

Yeah, it kind of is, for now.

Thank heaven.

steve.lopez@latimes.com


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