Trying to understand Donald Trump's appeal from the outside

Trying to understand Donald Trump's appeal from the outside
A supporter holds up a personalized license plate labeled "Trump16" during a campaign rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 23. (Ty Wright / Getty Images)

According to polls, more Republicans support Donald Trump than any other GOP candidate. According to my count, few of them write letters to The Times.

The letters responding to Doyle McManus' column on Wednesday, which chalked up Trump's persistent popularity to fear and anger, reflect that. Almost all of the letter writers oppose the Republican front-runner and attempt to explain (or understand) his appeal from the outside, engaging sometimes in pop psychology to penetrate the minds sitting beneath the "Make America Great Again" hats.


As with letters written in response to previous pieces on Trump, the writers this time mostly express bemusement over his candidacy. A small minority of readers defend him.

Here are some of their responses.

Linda Kranen of Carlsbad says the GOP base has only itself to blame for Trump's ascendancy:

The popularity of Trump reflects an angry GOP electorate that feels it has been lied to and betrayed. So who's to blame for that?

The so-called base insists on being lied to. Its members jeer candidates who show integrity, support the most despicable candidates in order to feel justified in their own ugly opinions, then act surprised and victimized when their "tell them anything as long as it's ugly" candidates get elected and can't make all the hateful nonsense come true.

Can the GOP get votes without fostering delusional thinking?

When journalists or the money-dependent leaders of the GOP try to attack Trump, he only gets more popular

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Huntington Beach resident Vivien Irving quotes a witty Democratic also-ran:

When McManus asked another candidate's advisor about unseating Trump, he said, "Maybe the voters will wise up."

This reminded me of a story about Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson's run for president; when a supporter called out that every thinking person would be voting for him, Stevenson replied, "That's not enough, madam, we need a majority."

Richard Keeling of Torrance, explaining Trump's popularity from a conservative viewpoint, lashes out at the media:

In their arrogance, the media and liberal politicians always say that we "fear" or "hate" rather than accepting that there may be perfectly reasonable reasons for people to hold differing opinions than they do. This is akin to name-calling and reveals a close-mindedness that makes honest dialogue or social change impossible.

Whenever the media misstate Trump's actual opinions, he just gets more popular. Why? The biggest problem today is that honest dialogue on many subjects has become forbidden.

By adopting a totally different style of communication from the business-as-usual politicians, Trump has somehow managed to show the absurdity of the media setting itself up as a sort of police force for political correctness. So when journalists or the money-dependent leaders of the GOP try to attack Trump, he only gets more popular.

It is because we Americans are tired of being told what to think.


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