Comrade Trump returned to Iowa yesterday. I considered attending his rally because I’m still a sociologist at heart. I’m curious about the structure of communities and groups. I’d been to one of his early campaign rallies, and I was interested to see if a post-presidential rally would be different. But it turned out I wasn’t interested enough to actually go.
By all accounts, Trump did what he was expected to do–what he’s always done. He lied, he complained, he bragged, he sneered. For an hour and 43 minutes, he repeated his lies about the 2020 election, he complained about how he’s treated, he bragged about his ‘accomplishments’ and he sneered at his detractors. He accused the news of being ‘fake’, he vilified President Uncle Joe, he praised the people who praised him and denigrated people who didn’t. In front of a crowd of a few thousand people, Trump declared, “We don’t have free speech anymore.” In other words, he was the same Comrade Donald Trump he’s always been.
His audience was also the same audience they’ve always been. White, angry, afraid, resentful, hateful, sanctimonious, ignorant. Not necessarily stupid, but deliberately and willfully ignorant. Jeff Kaufmann, the Iowa Republican Party chairman, described Trump as “the middle finger to doing things the same old way, to the fat cats and the corporate welfare that Democrats now support and Republicans supported in the past. He represents an exasperation.” The only way a person can perceive Trump as a champion of ordinary people and Democrats as promoting ‘fat cats and corporate welfare’ is to be deliberately ignorant.
Nothing I’ve seen or read about the rally was surprising. Disappointing, to be sure, but not unexpected. What is most disappointing is that Iowa’s GOP establishment–notably Governor Kim Reynolds and Senator Chuck Grassley–openly embraced Trump. Even more disappointing, they seemed to acknowledge their support for Trump is based entirely on their desire to remain in power.
Grassley, after getting Trump’s public endorsement, said, “If I didn’t accept the endorsement of a person that’s got 91 percent of the Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn’t be too smart.” Compare that to what he said a few months ago, shortly after the election results were certified.
“The reality is, he lost. He brought over 60 lawsuits and lost all but one of them. He was not able to challenge enough votes to overcome President Biden’s significant margins in key states…. He belittled and harassed elected officials across the country to get his way. He encouraged his own, loyal vice president, Mike Pence, to take extraordinary and unconstitutional actions during the Electoral College count.”
There was a time when Grassley was a principled conservative–a politician I disagreed with, but who I believed had integrity. I believed he truly cared about governance. Now Grassley is just a hollow husk of a politician. He’s delighted to accept the endorsement of a man who took “extraordinary and unconstitutional actions” if it helps him get re-elected. What does that tell us? It’s evidence that the GOP has evolved into a party of misinformation, of lies and liars, of corruption and chicanery, a party of grifters and con artists.
I can’t tell you how sad that makes me. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in Iowa voters, or how ashamed I am that this state is represented by hypocrites, quacks and liars.