While he was on the campaign trail during the primary season in early 2016, Donald Trump uttered these memorable words, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
Although Trump later said he was only joking, his comment revealed his deep understanding of his base of supporters that to this day the majority of Americans still don’t quite get: Both Donald Trump and his supporters could care less about the Constitution and the democratic norms that have prevailed since the founding of our country.
Some pundits suggest that Trump is not to blame for the distrust of government that is evident among his base, many of whom believe in Q-Anon and all sorts of nutty conspiracy theories.
But every anti-democratic movement needs a leader who is willing to break the norms in order to thwart the democratic process and rule of law. There is not one leading GOP politician who, had he been President and lost re-election, would have done what Trump attempted to do to overturn the election, culminating in the events of January 6.
In view of the apathy among Trump’s base of support to the revelations of the House January 6 Committee hearings, the updated corollary to Trump’s 2016 campaign comment is this: “I could stand in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue and urge a violent riot at the Capitol and I wouldn’t lose voters.”